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Lawyer wears jailhouse orange for Lent to spur discussion about hiring ex-cons

Posted Mar 17, 2014 6:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A Texas lawyer who represents poor clients is wearing jailhouse orange scrubs for Lent partly to promote discussions about the lack of jobs for ex-cons.

Kent McKeever is a part-time youth-minister and a lawyer at Mission Waco, a Christian group that provides programs for the poor. He told the Waco Tribune he is wearing the orange scrubs to show solidarity with prisoners and former inmates returning to society.

McKeever acknowledged that some jobs aren’t appropriate for former inmates, but said employers should make hiring decisions on a case-by-case basis. “There are a lot of people in the community who can’t get jobs because they have to check this box on an employment application: Have you ever been convicted of a felony? Once you check it, it’s pretty much inevitable that it’s going into this pile, and you’re not going to get a call back,” he told the Waco Tribune.

McKeever is writing about his experiences in a blog called 40 Days in Orange: A Lenten Journey in the Uniform of the Imprisoned. In a recent blog post, he told of going on a picnic with his family at Lake Waco and experiencing the gift of leisure, something that isn’t available to millions of people who are locked up in prison.

“I have visited death row,” McKeever wrote. “I saw the cage that is the ‘recreation’ space for inmates. A very small square with thick iron walls with holes that allow for very little light to enter on all four sides and the ceiling. Animals would go crazy in a space like this. Yet, this is where we force already broken human beings to seek any possible rest and leisure they need.”

Hat tip to Above the Law.

Related article:

Huffington Post: "Forty Days in an Orange Jumpsuit: A Lawyer/Pastor Wears Prison Garb for Lent"

Updated at 9:41 a.m. to add additional links.

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