My product to demonstrate my learning throughout the year is an outline of Ameen Lee’s life and the important events that lead him to be the person he is today. My original plan for my product was going to be a short documentary of his life, including a filmed interview with Ameen to show the sequence of events in his life and identify the cause and effects patterns that many people in similar situations have been through. To me, his arrest is just a small part of his life that can be seen through a completely different perspective after looking at it in its broader context, which is the message I found most important to share. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with many other things, I needed to adjust my plan. I had hoped to create a podcast or recorded virtual interview, but unfortunately I had difficulty reaching Ameen and needed a third idea to somehow execute my vision. I decided the best way to share my knowledge and Ameen’s story was a short timeline of the events I found most important in his life and a passage from my dad's perspective on why it’s important to him to hire people like Ameen to give them a second chance. My research has changed directions many times throughout the year to adapt to the inevitable bumps that occured along the way. A consistent theme I found throughout my research though, was that the criminal justice system in the United States is extremely flawed, and especially lacks consideration for an offender's past and factors that lead to illegal behaviors. Ameen was fortunate in the sense that he was able to find employment and begin a new life, but he is one of few as many people in similar situations face much longer sentences and do not have the resources or opportunities to turn their life around. Given the circumstances, overall I’m satisfied with the way my work turned out and I think it delivers the message I hoped to send all along.
A SECOND CHANCE
"Each of us is worth more than the worst thing we've ever done"
“When I was young and first got started I remember people giving me a chance to prove myself in something I had never done before. Giving back to my community evolved in different ways for me throughout my career. It began with having people with special needs helping package and count our small hardware components for our ready to assemble furniture. As my business grew and I began hiring people, I found great satisfaction in giving back and hiring people with a fresh start or a second shot. I have found that these are the people that have become my longest singing and most hardworking employees. I strongly believe in the idea that people should not be defined by their worst moments and everyone deserves a chance at recreating their lives.”
- Sal Carrabba