Saturday, May 19, 2012

On soldiers on the battlefield

I have such great respect for former prisoners who survive re-entry. That may sound extreme, but until you've gone through the experiences of re-entry, you have no idea what these people face. Michelle Alexander, author of the 2010 book THE NEW JIM CROW, says, "Those released from prison are trapped in a legal second-class status for life."

I had heard that my friend Michael was experiencing some problems. I had been personally involved in helping him to obtain a parole.

Like many ex-prisoners on tethers, he had probems with the system. These former prisoners carry a box and when their tether fails to dispatch an adequate signal to the state, they must get into a clearing where a satellite signal finally gives tham an OK. It is not uncommon for a prisoner to stand outside in all types of weather for up to an hour or more, hoping to get the box cleared. And there's nothing they can do about it. Failure to do so will mean no signal, which is a violation of parole, and the threat of being returned to prison.

A passerby damaged Michael's black box, right after he complained to his Parole Officer about its malfunction. Naturally he was blamed for the damage, and over this issue he was returned to prison. It was a violation of parole.

Well, he's out again...still good-natured, still happy to be free, and rather than spending time talking about his problems he wants to know how I'm doing. He knows that I had undergone a severe health crisis. On being informed that I'm feeling fine, Michael exclaimed, "God is good!"

I told him that I'm back on the job, working every day.

"A soldier on that battlefield," said Michael.

And so are you, Michael. So are you.


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