27 May 2016
The Zimbabwe Prison Services recently released inmates who benefited from the Presidential pardon and society should be ready to accept them.
Today we carry several of their stories and their relief at being freed. Most of them are happy and have showed greater appreciation of freedom after serving time in prison.
The society that these inmates have rejoined is the same they wronged and some will feel these former inmates should have served their full terms.
But everyone deserves a second chance.
Does The Bible not say do not judge and you shall not be judged?
So who are we to condemn the thousands of inmates who were freed? In 2014, some 2000 inmates were also freed under the Clemency Order Number 1 of 2014 and some of them have since made something out of their lives.
Already people have been debating whether the inmates have truly reformed or will find themselves back in prison sooner than later.
It is important to note that these ex-convicts were not randomly selected in some lottery fashion. ZPS are on record saying prisoners are released after an intense process of rehabilitation.
Hence the prisoners need a second chance to prove that they are reformed.
The nation must accept the released prisoners and give them a second chance in life.
First, to err is human. So who among us has never wronged? And who has never needed a second chance?
Second, prison is a place where inmates are given a chance to reflect on their wrongs so that they reform.
Third, while in these prisons inmates go through different training programs. Therefore they acquire skills which change their lives and, in the process, benefit society.
Fourth, even our culture of ubuntu provides a platform to advise a person when they have done wrong with the intention to reform them.
In addition to the values of ubuntu engraved in our culture, these prisoners clearly pleaded for forgiveness and have a desire to prove their reformation.
Because of this, society especially those who were victims of various crimes perpetrated by the former convicts, should find a place in their hearts to forgive and forget.
Furthermore this is a chance for the victims to go through a true healing process.
While in the past there have been cases of those who got arrested after having been pardoned, we cannot punish another individual for the sins of another.
Neither should we shut the door of opportunity on the released inmates to achieve their initial intended goals in life due to past failures.
So as the former inmates get back with their families and gel with others in the communities, it is the duty of society to bring them hope by giving these individuals a second chance.