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).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Accidental Tourist

At the beginning of this week, I decided to take a couple days respite from writing to relax and read a little. After scouring the leisure library (totally different atmosphere from the law library) for a book, I settled on "The Accidental Tourist," a 1989 NY Times bestseller translated into a 1988 movie starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Geena Davis.

I am currently only about 100 pages into the book, which is developing a little too slowly for my taste. It occurred to me, however, that the title of the book was perfect for the title of a blog.

In an earlier post you may recall that I was told that I am really a tourist, not a citizen, of this prison; I'm just on vacation, so to speak. Likewise my visit is truly an accident. I had no idea that the conduct that I was prosecuted for was illegal, let alone a federal felony involving potential prison time. I'm still not totally convinced it should be illegal and I am quite sure if you were to poll 100 people, you would be hardpressed to find 5 of them who would agree that it should be a federal felony deserving of prison time. Other than the prosecutor, I have yet to find one person who agrees. Or, I must concede, one person who will admit to my face to agreeing.

That is not to say that my conduct was not wrong or illegal or that my sentence was unjust given what the judge had to work with, only that I think the statute was poorly written and applied overbroadly to the facts of my case - this is my opinion.

Now I can only hope that the book is half as interesting as my experience.

PS I finished the book. Mason is an idiot.

No comments: