Posted: January 20, 2012 by Ed Griffin in Prison, Reform
Tags: , ,

identityPrison rips the identity out of people. Imagine a prisoner named Bill

Everything in his life militates against him believing that he is somebody. From the moment of his arrest to the moment of his final release, the system tells him that he is less than a human being.

His hands are cuffed and he is put in a cage to ride to the police station. He will overhear officers referring to him as ‘scum bag,’ ‘ass hole’ and worse. His possessions and his clothes will be taken from him, and he will be given a number. From now on the passive voice will be used to refer to him. Bill will no longer initiate action on his own.  “He was arrested, he was sentenced, he was moved, he was given prison clothes.”

Bill is given an institutional personage and a number. Yes, we all have numbers in our lives, but Bill’s number often replaces him. He is told the rules, and he must comply. He must fit in. He must become an institutional man. His daily schedule will be determined by the authorities, when to eat, when to sleep, even when to piss.hands behind bars

Slowly Bill loses his identity, the things that make him an individual. He becomes a case, someone to be treated by prison social workers and shrinks. He will be defined as a sociopath. He’s sick. He will be told to be caring in an institution that doesn’t care for him.  He will be taught alternatives to violence by people who have used high levels of violence to keep him there. He will learn a new rule, that his keepers are always right and he is always wrong. He will be expected to bottle up all his normal sexual desires. Most likely his wife will divorce him and often his kids will disown him. The quicker Bill loses his identity and become a slave of the state, the sooner he will get out of prison.

There’s more – but that’s for our next post.

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