I feel like the PBS Frontline special, “Prison State,” captures my experience very well. The young woman, Demetria, is every youth I have encountered. The best point that the special makes is:
“We need to distinguish who we are mad at and who we are afraid of.”
If we rehabilitated the folks we are “mad” at, we would slash the rate of imprisonment. Are we really afraid of a non-violent drug user? A youth who habitually is truant?
The stories are just tragic. Generations of imprisonment. We complain that the families are “broken” and that is where the fault lies, but we created the broken families through a process of institutional racism that locked up fathers starting generations ago.
The sins of society are visited on the children.
To watch the special, go here: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365235229/