By Gigi Taylor
Today I woke up early and headed out to visit. Angola is very different than other prisons because it is a working farm and is spread out over thousands and thousands of acres. There are several camps spread miles apart from one another, so they bus you around using their own transportation. I always say it reminds me of the buses that come and pick you up at Disney World Resort .
As I was the only one on the bus this morning heading to Death Row, a place where not many visit, I had time to really watch the farmland and livestock as they passed by me on my ten minute trip to the back of the prison land. Camels, horses, and cattle for days flew past me, and it hit me that the animals at Angola are freer than the people. The cattle, for example, are of course kept contained by a barb wire fence, but they have vast expanses of land to roam where they please.
My husband, on the other hand, is confined to an 8 x 8 foot cell block twenty-three hours a day. When they bring him to visit, he has waist chains, handcuffs and leg irons. He cannot move but down a hall for one hour a day. It is crazy to think that I live in such an advanced society, and yet, my husband is treated less than an animal.
I have a true love for many poets, but one who always seems to tug at my heart-strings, is Maya Angelou. She wrote a poem called “Caged Bird.” M is my caged bird, a strong willed man who has the most positive outlook on life, yet he is less free than the animals down the road from him. The caged bird lives in the darkest of places yet opens his mouth to sing the song of freedom.Caged Bird by Maya Angelou<https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48989/caged-bird>
This brings me to awareness. Are you aware of what living in a cage like this for twenty-three hours a day does to a person? M has been “down” for nineteen years now, and he still gets anxious around human contact, just because he has gone so long without it. Why, as Americans, do we treat our own citizens as subhuman and less than animals? Why do we give up hope that they can be free birds and fly and soar through the air? Why are we so hell bent on revenge rather than true rehabilitation? To me this idea of “lock em up and throw away the key” does not work. Take a look at Norway. They treat their inmates better because they believe that by treating them better, they will treat others better and act better. If you do not believe it is true here is the real deal.
Norway Proves The Treating…<https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/norway-prison_us_578418b6e4b0e05f05232cb7>
It is a new day to break free from the old thinking of cages and embrace the idea that we can do better for everyone in this country, not just certain groups or animals but even inmates who are sometimes more human than we’d like to think. Cages…it is time to break free, for the song of the caged bird could be the most beautiful sound.
Love and God bless,