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.