My introduction to prison was at a very young age. My father had a meeting with the warden of a Federal prison in the Bay Area and was forced to bring me along because of other circumstances.
As a young child I had been inside many police stations and never really thought much about it. The visit to San Quentin was a whole different ball game and I could tell, even at my young age, that everyone was on edge.
Fast forward to my adult life where I have visited many county jails and city lock-ups. As an adult going for a visit, the first thing I notice is all the families at the incarceration center for a visit with their loved ones. Mostly I watch the children and how well they adapt to what is for me a very strange experience.
I come away from these visits with mixed emotions. First off, I don’t want bad people running the streets just like everyone else. Secondly, I have to ask myself “how many of these people that are incarcerated are really bad people and how many are just people who never really had the opportunity to do something positive for themselves and grow from that experience.”
I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know that families are now finding that visits to a jail, prison, or lock-up are common place and the structure of our society is changing to the point where these visits are part of an acceptable life choice/life style.
Do we really want children to grow up thinking that going to jail is just something that happens like graduating from high school? If not, then we as a society need to rethink our positions on victimless and minor crimes.