FORWARD: "Prison Blues"
Mon, 17 May 1999 11:37:53 -0600

Prison Blues

Imagine yourself in this position. To your left is a sneak thief. To your right a brute with a rap sheet of assaults and batteries. You are surrounded
by a sea of humanity and dotted among this crowd are burglars, gang members,
and at least a few rapists, all of whom claim they are innocent. Some in the
crowd are slow, even stupid. Some are bright, but unlucky. Others, a significant number, are just poor and fall somewhere in between.

You know you have unique talents, that you are different, even special, but
in this huge facility you are lost in the crowd. You hope a guard will recognize your value, your worth, and bestow upon you some privilege that will let you exercise your innate skills. But, reality sets in. They have jobs to do, regulations to adhere to. "Get back in line," they shout. They
cannot give you special treatment. An institution like this is not able to
let you explore and enhance those little qualities you possess. It doesn't
matter that exercising that special talent will help you keep your sanity.
That's not the purpose of this government institution.

Here the goals are simple. You are separated from society, segregated from
the outside world. You are taught to respect and fear authority. You are trained to be a model citizen, one that snaps to attention and follows orders without question, though the orders rarely make any sense or have any
relation to what you are actually doing. You are here to have your individuality washed away. You are here to learn regimentation.

The outside world beckons to you. You can see it over the walls. Freedom. Oh, how you wish you were there. You know you could keep a job. You know you
could do the right thing and learn the ropes quickly, if given a chance. But, you know that chance won't come. You are here for ten years. Ten years.
Even so, you know you're lucky, in a fashion, because you got two years knocked off for good behavior and hard work.

Until then your days are regimented, guarded, enclosed. A monotonous tone sounds and you go to your first work station. Another sounds, you go to your
second, your third, and so on. Finally, that cherished tone sounds and you
get to go to the yard and breathe fresh air and listen to the world over the
fences and beyond the wall. Welcome to public school.

Copyright 05/10/99 Timothy Moultrie
Published The Columbia Star 05/13/99

He should have referred to them as "government schools" and mentioned that
the "guards" not only don't keep you safe from violence from your fellow inmates, they won't let you defend yourself.

Besides the fact that you can go home at the end of the day, what is the real difference 'twixt gov't schools and gov't prisons?

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