Ramblings on prison

    The Colorado State Penitentiary, where Sophie gets reacquainted with Marc.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your responses below. Sorry I didn't get back to you individually, but Christmas and then work had me busy. Plus, I have a deadline hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles...

    But Bo brings up something very interesting, a topic that SueZ brought up from a different angle in a private email to me. Bo points out that she doesn't feel sorry for people like child molesters who are in prison. SueZ asked me if I would feel sorry for the men who attacked me with switchblades if they'd spent Christmas in prison.

    And the answer to both, I guess, would be that I don't necessarily feel sorry for people just because they're in prison. The men who attacked me got two months — two lousy months — in jail before being deported on a deferred 2.5-year prison sentence. (That means that if they were found back in the U.S. again, they'd automatically go to prison for 2.5 years. If not, they were free.) I, on the other hand, was sentenced to five years of post-traumatic stress disorder, which included an inability to sleep at night (they broke in just after midnight) and terrible nightmares and depression. I still have trouble sleeping, and it's been 20 years.

    Not really fair, is it?

    As for child molesters, you can read Ride the Fire to get my own personal experience with that. Again, the harm is lifelong.

    Do I feel sorry for them when they go to prison? Nope. In fact, a part of me wants to watch them being force-fed their own genitalia on live television. Violent offenders belong in prison, some of them belong in prison forever, child molesters and rapists especially.

    But most people in prison aren't violent offenders. Most are in there for drug-related charges and crimes relating to mental illness and poverty. I do feel sorry for them.

    However, my biggest issue with prison isn't so much that people are there; it's what happens while they're there that bothers me. Inmate violence and abuse by correctional officers is a real thing. I write about it in Unlawful Contact as fiction, but it's not pretend. Rape, beatings, gang activity, mutilations, medical neglect, and other forms of abuse are only too real, and the government should not be in the business of sentencing people to death-by-broomstick.

    A very posh, upscale jail cell. Most aren't this nice.

    Among women in prison, despair is such a real problem. Most of them are mothers, and the overwhelming majority have done nothing violent. Drunk driving, not having car insurance, narcotics abuse, theft, forgery — those are the crimes the women had committed that I met while I did my 24-hour stint as an inmate. One was there for assault, and she was newly pregnant with a 3-month-old baby at home. Her boyfriend had done the assaulting, but she'd been with him at the time. She cried and cried and cried about wanting to go home to her baby, and she had no idea when she'd be able to leave again.

    But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

    As we get nearer to the release date for Unlawful Contact, I thought I'd do a series of posts about my 24 hours in jail. Call it "Pamela's Prison Diary." (Makes me sound like a badass. LOL!) And then I'll tell you all about it, from the moment I was "arrested" and cuffed through the strip search to the morning, when I was released and debriefed by the jail captain. Sound interesting?

    I'll even try to locate my mugshot. I look like a frightened 2-year-old in the photo. Was I scared? You bet your bra, I was. It had dawned on me at some point how ridiculously stupid I was to think going to jail was a good way to get a story.


    One last thing: This past year, on the 20th anniversary of the attack, I had LibBAY, KrisTAY and SueZAY with me. We were supposed to commemorate the event somehow. That's what I wanted to do, anway. Some sort of observation of that terrible, terrible night. What did we end up doing? Laughing our butts off, drinking lemoncello, and sleeping very deeply (at least I did). And you know what? That's probably exactly the right way to commemorate a night of horror — with a night of fun and close friends. Those men wanted to ruin my life by raping me in my own home. But who had the last laugh?

    Thanks to my Gangstas — I love you! — I had the last laugh.

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