Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prison: Wondering What It Must Be Like

Living into your 60's gives one the chance to to know and have known people who have found themselves punished by establishment. Some of these acquaintences have been jailed or will be jailed. Some have been ordered to pay substantial sums of money for conduct determined to have been committed and determined to have been wrong. Some are caught in the system are waiting for the system to set out their worldly fate or waiting for the system to start a round of prosecution.

For the most part we do not think much about these people once they have been punished, once they have been sent to jail or made to pay. In fact, sometimes we stop thinking about them when a case is filed against them or a prosecutor commences a prosecution. Though we do not come ou and say it, we think they deserve what happened to them and therefore no longer need to be thought about, cared about. They have been sent away, exiled, sent to Siberia, sent to a relocation camp for future disposition by the authorities. Or they are about to be sent away.

For the most part, we think of these people as generally evil. And, since they "evil" there is no reason to have much regard for them. We say, "they are not like us." We view them as objects which we can forget.

One function of this exclusion is to protect ourselves from having to acknowledge our own many errors, our own wrongs. We were not punished or excluded. We know our secrets, and hope to be able to get away with what we have done.

If we were to think of those who have become involved in the establishment's powers of punishment or imprisonment in a humane way we would have to think of ourselves as wrongdoers. Our illusions about our innocence and perfection would be put at risk.

Our lack of honesty about ourselves and our humanity keeps us from being human to those our establishment punishes and imprisons.