The Prison Life

Here is a problem that does not have an easy solution.  If you think people have a cushy life or that most people should be put in prison and throw away the key, I’m guessing you’ve not visited someone in prison.  There is a person that I visit every couple of months and while I don’t support the crime, I support this person as a human being.

First, it is an incredibly sad place for me.  Young women with a kid or two and often one in the hopper come for a family reunion – in a prison waiting room.  I don’t know their stories, but sure looks like stigma, pain, and poverty are involved.  The couples can hug briefly and then must sit across a table.  Kids are so excited to see their dad and then it settles in to a couple hours of boredom.

Prison is a crappy life.  In the prison I visit, most sections have 160 men in the same room.  Toilets and showers and lockers and beds and guys all packed into a wing.  Your life is controlled and scheduled.   Inconsistency from guards and rules is the norm.  Days and nights are long.

As a school principal and teacher for over twenty years, too many of the kids I thought were headed for prison have ended up there.  I often see or hear about former students who have come through the system.  It’s too predictable.

South Dakota loves to put people in prison.  More than most other states and certainly far more than most other developed countries.  And it rarely helps.  It doesn’t deal with the root causes of crime – poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, impulse/sexual offense control, inability to be educated or employed.  It’s very expensive to incarcerate people, but it’s easier than dealing with the base issues and “out of sight, out of mind” seems to be the solution.

I don’t have an answer, but please go visit someone in a prison.  It is good for the inmate and guarantee it will change your perspective.

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