“Hey you out there in the real world!, Don’t look at me as though you hold stereotypical thoughts. I am not like every inmate and all inmates are not alike. I am not coming back here when I get out. Hell, I only have a misdemeanor charge and that was for petty theft. I am not a menace to society and I am not a recidivist. I have never been locked up before in my life. When I get out, I am going to get a job, make some money and pull myself together. There is no reason why I should wind up back in here. I hate this place.
The stinking cells and the so-called correctional officers. Some of them think that they are above us thus, better than we are. Hello!, it’s because of us inmates, that you even have a job in the first place. Some of the officers commit the same crimes that we do. They just don’t get caught. But getting caught doesn’t mean that society is rejecting me and I am thus labeled a bad seed. It only means that I am paying for a crime that I committed and once I have paid for my crime, the wrong doing has been repented.
Don’t look down on me man! I am human! I have feelings! I am not all bad, so why must I be treated as though I am an animal. Hey, you talk about white man and slavery times. How they used to beat on us and treat us like animals. Some of you officers are doing the same thing. Only you are degrading your own race. We are both black and we are brothers and sisters. Yet you beat on us brothers and treat us the same they did us generations ago.
“Clear the dining hall and go back to your cells,” is what you say to us as you look down on us and treat us as if we can never be as good as you are. We are then subjected to moral and physical deprivation. You deprive us of the chance to feel good about ourselves. You take that away as you treat us as inmate numbers instead of as human beings. You forget the human qualities we do have. You look through my jumpsuit, my jail house attire, and see nothing for you are incapable of expressing sympathy or empathy.
Placing yourselves in our shoes will without a doubt enlighten you on a few facts. Some of us are as good as you are, if not better. And for some of us, it’s not too late to mend our ways. Remember to observe the one quality we all share. We are all human. We all share the same human characteristics. Don’t look down on me and think all inmates are alike. Hey, what if I thought all correctional officers were alike?
That they don’t attempt to correct or rectify wrongdoings as they are paid to do. They in groups beat on us and do everything but spit on us. And some of you do that too. You make us feel so bad that we feel hostile and resentful. We begin to feel hatred, first on the officers and then on society. Then we play games on the officers. It is an exchange ideal that we do this. We retaliate in making the correctional officer corrupt.
“Get favors out of them, turn them into drug mules, make them lose their job and sometimes, just make flunkies out of them.” Some of the officers deserve to be make fools of as they degrade our wellbeing each and everyday. We even get some of you to fall prey to our sexual whims. You see, when we get locked up, we feel bad enough. We weren’t put here to meet with your individual specifications. We are here to pay for a societal wrong, not to entertain your sick minds.
You, the corrupt, wear your badge for the wrong reasons. And after you have conditioned us thoroughly in a negative sense and still have the gall to call yourselves correctional officers, you then run for your paychecks as if services were rendered. I suggest you re evaluate yourself and your purpose in being here before you destroy the entire concept of corrections completely. All you are supposed to do is maintain security with a sustained level of accountability.
You lock us up and make sure we don’t escape. Then, you provide a positive environment conducive to rehabilitation. You respect our rights to which we are entitled. We all need not be treated like animals to respond to your orders within your official capacity. Some of us are intellectually inclined and maybe more so than you are. Keeping this in mind, you will have no trouble dealing with us inmates. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure.”
written by Joan Nyobe