Dear editor,

Letter writer Paul Falvo is critical of a Yellowknifer headline that referred to former inmates as “cons.”

Your headline “Jobs for cons” (Yellowknifer, April 24) illustrates the problem. If we label people as “cons” how will they get jobs? If they can’t get legitimate jobs, what do we expect them to do?

Of course, the vulnerable in our community must be protected – people who work with the vulnerable need to be screened carefully. Screening means more than looking for a record (after all, there is a first time for everything).

But, for the most part, public safety can arguably be achieved best by rehabilitating those who have committed crimes. If our justice and corrections systems are doing their jobs, then someone convicted of a crime will get a sentence or programming that reduces his likelihood of re-offending.

Why then burden someone who has done their time, and paid their debt to society, with a label like “con” – as your headline does?

There was a time when a hot branding iron was used as punishment to mark people convicted of certain offences. Surely we have gone beyond that as a society and learned that we no longer need to stigmatize people for life, if they can be rehabilitated.

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