The prison is a place some call Hell, where wise men dare, and brave men fear, its walls surround to cause despair.
Prison is a place that tests your will. It’s a place where time stands still. Prison is a place where the loss of freedom is a culture shock that leaves you traumatised for a week on your block.
Prison is a place where new recruits are a constant flow, through the iron gates they come and they go, as if on a revolving door, they are mainly the young, unemployed and the poor.
Prison is a place that cast an evil spell, which makes the good bad and the bad worse; many have said it’s a curse. As to the issue of prison injustice and race, well we all know that is a different case. There is a disproportionately high number of black people who have served and are serving time, many of whom have not committed any crime.
There are stories we should tell, and others the world knows very well, like those of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Angela Davis, Marcus Garvey or Dr. Martin Luther king Jr., and Benny Wenda who have all lived through hell.
Prison is a place where the wise are few, but fools are many, who believe the value of their lives depends upon money. Stories of crime that are often told, at times make your blood run cold. Crime does not pay, or so they say, but we all know the prison is here to stay.
Politicians make promises while the gap between the rich and poor gets wider and wider. Don’t they realise that without justice there can be no peace? Therefore greed, fear, violence and crime will continue to increase, which has brought about “3 strikes and you are out”.
Prison is a place where you are branded a convict or a thief, from then you carry the mark of the Beast and numbers l, 2 or 3 from A, B to Z. If family unity, friendships and strong values are qualities to cherish, then dignity and pride we would hold dear, and good health is a thing for which we would care.
Prison is a place where all these are tested, and most are lost. It’s only when you have served time that you know the full cost. With prison in your past to rebuild your life could be a major task.
Prison is a place where freedom is a dream that all pursue, it’s a place not for me, and maybe not for you. If your weekly visit is a mess, the rest of the month you’re under distress, for there is nothing about prison to make you happy when you are feeling blue. Prison is a place where the cry for justice from the innocent is loud and clear, which those in authority refuse to hear.
First the police, then you are in court; judge or jury it’s the same, that is when you know they are all part of the game. Man or woman, young or old, black or white, you know it’s an uphill fight – I have lost my case, the case went wrong – now in prison I have to be strong. Each prison has its own culture, but separation causes pain, no matter who is to blame, to men or to women prison is the same.
Prison is a place that holds the secret of many whose denial of justice is but for the lack of money. When on remand for years with nothing to do, they sit in shame and often cry or lay in bed and wish they were dead. Locked with only your thoughts in a cell, who can tell, is it a place to rest, or is it a living death? Now as before prisons are about to overflow!
Prison is a place where the rich and powerful are few, whose crimes yet unpunished are way overdue, but who delight to sit in judgment over me and you. Time will tell as we all know well, that in a short while someone else will take my cell. Where the battle of wits between the screws and cons are a constant test, trying to prove who is best, while the dehumanizing process goes unchecked. With fear and intimidation tensions runs high, yet when a fight breaks out they wonder why.
Prison is a place where sympathy you will not find, and no quarters are given, at times even the officers act as if they are in prison. Prison is a place where friends are few, and respect you cannot achieve so you anxiously await your time to leave.
Prison is a place where historical reforms we all welcome and accept, yet the need for more prisons no one can reject. If Hell is a place that God has cursed, then the Devil is happy, because prison is worse.
Prison is a place where you learn to compromise, this at times, you feel, helps you to stay alive. To socialize you don’t have much choice, a game of pool, an hour in the gym or sit and watch a TV show, with people to whom if given an option, you would not even say hello.
To make a phone call is the greatest test, and to avoid a fight you have to be at your best. Some inmates are often out of order, and likewise, officers could be very bold, so you learn to keep your anger under control;
Prison is a place where many have pledged never to return, to do more time only to find that there is a trap in this evil system which is based upon greed, violence and crime, where most will fall victim, it’s only a matter of time.
There are many in jail that could have been given an alternative even bail, but the system does have a plan, you can bet, because it has always found effective ways of dealing with people it no longer needed, or whom it sees as a threat. This I am told is called social control. Activities and social changes now in place will help to justify the system’s case of dehumanizing its victims.
The prison is a place where there is an abundance of human resources and skills being wasted. However, with high unemployment, low wages and high prices, fear, hopelessness and despair soon set in, this is when people realize they can’t win, by then it’s too late, and once again they are left standing at hell’s gate.
Someday an alternative to the prison we must find. The person who introduces such will be one of a kind
Note: This was written from a cell by an innocent inmate I’m sure you can tell, who was just dying, to leave that place some called Hell (1994)
Rev. Buddy A. Larrier