While U.S prisons have become lucrative investments for businessmen, it seems as though the philosophy of rehabilitation has adopted dehumanization. From misrepresentation in the Courts and mistreatment by prison staff to society’s classic perception of criminals, the current/former inmate receives a great deal of dehumanization.
Since I have been incarcerated, I’ve been a target of dehumanization by correctional officers, counselors, and administration staff. Most of them have labeled and treated me as a subject rather than a human being. “I can’t help you with your gun prevention children’s book,” is what a staff member said to me years ago. Isn’t helping an inmate with his book project supportive?! It is in my world. But unfortunately I still have zero support from DOC. If it wasn’t for God helping me to be a better man, I will probably be going home worse than how I came in.
“Let’s get this over with,” was my plea to the officer who had instructed me to take off my clothes. During anytime of the day, an officer can strip search an inmate. If the inmate refuses, it’ll result in a institutional infraction, loss of phone/commissary privileges, and good time credits.
Removing one clothing item at a time, I began with my belt. I gave it to the officer, so he could inspect it. Once I got down to my under garments, I quickly began taking off my socks. “Hold up!” the officer said. “I don’t want to be standing here naked all day” I thought privately. After I gave the officer my briefs, he took his time inspecting them. As I stood completely nude, the officer ordered me to open my mouth wide and stick out my tongue. Thereafter, I had to raise up my arms, lift up my testicles, then turn around, squat and cough. As soon as the officer handed me my clothes, I was literately dressed and ready to go within one minute.
The act of a man involuntarily getting naked for another man is a combination of humiliation, embarrassment, psychological abuse, disrespectful, and above all, dehumanizing. I understand the security aspect of it, but there are other alternatives. Why are strip searches still being conducted when there’s a high-quality body scanners available at every DOC facility?
I’ve witnessed countless events of dehumanization; however, that’s irrelevant to the real matter at hand. The primary reason for me revealing this uncut truth is to raise awareness of the dehumanization that inmates are experiencing everyday, including how it is detrimental to the healing process of a prisoner’s rehabilitation. A human being should never be treated less than a human being because he/she has broke the law and/or has lost his/her civil rights. To be dehumanized under any circumstances is inhumane; furthermore, in the act of a human being dehumanizing another human being shows lack of compassion. This type of behavior goes against the morals, values, and principles that the United States of America proudly stands on. We (Americans) can’t ignore the serious nature of this matter, which has the potential to eliminate the opportunity of rehabilitation.
“It’s extremely difficult for a wounded person to completely heal when his wounds are enduring repeated aggravation by someone.”