First of all, you have to remove everything from your pockets, take nothing in with you and walk through a metal detector just to go inside where prisoners are locked in pods. A pod consists of a main area with a guard and a number of cells surrounding it. Everything is open – meaning everybody can see everybody. The showers are out in front of everyone. There’s no privacy. If that’s not bad enough, the potties are in plain view, too. You can’t do your business without everyone watching. Right above the potty is the sink! Each cell is barely big enough for two people. Everything is brick and concrete. Your legs get tired just walking on it. The main area does have tables and TVs. The TVs are up on the walls and there are several phones the inmates are allowed to use.
An inmate is charged $48 a day while he/she’s incarcerated. So, depending on how long you’re in there, you walk out with one heck of a bill. Now think about it. This person probably comes from an uneducated background, had no job to begin with, probably cannot read or write very well and has no prospect of earning anything more than minimal wage the rest of their lives. They’re supposed to pay off this debt to the government. How?
No, I’m not a bleeding heart and I don’t expect them to be housed for nothing. Most wind up back in prison because they don’t know how to survive on the outside anyway. But isn’t there something we can do as a society to help those that are trainable. Sure, you have your hardened criminals (murderers, rapists, etc.) who should be kept behind bars but there are others we really need to take a look at and see if there’s someway to rehabilitate them. Give them the education they never got and teach them how to be a productive part of society.
Some inmates have jobs while in jail but they’re paid very minimal amounts of money. Cents an hour not dollars. If they’re working why aren’t they paid minimal wage? Any monies they receive reduces their debt by that amount. Monies friends and family send to them to buy their deodorants, etc. (which aren’t supplied to them) is divided – part to the inmate and part to the government for repayment of their debt. Doesn’t seem fair to me.
There is little for an inmate to do while incarcerated. They can either watch TV, read or get into more trouble. If you’re on the outside and you’re bored, you can find something entertaining to do. If you’re bored and you’re on the inside …
No, being incarcerated shouldn’t be like staying at the Hilton. Give these people an education that lets them help themselves when they get out. Train them in a job that can sustain them when they get out.
The jail here can house 1,000 inmates with the capacity to open other pods to increase that number to 1,500. Men and women are housed in the same jail. Men are on one side of the hallway and women on the other.
Women are treated the same. Showers are open as are the potties. Everything is done in front of everyone else. You lose all since of dignity. One thing I found disturbing is there is never darkness. Lights are on at all times. They aren’t dimmed at night. It’s bright. Very bright.
The thing I found most disturbing though is the sound of the metal doors as they automatically clank shut behind you. It’s a frightening sound. Just realizing you can’t get back out is really unnerving. That sound echos in your mind over and over again. Clank. And the freedom you knew is no longer. Freedom is a precious gift. Don’t let it slip away.