The Grand Tour of America’s Prison System Has Become a Badge of Honor for the Country’s Criminals

“They’ve served everywhere, man; they’ve served everywhere!”

William Mersey
The Memoirist

--

photo by author (This is a picture of the now-shuttered MCC federal prison. It was my home for the year 2019.)

At age 68, having pled guilty to the crime of tax fraud, I entered the much-reviled and now-shuttered Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in New York City, sentenced to serve a year and a day at the facility.

What I found was a human warehouse that offered little in the way of anything that might convince an inmate to mend his ways and a lot that might convince him to continue on his intrepid path of committing crimes once released.

In theory, prisons should perform the dual function of rehabilitating and deterring convicts from becoming repeat offenders. Inmates would be trained a skill to make an honest living once they get out, and prison life made uncomfortable enough to leave those subjected to it in search of a better way.

That was hardly the reality that I experienced. Educational opportunities with which prisoners might learn a trade to break the cycle were hardly in existence. Nor was life that horrible (news reports to the contrary notwithstanding) that the boys would hate prison life to the extent that they wouldn’t ever consider committing another crime after being released lest they be…

--

--

William Mersey
The Memoirist

Daily Beast, NY Daily News, Daily Mail, Independent contributor. "In all matters of principle, it's the principle that matters." Just call me "Dollar Bill."