Building Bridges Of Healing That Promote Opportunities!
My heart has been rather heavy lately, even angry, at how this Petri dish of disease and death within our state prisons has been tolerated, even accepted, as a new “norm” or even as a means of reducing our over-crowded prison population.
Maybe the heart’s heavier because I’m scared for my own son as he finishes his last few days serving time for his crime “burning in hell,” as he put it, before communications were lost due to being infected with COVID in these prison outbreaks that show absolutely no mercy.
A mother’s heart yearns to be there when her child is sick, whether they’re a tantrum-throwing toddler or a 6’5″ gentle giant; but precluding that medicine is brutal for everyone.
Interacting with those incarcerated, one thing is clear: Understanding most people incarcerated likely have had adverse childhood experiences, more likely a highly traumatic experience as a child, the way they react, or deal with adversities, overwhelms their mental health capacity. They act out because something traumatic IS occurring and they’re not equipped with the tools necessary to appropriately deal with it.
Being imprisoned hasn’t offered, nor focused, on rehabilitation for restorative purposes.
Taking out their support systems, no matter how minimalistic it was, during long-lasting lockdowns, precludes emotional support being delivered. With the absence of visitation from loved ones and friends (six months now), encourages reactive public policies, fueling disconnection leading to isolation and shame, destroying opportunities for healing.
Education, connection, compassion, vocational training, chapel time, employment making 60 cents an hour, 15-minute phone calls, yard time with physical activity, is essential for understanding life skills, accountability and purpose in one’s life.
Now with life being reduced back to an animalistic six-by-eight cage with bipolar cellmates, lacking adequate mental-health, medical and spiritual provision, breeds complete disconnection.
Their behaviors went, and continue to go, unexplored and unresolved.
I don’t have all the answers, but one thing is certain: The work we, as a society, are going to have to undertake is going to take nothing but a supernatural covering to restore what was and is deplored.
After all, the goal of rehabilitation is to “help inmates stop being prisoners of their past and become architects of their future.”
During these unprecedented times, innovative and creative circles of compassion are going to be needed for healing for all entangled in our criminal justice system.
And I’m hopeful that life-changing and life-affirming moments WILL happen because of authentic, vulnerable and intimate connections.
As a mother, a grandmother, and the founder of Blameless and Forever Free Ministries, I am eternally grateful that our new Secretary of CDCR, Kathleen Allison, is a woman whose 30 years with CDCR includes experience as a health-care professional focusing on rehabilitative opportunities for restorative justice.
I pray we can all lean into hope and forgiveness as we embrace new beginnings. Love always wins!!!
Until next time…