At the Prison

Well, luckily there is a difference – which you can’t, in the same way, express in German – between “at the prison” [meaning just being there, as a visitor, e.g.] and “in prison” [meaning being there as an inmate]. Well, last Sunday Mary and me were there as neither. We were just helpers. The local prison – well, the one in Kenedy, that is – has a visitors’ center. That’s a building where people who come to visit with inmates can wait till they’re called to the prison itself for the visit. Sometimes these people – who maybe have come from up to 300 miles away – have to wait quite a time. It depends on whether there are enough places for them and the inmates to visit. Last Sunday there were people who had waited for 4 hours as there’s no chance to make an appointment for a certain time. Everything works on a first-come-first-served basis. This building was erected with donated money, and it is kept open with donations, so that the visitors don’t have to sit in their cars and wait. And there are people from the local churches who, in turn, are there to talk to the visitors, serve them drinks and snacks and just be around. There are also clothes, so that – if they are not on arrival – the visitors can dress properly. The clothes are donated, too, and the visitors keep them when they leave. The children can choose toys [one toy each] to play with to while the time away, and they also can keep the toys on leaving.

So that – just being there – is what Mary and me did the day before yesterday for the first time, from 2:30 p.m. till 5 p.m. And I think we’ll continue, as that’s a good community service. There was not much to do, and it was a tad boring, but it was a good experience and maybe there will be more to do the next time.

This, community service, helping others, is something that you find here in the US much more than in my native Germany. And I really appreciate that. Maybe it has its origins in the American history in so far as during the conquering of the West people had to rely on each other, and also on the (strong) religious affiliations many people here have.

Um diesen Eintrag in Deutsch zu lesen, hier klicken.


2 responses to “At the Prison

  1. This idea is an artifact from the time when the government was not everybody’s mother and people relied on their own families, churches and communities for assistance in rough times. I fear that as more people believe that it’s society’s duty to take care/support everyone, the less prevalent community service will be. And that would be a bad thing.


    • Hi Randall,
      I agree that we should not rely on government doing everything. What I think, though, is that either some state agency or the private business that runs the prison(s) here should provide the room(s) for visitors to wait in. But other than that, I think it’s volunteers and donations.

I'd really love to hear from y'alls!

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