Fed up with being locked down

Ricky Leslie

First and foremost, I am an incarcerated person from the United States. Second, I am an extremely disenfranchised, fed-up, irate American – one who sees how this entire society is set up to support the prison-industrial complex. Why does so little of the money behind prisons go toward inmate rehabilitation, reintegration into society, or upkeep of prisons? The money goes to corporations around the world, rarely for the benefit or betterment of those sentenced to their confines. 

Though the names of prison shareholders are mostly kept a secret, we know that the family members of judges, prosecutors, and attorneys can invest in private prisons – for example, in 2017, the husband of a federal judge bought stocks in a private prison five days before his wife put hundreds of immigrants in jail. They own stock in companies which own, run, and provide security in prisons in the United States and beyond. People need to know prisons are a money-making scheme. Politicians and private companies use prisons as an economic development tool, and they build up people’s fear of crime in order to justify building more prisons. Prisons have more to do with politicians’ and investors’ economic interests than with community safety or rehabilitation. 

We are treated as scum and degenerates based simply on whether our shirt carries a number rather than a sewn-on badge. 

These prisons are supposedly meant to “fix” those inside their walls. In my experience, however, they only break people down. They destroy our friendships, our families, and our connections to community by making it impossible for us to stay close to our loved ones. This is one of the hardest parts of doing time. The actual time is easy. It has been easier for me to put up with gangs, riots, murders, and the drugs brought in by staff than it has been to put up with the bullshit of ignorant guards, mass punishment, lack of quality medical care, and lockdowns. Correctional officers need to realize that we matter. The different-coloured clothing shouldn’t affect how we are treated, no more than the colour of our skin should affect how we are treated. We are treated as scum and degenerates based simply on whether our shirt carries a number rather than a sewn-on badge. 

We are given no chance to become the better people society claims it wants us to be. The prisons don’t give us classes to improve who we are. The only classes offered are ones that are reimbursed with government money. Some of these classes aren’t even offered in all prisons. Prisons have taken away more classes than are currently offered, including most classes that would grant us real-world certification outside of prison. They don’t care about our education; they are more concerned about whether our hair is a certain length, if our shirts are tucked into our goofy “khaki tuxedos,” and if we follow rules. Ha, rules! We’re not allowed to give a friend a soda – if we do, we get written up for “trading and selling.” Since when is generosity frowned upon? Since you find yourself in this screwed-up prison complex. Does it sound like they are repairing anything?

Prisons have more to do with politicians’ and investors’ economic interests than with community safety or rehabilitation. 

We’ve seen prisons at their worst over the course of COVID-19. We were under ridiculous restrictions that saw inmates living less than six feet apart in our gym, in used bunks – and by used, I mean they had people in them one hour before we were sent there. We had our recreation taken from us for weeks. We had many inmates die here because of COVID. These deaths were preventable. As far as I know, all those who died were over 55 with pre-existing conditions and should have been released prior to prison staff bringing the virus to us. Nobody gave a shit. From what I can tell, the institution didn’t even record their deaths as COVID, seemingly in order to cover it up. 

No one cares, here. My father died while I have been in here. My best friend’s husband drowned. My friend has had cancer twice. My mom is having delusions. Despite wanting to support my loved ones, I am kept here doing nothing with myself but what I can manage on my own. I have two associate degrees, and I am working toward a bachelor’s degree in communications. I have guaranteed employment, a home, a vehicle, and supportive family and friends. I have completed all my required courses. The prison system says they offer furloughs, but after all I’ve done and all I’ve been put through and seen – six years of it – I was denied a furlough to go home and help my family and friends.

I feel that a world without prisons could exist if people would stop being so stubborn and admit they’ve had it wrong for centuries and millennia.

I wish there were a world without prisons. I can’t see the bureaucrats of the world ever allowing this, because they’d have to do more work and admit that all their bullshit plans, schemes, and rackets suck. I feel that a world without prisons could exist if people would stop being so stubborn and admit they’ve had it wrong for centuries and millennia. Offenders should be sentenced to community work programs. They should be made to repair and restore infrastructure. They should never be taken from their children, left to question how their children are doing and who is raising them! They should never have to leave their children parentless. Prisons should never keep friends away from each other. They should never keep couples away from each other or stop them from being together in relationships, sexual or otherwise. Doing so causes irreparable harm. People shouldn’t be made to see others with throats slit, skulls bashed with bats, brains stomped out, or anything of the type. 

Prisons destroy people. Prisons destroy families. Prisons destroy hopes, futures, dreams, and the children of inmates. All they do is destroy. So destroy the system before it can ruin even more lives. I’m fed up with being locked down, with seeing people leave my side in droves, and with my future being fucked by the system. 

In Solidarity and Abolishment of an Antiquated Fucking System,

Frére Corbeau

Frére Corbeau is a Caucasian/Native American artist who fights the system every way he can. I am not just an inmate, I am a father, son, brother, uncle, fiancée, nephew. Just because I have a number it doesn’t change any of that. I am still a man, still a human being. Stand up for all or get out of the way.

Tags:   abolition capitalism prisons

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