I met Polar in Grand Rapids, MI. Polar was born and raised in Michigan. His father was not around and his mother did her best to raise him but she was not able to really control him in his early years. Initially he began committing small crimes between the ages of 5 and 10 but began moving into felony territory in his early teen years. As he and his friends progressed in the world of crime, they began selling cocaine. This was all during the 80s, one of the hottest cocaine eras in the United States; not just on the coast but also all across the Midwest. Selling cocaine naturally led to more violent crimes during instances where consumers refused to pay or tried to steal product.
Polar: "There would be no way for you to know what it was like. It would be like me trying to imagine what structured family life was like; eating dinner with my family... that would be completely foreign to me."
Finally police caught up with him. However, the police were corrupt. After searching the bags and finding cocaine and $35,000 in cash, they left the cocaine in the bag, took all the money, got back in their car and left. While Polar and his friends were guilty of possessing and selling of the cocaine without question, the officer's abused their power by stealing the money knowing that there would be no repercussions: It was blackmail plain and simple.
Polar: "They used to walk into the dope houses and, real simple, "give us what you got for money, and just leave the drugs where they are" and they would walk back out saying "we'll get you the next day".
Eventually everything caught up with him and he was charged with 19 felonies. After taking polygraph tests and having outside unbiased detectives look at the case, he was left with 10 felonies and sent to prison. The judge gave him 2-15 years in prison; he served 14 of them. Out of the 14 years he served 2 in solitary confinement, only allowed outside once per week and never allowed human contact. This horrific experience in prison accompanied with traumatic experiences in his early life left him with mental illnesses such as PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks that were not present prior to incarceration. Even things such as TV shows about prison like the popular TLC show "Scared Straight" would be more than enough to trigger an anxiety attack.
After release from prison, employment was scarce and housing was nearly impossible to find. Luckily, he had friends looking out for him on his release day. Within a week he had gotten various licences back and been able to start the process of getting back on his feet. For many returning citizens, this network of friends does not exist and they are left generally with less than $50 and a bus ticket as a start to begin a painful and long reconstruction of their life.
Polar paid for himself to go to Grand Rapids Community College to get CNC training. After receiving certification he went looking for employment in his field but no one wanted him.
The only jobs he was able to get were jobs with no opportunity for advancement that paid below a living wage and required long hours. These "dead-end" jobs did not promote or encourage long-term or short-term success.
Polar: "Don't get me wrong, I understand, you gotta start somewhere, you gotta do the best you can. But it comes a point where you work so hard and you still have NOTHING. And then I lost my wife over it. As soon as her family found out that I was a convicted felon and did 14 years in prison they began to hate me. But 2 years prior to this they loved me, soon as they found out about the record everything changed; I was a horrible person in their eyes."
He currently has a daughter that is barely a month old and he lives apart from his wife.
Housing has posed a massive issue as well. While Polar has saved money and is ready to rent; no apartment complexes or housing developments will rent to him due to his criminal record.
Polar: "To this day my record haunts me."
After prison Polar has not been able to rent housing, has been denied job positions explicitly due to his criminal background, been prevented from advancement due to his record, had jobs rescinded, has lost his family, and has had to deal with PTSD and various other late onset mental illnesses contracted during his traumatizing time in the system.
If you have absolute faith in the criminal justice system and you believe that the punishments prosecutors, judges, and juries set upon persons who commit crimes in the United States are fair, than you should agree that after that debt is paid to society citizens should not be held in lifetime imprisonment of second-class status, discrimination, and hatred. Grace must be extended to individuals who may have made poor decisions in their past. No decision made warrants solitary confinement and a lifetime of discrimination without possibility of forgiveness. While there are processes to expunge old felonies, these processes are often lengthy, horrendously expensive, and require skilled attorneys. Unless the felony is expunged it is left as a permanent stain on the record of individuals who have experienced incarceration. Unfortunately many employers and landlords also view it as a permanent stain on an individuals moral character without extending any form of a second-chance. Studies show that formerly incarcerated men and women are more loyal to employers, have a lower turnover rate, and work harder than individuals with no record yet employers still yet social stigma affect their decision making process while ignoring the facts.
We believe if someone is genuinely trying to turn their life around in a positive direction, absolutely no one and nothing should stand in their way. Everyone deserves forgiveness.
Employment Certifications and Experience:
Polar has certifications and vast experience in Plastic Injection and Die Setting. If your company is looking to hire persons with manufacturing experience, consider hiring him onto your team as a dedicated and hard worker.
Polar's goals are to find quality employment with stability and opportunity for growth. Additionally he is looking to begin repairing his credit. His identity was stolen in prison and he has neither the resources or contacts to being the process of fixing his credit and restoring his identity. If you have experience dealing with identity theft and would be willing to donate your time and services to help Polar please contact us and we will connect you.
We want to hear your story! If you or a loved one is formerly incarcerated and is interested in sharing your story to be shared with our readers. Please email us at ForgiveEveryoneCo@outlook.com Everyone Deserves Love. Everyone Deserves Forgiveness. #ForgiveEveryone