Friday, December 23, 2011

Straying from the whole "gift" theme

I haven't used a single NaBloPoMo writing prompt this month, mostly because I've been waking up every morning thinking about something to write about on the blog.

CRA-ZEE!

I had a great gift-themed post in my head this morning, but it needs lots of pictures and I'm just not in the mood to find and edit all of them. I would even have to find, SCAN and edit one. So that one will wait until next week, more than likely.

It only takes one easy-to-download (Bluetooth from cellphone to laptop), easy-to-edit (crop/resize) photo for today's rant thought.


When I saw this guy's license plate, my first thought was, "Who BRAGS about being a JAILER?" (My husband's first thought was that he misspelled the word, but it can be spelled with either an E-R or an O-R. We checked. Heh.)

Of course, I'm coming at this from the perspective of one who has volunteered in a federal prison camp for women for a dozen years. Who goes to a federal prison camp for women? First-time, non-violent, mostly drug offenders. My service to the prison is inmate-related. In other words, I'm on their side, and am not too inclined to stick up for the staff.

There are many, many wonderful staff members who work in jails and prisons all over the country, including the one at which I volunteer. You might feed your family by working in corrections, and I hope my negative reaction to this license plate doesn't offend you as much as seeing the license plate offended me.

I have seen prison guards removed from the grounds in handcuffs. I have seen them blow smoke in inmates' faces after federal prisons went smoke-free (for inmates, not for staff). I have heard their negative comments about inmates in general and inmates in particular. I've seen them relish the power they have over others, including me, and volunteers are supposed to be treated as staff members, not outsiders or inmates.

I have seen their closed minds and closed hearts. I have seen the rules be more important than humanity or compassion. I have seen saving money trump dignity, privacy and good nutrition. I have seen three-squares-and-a-cot deemed "enough," leaving the inmate to come up with enough money from her 12-cents-an-hour job to pay for postage and phone calls.

Yes, it takes half a day's work to buy a stamp.

Some people think anyone who has gone to prison deserves for the rest of her life to pay for his or her crime. I feel differently. Most of us have slipped up, made a bad choice, taken a wrong turn. It's by the grace of God we weren't arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated.

I feel that once you've done your time, you should be DONE. You shouldn't have to check the box on a job application that you're a former felon. You should be able to vote as soon as you leave the facility. You shouldn't be discriminated against because of a mistake in your past that you've paid for with years of your life.

Some feel that former inmates are bad role models. I feel differently. I feel that one who has endured the indignity of strip searches, bed checks, four-times-a-day counts and 24-hour-a-day surveillance (among other things) with grace and humility and even gratitude (because nearly every inmate I've met ends up grateful for God's grace in saving his or her life) is an excellent role model.

There are good people working in corrections. The chaplain at the prison where I volunteer presided over the blessing-of-a-civil-union ceremony for my husband and me when we returned from our wedding trip to Las Vegas. I have wonderful memories of a couple of previous wardens and one assistant warden who really seemed to bring out the best in the women under their care.

The thing is, I don't think they would display a JAILER vanity plate. I'm just sayin'.

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