Day 17

Well, I finally got myself into the jumpsuit.  I had picked it up (after exchanging it for a larger size the first time) last week, but I just could not make it fit right.  So I did some tweaking, cutting out some elastic around the waistline, and made it wearable.  Certainly not comfortable though.  I cannot imagine having to wear this “onesie” over and over again for days on end.  I am not sure that they actually wear full one-piece jumpsuits on a daily basis in prison, but I do believe that the discomfort, both physical and mental, cannot be easy to manage.  In fact, a former Waco police chief commented to me today that the misfit uniforms are just par for the course.  They are either too big or too small.  Prisoners don’t get fitted for their wardrobes.  But that’s not news to most of you, I would imagine.

However, just a few days ago I found myself looking in the mirror (don’t ask me why – I knew what I was going to see!) and my gut reaction was dejection.  Orange again?!  My mind seemed to have an immediate negative visceral reaction to seeing myself in the same outfit for just about two weeks in a row.  Dejected, demoralized, and seriously wishing I could take it off and just throw on my jeans, t-shirt, and Vans, I pressed on in orange for another day.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  Poor me.  I seriously had to take a step back and think about the bigger picture.  This is what people with criminal records have to deal with every day of their lives.  Sure, this is something the ones in prison or jail “doing their time” deserve, it is part of the punishment.  Fine.  But what about all those folks who have done their time, thinking they could actually shed the cloak of imprisonment, and re-enter the free world, where they could be whoever they wanted to be?  Yet they get out or try to move on, only to find that society continues to clothe them in shame and contempt on a daily basis.  I understand more now how dejecting this stigma must truly be.  And it isn’t just simply a stigma.  As the last several posts have demonstrated, the stigma allows for our society to legally discriminate against these individuals in myriad ways.  This situation cannot lead any of us to a better place, especially those who can never shed the cloak of criminality and the dejection it brings.

Read about George and his uncomfortable “uniform”.

Then tomorrow, please check back into the blog and I will have some very specific suggestions on how individuals and communities can act with and on behalf of George and all the others who so desperately want to take off their uncomfortable uniform and rise above the dejecting stigma. They just want to work. Is that such a bad thing?

Let’s all get to work so George can work!

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