Appreciate Your Jail Cell

Here we are, in lockdown in our homes. Do you appreciate your jail cell? Are you really locked down? Can you take a walk or play with your dog? Can you reach for germ-killing cleansers and wash your hands at will? If you get sick, can you call your doctor? If your partner starts getting sick, can you still keep your social distance?

Sitting in your home, you have decent humane answers to these questions. But if you’re sitting in a jail cell, the answers are not so decent – often not good at all. Prisoners are alive, they do have an outlook on life. Maybe you can imagine how this pandemic is for the prisoners; it is crushing to their vitality – it’s extreme trauma on top of relentless trauma.

Prisons are necessary, but the shape they take isn’t.

Criminals are usually in prison for valid reasons. But they are human, and prison is more than simply getting rid of them. Put them away, but they usually come back. In some shape, they will be back, either more or less equipped to be part of society.

We can feel for their plight. Many people have sincere empathy for what incarcerated people are going through. But predominantly, it’s short of embracing them as humans, of making sure they have a path to succeed. There are lots of calls to action, all to little or no avail. And when democracy itself is being challenged, criminal justice is still a weak tired lament.

Here and now we can’t fix this injustice, and you probably want no more grim reminders. So, what can we do? Here’s my offer.

I thank and recognize those of you who are patiently and responsibly waiting in your homes, for not complaining or twisting it for personal interests, and doing the best you can.

Thank you for doing your important bit. I think this is part of that American Spirit. I hope we gain strength from each other. And in a remote way, you honor the women and men and children in jail – you do this by not putting yourself above or put off by conditions prisoners so wish they had, about which they can only dream.

How Does Your  Jail Cell Measure Up?

As one who has been intimate with jail cells, who now sits confined in a sweet little home, I embrace it as the best jail cell ever. I thank goodness for what I have, here at my strategic position at the dinette table, with a big bay window overlooking a spring garden and the side-walkers to my left, flowers and computer in front of me, and a well-equipped kitchen and a news-monopolized TV to the right. Yes, my best jail cell ever.

your jail cell should be appreciated

Of course, not being locked away doesn’t mean you have it good, as I’m reminded when I go down past the Woodward 8-Mile bridge and see how the pandemic has changed the begging operation. Or when I drive past the manicured palaces that look as empty as ever.

If I had a magic wand, I’d use it to decrease disparity and increase humanity. Or maybe those are the same things.