Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Friday, March 30, 2007

Facing My Biggest Fear - Why I Am Blogging

I have spent a lot of time thinking about my motivations for publishing this blog. I have been a little surprised at how motivated I am.

Suddenly the other morning, it struck me.

My biggest fear of prison is that it will de-humanize me. I have read and heard that prison is a de-humanizing and degrading place at times. There are things that will happen that are contrary to human dignity. Being strip-searched the moment I enter prison tomorrow cannot help but be degrading.

Some have remarked that my physical conditions will actually be better than military boot camp, which is true. However, in the military, they tear you down in order to build you back up into a better person and everyone there knows that is the goal of training. The Bureau of Prisons is in the business of warehousing criminals. Their mission does not include rehabilitation. There is no "building up" objective.

Now, it may well turn out, as I hope, that the prison staff are consummate professionals and treat me and the other inmates like fellow human beings. Unfortunately, I am skeptical. I hope I am proven wrong.

I do not publish this blog to make light of my conduct or my circumstances, though some of my entries may be light-hearted. I do however write to tell my story and to assert my humanity.

I AM A HUMAN BEING.

I HAVE DIGNITY.

I HAVE A WIFE, CHILDREN, FRIENDS, JOB... A LIFE.

I HAVE A STORY.

AND I WANT TO TELL IT.

I do not write with the defiance of one who rejects his government or the rule of law or the civil servants who work in the system. I simply write as a man who does not want to be invisible.

Some may think I am making a joke of the system. That is not my intent. I do however believe I am entering a system that runs by a different set of rules than the world most of us live in. That is why I have titled my blog "The Rabbit Hole."

Jesus talks about the importance of being in the world but not of it. Well, that is how I view prison. I will be in it, but I do not want to be of it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill,

Will be watching the rabbit hole, and once in a while hope to get a glimps of your head (thoughts, fears and great humor)!.

Good Luck,

Your friend,
Noam

Chuck said...

HI Bill,

Very sorry - and frustrated - about your situation.

However, I have full confidence that you & your family have the strength of character to make it through this.

I look forward to your blogs and to ongoing "contact" with you - whether directly or through Amanda.

Stay strong & God bless.

Another of your Canadian friends,

Chuck Reid

Phil R. said...

Bill:

I will be watching out for your comments. Words of wisdom... Time goes by fast. Sorry we could not get together before you had left.

God Bless
Phil

al said...

Honestly you are not in Prison because you were protesting the draft or war or some such thing.
You did a baddie ,right, remember .
Perhaps some is out money that was their's?
Or was it more violent? hand to hand?
Better if prisons didn't exist, serving the homeless soup from a turren might give you rich guys a veiw of life others have put up with for so long will the so callled middle class gets greedier and greedier and unsharing.