Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Message To My Brothers That Are Free and On Lock Down in Jail/Prison

Last weekend I visited my nephew in a Federal Prison Camp. I was a first-time visitor to a prison site, although I worked in law enforcement as a 911 Dispatch Supervisor for thirty years. While I admit I was astounded at seeing the comforts and freedoms afforded those sentenced to this camp, in the back of my mind a little voice kept reminding me it was still a prison, albeit a minimum security prison.

There were many other young men, in addition to many males who fell in the category of senior citizen, like my twenty-something year old nephew. The prison was a three-hour drive for me so my sister, my brother-in-law and my grand-nephew spent several hours visiting, chatting and playing cards with my nephew.

My nephew graciously introduced us to some of his 'new' friends there. After each left our table, my nephew said, "That's a good guy." It seems that there were many 'good guys' in there, and in many ways many probable are 'good guys', but that doesn't take away from the fact that all of these 'good guys' are doing time in federal prison for various reasons.

We weren't the only visitors at the camp that day. There were many wives/girlfriends, children/grandchildren visiting also. My newphew has three young children of his own ranging in ages from 9 months - 7 years old, although none of them accompanied us on this visit. Looking around at all of the young children that were visiting their love ones doing time, I thought about my nephew's young children, and all the other young children that these men have fathered and left behind while they are doing time for crimes they've committed, and the ones that proclaim they're doing time but they're innocent.

These young children are fatherless for whatever time these young men are on lock down. I wonder who's going to step in and fulfill these father's shoes during their absence? Although I know my nephew's children have their grandfathers and uncles that will fill in for my nephew, I wonder about the children who don't have anyone to step in for the absent fathers. What will happen to them? Who will be their role model? The Streets? The fast dollar? The corner nickel and dime drug dealer?

To the absent fathers, I ask, "Have you thought about the consequences of your actions? For those that were fortunate enough to be sentenced to this camp with all of its luxuries I wonder, "Is the sentence harsh enough that you wouldn't want to return to such a place?"

As I listened to my nephew describe all the freedoms they have at this prison camp, the little voice kept echoing, it's still prison and the one freedom that's most important in all of this was missing from his description, and that is, he is a prisoner for the next several years and he does not have the freedom to leave, to return to his family and be the father that his young children need. And to me, that was the saddest part of this entire visit. These children are the innocent ones in all of this. They've surely been sentenced to doing time for crimes they didn't commit.


Anonymous said...

First let me say Happy New Year VeeJay! It has been awhile since I last spoke with you.

I grew up in Northern California. Let me add that my teenage years were mostly spent in the Bay Area of Oakland, San Francisco, and Richmond. I made many trips to the jailhouse and prisons that served ( hmmm...) these cities. Mostly, I visited friends, but on occasions I visited one of my five brothers.

As you say, there were many good guys there too. There were guys that I knew from the neighborhood who were funny, who were protectors of the community, and who were Fathers to little babies growing up there without them.

I am hoping that the election of Barack Obama will give a sense of possibilities to our young men who are growing up now in the rough areas of towns...the 'Good Guys' who can easily become the ‘Next President of the United States of America’.
H. Renay Anderson

Karen O'Bannon said...

Funny..I was just thinking about how many young black men feel hopeless. Not necessarily a no hope kind of hopelessness, but more like a I'll only be able to do so much kind. It may be what's stopping them from really looking into the future and actually seeing themselves become something they are willing to strive to become. And like you, I feel for their children because, unless some other male steps in, the cycle will unfortunately continue.

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Thanks H Renee and Karen for stopping by, reading my thoughts and commenting. I truly appreciate it. I do pray that January 20th will be a turning point and an inspiration for many of our young men.

Love & Peace,

thagstands4 said...

I often think about the same questions you were wondering about as far as if a stint in prison would be a wake up call or not for inmates. I see my relatives return to prison/jail again and again and its sad for everyone involved especially their children. During the court process the 'man' is always blamed for stiff laws and sentences and I often wonder...did you think something had changed since the last time you took this ride? I hope your nephew learns from his stay behind bars and doesn't return there.

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Thanks thagstand4, I pray he does as well. Continued blessings to you.

Ronald said...

My sista,
It is sad when so many men, especially, African American men find themselves in the High-tech system of slavery called prison.It is my prayer that they come to the knowledge of their divine purpose, God's plan for their lives, and become loving fathers to the broken hearts that they left behind. I believe that we serve a gracious God of multiple chances, therefore we must seize the opportunity to make a difference to those who are hopeless.