If you’ve ever known, or conceived of, someone being released from prison, or if you’ve ever watched a movie in which a character is being released from prison, there is an almost unfailing probability that the concept you’ve constructed of such an experience is inaccurate. If you’ve never been incarcerated you would assume that the person being released is happy, joyful, ecstatic even, but that assumption is really just an affirmation of your supposed “humanity.” It serves as confirmation that you are experiencing and processing emotions and ideas the way others do, in a “natural” way, so, realistically, your assumption has more to do with psychologically solidifying your place amongst society as a fully functioning member and less to do with arriving at an intelligent and reasonable conclusion.

To assume that the recently-released convict is experiencing anything other than happiness, joy, elation – you know, optimistic, hopeful and favorable emotion – is to admit that you coexist alongside others whose nature has been altered and is now different from yours. Or, at the very least, this admittance is the acknowledgement that the American experience is a tale of two worlds, one in which its inhabitants experience the best of times, and in the other world, the worst of times. This admittance (either) is the equivalent of a guilty plea. If we are aware and accepting of the deliberate alteration of human nature, or if we are aware and accepting of this tale of two worlds, where division reigns king, and if we’re turning a blind eye to maltreatment, then we are in collusion with the perpetrator, an accessory to the crime, sharing in the responsibility of injustice.

3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Assumptions

  1. I recently re blogged a post on mynameisjamie.net about “ban the box” which posts to the fb page and I postedit several other groups. Because you are right. The false ideas many people have about certain justice/prison issues feed to them through different kinds of propaganda leaves people with a very skewed idea of what is true and what is false. Unless they actually know someone who has been through it with a loved one they don’t even know they should question what they believe in. The same goes for all tightly held beliefs in all tense situations people can get violent over if they are expected to question why they believe in something. They don’t wasn’t to be proven wrong. But in the meantime so many people get hurt.

    Jamie, in prison now for 11.5 years with 5.5 to go is already fearful of all the unknowns – a now approaching middle age man with the life experience of a teenager who was never taught anything, with a family who has ignored him and hasn’t helped him at all. A mother who told me it hurt HER to much knowing he was in there to even send him a birthday card. With all the life issues an uneducated black man with epilepsy with a son kept from him, he has many personal and painful issues to deal with. Happy at the thought of getting out? Yes and no. Scared shitless is more like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Sonni, when I was getting out, after 9 years, I was excited about stepping into the next chapter of my life, but I was also fearful, scared. There comes a point in every long-term prisoner’s sentence when the images of freedom begin to blur and, still further, when his desire to be free has eroded. At that juncture, he is left with only a dream of what it is like to be free. Then, he finally gets a realease date, his heart jumps, and he is terrified. It’s crazy.


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