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May 2006
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Prisoners

Nell Bernstein, author of “All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated,” writes in We Are All Prisoners Now:

One of the basic functions of incarceration is invisibility: We place our prisons in remote rural counties, build high walls and lock out the media. Then we fortify those walls with stigma, so that those who have been there, or seen family sent there, will keep that journey secret.
But an elephant can grow only so large before people start remarking on its presence in the living room. One in 10 American children has a parent under criminal justice supervision today — in jail, in prison, on probation or parole. The number does not include those who have had this experience at some point in their lives, or those who will. Those who have lived or worked inside a prison, or seen a family member spirited away, have seen what we are hiding from ourselves, and they are beginning to speak out. I have to believe that it is their voices, their experience, that will turn back the tidal wave that incarceration has become.

The question is, what will prevail…

  1. The voices of the families of the prisoners? or
  2. The financial and political interests of the drug war and the prison system?

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