God Is In Prison, Too

 A letter we received from LeVar Aikens who's incarcerated at ERDCC in Bonne Terre. 

"God is in prison too.

There is this misinformation that the D.O.C. has put out there, that prisons are "correctional centers" and "rehabilitation" is available. They even give us little booklets when we first come here---decades ago---trying to make us believe the lie.

This place tries to, or does, destroy every part of you and takes away everything you love. It's rules are the exact opposite of society, and if you do something that is good or normal in society you will receive a conduct violation. Then they tell you they are preparing you for society. All the while staff bring in fentanyl that causes overdoses, death, and creates an even more dangerous environment. If any of prison was good for mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wellness, and was a place of rehabilitation then why are we dehumanized, why are we being maced and put in the hole for/while praying, why not provide adequate medical care, why is every real tool for rehabilitation and betterment unavailable to us, why are the rules and conduct expected in here the exact opposite of what goes on in society, why can a guard say they are so frustrated they feel like punching a coworker but if I say that same thing I receive a conduct violation for a threat, why does it take 30 to 35 years to overturn a wrongful conviction, and what good does doing 25 years of abuse do? How does being in an environment with no love, hope, peace, kindness, commonsense, fairness, or anything good help me, or any one in here? It doesn't. Paying a debt to society is one thing, being abused and dehumanized is something else.

The truth is needed. Let's stop the whole false narrative of prisons being "correctional centers" or that "rehabilitation" is provided, or that "staff are better than the people they dehumanize" because staff are committing crimes bringing drugs into prisons, staff lie about events and incidents, and staff assault inmates-----that's exactly what getting maced and tackled while praying is, an assault. And it's not all staff who do these horrible, inhumane things, but there is no equality or humanity in what takes place and how one is viewed versus the other. Because you literally have staff who have been caught abusing children, and some who haven't been caught. But because they are staff, it makes it okay.

Let's just call prisons what they are, places of dehumanization, trauma, and abuse. Yes, they do take child molesters, rapists, and people who have killed off the street. But not all of us is a serial rapist or murderer. And to be clear, as someone who was abused as a child, I have to work to contain the disgust and hate I have towards child molesters and abusers of women. And while they should be locked up for there crimes, what about the little boy who was molested who never got any help and became an abuser himself? Not excusing what he/she did, but some of these guys NEED abuse and trauma treatment and help. Some of these guys, with real rehabilitation, are/would be great people.

The same goes for the abused kid who killed someone. What good does this environment do for anyone who needs help, or anyone that naturally matures and grows with age? Because no one makes the same ignorant decisions they made as a kid, when they are 30 or 40 years old. What good does this place serve for someone who made one mistake in life? And we won't even get into all the people in here who 30 plus years later, it comes out they were innocent or a corrupt prosecutor withheld evidence. What good does this place serve for any of them? None.

God is in society, in nature, and in every man, woman, and child. But God is in prison too.

God Bless,
LeVar Aikens
#532829"


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