Not long ago, I was talking with several ladies and the subject of prisons and nursing homes came up and how we should put prisoners in nursing homes and our elders in prison. The argument is that prisoners have it so easy, have three free meals a day, free medical, TV’s, and so on. The fact is that those who think this do not have a clue what it is really like in prison or even in jail cells. And if they think being in prison is so wonderful, then I would dare them to spend some time in one so that they can receive a real reality check.
For the men and women in prison, they have all their freedoms stripped away from them. Their rooms are very small and they have no privacy to even go to the bathroom. They can’t come and go as they please. They can’t go out to restaurants, movies, dancing, shopping, or go hang out with their friends. They can’t travel or go on vacations. They can’t go out on dates. If they have families, they can only see those families if or when they visit the prison, and even then, they are supervised. They can’t have their spouses or significant others lay in bed with them every night. They can’t kiss their kids before they go to bed. Every day, most live in fear for their lives. They never know when they might get beat up, raped, knifed, or even killed. About 15 years or so ago, I was corresponding with one prisoner who said that one time he got beat up just because someone wanted his Jell-O!
Yes, they may have free medical care, but they can’t choose which doctor or what hospital to go to. They are at the mercy of whoever is in charge of the medical facility in the prison.
I once visited a local jail cell in the town I was living in at the time. Mattresses covered every inch of the jail cells because it was overcrowded, it reeked of urine, and people were crammed in tight. No matter what a person did or didn’t do, this is no way to treat human beings, some who may even be innocent.
I was also corresponding with another prisoner, and while we were writing, I asked if he would write a letter to children to try to keep them out of prison. Here is an excerpt from that letter regarding what it is like to have your life in someone else’s control.
“There is nothing more precious than your freedom. The freedom to go where you want, when you want, and to do what you want. My every movement is controlled in this place. I am told when I can eat, when I can take a shower, what time to go to bed and get up, and when to go to work. In the thirteen years since I have been locked up, I have only seen my family three times. I have a son who was born shortly after I got locked up that I have only seen eight or nine times. He is presently in foster care and I don’t even know where he is. I cannot send him letters, a birthday card, Christmas card, or anything. Although I love him very much, he probably feels I do not.
As far as prison itself…. The best words I could probably come up with is that it sucks. It is true that many of us have our own television, radio, and so forth, but none of the “goodies” we have can make up for what we don’t have, and what we have to endure in here. No matter how tough you think you are there is always someone trying to prove he is tougher. Every day you live on the edge. You have to worry about defending what you have because there is always someone wanting to take it from you. You have people in here who will kill you just for looking at them the wrong way. If you are black, you have the pressures of being forced into a gang, and even the gang members are not safe. If you are white, you are constantly on your guard against the other gangs because most of the gang members see you as just another white dude who is part of the system they feel put them here. And there are other gangs of various races. Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of good white, black, and other races in here, but they are in the minority.
You can never let your feelings or emotions show because at the first sign of weakness, the so-called tough guys will be on you like white on rice. I am fifty-five years old and I am very capable of taking care of myself, but there is not a moment that I let my guard down. You have to watch everybody, even your so-called friends, because even they will take advantage of you if you let them.” (To read the full letter, please go to: http://kalina-spiritualoasis.blogspot.com/2014/12/letter-from-prisoner.html)
There are many who made mistakes and just want to do their time until they can be released, if they will be released at all. There are many who are innocent who have to wait months, maybe even years just to get to trial. Then there are the rest who are in for the long haul, maybe even for life. Many of them are angry and will do anything to just keep themselves at the top of the food chain, and that includes beating people up and/or killing them over the slightest offenses.
As for those in nursing homes, which is part of this argument, I wish we would take better care of our seniors. Many nursing homes have some serious issues in the quality of their care. Our seniors should be well taken care of and shouldn’t have to go broke having to live in such a place. But rather than link our seniors with prisoners in this argument, how about if we do something to improve the quality of care in the nursing homes, as well as find ways to make it more affordable for them to be there.
The next time you or anyone else tries to link seniors and prisoners in the same argument, or think that prisoners have it easy, I hope you will remember what I wrote here. Prisons and some nursing homes are hell, but one has nothing to do with the other.