today’s “modern love” column in the new york times is written by a former inmate who, by his own admission, had “eight felonies, and at least twice that many misdemeanors…(had) been to prison five times, all for nonviolent drug and drug-related offenses.” while the column is about the development of a particular relationship, what i found interesting was the author’s discussion of trying to build any kind of romantic relationship in light of his rocky past. matthew parker writes:
When I got out of prison in 2002, I was narcotics-free for the first time since I was a teenager, and achingly lonely. Yet I had never had a normal relationship, and I was clueless about how to get myself into one. My 11 years of forced celibacy in prison and decades of drug use had left me inept when it came to women. I sometimes had junkie girlfriends, but junkies rarely find love because their love is the narcotic. Everything else is secondary.
I experimented with various forms of dating, including online, but remained lonesome because most of the women I managed to meet could not come to terms with my past.
this struck me as a piece of the reentry puzzle that may deserve more attention. i don’t know what the answer is, but i can well imagine the frustration of trying to build relationships after a long incarceration. if inmates who complete their sentences have “paid” for their crimes, do they deserve a second (or third, or fourth) chance at life and love? would you be okay with your sister or daughter — or brother or son — dating a former felon?