It is now 95% ingrained that when I visit a prison, since I do not want to keep removing and putting on bracelets, broaches, etc., that would set off the security alarm, I usually leave these at home or in my purse in the car. I even try to remember my special underwireless clothing:) Yesterday I visited a prison. I climb the steps at the entrance and 5 security gates later, I pass through an empty visiting room and descend steep steps. Two more security gates later, I am in the prison yard. I rarely visit this prison any more, but now look sadly and nostalgically at this decrepit monument where I began my prison library career. It was among these massive, formidable grey walls and razor wire fence that I developed my love for library services to the underserved.As I wait for an officer to open the library door, I ask one of the three inmates standing by, how much longer he had in prison. He says 3 months. I ask about his preparation for reentry. He is doubtful, but says he may have to start with something small. I say starting small is okay if it keeps him out of prison. I comment that I started small and kept changing jobs, until eventually I got where I wanted to go. I encourage him to visit his local public library for information. He says thanks. Two hours after my visit, I retrace my steps to the now occupied visiting room/
Three inmates sit across from three visitors. The eyes of the correctional officer sweep the room to a young inmate and his female visitor. They are not allowed to make physical contact. As I wait for an officer to open the staff door. I witness how the young couple's eyes, words, and body language do their communication, Her eyes keeps darting up and down in a flirtish, almost shy way, each time he speeks. Beside them an older salt and pepper haired lady speaks to a younger man, who listens intently. Beside them, another couple talks animatedly. My gate opens, I step through and see a young woman with a baby on her hip.. As security checks her, I notice the intense blue of the baby's eyes, as he wriggles and looks around with baby curiousity. I smiled at the woman and baby as our paths crossed. She is entering to sit at the visitor's bench to wait while the officer call the prisoner for his visit. I am exiting with my mind already filled with plans to allocate and deliver donated books to other prisons.