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Do You Know Anyone Impacted By The Criminal Justice System?

W. Scott Cole

Posted on January 24, 2020 01:42

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Think again. The piece below, by Jean Butler, has been circulating in prisons since the early 2000s. It is one of the strongest arguments in favor of criminal justice reform I have ever seen. It may change your thinking.

No More Shame in Having Prison Connections

For those of you who forget that the incarcerated humans in this country are indeed just that –human- I’d like you to think on this the next time you talk about “inmates, criminals, convicts”, etc. These humans have families and those who love them, despite whatever they did. Look around you and wonder, because this is who we are:

We take care of your children and grandchildren in nursery school;

We give you shots in the doctor’s office;

We’re dental assistants, school teachers, and Sunday school teachers;

We stand behind you in the grocery line;

We prepare your medicine in the drug store;

We work in banks, approve your loans and service your insurance claims;

We work for newspapers, and television and radio stations;

We read your electric and water meters;

We are your landlords and your neighbors;

We take care of your elderly parents in nursing homes;

We’re nurses, lab technicians, and Wry technicians;

We own beauty shops, flower shops, and printing shops;

We’re welders, plumbers, and tree trimmers;

We work for the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department, the courthouse, schools, churches, drugstores, and toy stores;

We’re lawyers, legal secretaries, school board members, and school bus drivers;

We prepare meals for your children in school;

We’re city council members and bank tellers;

We process your checking account and savings account;

We work at your Social Security Office and your insurance company;

We take care of your IRA and stocks and bonds;

We sell your children bikes, school supplies, clothes, shoes, and eyeglasses;

We repair your cars;

We’re real estate agents, car dealers, college professors, safety engineers, and ranchers;

We work at Wal-Mart and K-Mart and sell Avon products;

We’re not all “on welfare”, no matter what the government would like you to think.

There are (in 2019) over three million people in prison in America, and twice that many on parole and probation. Add in mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends, and you are touching over 16 million people affected by the prison system in the United States. We’re tired of letting ourselves feel humiliated or embarrassed because our loved one is in prison. We did nothing wrong. We’re tired of fearing the loss of our jobs or evictions from our housing should anyone find out we have a loved one in prison. We’re tired of being made to feel inferior or unwelcome in churches, clubs, organizations, or society in general simply because we refuse to abandon our loved ones.

We’re ready to unite, to come out of hiding and openly support each other and our loved ones. We’re ready to speak out against the “they deserve what they get” attitude we hear you talk about in stores, lines, and restaurants.

We number in the millions. We are everywhere, in every state, county, city, and town. We may even live next door to you. Sixteen million (or more).

W. Scott Cole

Posted on January 24, 2020 01:42


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