Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Letter of the Day | We need more Carolyn Warrens

Published:Monday | July 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM


It's a pity that Carolyn Warren's story of transformation has come to light only through the machinations of partisan one-upmanship.

Politics aside, Warren's journey from a convict to the managing director of a state agency is an inspiration. Her story has value. That Warren was able to rise above the drug conviction of 25 years ago is a testament to the power of rehabilitation and a wake-up call for the need to change, radically, how we approach crime and punishment in this country.

If we continue to hold on to the flawed idea that someone who has committed an offence cannot make a contribution to society, we are robbing ourselves of some of our richest human resources. There are many Carolyn Warrens behind bars and in the wider society who have silently done the work needed to transform their lives through education and skills training.

If we hold the convictions of these persons over their heads by denying them employment and discriminating against them, we are only perpetuating the cycle of crime and reoffending.

Carolyn Warren stands as a testament to the power of rehabilitation. If given the opportunity, inmates and individuals with criminal records have a lot to offer.




The discrimination against these persons, however, continues to keep them in a mental prison. Having served their time and acknowledged the error of their ways, ex-convicts should not have to be doubly punished. There is just a grave sense of a lack of humanity in using a drug conviction of 25 years ago to demonise someone.

Carolyn Warren says it best: "I made a mistake then and I paid for it." That is the cry of every ex-convict.

Having done the work to turn their lives around, ex-convicts should not have to continue to suffer. The enormous strength and courage displayed by Carolyn Warren, during what must be the most difficult time in her professional life, is flame that will light the way for many convicts and ex-convicts. A conviction does not define a person and Carolyn Warren is a living testament of that.


Executive Director, Stand Up For Jamaica