When we think about who's story gets told, we automatically think about the people with the most power and recognition. But one of the things we dont think about 100% of the time is which is the most credible source. We see the wealthy and respected as credible sources just because they have obviously made a name for themselves. All the while we shun those who have served time for a variety of crimes, all the way from theft to rape. Society tends to see these people as uncredible sources because of their sketchy histories, no matter how they've changed their life for the better.
People who have been incriminated aren't always 'bad people'. For example, Jason Carter was imprissoned, and when he got out, he got a tattoo on his throat that read 'sober' as a "badge of honor" for being a recovering drug addict and former prison inmate. The tattoo may have meant a lot to Jason, but employers wouldn't even look past it. They didn't want this 'criminal' dealing with the public. These people look on the surface. They see some tattoos, nasty scars, bad teeth, or any misfortune, and think that the person infront of them cannot be trusted. When really, "The people who are truly interested in turning their lives around will become some of your best employees".
Yet, society still punishes them. Aside from being wrongly considered as criminals, they are also subject to continuing restrictions. Education financial aid, housing, voting, and many more things are no longer easy for ex-criminals to get. So as well as treating ex convicts like convicts, society also takes away from rights that should be allowed to them.
In the book Things Fall Apart by Achebe, criminals are viewed in the same way, but less harsh as our society. During the week of Peace, Okonkwo notices that Ojiugo, his youngest wife, has left the hut to get her hair braided without cooking dinner for him. He beats her, destroying the peace of the sacred week. A religious leader demands that Okonkwo sacrifices one goat, a hen, and for him to pay a fine. Okonkwo tries to explain himself, believing that he had good reason to beat his wife, "he was not the man to go about telling his neighbors that he was in error. And so people said he had no respect for the gods of the clan. His enemies said that his good fortune had gone to his head." Okonkwo loses respect from his clan because of his wrong doing and his reluctantness to admit it. When he finally pays his dues, the lesser feelings are swept under the mat and everything goes back to how it was before.
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It shouldn't matter who a letter is from or where a person previously worked, the content and way they worked should be more imporant, and that is how people should decide whether or not people are credible. Due to his actions, this guy below is probably not credible.
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Do these people look trustable? How do you think society views them?

Michelle Ward Farley
Michelle Ward Farley

Take a look at this woman and what do you see? Females in society are often trusted and thought of as a credible source. Especially teachers, like this one, Michelle Ward Farley. Most may think that she's a wonderful lady, helping children learn and become intelligent adults. Society has a nice, appreciative view on her and all teachers, but they don't know anything except what is seen on the surface. This teacher was actually put in jail for having a sexual relationship with a student. Now people cant look past her statutory rape charge.
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Take one look at this man and you might see a wealthy and good mannered man, and kind as he looks, he actually is one of the most successful impostors in history. At a young age, Frank Abagnale started committing bank fraud and impersonating people in various occupations from airline pilot to doctor. He managed to make over $2.5 million with forged bank checks. Even though this man spent many years committing huge felonies and living life on anything but the straightened arrow, today he is seen as a very respectable person. He managed to turn his life around so society looks upon this man as a successfull, trustworthy and credible, despite his checkered past.

´╗┐ My Name is Earl' is a perfect example of how people can change. Earl was a punk, and he always had been. It took getting hit by a car for him to realize that things needed to change. But even as he set out to make up for all the bad deeds he had done, people still looked at him like he was still a criminal. It just goes to show how people go along with the stereotype: Once a criminal, always a criminal.
When we ask ourselves who's story gets told we have to think about why we are letting a person's story get told or why we are choosing not to hear it. Do we find a person credible just because they dress nicely and have a respectable job? And do we automatically discredit someone because they have a record, no matter how small? In today's society we find recognizable criminals as people who are not to be trusted or given credit for trying to clean up their lives.

Lombardi, Esther. "Things Fall Apart Quotes." About.com. About.com, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <http://classiclit.about.com/od/thingsfallapartachebe/a/aa_thingsquotes.htm>.

Rodriguez, Robert. "Giving ex-convicts a second chance."Seattle Times (2007): n. pag. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <http://electronicrecyclers.com/news/pdf/TheSeattleTimes-Giving-ex-convicts-a-second-chance.pdf>.

Pager, Devah. "Society Punishes Ex-Convicts for Life."Prison Talk. Chicago Tribune, 11 Apr 2004. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <http://www.prisontalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55179>.

"Trailer." My Name is Earl. Youtube: Radio. 12 Dec 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyAKsyDN_04>.

"Criminal Cartoons." CSLCartoonStock. Web. 12 Dec 2010. <http://www.cartoonstock.com/cartoonview.asp?start=&search=main&catref=mban2069&MA_Artist=&MA_Category=&ANDkeyword=criminal+cartoons&ORkeyword=&TITLEkeyword=&NEGATIVEkeyword=>.