Today I received an outlet for the thoughts that are with me every waking moment

Lawson-Wilson, James

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Today I received an outlet for the thoughts that are with me every waking moment, as I sit here and urge the time to move just a little bit faster. This waiting is what my world has narrowed down to. My world is a 10 x 7 foot cell in which I spend every hour of everyday. Part of me enjoys the solitude, the time to just think, well that is until the thinking takes control and you lose focus on whats real and whats not, you find yourself confused at your surroundings when you zone back in from some better time and place, or as often happens a time and place alot more chaotic. This was the case today as without warning a letter slid under my cell door. No they couldnt bother to actually address the person to whom they are going to the mail, that would be admitting that I am in fact a human being and not some raving lunatic who cannot not even be trusted with something as simple as receiving a piece of mail out of the hand of a free citizen in this great country, instead of picking it up off the ground. I dont blame him though, he is young and new to the job. I am sure that when he was trained as a certified correctional officer he was told something along the lines of, "Now don't get to close to them animals they bite, you stick your hand in that flap you'll pull back a stump." I feel really bad for him that he will live half his life under the impression that a fellow human being is not worth eye contact and that in order to maintain control he must abandon any scrap of civility or decency that he may have possessed. The other part of me fights to keep at bay the human capacity to adapt to our surroundings. Honestly to allow my mind to conform to the desired patterns of the Department of Corrections would be a sin against God, and if you don't believe in God, then it would be more in line with abandoning any morals or standards you hold yourself to as a member of the human race. So the letter as it turns out is from A.P.W.A, and Ive been waiting on it for a few weeks, I had almost forgotten about it. When I first heard about the A.P.W.A, I was excited to find someone or a group of someones who not only wanted to hear what I had to say, and by I, I mean the hundred of thousands of men in this country who have lost their voice, lost their dignity, and in most cases lost hope. And not only that, they want to share what I have to say with multitudes of other people who want to know about whats going on, but thankfully will never have to step foot into a place like this. People who want to take the story I provide, and use it to potentially create a better way of doing things. So knowing this I will not drown you in how horrible the treatment is, how unsafe the living conditions are, the sub-human quality of the food, the overpriced monopoly of a canteen that they use to hold our families hostage for their income, or the systematic brutality inflicted upon inmates every day for any arbitrary reason. Not to mention the mindset you must adapt to survive in this environment and then take home with you if your lucky enough to be someone who gets to go home. No, instead I will be fair and address the real issues, the underlying issues that have all the radio programs talking now-a-days about prison reform, and overhauling the criminal justice system. Thats what I'll do, I'll be fair to the people who run this site, I'll be fair to those of you who take your time to read my words, I'll be fair to the public whose tax dollars go to funding this system of sanctioned torture of United States citizens, and most of all, I'll be fair to the men and women in this country who deserve to be heard, by not spouting obvious indignities that you would expect to hear, as truthful as they are, what is the value of describing what anybody knows that prison is not a health spa? I'll give you the truth, and I'll do it in a way that is useful not only us, but the people who are suppose to be benefitting from my incarceration, the public. I will start by saying that the prison system in this country is essential. The truth is that prison is for the most part filled with people who have violated the laws to such an extent that to leave them free in the public would be a violation of the citizens right to live safe in their communities, yes me included. I am not suggesting we get rid of our prisons and live in a lawless society, that would be ridiculous. What I do want to do is point out the flaws in the system that currently allows it to be abused or out right fail all together. Our first problem is that the 1990's saw America build a prison complex on an industrial scale to bolster failing rural communities throughout the country. This was an admirable attempt to look out for the little guys of our nation. Well the unintended consequence of this was in order to fill all these new expensive prisons with all the new employees you need more criminals! And how do you do that? You revamp the criminals codes, you restructure the sentencing guidelines and you start a war on drugs. From the perspective of your average person that probably sounded great. But how about all the people you were funneling into prison who needed to just get cleaned out or re-hab. How about all those low level crimes that use to get you a fine or a few months in jail that are now depriving families of their sole provider of income? Not that I'm condoning any criminal activity at all, but now you are throwing this guy who maybe walks outside the bounds a little bit now and then putting him or her into a world of extreme violence and degradation. Now you have a full blown criminal on your hands. And one with a light enough sentence that he will be returning to society with all his new found skills and mistrust for anything resembling law enforcement. Our second problem lies in the training and culture of the correctional officers themselfs. Before an officer ever steps foot onto a prison yard a deep mistrust, a de-humanizing view of inmates, and air of hostility is imbued into the new recruits. Then once they are integrated into a prison they are confronted with daily examples of, "how you are to interact" with inmates how it is okay to disrespect them, because they don't dare talk back or stand up for themselves, because we are in control and if they do we we'll kick the shit out of them. This is just reality but in words that are left unsaid in the hearing of an inmate so I'm creating an imagined dialogue. If you ever put on a blue set of clothes with a white stripe down the legs, you would know what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is, sure there are men in here that deserve to be here, but the culture of brutality and disrespect and lies that permeates the ranks of officers seems to me like a self fulfilling prophesy. They convince themselves that we are dangerous animals, then proceed to abuse us physically and verbally to the point where even a rational man couldn't stay quiet any longer, then when we react, they pat themselves on the back for being right all along. Bottom line is that they need some form of oversight that cannot be infiltrated or corrupted by the intimidation that occurs to everyone who walks into a prison and into their world regardless whether your an inmate or an employee. There of course are many more issues that need to be addressed in fuller detail, but as I said I want to be fair to the editors at A.P.W.A. So I will treat this as my introduction into your community. I hope that my descriptions helped shine a little light onto these, I'm sure very familiar topics, and give you view into who I am and who I am not. As I send in future installments I will touch base on some more specific topics of prison life. I am humbly appreciative of the opportunity I am being afforded, which is to make contract with people I would have otherwise never have encountered, you, the readers. Yours truly, James Lawson.

Author: Lawson-Wilson, James

Author Location: Florida

Date: May 14, 2018

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

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