Today I am not homeless, and live in a and state of perpetual gratefulness for this act of kindness. Although my current home is by no means sustainable at this point. I am under a cloud of uncertainty. Several things must happen before I am totally free. Freedom is not being out of prison, but is being able to provide for yourself the basic essentials of existence. It is wonderful to have others that are willing to help support me and my endeavors. However, the sooner I can actually put in to practice those long hours, days and years of study, the sooner I will be free. As the great Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl concluded the reason for life is meaning. Should one’s life have no meaning there is no sustainable existence for him.
To return from prison to homelessness is to continue to live without freedom. Being homeless is not just about being deprived of a roof over your head; it is about being deprived of a sense of belonging, a sense of community, full participation with a voice in society. There can be no doubt that a life defined by three bleak words no fixed address is a life deprived of the most basic entitlements that most people take for granted. Whether homelessness takes the form of being forced to sleep on the streets or being placed in emergency shelters with all the uncertainty that entails… homelessness removes so many of the acts of discretion that define FREEDOM.
HOMELESSNESS AND THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Homelessness and the justice system are inextricably linked. People experiencing homelessness are 11 times more likely to face incarceration when compared to the general population, and formerly incarcerated individuals are almost 10 times more likely to become homeless than the general public. In fact, four to six times the annual rate of homelessness than in the general population.
I did not want to become another statistic of one returning to Nowhere. I have already spent my life living in Nowhere, U.S.A. When you are reading what I write please keep in mind that my experiences gave me the impetus to ask for help. Not just for me but for those that come after me in this struggle. For those of us that have been left behind for so many years. Every community should get involved in the reentry of those returning from prison, from addiction and from mental illness. This is the only way out of mass incarceration that is costing YOU, the taxpayer, billions of dollars a year. Money that could be better spent on the future of our country, on crime prevention, drug programs and better healthcare!
Let us all stand up and declare that ‘It takes a village to raise a child” This goes just as well for all those who suffer from mental illness and who are coming from prison or drug rehabilitation.
Freedom is gained through contributing to community, service to others; it’s drawing a wider circle.
Let FREEDOM RING!
Peace and light
Aubrey Dean Elwood
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma