This year, as I give thanks for all the things in life that mean so much to me, I cannot help but wonder how many prisoners are sitting in Texas prisons, missing their families and feeling pretty low.
The holiday season may be less of a blessing for an inmate than for the rest of us. Does the inmate get to spend quality time with family and loved ones? Does the inmate get to taste the delicious foods and inhale the smells we’ve all come to associate with the holidays? For the most part, the answers to these questions is a resounding”No.”
If crime demands punishment, I wonder if anyone in the executive suite over at TDCJ headquarters has ever entertained the notion that sometimes, those who are being punished ought to be shown a little mercy. Like during the holidays, perhaps.
There are over 156,000 people incarcerated in the sprawling TDCJ prison system. I wonder how many of them will have family come to see them this Thanksgiving weekend. I also wonder how many will be denied contact visits. Not conjugal visits, they’re not likely to happen in TDCJ, at least during my lifetime. I’m talking contact visits. The kind where the prisoner can hold the hand of his wife or girlfriend. The kind where the inmate’s brother can hug him and tell him that he loves him. The kind where the child that barely knows her father can sit on his lap and laugh as he nibbles on her neck.
Whenever society cares to take a closer look at the purpose and role of prisons in our society, perhaps we can get down to the serious business of rehabilitation and self improvement, rather than the outdated, ineffectual model that is overwhelmingly focused on punishment only. There’s a little food for thought to go along with the turkey and gravy.