Posted by Jim Fitzgerald
Though this article appeared one hundred years ago, in February of 1919, five months before the Marshall Rotary Club was organized, it serves as a reminder, that the question, “Is it Fair to all concerned?”, the second question in the Rotary Four-Way Test, is still valid and applies, today.
The headline from the Marshall Messenger, February 25, 1919, read:

By the Associated Press,
“Rotary clubs have throughout the country have been asked to aid in finding work for men released from penal institutions. Five thousand prisoners have been released in the United States since the close of the war, according to Prisoners Relief Society, and many of them are without work.  It is pointed out that the situation is serious and, unless the businessmen of the country assist by employing ex-convicts, these men will be forced to steal or starve.
In a letter to the Rotary clubs, it was stated that during the last 6 years, through the Prisoners Relief Society, 20,000 employers have opened their plants to men released from prison and that more than 10,000 men sent to prison, 95% have proved worthy.
The Rotarians were asked to use their influence to keep the doors open to men who have served prison sentences and who want an opportunity to prove their worth.”
In 2012, when the Marshall Rotary Club started the Parade of Flags program, I had the pleasure of working alongside of several men serving various sentences in our county jail (Note: I was not a prisoner at the time, and hopefully never will be.).  The point is most of those men received little or no recognition for the service they rendered to the club and our community.
There is a term in Economics 101, called “lost opportunity costs”, that really applies to this particular issue.  Sheriff Tom McCool and his staff and officers that are responsible for the incarnation and rehabilitation of the men and women that run afoul of the law and wind up in his jail, could not be disappointed more than you and me when one or more of them wind up there again.
Shame on us for missing so many opportunities this past century to play a meaningful part in the process.
Rotarians, but not just Rotarians, all businesses, churches, city and county governments, education facilities, etc.  need to become a part of the process of rehabilitation, by seeing that these men and women find suitable, and meaningful employment after they are released.
 Hopefully, we will be able to seize opportunities like this in the coming months and years, and when we celebrate our Sesquicentennial fifty year hence, we can include, among the many others, our part in changing the lives of many ex-prisoners’, as well.