WARREN — How can we as human beings in a civilized society ignore the transformation of a person who’s affecting and inspiring others in a positive, real way?

On a hot summer night in 1986, I took a human life. Having taken a a life has consumed my every waking moment with remorseful thoughts and deep regrets. The past 30 years have been an important period of growth and transition for me and have also provided me with the opportunity to re-evaluate my life. These decades have been a continuous act of contrition for actions against someone I loved.

I guess I can best compare my transformation to children being formed by their parents, learning right from wrong, sharing their values and knowing what it means to be a human being and accepting responsibility for what they do or fail to do, as their parents continue to teach them day in and day out by their words and example. I can tell you with certainty that all these years of discipline and hardship have molded my personality to the extent that I no longer desire to do anything criminal.

Many who come to prison are not only grasping at the opportunity to better themselves and do exceedingly well and grow considerably in their time spent in prison, but many have tremendous future economic potential as well. What is not widely known, because it is not discussed very often, is that there are many employers in the free world who hire former offenders. According to the federal Department of Labor, only 8 percent of over 1,200 employers surveyed said they would not hire an ex-offender; a more recent survey, done by the Harris Poll, found that only 3 percent of 311 business leaders believe that ex-offenders don’t deserve a second chance.

Since the vast majority of employers would be open to hiring ex-offenders, it is evident that if you are a good match for that employer’s needs, display a good attitude and stay persistent, that opportunity does present itself to those who are willing to make themselves a good prospect.

Of all the things that matter in achieving transition from prison to freedom, the ability to get and hold a job is one of the most important. It is essential for life built on having a legitimate income, and perhaps most of all, it is how people define themselves. Those who hold a job and thrive on the job feel that they are contributing something of worth and have a sense of future: They have something to hold on to and something to point to when others ask who they are and how they are doing.

The job is as important to self-esteem and building of a free world persona as it is for the income received. People must recognize that transitioning to the workforce after spending time in prison can be difficult, especially after an extended period of incarceration.

Corrections should be directing more energy toward formulating community-based structured quality programming by expanding the supervised community release units, including re-opening the Hallowell and Bangor pre-release facilities, as well as increasing the overall capacity in the state’s electronic bracelet release program.

Maine must embark on a prison reform project that will capture the attention of the rest of the country. Correction departments are a high-cost system nationwide, and warehousing prisoners indefinitely is still the company line. (It must be pointed out that only Russia has more people behind bars per capita than the U.S.)

In Maine, the philosophy and public sentiment is to lock up people and do nothing for them. Prisoners are not attractive to politicians because they have no natural allies. The immediate reaction becomes, “Let’s not waste resources on those who come to prison.” The fact is that without legislative intervention, there will be a further downward spiral, and Maine taxpayers will continue to dole out millions on a correction system that will only become more dysfunctional.

Throughout the country, prisoner re-entry is one of the principal issues concentrated on for the betterment of society. It can only be through quality rehabilitative programming that those prisoners can re-enter society as functioning members. A system that can benefit the incarcerated, the victim and society as a whole will provide a vehicle and opportunity for the prisoner to demonstrate significant change and excel in a positive way once he or she re-enters the community.