Giving rehabilitated criminals new start

Sending ex-convicts back to the street can mean just that, West Virginia legislators were told last week. Corrections officials explained that convicts set free on parole sometimes have no money to get a fresh start.

Division of Corrections officials want to establish a short-term loan program for some ex-convicts released on parole. It would provide each with $200-$300 to help with immediate expenses such as finding places to live.

Loans would have to be repaid quickly.

Providing the program is monitored carefully and amounts to loans rather than gifts, it may be a good idea. Safeguards – perhaps the threat of being returned to prison – would be needed to ensure ex-cons do not abuse the program.

If it can prevent some former prisoners from resorting to crime, the plan would be helpful.