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The Healing Walls, Incarceration, and E.S.P

Owl's picture

As we stopped to visit the healing walls on the mural tour yesterday, I was surprised by my reaction to the offender wall. I think it was the combination of the music coming from the community service event across the street and the large exposed grass area in front of the mural that somehow made it much more appealing to me. The mural itself was more exposed than the victim mural and I felt a rush of sadness come over me as I took the time to understand the color scheme in the mural. I think the thing that I found myself really focusing on was the distant memories of families that were painted on the far bottom left corner. When most people think about offenders, they are are overwhelmed by images of their crime and thier feelings of vengence that they forget about the families they leave behind, and how much of the consequence and effect of committing a crime is really seen in the families of the offenders. As a society we focus on the victims of crime and neglect the offender, by which I mean we focus on helping the victims heal by attaching negative attention to offenders. But, as we have seen in our vision class, the definiton of victim becomes really obscure when we add the social context out of which both victims and offenders come from. When a member of a community is incarcerated that community including the family becomes more and more disenfranchised. Communities are left without another worker, children are left without a parent--and some cases left without both, they begin to loose interest in school, they socialize with bad peers as a way to get their mind off of their problems, and they eventually continue the cycle in their adult lives. I wonder whether incarceration is really a solution, to what extent might it be a solution, and to what extent might it be a racialized and gendered solution.  

After yesterday's field trip at E.S.P my impressions of prison and incarceration remain negative. As the tour guide spoke more and more about some of the more unsually cruel punishements that some prisoners had to go through as well as hearing the art installation on the sexually "deviant" inmates of the Stone Wall Riots, I found myself thinking that prison was more of an entertainment venue for guards and others in the position to incarcerate people simply because of their gender orientation or race. I became even more disgustingly aware of this when the tour guide mentioned that it is simply impossible to know whether or not the system worked because of lack of specific record keeping! Thus, I wonder what could be a better solution to crime?



Serendip Visitor's picture

Owl on Sun's submission

Thank you.