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These stories were written by men and women who participated in the Woman’s Opportunity Rehabilitation Center (WORC).  The women participated as an alternative to an incarceration program and the men participated in a vocational and educational component to the program.  The workshop took place over three days with support and guidance to help formulate their page one moments.

The dictionary describes jail as a place for the confinement of people accused or convicted of a crime. This definition is 100% true but there is a deeper definition especially for those who have personally dealt with incarceration, like I. The most basic fact that everybody knows is that your freedom gets taken away, so does your dignity… As an incarcerated individual, you get absolutely no respect. How could you expect that when you have committed a crime? You are an animal now but you’re not a lion or anything, you’re just prey, prey waiting for the court system and jail/prison system to eat you. You don’t deserve to be seen as a human being who made a mistake probably due to being in poverty, your environment, lack of support, trauma or abuse, you’re just a problem to society and they need to wipe you off the earth. A lot of people, I mean like 98% including me are in lower-class, dealing with poverty, or homeless. Why is that? Why is it that the ones who struggled in life have to stare at stained white walls and think about the negativity instead of being in re-entry programs or rehabilitation programs? The county won’t fund that, we’re not human beings, we’re monsters. Oh yeah, and those stains on the wall and your cell is probably feces or blood. Why is it that when I stand up in a calm and polite manner to an officer abusing an innocent inmate, I got abused too? Internal Affairs (an organization that supposedly deals with corrupt cops) never show up, the captain won’t believe you unless an officer is by your side and speaks up which will never happen because who’s willing to lose their job for an inmate who’s experiencing abuse. We’ve committed a crime so in everybody’s eyes we deserve the over-spraying of pepper spray, the being roughly thrown on the ground, being spit on, being locked in a small cubicle for a couple of days (no windows) just because. Medical attention? Ha! Forget about it, you’re better off planning your funeral then getting seen by an actual doctor. We incarcerated individuals have experienced real pain, real tears, real heartbreaks (literally our heart breaking). I’m not saying individuals on the outside don’t experience pain but our pain is beyond, words can’t describe the pain. A majority of us need support, majority of us want to change, we just don’t know where to start, we don’t know where to look, as soon as we start trying they shut us down, they label and treat us poorly just because we have a title of “felon.” Now we feel angry and sad because nobody wants to give us a chance to redeem ourselves so we go back to the “streets” and become a statistic once again. Why? Because the system and society failed to give us a chance to turn negativity into positivity…

Painting by Gwynne Duncan 

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