Title: The "Sick and Suffering" in Prison, an Essay on:
By: Orlando Fields, #[ID]/Mo. D.O.C.
When I came into the adult-world of incarceration, I was a 16-year old, certified-juvenile. As is the case with most adolescents, I was very naive and out of touch with reality. I was still searching for my identity amongst the men who were satisfied with the selfish, loser outlaw lifestyle.
My adolescences and the reckless abandon with which I lived, ultimately let me to the halls of Missouri's judicial-system, where I was sentenced to a consecutive 227-years.
I'd spent my time in lock-up, the same way that I'd spent my time in the free world: Searching, Afraid, trying to Survive, and being Reckless. So, when someone slams a gavel and sentences you to a sentence in the hundreds of years... initially you don't register what has been taken away from you or the impending doom that awaits you.
You see, I was a kid of "the System;" a product of poverty... so, it wasn't until my life had been taken away that I even realized I had a life; it took for that unstoppable force to meet that immovable object, so to speak, to turn on the lights within my young head.
For me, the process was an over-night one; I went to sleep a "Rebel Without A Cause," and I woke to find my eyes wide open to the many happenings in and around my life; the injustices that permeated throughout the system that I'd always somehow been in.
Most people who come through Missouri's prison system find the unpleasantness to be an incentive for their continued Criminal Lifestyle; prison does nothing to furnish the 'criminal-thinking' with any alternatives, thus most of the people who serve time here... they eventually make their exodus from prison worse off than when they initially came in.
The thing about Missouri's rehabilitation programs: They are not geared towards helping all of its offending population. Most of the programs are located at low-security "Minimum" facilities; facilities that are for non-violent offenders; drugs, thefts, probation violations and various other minor offenses.
A vast majority of Missouri's prison population are incarcerated for violent offenses; because of their crimes (not their prison records...), they are not afforded the privilege of leveling down to a minimum security institution where most of the funding for rehabilitative programs is routed. Sadly, most of the people who the system has given up on are from the inner-cities where poverty and crime/violent crime, proves synonymous.
I remember my first prison camp, Missouri's Potosi Correctional Center, the Death Row prison. It was there that I was taken through the wringer; humiliated, dehumanized, assaulted and antagonized. I'd never experienced such hatred - as that which I experienced there. Sure, I had heard people speak about racism and white-supremacy all my young life... but never before had I actually experienced it.
The hatred and violence that the guards showed me - it drove me to places that taught me to absorb it and hate that which hates me, and strike back when I am struck. After doing some true soul searching... I looked at myself in the mirror and was disgusted with what I noticed staring back:
I was miserable and ignorant, just as the guards whose hate I sought to counter.
I left the nationalist groups alone and took my brain to the Law Library and put myself to work researching the issues surrounding my life; social science, political science, economics, psychology, and the basic tenets of law.
Surprisingly, when the guards noticed my new attitude and realized that I was searching for freedom...? Their hatred for me escalated. They would plant razors in my assigned cells or free-case me, because I was no longer playing the game... I was no longer countering them with that they understood: Hatred and the ignorance of racism.
Instead, I had grown to pity them; the more I learned... the more I understood: The system hadn't failed me (at least not in the traditional sense of meaning...), it failed them; the whites, living in rural America.
The promise of privilege does not extend into the small-towns and country-sides of the U.S.A. We city folk believe that we have it bad, that we live in poor impoverished communities... These people, these C.O's live in communities that are below the poverty line; where there are no jobs, health-care, and the education is even worse. Not to mention, the alarming number of children being born in these communities, who are the product of incest.
How can I continue such a cycle of ignorance? The prison industrial complex offers these underprivileged people some relief from their poverty and gives them self-worth through employment. However, the training they give these people does nothing to improve the relations between the staff and offender populations. This lack of training only serves to agitate the situation of hostility between the less confident C.O.'s and the oppressed. This was Potosi, the place that gave birth to the revolutionary in me. But not every prison is the same (though they're all mostly situated in rural areas).... Needless to say, I made my exit from that place with a new conviction for "Introducing Violence to a Corrections Officer."
After nine-years under the oppressive rule of Potosi's finest, I was sent to Jefferson City Correctional Center (the new "Walls"), where I underwent drastic environmental-shock. The Walls was nothing like my first stop. The guards were much different and you could feel the freshness of the environment; there was no pressure closing in around me. Instead, I found the place to be very open and relaxed.
