Inside These Walls
Why We're Having This Discussion
First allow me to say that I am very glad that this page caught your eye and that you were intrigued enough to stop and read it. Now allow me to tell you what this page is about. It is about the treatment of the men and women that are currently serving sentences inside the Illinois Department of Corrections(IDOC) facilities.
This page has not been put together by some bleeding heart with nothing better to do than to sit down in front of a computer and write, but by someone who has personally felt and seen the pain from the humiliation that PEOPLE experience at the hands of some correctional officers, medical staff, and yes, even the wardens and superintendents of these places.
One of the things that the IDOC is responsible for is the rehabilitation of people and to teach them how to reenter society. The rehabilitation of inmates is nonexistent and the return of inmates to prison is overwhelming when it is studied. But again lets look at the people that are incarcerated. The majority are the poor, the uneducated, the beaten, the tossed aside child because he or she does not fit into our schedule. They are your neighbors, your nieces, your nephews, your children that you are too busy to talk with, so they turn to others. Others that don't care that they are your family or friends. All they care about is what they can get from them. They mean them no good. They are the forgotten of our society.
You know it's funny but there was a phrase in a song from the 1970's by a Canadian who said that if the United States would take as much interest in her own as she does those elsewhere she would be all right. Yes, this was in protest to the Vietnam war, but just thinking about those simple words, there is a ring of truth for more than just this country but for the people of this country.
There is no reason for one of the most powerful and richest countries to send children to sleep hungry, sick or dying. There is no reason for some people to be able to afford education and others that must settle for the overcrowded conditions of the public school systems. There is no reason for peopleto have to live in ghettos for shelter and for children have to dodge bullets in order to get to their homes.
And now we come to the body of this page, the PEOPLE.
The IDOC handles people as though they were cattle: overcrowding the cells and moving people around from one institution to another. A prison gets crowded and they start moving the inmates to a prison that is less overcrowded. Then overcrowding the second institution and starting on to the next institution.
One way of reducing the overcrowded condition is to allow the C-numbers to have parole. C-numbers are Illinois inmates who have spent most of their lives behind the wall. The world has changed so much from the way it was when the majority of them were incarcerated. But then that is a different fight or is it?
Taking away services that are needed in order to rehabilitate the person. Psychological counseling for the men and women that have been abused, tortured and have little to no self esteem. Education that inmates can use upon their release. As it is now the college degrees that the inmates receive and are so proud of, are not worth the paper that they are written on. You ask why? Because the inmates cannot complete the actual course offered by the schools. Because they are inmates they cannot complete the labs that are required with some of the courses. Therefore the courses are null and void in the world. For example, some of the men and women that take the cosmetology course cannot take the boards even after they have completed the hours and since the cosmetology field changes constantly their education becomes null and void after so much time has passed.
Medical services are available if you are not too much trouble to the nurses in the infirmary. You can then be taken care of by a doctor - IF you do not show any signs that the doctor has hurt you in any way. The majority of the doctors that practice inside the institutions operate on what ever the current surgery is that year. If you stub your toe at one time you needed a hysterectomy that was the current surgery of the year. You may say no, but it is true. But the majority of the pain relievers that are on the market are tried out on humans first: INMATES.
After all inmates are not important to anyone, they are not humans and if they are really good they can be turned into robots and that is acceptable to society now isn't it? There is just one problem with that way of thinking and that is once you have released a good inmate into society you take away their food, shelter and clothing, give them no assistance and tell them to go out and become part of society. With what? How?
1) There is no money given to them upon their release. 1999 was the last year that inmates received $50 upon their release.
2) The education that they received is null and void and therefore when they look for a job with this worthless degree, their self-esteem and hope is destroyed.
3) That human factor of needing to belong. Of course there is the gang, that was a major contributor to their initial criminal behavior, waiting for them with open arms, waiting to offer them a solution to their turmoil.
And here we have the beginning of a returnee. A returnee to the prison system - not a returnee to society! Now isn't it wonderful the way that society helped them to reenter the real world. Everyone is so busy trying to catch that extra dollar that's not really needed. Too busy to stop and look around for that next inmate who may be your child, your niece, or your nephew. And why? Because we are too busy to be bothered with the human factor.
Speaking of the human factor allow me to tell you about Andrew (I am not stating the young man's real name to spare the family any more grief.)
Andrew, a 17 year old young man that was on his way to the grocery store for his grandmother one winter night. It was cold and like most people the young man had on a skull cap and a jacket, oversized so he could put on sweaters under it to keep him warm.
Now keep in mind that this young man was 17 years old when this took place, visiting his grandmother which is something teenage black children supposedly don't do (right?) They have no sense of family and concern, according to a statement made by the prosecutor in the courtroom. Do you believe that statement? But I am getting a little ahead of myself.
The young man got to the store in the neighborhood and there was something unusual about the atmosphere. When he entered the store four young men came running out and Andrew, seeing the storekeeper laying in a puddle of blood, turned to run. Just then the police rolled up to the scene and ordered the young man to put his hands up and get on the ground. The young man, frightened and scared, complied with the officers. He was then taken into custody and placed immediately under arrest. Now you can only imagine what this experience would do to a teenager, but to an innocent young man it was overwhelming.
Needless to say he was charged with the crimes of armed robbery and murder. Committing a murder during the commission of a felony is an automatic death sentence. The felony, in this case, being armed robbery.
The most amazing part of this is that the police did not even investigate the young man's story. It goes to show that a young black man who's family knew nothing of the law and couldn't afford an attorney that would want to know why this young man's hands were never tested for gun powder. They never questioned why the young man did not have a gun on him nor why there was no money found in him from the store.
But the police had their man, and the decision was final from the very beginning. Fifteen years later the innocent young man was put to death. He only said, "I am innocent."
Five years after the young man was murdered, one of the men that had actually robbed that store was dying. His death bed confession admitted to the robbery and murder that our young man was executed for. He even provided the missing murder weapon.
And now we get to the other forgotten PEOPLE, the inmates that are currently on DEATHROW.
In the state of Illinois where some inmates were found to be innocent -After they were already put to death!!! Such as the young man that I just told you about. Some that where blessed by God, and found to be innocent before they were put to death. What do you say to their families? Especially the ones that are already dead. Especially that 17 year old's family. Their son never got the chance to graduate from high school, get married, or have children. He didn't get to attend his grandmother's, mother's, or his brother's funerals. And yet he died alone without the comfort of those he loved. Yet how do you say to this young man we are sorry that we murdered you but we thought we were right at the time.
For some reason that just does not sit well with me. And it shouldn't sit well with you either. But if you are a caring and feeling human being you cannot justify the taking of a life no matter how you may feel about the crime. You see, somewhere down the line PEOPLEdo make mistakes in judging other PEOPLE. PEOPLE can make a difference and put an end to this injustice. Will you make a difference? Call the Prison Action Committee (PAC) @ 773-874-7390. PAC neither sponsors nor endorses this web page.
I believe that in the BIBLE it says :
Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the LORD.