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"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Happened To Compassion?

I read a story this morning about how the budget shortfalls in Illinois are causing some issues in an interesting area - it seems prisoners are having to wear soiled, worn clothing, with laundry done only twice a week.

The story itself was not remarkable, really...it's hardly a surprise that the state will cut funding anywhere it can, and prisons are an easy mark because the people inside are either employed there and can leave or are lumped under the heading of "If you're there you must deserve to be so suck it up".

What struck me was the tone of the responses to the story. The comments left were horrid, to say the least, full of smug self-righteousness and ignorance. They ranged from"Who cares?" to "They deserve to suffer."

Excuse me??

People are wrongly convicted every day. Not everyone in prison is evil. People go to prison for having the wrong kind of herbal entertainment in their pockets. They go to prison for defending themselves. They go to prison because they made a mistake and society wants to punish them soundly.

Whatever the reason, and whether they are nice, stupid, evil, intelligent, kind, guilty, or innocent, they are still people. To try and deny them their humanity is a mistake. To treat them as less than human is to take away the one thing that connects them to society and helps them change for (one hopes) the better.

Forcing people to wear filthy, worn clothing while living in crowded conditions is unhealthy, to say the least.

Saying "Oh, well,they can wash them in the sink" would make sense...unless you know how unrealistic that is. Prisoners don't get full bars of soap. They often get tiny bits, smaller than those motel soaps. It's hardly enough to wash a body, let alone laundry.

Asking why they need underwear at all is just plain stupid. While not everyone wants underthings, a prison environment is hardly the place to make someone...erm...freeball, as it were. Think, people.

The comments about how the vicitims suffered, so should the criminals? How do two wrongs become a right?

And before you jump all over me for being all soft or whatever...I havebeen the victim of crimes, with the perpetrators unpunished. Were they in prison, I would not want them to be treated inhumanely...I would want them to come to understand how they did me (and others) harm, to change and grow, and to emerge better people. Naive, yes, but there you are.

I wonder what those hateful commenters would think if it was their son, husband, brother, sister, mother, daughter, or friend? What if they, themselves, were the prisoner being made to wear dirty, threadbare clothing?

Prison itself is the punishment...being locked away from the clear sky, the freshening wind, the gentle rain, the sun, moon, and stars...to be locked away from friend, family, kind words and soft touch...that's the punishment. Fer cryin' out loud, clean skivvies are hardly a luxury...or at least, they shouldn't be.

If Illinois needs to cut their budget, perhaps they should consider trimming from some truly inhuman sources - perhaps a few politicians could use a paycut. I'm sure the bribes will more than make up for it.

1 comment:

Momlady said...

Illinois is probably one of the most corrupt states in this country. Perhaps the politicians should spend a day or two or three in jail. Some of them deserve to be there, I'm sure.