The guards surprised me with how friendly they were with the offenders; their willingness to listen to the complaints of the prisoners they held in their custody... I was totally unprepared to deal with this new world. Potosi hadn't socialized me to deal well with nice, friendly, humane; I wasn't suppose to be understood and protected. No! They were the enemy; agents of the system of my oppression, they were suppose to confront me with ignorance and hatred and bigotry... not intelligence, humane treatment, and equality. I was unequipped to deal with this.
So saying, the threat had taken on a new face, the role of the adversary had shifted. Of course, the people over us would be friendlier, after all - we are right outside of the Capital of Missouri. Most of the people working in the place come from surrounding cities or politically-correct towns of privilege, so their diplomacy skills are pretty much intact.
Thus, the rules of engagement had changed and I didn't know what they were. In this world, the enemy's face had changed: Now the confrontation came from the quarter of the "inmate" population. I was astonished to realize this. But such is the case where their is no balance and the criminal mind is allowed to continue, unabated, in its madness.
When the system steps back, taking its foot off of the inmates neck, he becomes delirious as to who he is struggling against. The pressure, that told him someone was there, is now gone and because he is sick and suffering, he needs someone to lash out at... So, he lashes out at those around him.
This was the case with the inmate population at the new walls... they proved to be the agents of the State, in their efforts to keep the conditions about the offender chaotic; to keep the offender from taking a look at himself and the shackles that bind him.
The smiles and the intelligence displayed at this prison - on the part of the administration's workers was genuine, because the system did not aim to oppress through its overseers. Rather, it has focused on destroying the nature in which we were created; not only does the prison system take away the natural "man-woman" relationship, but they also suppress the nature and need that human-beings have for "sexual expression."
A married woman and man/or couple are stripped of their right to consummate the marriage-bond and the right to conjugal visitation. This places pressure upon their relationship and the bond.
Then, on top of that, you forbid the incarcerated from indulging the sexual urge; magazine/publications, photographs, videos, any erotica that is deemed pornographic and explicit is Prohibited. If the offender is found with photos of a nude woman or with magazines featuring penetration or that display bodily fluids... the offender will be disciplined.
The vast majority of offenders residing in these prisons are young-black-males, between the ages of 18 and 35-years old. Most of whom are sexually active and sexually driven, as is natural for any species that has a short life-span.
The only hope for the heterosexual male to relieve that urge was his magazine, his girl's photo, his movie/video - because the conjugal visit is unavailable. Now, he looks at the only other options available to him: Looking at female staff member (while masturbating), having sex with an officer or employee, or entering the realm of homosexuality. Neither of which is healthy for society or the prison's safety and security.
Now days, they call it "Gay for the Stay". But it comes with a heavy-price, when 87% of a prison's population is H.I.V. Positive! These guys are going back out into the world, and they will be around and with women, and they will be passing on the curse of their loins.
I've been in this world since I was a 16-year-old adolescent male, I have virtually no experience with the act of sex with another person, so I am not at risk of contracting the disease; because I neither desire to be touchy-feely with another human-being nor do I have any cravings to swap-fluids.
However, I am now sick and suffering from the afore-mentioned options available: "Masturbation" within plain-sight of a woman. I like to reason that it's okay because I always build up a rapport with the woman first and then ask her permission to engage in this open act of sexual-sickness. But the truth is that I am suffering rom mental-illness, and prison is doing nothing to aid me... the system is doing nothing to heal the illness that it has helped to cultivate.
Through the many layers of my own sickness, I am well enough to recognize that the Prison Industrial Complex, as a Corporation and Conglomerate, and its many shareholders, are not interested in fixing the unhealthy criminal-mind or Rehabilitating the people whose bodies fuel its system and bring in its funding...!
To fix us would be to destroy a strong-hold of their little "banking conclave"; to decriminalize the persons who are sick in their criminality would hurt them more than it would help them. A cattle-farmer doesn't turn his cattle into sheep and still hope to stay filthy-rich off the cattle in the cattle business; he will still be filthy...but he won't stay rich.
This system provides funding for thousands of enterprising corporations and business-men around the country. Their investment is in the human-livestock and the recidivism rate and the structure of the sentencing law. If healing the criminal will net them more money... then we will achieve Prison Reform in the U.S.A.
Until we can show them; the Corporations... how healing the sick and suffering will benefit them... The cycle of this system will continue. And the People will continue to be its divided minions.
In conclusion, I ask:
In a system that doesn't believe in rehabilitation and reform... Whose responsibility is it to rehabilitate the offender and reform the prisons...?
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