or those of you who forget that the incarcerated humans in this country are indeed just that – human – I’d like you to think on this the next time you talk about “inmates, criminals, convicts, etc.” These humans have families and those who love them, despite whatever they did. Look around you and wonder, because this is who we are:
We take care of your children and grandchildren in nursery school.
We give them shots in the doctor’s office.
We’re dental assistants, school teachers and Sunday school teachers.
We stand behind you in the grocery line.
We prepare your medicine in the drugstore.
We work in banks, approve your loans and service your insurance claims.
We work for newspapers and television and radio stations.
We read your electric meters and water meters.
We are your landlords and your neighbors.
We take care of your elderly parents in nursing homes.
We’re nurses, lab technicians and Wry technicians.
We own beauty shops, flower shops and printing shops.
We’re welders, plumbers and tree trimmers.
We work for the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department, the courthouse, schools, churches, drugstores and toy stores.
We’re lawyers, legal secretaries, school board members and school-bus drivers.
We prepare meals for your children in school.
We’re city council members and bank tellers.
We process your checking account and savings account.
We work at your Social Security office and your insurance company.
We take care of your IRA, stocks and bonds.
We sell your children bikes, school supplies, clothes, shoes, and eyeglasses.
We repair your cars.
We’re real-estate agents, car dealers, college professors, safety engineers and ranchers.
We work at Wal-Mart and Kmart and sell Avon products.
We’re not all “on welfare,” no matter what the government would like you to think.
There are 2 million people in prison in America, and twice that many are on parole and probation. Add in mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends, and you’re touching about 16 million people affected by the prison system in the United States. We’re tired of letting ourselves feel humiliated or embarrassed because our loved one is in prison. We did nothing wrong. We’re tired of fearing the loss of our jobs or evictions from our housing should anyone find out we have a loved one in prison. We’re tired of being made to feel inferior or unwelcome in churches, clubs, organizations or society in general simply because we refuse to abandon our loved ones.
We’re ready to unite, to come out of hiding and openly support each other and our loved ones. We’re ready to speak out against the “they deserve what they get” attitude we hear you talk about in stores, lines and restaurants. We number in the millions. We’re everywhere, in every state, county, city and town. We may even live next door to you. Sixteen million (or more)
by Jean Butler