Locked Up They Won’t Let Me Out

Short Story

You can’t judge someone until you have tried on their shoes. Can’t fit? Well, I advise you to listen and open your mind because I have a story to tell you. Staring at four walls my feet are planted on the ground and the only motivation that I have is the words that are inscribed on metal bars. “This will be over soon, keep your head up” followed by “this system is corrupt”, all of this launches at me like a missile as I think about the time that I have to face. Time that I can’t get back, time that should be devoted to my family, time, oh how I wish there was enough of it! “Prisoner!” The guard interrupts my thoughts, I place my hands to the side to show that I am not a threat. “It is time to get fingerprinted and processed, and after that, you will be shipped to the County”. I am silent, I have never been through this before but my father has made it a ritual to be behind bars caged like an animal. I thought it would be easy! Don’t be fooled by television shows like “Orange is the New Black” and their comedic style. I have a name, I am human, I am innocent! My thoughts drive back to the police officers holding me at gun point as I leave Walgreens grabbing diapers for my daughter. I drop everything and hold my hands up, I am familiar with how trigger happy the police officers are nowadays. “Get on the floor! NOW!” he shouts. I obey. “Do you know what you are under arrest for?” Seconds later before I can answer I am kicked in my stomach. “I didn’t do anything, please let me go I have a daughter at home” I force a reply out of my mouth holding back the cough creeping up my chest. “You are under arrest for the murder of Alice Cooper” Alice Cooper? I think to myself, that’s the girl that went missing three weeks ago, how am I tied to this? “You fit the description of the suspect that she was seen with” he continues. “I am an innocent man! There is no way that you can prove me guilty of a crime that I didn’t commit” I respond. With a knee in my back, I hear the dreadful sound of handcuffs clattering together. The flash of the camera brought me back to reality, “Turn around prisoner” I cringe at the words as they embed my skin like a needle. After the appalling photo shoot, I am again handcuffed and walked back to my cell to wait. All I have is time, time to think about a crime I didn’t commit, time that I can’t get back. If only I could travel back in time to prevent the position that I am in now. Save me. (END)

Lawrence McKinney (above) was wrongfully convicted of a crime, as a result, he lost the opportunity to live most of his adult life. It all started in 1977 a woman from Memphis was raped by two men. McKinney was later identified as taking part in this horrific crime and was sentenced to 115 years in jail. After serving 31 years DNA tests cleared him of all charges. Although he received $75 to assemble his life this didn’t discourage his thoughts, he married the woman who stood by him better than Bonnie did with Clyde. Of course winning the lotto is more promising than this gentle reimbursement. Striving for justice he decided to take this matter to court for compensation. The Tennessee Parole Board denied his request twice because they were not convinced of his innocence.

McKinney lost the opportunity to build his life and accomplish goals, he was not able to witness greetings of new life and the farewells of the death of those close to him. All that’s left is to educate the youth on taking precaution. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything is the famous saying. McKinney’s opportunity to move up on the social scale was shot like a ball bouncing off the backboard. Economically speaking we have to focus on granting all people the right to social mobility. This imprisonment did not permit McKinney with the chance to obtain the true American Dream. How is being judged unfairly and incarcerated equivalent to society’s vision of “equal opportunity”?

How Much Are You Making Off Of Me? Stop the Harsh Treatment And Educate Me!

In the US it costs approximately $31,286 annually for each individual that face the hardship of being put behind bars according to New York Times. Let’s not speak of the costs to contain an individual in New York which is double the amount! ($60,000). Be aware that this number exceeds the cost to educate the youth, why am I paying hard earned money to help the system imprison people? Shouldn’t I pay more to keep the youth off the streets, by building more youth centers in urban areas? Researching more on numbers I came across this article on the Washington Post “The states that spend more money on prisoners than on college students” (Ingraham, Christopher, 2016). Ingraham stresses that prison costs have surpassed the amount that taxpayers fund for schools, and it’s been this way since the 90's. Don’t you think that our money should be invested in the prevention of violence instead of the punishment of helpless souls? Think about how empty the neighborhoods in our communities will be if the system continues this streak of incarceration, think about the children without father figures in their life that will open their arms to the streets to pacify their every need. In Chicago, schools are being shut down because of funding issues. I guess education isn’t something the youth should strive for, instead, they should expect a cell with a price per head and forgotten childhood memories.

Sources Used

Man gets $75 after being wrongfully imprisoned for 31 years (Andone, Dakin and Rodgers, Kayla)


The states that spend more money on prisoners than college students (Ingraham, Christopher)