Starve the Prisons #poem #poetry #poetrycommunity #reformthejusticesytem

Starve the Prisons

Prisons crop up everywhere

Cell doors open like jaws

hungry for our babies

hungry for every opportunity

the system can steal

and redistribute

to the spoiled opportunists who cry for more

while watching the gifts rain down

Unconcerned

they turn their heads when the innocent

rot in cells

And even when prison time is done

the system’s hounds stalk the not truly free

trip them

steal chunks of life and flesh with dirty mouths and laws

built for entrapment

The CEOs want our babies’ journeys

diminished

separated

funneled to roads leading only to paths where

living is nothing more than surviving

and surviving means

living to serve

as wage serfs

under the boots of unforgiving capitalism

while the heels of judgment grind

into their backs

denying them a voice and a vote

The for-profit prison industry and the companies who capitalize on providing needed services to prisons and prisoners is growing in the United States at an alarming rate. It almost sounds as if there are just so many criminals, so many that the county and state prisons couldn’t keep up and that knowledgeable CEOs were able to step right in and build a bunch of jails and keep us all safe. On the surface, if we don’t want to look too hard, we could think that now we have more jails, now we are safer. A scratch in the surface leaves the truth rushing out, exposing a tragedy caused by corporate greed and systemic dishonesty.

When I was a kid, I innocently thought that people in jail were there because they made a mistake and they needed to be there as punishment and to keep society safe. My father was a prison guard, and his philosophy was that no matter what a prisoner had done, they were human beings and were to be treated with decency and dignity. I’ll never forget that concept as long as I live. I apply it to everyone to the best of my ability. What I learned as I got older was that my father’s philosophy was his personal choice. He was choosing to be a decent human being and to never abuse the power and authority he was given. But when power and authority are given in great measure, the potential for abuse of that power both via the individual and the system granting that power is vast. My father chose to be decent. Others working in positions of power and authority do not make that decision and are rarely held accountable. Mix in some corporate greed from the for-profit prison industry with some kickbacks to the system and add in public fear of rampant crime, and there is the perfect recipe for the profiling, abuse, and incarceration of innocent people. It’s a numbers game, and the game is rigged.

Teens are often discriminated against and taken advantage of when it comes being stopped or detained. Research increasingly shows that they are much more likely to be pressured into taking plea deals even when innocent.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180315110631.htm

People without financial means to hire a quality lawyer have been forced into the legal system with frightening regularity for decades. Further, people with disabilities are often at increased risk for enduring harm during encounters. That absolutely must change.

https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2017/11/people-disabilities-more-likely-be-arrested

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-05-people-autism-encounters-police-dangerous.html

The system that steals lives due to greed, ignorance, and bad policy has been given immunity for far too long, and now it must take a look at itself, address the harms it has done, and be forced remake itself from the ground up.

Protests are often popular amongst people who are trying to make a positive change in the world. The articles below discuss tips on how to stay safe during a protest as well as listing other useful resources.

https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/teenagers/how-to-keep-your-teen-activist-healthy-and-safe-at-protests-and-demonstrations/

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/how-protest-safely