Recently, someone close to me went to prison.
Of course there's a part of me that realizes he deserves some kind of punishment for his crime, but because I care about him, I wish it didn't have to be this way.
It's so easy for probably most of us to think "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to prisoners. I mean, certainly, if they have wronged another human being or broken a law, there is a price to pay.
Still, we're talking about a human being, locked away in confinement with very few rights if any, day after day after day. Despite it being justified in many ways, I still feel so very sorry for him. It's painful and sad to imagine what his days must be like, being away from his family with nothing to do but think about what he did wrong.
I would hope that because of this time, it would make him think twice about every decision he makes in the future after he gets out. But will it really? Will it "cure" the disease that took him down this path in the first place? Probably not. And that for me is where prison feels like it fails. It seems most of the time it's just a matter of alienating criminals from society, but doesn't often take steps to help guide those people in the right direction after they're released so they don't end up back there again.
I don't think every person in prison is an evil person. I bet a lot are people who are dealing with a lot more issues and ended up making bad decisions based on feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and despair. Feelings we've all felt, but have been better equipped to deal with than these individuals, for whatever combination of reasons and circumstances.
So why am I writing this? Without sounding like I in any way defend criminal behavior, I simply care about this person and think about him a lot. What can I do to help him? Probably not much. But I decided today to write him a letter as often as I can. I haven't decided yet what to write about. Without judging, giving advice or making him feel worse by telling him things he's missing out on, I just want to reach out to him so he knows that even though he may feel alone in there, there are people out here besides his mom, sister and brother who want him to have a good life.
Until he gets his freedom back, I hope I can remind him of that and help him through this in this small way.