Based on personal experience and observation, the prison holiday experience was bleak and dismal. Despite their tough demeanor, the young inmates looked lost during the holiday season. When I walked by the unit’s telephones, I heard the longing for home in the voice of a young man whose arms were covered with violent tattoos. Although some correctional officers acted somewhat nicer, many officers were nastier than usual. The correctional officers serving their shift on the holiday were just as unhappy as the inmates to be in prison on December 25th.
Inmates serving life or long sentences faced the holidays in stride. After so many years, for their own sanity, the older inmates were immune to the holidays. They went about their business as if it was a normal day in their abnormal world.
One bright spot during this bleak period was holiday mail. As you walked by cells, you saw inmate’s looking at their holiday mail and Christmas cards from family and friends.
The visitor’s room was decorated for the holiday season. The visitors and inmates sat on rows of chairs facing each other. Despite the holiday, I watched correctional officers stopping a young child from sitting on her father’s lap. The father gently placed the crying little girl back into her mother’s arms.
Some inmates tried to act as if it was another normal holiday season. For many inmates, it was simply a relief to have the holiday season come to a close.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com