Saturday, June 12, 2010

Prison Visit

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.

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