Screwdrivers, Incarceration, and Good People (first two pages of Chapter 15)

Obviously, there are many ways to avoid getting arrested. But in reality, anything can happen. And to attack these people when you are utterly unaware of their side of the story, or the unbiased truth; to attack the people they love and who love them back, well, that’s not very humane at all. These people are hurting. They don’t need judgmental glances and gossip talked behind their backs; they need support and under-standing. Why have we become so incapable of that?

I love someone who is incarcerated. Actually, I love several people who are incarcerated — two, to be exact, and I’m sure I care about even more on a personal level, and probably more than half on a human level.

That does not make me a bad person. The fact that they are in jail or prison doesn’t even make them bad people. It simply means they made some wrong choices, like most of us have, or even just mistakes — mistakes our government thought were devilish enough to warrant being locked away — and got caught. And the really sad thing is that these mistakes can range from something completely voluntary to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even befriending the wrong person years earlier.

It is truly amazing how the general public reacts to an arrest. Thanks to the internet, we can now see every arrest made, and most become “news-worthy” stories. If you want, go check out your local news source. Find the arrests. Look in the comments. Nearly every person has something horrendous to say. “Scumbag” is an incredibly common insult. Shots are made about the person’s appearance (I bet your mugshot wouldn’t look that sexy, either). Some people even have the nerve to make assumptions about the person’s family and children. Most, if not all, of those people only know the story they just read. So who, exactly, are they to call these people anything at all?

Obviously, many people in jail have done something awful to get there. I’m not denying that. But, even in those cases, there will always be a part of the story the public does not know.

Let me tell you about my incarcerated loved ones.

Chester is in prison for protecting his family. They are safe, because he sacrificed his freedom. He doesn’t have the best past, and his record shows that, so people — including law enforcement — are quick to judge. But what they don’t know is how much he’s changed, or what his true character was even before he did. I’ve known him for about twelve years. Every time his name is spoken, the same story comes to mind:

We were at a friend’s apartment — one of our known party locations — when I couldn’t have been older than fifteen. This means, at the time, I had only known Chester for a year or less. There were a few other people there, but not many. I was the only girl in the house. All of a sudden, this guy we all knew but weren’t incredibly close with came bursting through the door with a bat. Someone had royally pissed him off. I don’t remember why.

What I do remember is Chester telling me to go into the bedroom; to get away from the situation so I could be as safe as possible. I was sitting on the end of the couch closest to the door, so I was in the most danger. Being the stubborn wanna-be hardass that I was, I refused to leave the room, but obliged in my own way by standing up and walking next to Chester in the entryway to the kitchen.

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