The Waiting | Sojourners

The Waiting

When I first began my incarceration, I knew I would not get any visitors. Of all the supposed friends and associates who promised to stand by me at my sentencing, no one showed up. As far as my family is concerned, I don't exist.

Three years later I was moved to a medium security unit with an open yard where I could read under a tree or just enjoy the green grass and a blue sky. On my second day there, my celly started getting dressed up for a visit with his family. I tried to ignore him by going outside. However, the outside visitation area was in clear view from the shade of my favorite tree. Soon my celly and his family were waving to me, not realizing the affect of their good humor.

Each Saturday morning after breakfast, three men gathered near the fence where they could look across to the visitors' parking lot. Shortly before 8 o'clock, cars, vans, and trucks began to arrive. Visitors lined up outside the gate to be checked for weapons and contraband. Inmates lined up near the visitation area to be strip-searched. The three men remained near the fence.

Just at 8, a shiny new sedan pulled into the parking lot. One of the three smiled and waved excitedly as his father, mother, and siblings emerged from the car. He quickly made his way to the strip room and was soon smothered in hugs and kisses.

Half an hour later a beat-up old pickup pulled into the lot and parked at the edge nearest to our unit. One of the two remaining inmates near the fence watched anxiously as his young wife stepped from the pickup carrying their baby. Not yet 18, and with no family to act as escort, she could not enter the prison to visit. She held the baby high, waving its small arm. She never stayed long. They both knew that if the guards saw them she would be forced to leave, and he would be given a write-up.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2000
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