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All about money?

Erin's picture

All about money

I have been looking forward to our first field trip for a very long time. After the trip, I have to admit that I very shocked by what I saw during the process. My initial intention to take the 360 courses is to really enjoy the charm of liberal arts courses. Three weeks’ discussions bring more than deeper thoughts about walled community but also some in-depth insight about the hidden side about American society. I have been spending my time re-evaluate my decision about future.

The first time we introduced the term economics in our discussion was the Tuesday we start to talked about prison system in USA. The existence of the term privatized industrialized prison system was a shock for me. When and how did the justice system relate to business? Isn’t the purpose of prison to correct the wrong behaviors and keep people outside safe? My understanding of prison might not be accurate; at least the prison should not have anything to do with money. Well, I guess that my naïve perception of justice ended many years ago.

On Friday, our discussion once again went back to the image of offender. I realize the long-lasting stereotypes towards African Americans have rooted so deeply that people made assumptions in such situation unconditionally. Then the data about the people in US who no longer have voting rights due to post criminal record. Especially, one in 10 African Americans are not allowed to vote any more. How could you expect people in power to improve the situation if the people need help don’t have things they need. On the other hand, the money spend on all kinds of level of prison is humongous. Therefore, many prisons are actually private. How did the justice system evolved to the way it is today. 

Our Saturday’s trip was shocking to me overall. I would never to see this side of America if not for this opportunity. Media coverage of images of America was never like this. When our bus was driving away from center city, the hidden parts of this country start to reveal. People in poverty and houses need to be repaired and etc are all thing I never think of when I think about America. Actually, the lower class people have lived in life like that, but people don’t talk about them.

Throughout the mural arts program tour, I was really moved by the idea of painting and the intention to bring people hope and harmony. When I saw those colorful and meaningful appearing in under-developed community, I really felt the power of arts. On the other hand, I doubted the amount of money need to be spent on this kind of program and the effectiveness of such actions.

Our trip continued with East State Penitentiary. I was impressed by the thoughtful design of such prison system. The modern flush toilets and heating system are things I would not expect from prison from two centuries ago. The most surprising things has to be the initial purpose for this prison, to discover the better self though silent penitent life in such a nice place. Yes, I use the word nice to describe the prison. Such penitentiary is probably the best place you can find at that time and even now. Later on, as the financial burden grows, the original radio plans has to change to adjust to the increasing demand to put prisoner in. When the environment has to change to adjust to the real condition, the initial purpose disappeared.