INMATES & FAMILY

Families Are Incarcerated Too, by Shara Cooper

The number of the individuals who are incarcerated not only in the United States but also those around the world is an exceedingly great number. Man and women and children alike, physically looked behind walls and bars and gates. Individuals who are intentionally kept away from society for various reasons both logical and illogical.

Communities and those in authority often think nothing much of segregating those who they deem ‘unworthy’ to continue in society.

Yet, I believe that it is worth considering that we as communities are not just incarcerating one individual person. We must look a little further to see that when we segregate one, we segregate many. When we incarcerate one, we incarcerate a whole family.

Think of the many children who are forced to carry on with life in normal settings and every day routines when their mother or father is removed from their lives for an extended period of time. Those kids are impacted and experience many different emotions that other children aren’t subjected too. Their little lives are interrupted and forced to be different from all the other children around. Their little minds are boggled with many unanswered questions from the sudden and expected segregation. They too unjustly experience the pangs of being incarcerated too.

Think of the parents. The many mothers and fathers who suffer the despair of losing their child to the system. Mothers and fathers who are faced with the criticism and shame thrown their way simply because the love the individual who society says is unlovable. The tragedy of one incarcerted affects many parents in grave ways through stress, anxiety, segregation, and degradation. They too in a sense know what it is like to be incarcerated, albeit vicariously through their child. Unable to properly carry on with their normal lives like all the other normal people, these parents often suffer the sting of incarceration in silence.

Think of the nieces and nephews, the cousins and grandparents, all of those whose lives, as they knew it, drastically the day that the one individual was incarcerated. The person they loved, admired, relied upon. They too unjustly suffer a death to their souls as they encounter the reality of segregation now known as incarceration.

It is right to consider that when we “do away” with one person from our community, we are excavating entire families. It is not just one individual but many others who will suffer incarceration be it mentally or emotionally just as the man or woman incarcerated physically.

Shara Cooper
DOC #163560

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