I don’t like to admit it but hate, distrust and some prejudice has begun to take root in me. Not because of my peers but because a small handful of staff. They are authority but some act worse than the incarcerated people around them. In my mind I’ve tried to make excuses for them; ‘they have worked here too long’, or ‘they have been working too many double shifts’ or ‘they are having a bad day’. What about those observing who only see the actions at face value?
Multiple times a day I hear “I hate so and so”, or “don’t trust that officer”, or “so and so is racist”, and other similar comments. These are values these women are taking back into society upon release.
Don’t get me wrong, we do have some amazing staff here. However, the unprofessional ones dull the good ones. Most incarcerated people have experienced trauma and tend to remember the bad not the good.
Many of these women go back to the streets with more animosity than they came in with. While incarcerated they have learned how to play the game. How to manipulate staff and do things without getting caught. They become better criminals. Is that the type of “new thinking” you want us learning? Intimidation and manipulation should not be what we are learning in order to survive. Would you want that as your neighbor?
Aggression and force isn’t the only way to get through to incarcerated people. Many staff members have figured this out. Others enjoy treating us unprofessionally. Compassion and empathy can go a long way. We are human too.
I came into prison without hate or prejudices. Sadly, I can’t say that I am going to leave this way. What I can do is get our voices out there. If we don’t advocate for ourselves who will? Unless you live or have lived this life you don’t have the slightest idea of what it is like.
Jennifer (TCI) (WI)
*The narrative of incarceration should not remain in the shadows. Each voice here is a pin point of light in that darkness. Please, share these posts with others. We write for you — Thank you.