Community debates bill to repeal discrimination protection for felons

Over the past week, I’ve been writing a piece on a proposed Wisconsin bill that would end discrimination protection for convicted felons.  If you’re interested in reading, I thank you, and I’ll point you to the full story.

I framed the article with a convicted felon named John Miller.  Miller was convicted of armed robbery, second-degree sexual assault, and escape.  He spent 14 years in prison for those crimes.  He did his time, and to the best of my knowledge, continues to do everything in his power to redeem himself and once again become a productive member of society.

Depending on your moral leanings, you might say that Miller deserves a chance to prove himself out here in the world.  But you might say his character is flawed, or that once someone has committed a crime serious enough to be a felony, that person has lost certain rights that can never be recouped.

Again, I suppose I’ll lose credibility if I say outright which way I lean.  But this is my blog, and if you know anything about me or my writing, I think you know where I stand.

The bill will be voted on tomorrow.  If you want my prediction, it doesn’t look good for Miller or people in his place.  Which you might say, is a sad story.  And it very well may be.

But who wants to read one more tragedy?  We have enough of our own problems.  Which is why I tried hard to look for the one redeeming quality in all of this.  Here’s what I found.

Miller knew the odds were stacked against him while he was in prison.  He knew that was of his own making, but the facts remained.  He needed to make a go of it.  What choice did he have?  That’s the same state of mind Miller had when we spoke after the hearing.  He could be bitter, talk about what fools the lawmakers were to threaten him with this.

And to a certain degree, he did go there.   But the sense I had from Miller was that whether or not Assembly Bill 286 was passed, he would continue to do what he is doing.  This may have made him seem a little innocent, a little naïve.  But you could also see it as a demonstration of strength, perseverance, the stern stuff that character is made from.

 

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