criminal

Love, social awareness

Anan said, “I have a life here, not the life I planned. But I have a life”.
Shit.
I guess that’s a thing.

This is where I left off on my post about Serial. It’s not news that life in prison is really fascinating to all of us, note the outrageous success of Orange is the New Black. By no coincidence the black hole that my entire month of October slipped into, whoops. It’s hard for me to keep track of the things that I read or listen too, hence my pinterest page sorry-not-sorry for blowin’ up all of my followers feeds. But, during my #OITNB craze someone said somewhere that the most chilling part of the series is that we are all one slip up away from being one of those women.

It isn’t maximum security prison. It’s minimum security. It’s a long stay in county jail. It’s one DWI arrest after 1 too many glasses of wine over dinner. It’s your ex-girlfriend turning up dead. It’s being a person of color in the wrong place at the wrong time  being any place at any time. We are all at the mercy of being/ being caught/ being falsely accused of being a criminal.

There’s a billion reasons why I’d rather not be a criminal (legitimate or otherwise) the biggest one is that I don’t think I’m strong enough. Strong enough to take it in stride. To see my punishment as an opportunity to better myself. To ‘recover’. To grow. To change. Maybe those things would be inevitable. Doesn’t seem to be universal, does it.

Maybe some of you are like me. People that you love, people that you tried to save, ended up in jail. Someone always end up there don’t they/you. No one ever plans that life. You do a criminal act or a series of enough bad things that it finally catches up to you (or you don’t) and it happens to you, punishment.

Maybe you’re unlike me. Prison, the people in it, couldn’t be further removed from your life. I hope it stays that way, you’re lucky. The whole industry is heart breaking.

I don’t like to talk about this story, partially because it doesn’t belong to me and mostly because the one person that I love more than anyone or anything else on this earth is intrinsically bound to this story. Again, partially because I don’t know where to start without sounding like a judgmental asshole.

For the record I think I hold the right to judge in this situation. Correction friends- not only God can judge you. There are only so many times that someone can fuck up (read fuck up your/my life) before you/I turn your/my back on them. Uh. I don’t even like saying that. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have a Biblical backbone, live by the credence of memes everywhere.

meme

“Look down” is a little harsh. Look away is probably more fitting. It’s that it came to a point where I was sacrificing every ounce of my own energy to help someone who refused to help himself. *More on that in a second*

Here’s where I get really sympathetic to everyone incarcerated. How do you help yourself? The path to royally screwing your own life over is long and winding in this case (in other’s it’s but a flash). How do you recover? There’s 12 step programs. There’s sponsors. Confidants. Your family. The church. Your PO. The criminal justice system. There’s social workers. Therapists. There’s all kinds of places to reach out to. But at the end of the day no one can give you infinite chances at normalcy.

Let’s just take an objective look at this situation in particular. Granted a lot of this is speculation but I think that it is a pretty universal set of circumstances.

-You have a drug addiction and/or your somewhere along the spectrum of a recovering drug addict.

-You are an alcoholic. Again and/or somewhere on the path of recovering alcoholic.

-You have a criminal record. This is an unavoidable issue for every job that you apply for, and for every housing application that you turn in. Hopefully that isn’t a felony or you’re mostly SOL. Regardless of a background check you probably weren’t employed while incarcerated so there will be glaring gaps in your employment history that you’ll be forced to explain.
I’m by no means excusing those things. In fact as a non-criminal who’s taken all of the steps to be completely hirable I think that hey it’s a competitive market, make wise choices and if not well….

Well. That’s the issue. So, you can’t get a job, you can’t get a place to live. If your lucky you have your friends and family. Maybe someone will have mercy on you, let you crash on their couch, hook you up with a job. But that’s a crap shoot.

-What if they have already given you those chances? What if you lied too many times, what if you stole too many times, what if set that relationship on fire and burned it to the ground? What if you regretted it afterward? What if they are done with you and it’s too late?

On your fifth time through on this cycle (drugs, sex, rock and roll… okay it’s more like, drugs, booze, depression, hope, desperation, temporary motivation, court dates, enormous fines, the sense of defeat, suicidal thoughts or worse, booze, drugs, jail, homeless shelter, uninvited to Thanksgiving, booze, depression and on and on).

-Your safety net has disintegrated. What if everyone has grown weary, what if it hurts to bad for them to believe in you, what if they’ve lost hope in you?Where do you sleep then? Well now you’re homeless. Physically and emotionally.

-If you’re not homeless than you convicted, awaiting trial, awaiting sentencing. Your home is within cinderblock walls. How many times can you make a plan that feels impossible to execute? You can make the best of it while you’re there. You can even consciously or not keep putting your self back there because it’s the most possible option because…

-When you get out the next time, despite all of the steps that you took to be released there’s a shit storm of your own creation that is waiting for you. Temptation. Drugs. Alcohol. An uphill battle.

-You can’t keep changing address so that the debt collection companies can’t find you. Your issues are inescapable. The legal system wants your money and if you don’t have it, or can’t get it then they’ll take your time. Which at this point may be, “The best place for you”, by everyone’s account.

Jeeze. I don’t know how anyone is supposed to swallow that set of circumstances. I cut my losses early, which is an amazing statement given the amount of hell that, that man put me through. I know it didn’t hold a candle to what he puts himself through every day.

My hands are washed. I can’t even really let myself feel anything. That’s the essence of the vortex that is the American Legal System. “I don’t want to personally fix it, but it needs to be fixed”. Sometimes, often times, no one fixes it.

Despite all of my walls this breaks my heart. Mostly because there’s a six year old girl in this world that thinks that he is the most amazing human being that she has ever met. The void of him is a tangible truth of her everyday. And his, I know.

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