From Cell to Cell

From our perspective on the outside, an inmate’s change of cell may not be a big deal, but the Marshall Project carried a first person article of a prisoner’s experience. And it’s anything but. Without warning or explanation, Arthur Longworth was told he was being moved to another cell at 6:30 am one morning. He’d been in this cell for 5 years and in his long incarceration this wasn’t the first time he was moved. He describes it as a piece of him being torn away. His cell was his world, his home, and without notice he and his few possessions, were told to move, in this case to a part of the prison that was dank, dark and depressing. Arthur Longworth is far more articulate than most would assume—easy to be prejudiced toward prisoners—and literate to the point of being literary. Most of all, his piece is very moving revealing an aspect of prison life we wouldn’t otherwise know about or think about. At the end he wonders how many pieces of himself are left and how many times will he have to move. And I couldn’t help but wonder why is it that when we incarcerate people we not only take their freedom away, but their humanity as well? Out in the world, Arthur Longworth would surely contribute to the society in some way, but our attachment to punishment deprives him and us of what a human being can give to the society. When he was 20 he killed someone, he’s now 51. But our criminal justice system doesn’t give people like him a second chance. He becomes an example of how our need for a distorted idea of justice robs and denies the individual, the society and turns this deprivation into the expense of maintaining him in jail. I would urge a reader to click on the link above and read the piece, and then I would venture to say that next time life seems unfair, that unfairness might well pale in comparison to how we treat prisoners.

One thought on “From Cell to Cell”

  1. Yes prisoners have so little–plus many shouldn’t even be there- that moving prisoners ( at dawn no less)
    Indicates a serious lack of compassion. Germany has a model system for treating its prisoners and we could learn by studying it.

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