As I drove to Mission Creek I had no idea what to expect. The closest I have been to a prison is driving down Route 53 in my home town and seeing Statesville maximum security prison for men. I have never been past the barbed wire; I have only seen the stark grey cement walls from afar. However, regardless of never knowing a single one, my opinions and beliefs of the people who live inside are abundant. However, by deciding to visit Mission Creek I decided to face my stereotypes head on, and see where they stood after I got a look for myself.
My “observations” of the incarcerated began when I was about eight years old and was granted permission to use the TV remote. For some reason prison ...view middle of the document...
That was where he belonged, with all the other bad people who hurt others. He would fit in wearing an orange jumpsuit, so people could recognize him as dangerous. I had personally seen how wicked one person who was in prison had been, so I mirrored these beliefs on to every other person in a penitentiary. I would have argued that a prison record should follow you forever. I believed this because not only would the repercussions of his crime follow me forever, but also to serve as a warning for everyone else.
Driving to the prison was very stressful for me. I did not know what to expect or how I would react. I only knew one person behind bars and I wanted to be nowhere near him, would I feel the same around these women? Pulling into the parking lot of Mission Creek immediately challenged my beliefs on prison. There were not skyscraper cement walls guarded by men with guns. This was the first of most of my beliefs to be proved incorrect. As we entered; the door was unlocked by a sweet female guard. She did not have bulging biceps, or a gun that I noticed. The lock was a simple door lock, just like the one on your front door. Not the doors with loud sliding steel bars I have seen on TV. When I first saw the women I was totally taken back. No jumpsuits. No unhappy faces. I was met with smiles and joyfulness. I felt uneasy at first but the woman on my right welcomed me with a gentle smile and kind words. These are the people that need to be locked up? These are the lives I wanted to be ruined? I felt awful.
When the ladies started reading the 100 words my stereotypes really got a wakeup call. I was struck by their language. Many of them were thoughtful and vivid, their words more poetic than my own; a junior in college. I was amazed that these women seemed so hopeful when reading their autobiographies. Not a single one played the victim in their readings, most took responsibility for their actions; were proud of how far they have come to date and hopeful for their future.
I have heard that drugs played a huge role in the amount of people in prison, but that day really made it real for me. I have never been around drugs, so the realization was a lot for me to handle. The stories of meth were abundant, most involving starting at such a young age. All I could do during these stories was to think of what I was doing at age 14. I came up with going to *NSYNC concerts with my mom, going to church every Sunday with my family and playing kick the can around my neighborhood. I suddenly felt very blessed. However, I also felt the need to help these women. I have lived a relatively healthy and stable life, but I also can relate to them because I know what tragedy feels like. I want to help them overcome.
As time went on, more and more of my stereotypical ideas fell short of the truth. Opinions I had held for years...