I have to admit that knowing someone who is in prison has really changed my perspective on the legal system in general. It may come as no surprise, but police, courts, lawyers, jail, inmates, prison - it's not anything like it is on prime-time TV. Usually, I try to let things roll off my back because so many times people talk about jail and prisons with only TV shows as a reference, and it's not worth retelling the gruesome details.
However, this morning, a friend with a profile on a popular social media forum let me know that her friend, a police officer, posted what I consider to be the most ill-conceived statement that might come from someone who is supposed to have a little more knowledge about what really goes on behind the scenes. Apparently, I was mistaken.
"When I am old and unable to care for myself anymore, put me in prison. There I will get a shower a day, video surveillance in case of problems, three meals a day, access to a library, computer, TV, gym, doctors on-site & free medication if needed.
Put the criminals in nursing homes. They have cold meals, lights off at 7pm, two showers a week, live in a smaller room and pay rent at $4,000 a month!!! It's pretty sad that we treat prisoners better than the elderly.... copy and paste if you agree."
I'm sure many of you who also have profiles on popular media sites may have seen this or something similar. As I mentioned before, normally I just roll my eyes and move on, but this morning, this has struck a major nerve.
Are we really this unaware of what actually happens in prison? Perhaps this cop, with his cushy job and pension, doesn't know about the lack of control, the constant fights, the lack of medication, the overabundance of soy-based foods (that cause real illness), the confinement, giving up most of your rights as a citizen, the gangs, the constant yelling and noise from other inmates and guards, the shakedowns, the full body searches, the drug addicts, the rapists, the pedophiles, the murderers, the one-hour-a-week visit to a library with limited access (if any) to a computer, the joke of a 'meal', isolation, lack of fresh vegetables or anything that resembles actual food for that matter, the cave-like temperature, breakfast at 4 a.m., the loss of control, the lights out at 9 p.m., one visit a week (if you're lucky), commissary, not getting your commissary, being treated like an animal (or worse), zero movement because the government wants to save money that month..... The list goes on and on.
Real prison is not a joke. This is no trip to the spa. Don't kid yourself if you think that going to prison is like summer camp for adults. While it's supposed to be rehabilitative, prison is a place where taxpayers pay to forget about people. Maybe it's some sort of twisted case of "the grass is always greener." Maybe it's because so little is known by the general population about what really goes on in prison or the psychological effects on the prisoners as well as the guards. Maybe it's just one guy trying to be macho in order to reinforce his "awesomeness."
Here's the real difference: people in nursing homes generally have a choice, whether it's their own or the choice of a family member. It's indeed a shame that sometimes the facility that's chosen is not 5 star, or even 3 star. I definitely feel that people who unload their elders in a nursing home should have to experience what they're like before committing their parents, grandparents or loved ones to a facility.
That's key though, the element of choice where you live when you're old (you or your family). You don't get to interview prisons and choose the "best one" because there is no "best one." The prison system has failed us time and time again, resulting in wrongful convictions, deaths by uprising and repeat offenders.
You'll never hear about an uprising in a nursing home, that's for sure (maybe a few pervy seniors getting their kicks from each other). You should just thank your lucky stars that you're not in prison and hope that you have a family that loves you enough to care for you when you can't care for yourself.
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