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Prison Life: Truth About Justice

Updated on July 10, 2012
krsharp05 profile image

Kristi spent two years working in the Scared Straight program at Lansing Penitentiary. AKA: J.A.I.L. (Juvenile Assistance Intake Liaison)

Burlington County Prison (Interior Murder's Cell)
Burlington County Prison (Interior Murder's Cell) | Source

The Ugly Truth

Every time this subject is brought up, I hesitate to join the discussion. Having spent two years working at Lansing State Penitentiary, I am a firm believer that capital punishment is unequivocally the wrong means of punishment to carry out on any offender, regardless of his or her crime. Having said that, there also needs to be clarity on what life is really like inside the walls of a prison.

People tend to believe that inmates live a life of luxury. They have free food, cable television, a place to exercise and a nice library where they are allowed to study and further their education. Some people believe that prisoners can even obtain a law degree while behind bars. Please allow me to set the record a bit more straight.

Prison is a horrible place. I spent two years at Lansing State Penitentiary and I cannot recall one single meal that was the least bit appetizing. We had a very limited amount of time to eat because we were on the same schedule that the maximum security inmates were on. There is no cable television. There are only the very basic channels that an antenna picks up as well as an inter-prison channel that delivers news about what's going on inside the walls. Since 1984, when President Reagan rescinded the Pell Grant option for inmates, it became impossible for prisoners to get any kind of college education. As you walk from the main tower into the maximum security yard past the cell blocks, there was no grass, no flowers, no view, nothing that smelled nice. It was dark, gray and ugly every day. It was a place that never allowed for mood changes or for happiness although there was a lot of anger, sadness and emotion. The guards were there to maintain stability and what I would call a sense of "nothing." Inmates seemed to lose themselves. And that "exercise area" is out in general population yard so if you have a problem with someone, if you owe someone money or food or if someone has it in for you, chances are you're going to stay in your cell and hopefully get some fresh air tomorrow. Debts double by the day in prison. Sometimes they turn from owing food to owing money to owing yourself. Every time we walked a new group of youth offenders through "D" Cell block, the inmates would start making bets on who would return and who would belong to them. And they were dead serious.

I am cognizant of the fact that I speak about prison in a negative way but the foulness of prison serves a dutiful purpose. In my opinion, when you put a man or woman to death, you set them free. They no longer have to live in the tormented and vile world of the prison. They don't have to live in fear of their life on a daily basis, and it truly is that type of fear. I recognize too that it is not cheap to house inmates however, there was a time when prisons were much more self sufficient than they are today. I am a great supporter of the chain gang, and although that sounds primeval, it doesn't mean that inmates have to be literally chained together. But they can do manual labor, they can work the ground, grow their own food, raise their own livestock and become more independently run. I would think that would also give a man or woman a sense of pride in knowing that they accomplished something so great.

Final Thought: I cannot now and will not ever be a proponent of the death penalty. As a child of a mother who was killed, I would much rather that man spend his days rotting in prison for what he did. I would prefer he become slave to another man's evil. My mother is free. I don't want him to be free because he doesn't deserve it. What he does deserve is to spend the rest of his life being someone's personal assistant in every sense of the title. He needs to know what it's like to be stripped of your soul. And then live it every single day, just as we do.

The man my entire family suspects killed my mother was never charged in her death and her case has been closed.

Now that you have a little more insight, would you choose to allow a murderer to be "freed"? Or would you sentence him to a life of misery, locked down in a hellish nightmare every day for the rest of his life?

I would highly suggest watching the show On Death Row by Werner Herzog. He is a German in the United States who interviews men that are going to be put to death. It's chilling, to say the least. The men he interviews give disturbing details of the oppression in prison and the "freedom" that they will experience when they are put to death. I'm not okay with that.

The show is on Investigation Discovery.

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    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      I can understand that feeling of needing to look over your shoulder. It was a surreal uneasiness. Thanks for reading and commenting. Welcome to the apprenticeship program!

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 5 years ago from Pasadena CA

      What can I say? I once substitute taught in camp schools for a year, where teenagers go who are arrested for felonies. I know that can't compare with prisons, but there is still some of that feeling there - probation officers who treat the kids like dirt, dead food, bars and barbed wire, lousy educational materials, kids looking to steal whatever they can from anyone accessible.

      I realized I had to stop teaching there when I caught myself staring at people walking by my condo, afraid they might try to break in. No, no, no! I don't want to live in that kind of fear. You are so smart to have gotten out and stayed out.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      I hate that your mom treats you as though she is dead, you have still suffered a loss. I would love to talk about it.

    • firsttime7 profile image

      firsttime7 5 years ago from Planet Hawaii

      I see several different stories gong on here at once my dear friend. I would like to talk to you and compare this to the personal "death" that my mother choose to take- (I know ther eis no comparison my dear--your'se is permanent for noe..but my mom is alive and treatsme like she is dead....strange

      If only you wouldn't have worshiped Satan! LMFAO!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thanks for all your input NTB. I appreciate you reading and commenting. If you ever have the opportunity to tour a functioning prison, do it. It changes you.

    • noturningback profile image

      noturningback 5 years ago from Edgewater, MD. USA

      Prison is Hell no doubt. I have always thought it to be a place of loneliness and despair, and this confirms my suspicions.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thanks for reading. I appreciate your comment.

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my hub. I appreciate your comment.

    • Craig Suits profile image

      Craig Suits 5 years ago from Florida

      A great insight most of us never get to know. Good hub...

    • that one girl profile image

      that one girl 5 years ago from Washington state

      That is just . . . dang. Really well written.