I went to jail this afternoon. I do that pretty often - go to jail.
I've only been there at the behest of the state once. It was my fault. I hopped behind the wheel of a car after having a couple drinks. I literally had two drinks. I was over the legal limit. I was in the wrong. I paid for it.
I visit clients in jail all the time. I'm struck by the overwhelming sadness about these facilities.
I get the idea of tough on crime. But what I don't understand is how being "tough on crime," somehow requires stripping people of all dignity.
It's not just the person accused or convicted. Their family is treated as if they too did something wrong.
There's an older lady who works the desk at a jail I visit often. She's not at all unlike my grandmother in demeanor and stature. She always has a smile for me. She offers me a piece of candy most days. She is kind and thoughtful and willing to help me when I have a question or request. She has another side.
The face she points to the families of the incarcerated is not remotely similar to my grandmother. She speaks to the children with contempt. She barks at the wives and husbands and boyfriends and girlfriends. I watched her turn a young lady out for wearing a t-shirt that was "too small." She just didn't like the t-shirt or the young lady.
She has a little bit of power. She wields it.
Most citizens never set foot in a jail. I think everyone should.