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Passing time as punishment

Michaela's picture

In Wideman's book, I noticed that he touched on the notion of life going on "on the outside" while incarcerated people seem to stay where they are, removed from the passing of time, but unable to fit back into the world without acknowledging the time that has passed. Wideman measures the first few years of Robby's sentence by his daughter Jamila's growth, seeing that, although she is growing up in a changing world, Robby's world is centered around staying put, where Jamila's growth is a strong, and perhaps the only, reliable measurement of changes in time. This reminds me of the discussion that we had in Barb's class yesterday about time and boredom as a means of punishment. The women in the prison that she is studying have so much time on their hands, so much time to do what relatively few activities that they have, and the rest to be filled with a monotonous boredom. Given both our discussion and Wideman's thoughts, I think the passage of time without activity, motion or change is an effective punishment, but a horribly cruel one, a method by which we, once again, deny the humanity of those who are incarcerated.