FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Gov. Paterson Should be Applauded for Hiring Former Drug Dealer

by ANTHONY PAPA

Recently, the New York Times published what was supposed to be a spectacular expose about New York Gov. David Paterson and his administration. Instead many media commentators like Howard Kurtz, a media observer for The Washington Post and host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” said on his Twitter account that the Times report on the aide “caps a shameful period of media outlets trumpeting rumors about the governor.”

While I agree with Kurtz’s analysis, I also think the article touched on an extremely important issue. It talked about Gov. Paterson’s closest confidant in his administration, David Johnson a top aide, who the New York Times painted as someone with a criminal record who should not be in the position he is. Johnson sold cocaine to undercover cop when he was 18 years old. Gov. Paterson responded, saying “David Johnson has demonstrated, over the course of his adult life, that people can change their personal circumstances and achieve success when given a second chance. I will not turn my back on someone because of mistakes made as a teenager.”

Being an ex-offender who served hard time, I believe that Gov. Paterson should be applauded for giving David Johnson the opportunity to excel. There are many road bocks that exist when people with criminal records, mostly ex-offenders who try to reenter society. Statistically, it is well known that if you wind up in prison and you are fortunate enough to regain your freedom, odds are, you will be going back sometime soon.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67 percent of those set free return to prison within three years. There are many obstacles one meets that can contribute to this startling statistic. Carrying the stigma of being an ex-offender is often debilitating. From obtaining employment and housing, to establishing relationships, life becomes difficult at best.

Ex-offenders struggle to shed the memories of imprisonment after paying their debts to society. But the stigma of having a criminal record follows them around for life. They face a daunting array of counterproductive and frustrating legal and practical barriers, including state and federal laws and policy that hinder their ability to quality for a job or get a higher education. But these policies that stigmatize those with criminal records are now being challenged. As seen in New Mexico, where legislation has passed that will remove unfair barriers to employment with those who have criminal convictions and now awaits Gov. Richardson’s signature. No longer will job applicants have to check a box on a job application alerting that they are a felon.

Upon reentering society ex-offenders will find a host of problems preventing them from successfully reintegrating. These include not being able to find employment or secure housing, dealing with substance abuse and mental health problems, difficulty in reestablishing and developing relationships, all which makes life exceedingly difficult and often debilitating. This coupled with dealing with issues such as institutional dependency and carrying the baggage of incarceration results in the ex-offender returning to prison either on a parole violation or a new sentence.

All these above mentioned factors results in preventing the returning prisoner to become lawful tax paying citizens and inhibit their ability to take care of themselves and their families.

David Johnson’s ability to overcome the circumstances of his past is remarkable and should be attributed to the help he received from people like Gov. Paterson who believe in second chances. The Times, the paper of record, released a “bombshell” that turned out to be nothing more than a dud.

ANTHONY PAPA is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and Communications Specialist for Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

More articles by:
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
Jeffrey St. Clair
Night of the Hollow Men: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Renee Parsons
Blame It on the Russians
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is it the Cops or the Cameras? Putting Police Brutality in Historical Context
Russell Mokhiber
Dems Dropping the N Word: When in Trouble, Blame Ralph
Howard Lisnoff
The Elephant in the Living Room
Pepe Escobar
The Real Secret of the South China Sea
Ramzy Baroud
Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece
John Laforge
Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Raise Calls for Denuclearization
Dave Lindorff
Moving Beyond the Sanders Campaign
Jill Richardson
There’s No Such Thing as a “Free Market”
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Moves Against the Gulen Movement in Turkey
Winslow Myers
Beyond Drift
Edward Martin - Mateo Pimentel
Who Are The Real Pariahs This Election?
Jan Oberg
The Clintons Celebrated, But Likely a Disaster for the Rest of the World
Johnny Gaunt
Brexit: the British Working Class has Just Yawned Awake
Mark Weisbrot
Attacking Trump for the Few Sensible Things He Says is Both Bad Politics and Bad Strategy
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Think Three’s a Crowd? Try 2,000
Corrine Fletcher
White Silence is Violence: How to be a White Accomplice
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail