Friday, June 14, 2013

Conversations with a Prisoner

Going through my prison library journal, I came across this entry from the 90s.  One day I will include  it in the book that everyone is encouraging me to write.
JT the Prisoner

JeyT had tattoos all over his arms.  He said each one represented some philosophy, theology, or some girl he dated or with whom he was in love.

He said that among the many things he did for a living, he also did tattoos on people for $100 per hour. He cited doctors, lawyers, and other professionals among his customers.  “You just don’t see it because sometimes it’s a small symbol and it’s hidden.  Many people with tattoos wear long sleeves.  The heat from the sun will drain the dye, so it’s better to cover it. “

JT was an avid science fiction reader who declared that most of the books I had in the prison library,  were rereads for him.  He said on this day he would not borrow many books because he felt he was leaving soon.   I thought he was leaving for his freedom, but he said no, he was leaving for a state prison, and a long sentence.
I expressed surprise, when he informed me he had been in prison for 15 years.
‘You must like it, I said why you commit another offense to return.”   “No.” he said, “The prison system does not prepare you to go back into society.  You spend the greater part of your life in prison.  There everything is done for you.  People tell you what to do every step of the way. You don’t have to worry about rent or any other form of expense.  Then you are placed back in society.  You are confronted with the pressures, people’s behavior, expenses, and so many negative forces.  You were never taught or prepared to cope with these.  It is very easy to find the easiest way out.”

“You articulate the problems very well, so having identified them I expect you would have been one of those who could cope.”

He laughed. “The judge said the same thing, but you have to understand it is one thing articulating, it is another thing to actually deal with it.”

He would have continued, but it was time to go.  He had chosen to spend his allocated recreation time in the library, and now he must return to his cell.

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