Today I put a water container — like a plastic shaker cup — down on a table in my prison’s housing unit and walked over to the computer area to check my email. I was on the computer for perhaps 10 minutes, then I returned. Upon my return, I was very disappointed to find that someone had broken the plastic which connects the water container to its lid. Since nothing was missing, the only motivation for doing so, that I can imagine, is that some inmate in my housing unit was feeling like being sadistic. That someone was feeling like making another’s day a bit worse, for no other reason than to do so. While this is not new to me, I still found it disappointing.
A lot of the work I do is thankless work. I advocate for prisoners and their rights. I do so for free and am often disconnected from the response to the work due to being imprisoned and not being able to be online or use normal email. While I have had a good response from those outside of prison, inside prison is a different story. Inside the prison, I’m just some young white guy with red stars tattooed on his hands. Inside, I’m simply some sort of target that fellow prisoners feel that they should try to take advantage of, not because of the color of my skin or because of my age, but because I’m a fellow prisoner. For some reason, prisoners seem to feel as though it is ok to screw one another over because we’re in the same position. It makes no sense at all to me and it is very disheartening. It’s as if the guards aren’t kicking you or putting you down, a fellow prisoner is more than willing to fill the void.
Prisons are cesspools of hatred. Prisoners are abused by prison staffers, the institution, and their fellow prisoners. Following the water container incident, my cellmate explained to me that it’s not the individual prisoner’s fault, but the culture which the system fosters. I don’t know if I’m willing to allow a grown man to be let off this easily — we are grown men, after all, and are responsible for our actions — but I can understand his thinking. If an animal feels that it is cornered, it attacks. Perhaps if a prisoner feels that the only way to survive is to screw over their fellow prisoners, then that is what they do. Perhaps this is the way for some of them. But as for me, I’ll go ahead and take responsibility for my own actions. I’m a man and am more than willing to do so because of it. I’m not going to blame others for my actions.
So, we’re back to the premise of this post. We’re back to people taking responsibility for their actions. We’re back to grown men — some of whom are much older than me — feeling that it is ok to screw over those who advocate for them. We’re back to a man who went to prison for violating the law and continues to offend and harm those around them. So, I leave it with you. Is it the man’s fault or is he a product of his environment? If a combination, how do we foster a more salubrious environment? Obviously, I’m not amused, but perhaps there’s a silver lining to what occurred today? Perhaps this is a side effect of an existing problem that we can put our minds together and fix. If so, let’s get the discussion started.
Published Aug 5, 2013 by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA | Last Updated by Christopher Zoukis, JD, MBA on Jun 13, 2022 at 1:22 pm