Personal Contact

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Thanks to Bill Keller (billkeller2014) on Twitter for joining The Marshall Project Thanks to Prison Family Voices (PFvoices) on Twitter and PRISONERS FAMILIES VOICES UK: Prison Is Just One Of Those Things – From’ Pat ‘ Also BIG Shout Out to Honey Maid (HoneyMaidSnacks) on Twitter and SEE the LOVE Video here: Honey Maid: Love – YouTube

Saw this great advertisement this week: a company received emotional disparate responses to its ad campaign, printed the responses to 8 1/2 by eleven white paper, and rolled the paper into hollow columns. The AGAINST responses were rolled vertically and stood on end next to one another to form shapes of the letters: L, O, V, and E. The much larger number of FOR responses were rolled horizontally, making them shorter when standing on their ends. These were used to fill all the space in between around and out to the room edges around the letters L, O, V, and E. The result was a raised seemingly embossed scribe of the word love.

LGBTQ (r, s, t, u, v, haha) people have come out, and the corporations are following the trend for a public demand to accept additional family structures. It is within the family that it began, this growing acceptance. People generally seek change once they are directly affected: the names and faces of actual folks that they love incites that quest.

Yesterday, on the banks of the Brandywine River at Shaw’s Bridge, five friends were around a picnic table. One announced that he will have to spend some time in prison for a DUI conviction. Once that conversation had opened, we quickly learned that Christie’s sister did two years for burglary, that James’ childhood best friend Dom was serving a sentence now, and that Brian’s second juvie conviction landed him a little time in CCYC. Suddenly, it was permissive to speak about our individual interactions with incarceration. Any negative stigma attached to time served that prohibits some families from freely speaking about their experiences had been removed. When families can step forward and share their stories with coworkers, friends and other family members, then real progress toward reformation of our penal system can begin.

Education, including the very important development of social and soft skills, amongst prison population is immediately essential. Corrections can include more than just management. It’s cost-effective. And, punishment for committing crime can be something other than a lifetime conviction. Perhaps, most important is the use of education to stem the trend for young people already touched by or about to be within the criminal justice machine. For those kids, keep talking and care.

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