By Paulettra James
My husband and many others who are behind the walls are people, they are HUMAN! It is sad to think that in the 21st century, our society still has the mind set of “out of sight, out of mind.” But it is very true—there are thousands of men and women that sit behind the walls of prison, while society has continued to move forward. They are not animals and do not deserve to be treated as such, but they are every single day.
Some are locked in a cell block no bigger than a closet only being allowed out once a day every 23 hrs. Then there are some who share a cell with others—no privacy to do the basic of things like using the bathroom. The courtesy of respect they give one another goes beyond words, as usually one individual will leave the cell to allow for privacy. The give more respect to one another than they are given by correctional officers. Which is kind of sad because regardless of what they have done to end up where they are, they are still human.
They are and should not be defined by their past. They are deserving of a second chance. Truth be told, a lot of them are not just sitting around behind those walls, they are doing activities and learning skills to help them become a better person. They are taking classes and courses to gain diplomas, certificates, and college degrees. They are being recognized for being trustworthy, hard-working, and respectful by higher officials/administration. They are helping to keep facilities safe by mentoring others to ensure gang activity does not go rampant. They are working jobs that pay them as little as $0.30 an hour to help keep the facilities clean and functioning. They are still functioning as if they were not behind the walls and becoming better individuals, not because they have too but because they are still human.
So, despite the circumstances or reasons they are where they are, they are HUMAN! They are husbands/wives, sons/daughters, brothers/sisters, uncles/aunts, grandfathers/grandmother—and their lives matter to those who are waiting for them to return home. We must learn to forgive, show grace and mercy. We must learn to humanize them because they are not the state number department of corrections assigned to them, they are not prisoners/inmates, they are not yesterday’s trash that you just throw away—they are STILL HUMAN!