Blog started in Jan 2005: 1st entries for Write in Every Genre. Then the REAL ME begins
|Who wakes up thinking about the U.S. prison system? A prison administrator or any guard after a bad week at work? A viewer of too many episodes of Criminal Minds...that could be this household. I say the U.S. prison system because I am sure that is the only one I have the slightest idea about its functioning, and even then, a Hollywood version. I'll further clarify by saying my thoughts were sympathetic and from a place of compassion about how the prison environment must affect a person. Again, not being a criminal prisoner myself, it is no better than informed fantasy. But i will have to go from there.
I had one moment at home this week which may have sparked the deep thinking. My spouse and I sleep on a futon -- while I've been off a few days from work, I have daily converted the futon back into a seating area instead of leaving it flat as a sleeping area. My spouse asked me, "Why?" I replied, on the spot: because I preferred to have a place to sit. What I did not say, and what did not come to mind in that moment, but is still true, was two-fold: It feels right to strip the futon so "bed" is no longer an option during the day for both man and dogs. Plus -- this was the deeper thought which came later: So the small apartment we live in is less prison-like.
I do not know if it is the depression that my spouse has, or if it comes with being male, or both... It is a blessing, and I'd like to think a human right, to have a place to lay down for sleep. It is nice to have places to sit. It is so nice to be free to walk barefoot on carpeted flooring. It is a privledge to have an animal or two for their affection born from the small bit of responsibility it takes to keep one -- knowing the good results their care can instill in any human.
My life has felt like prison, on occasion, for a mix of reasons. Few of those reasons stem from me, except maybe from my own innocence. And control is hardly available. Control actually feels very futile, from the related results
(excuse me, I realize that I have slipped into one of my "dancing around" the truth so as not to call any particular person out moods). This results in my writing losing any sense for the reader (even me, if I go back later to read it). This bout started at "a mix of reasons." Even if I don't start naming names, then the people i love (being depressed) will think I blame them, are the cause, should never have been born, are unworthy...You see my problem -- it's a minefield.
Yet I should have the thoughts to be able to examine them, yes? That is what is healthy. Not every thought is accurate when this mess we call human has one, now is it?
Much like I commented earlier, "informed fantasy." I think that is what every new thought really is -- and we have to have the thought first in order to examine it for what it is. So, will I be able to bring everything out into the light? Not in this blog post itself, assuredly. I am a bit too lazy and a bad typist for that.
So, maybe back to my social reform of prison thread for now....
I know I have a desire to do more in the world, and I have been questioning for about a month about working toward a Masters degree in Social Justice. This is another part of where the compassion for prisoners coelesced this morning. I am not the only one in my household against the death penalty. In that area of what "we" believe as a society, I feel we don't really talk. Now let's go to the other end of the spectrum -- the unjustly imprisoned, minor or repeat offenders that "we" subject to a prison system that is flawed and frightening. How can we even ignore it all as blissfully as we do? So many people, to me it seems, harden themselves to avoid the truth and justify the way we discard and do injustice to people we say on paper are being helped/reformed in prison.
I need to point out, I am not sure why this is coming out as important to me today. Other than I really started to think about/list what a prisoner gives up. On the lighthearted side, three meals a day and having laundry done regularly sounds inviting -- that has been out of my reach on many occasions given my family's shaky financial experiences for over more than a decade.
I already count walking free as number one
Think about it, and you will know that is the top one for any creature.
Comforts and acquiring comforts is number two -- Here is where the mental deterioration has to be affected the most readily. It would be for me. One of my strongest obsessions when I don't have cash is the desire to buy something -- a cold soda, a pair of shoes, socks. To be reliant on a family outside sending or bringing something to fill the comfort need may not really fill the underlying need to do it for ones-self.
Choosing who you associate with; this is where it branches off for most people. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe if I was a criminal I would appreciate the like-mindedness of those around me. I mean I already have to figure out quite a diversity of "thieves" at my workplace (ha ha). What if you prefer solitary time? What if you don't function without a group around you to bounce ideas off of? What if you are too young to know any of this about yourself yet? Starting to see the problem?
I think privacy works its way in at about this point. let's just be honest with ourselves, though -- privacy as we once knew it is already eroded for all of us; so, it is a new world in addressing whether that's something prisoners give up more of.
Compare it to my paying rent that has risen too much -- a privildge and a blessing, that. Even with my family members' health issues, they are with me. We gather together or sit apart as needed -- and we don't have to invite anyone over if we choose to keep our home for ourselves. My children have internet access at any time they want; where the world and what is in it can be acquired, at least to an extent -- and what do they watch: YouTube and Bob's Burgers. We have comedy and I wonder what restrictions are on the media watched in prison. This one, I don't know. Should we educate with the use of censored carefully-crafted media while someone is incarcerated? Graduate up from Sesame Street. This is one of those sidelines in thought which I haven't explored as a student of media. It does bother me when criminal acts are used as story devices, and we don't think of the consequences -- who do we educate while we entertain?
In the military or in prison you are there to protect the freedom of all others.
Under the direction of someone else, you go or stay based on the decisions that leaders are making for you.
So is my perception of prison anything like the prison system -- that's the question I can continue to meditate on. One thing i know; mine is a prison of choice.