We Must Help Each Other Find Humanity
November 22, 2017
Being incarcerated is challenging, but it can be acutely challenging during the holiday season. The holidays are about being with loved ones. But for inmates and their loved ones who are apart, it takes a lot to get a feel for the holiday season.
Every correctional facility is unique, but most try and facilitate communication between inmates and their loved ones to make the holidays a little brighter for everyone. Still, inmates often report that it is the hardest time of year for them. Ahead of the holidays last year, The Chicago Tribune collected letters from inmates on what it’s like to spend the holidays incarcerated. One inmate, Marcos Gray, wrote, “We have to help one another find humanity in such a bleak circumstance.”
A Forbes article that focused on holidays while in prison quoted one inmate as saying, “As one would expect, most inmates probably feel the distance from family and friends most over the holiday; thus, in a way you can feel a layer of ’melancholy’ for lack of a better word, through the camp.” But, he went on to say, “For some inmates, most likely including myself, where it is their last Christmas away from family, there was some expression of optimism during this season, by looking forward to the next.”
Celebrating the holidays often involves communicating with loved ones, catching up on family news, and debating politics at the dinner table. GTL’s Inspire® tablet program can facilitate a version of that tradition. Through the Messaging application, inmates can send electronic messages and receive messages (and photos and videos) in return. The Newsfeed application allows inmates to remain informed about current events, politics, sports, and pop culture. And since the tablets can make phone calls, every inmate can talk with their loved ones on the holidays without having to wait for an available phone.
Correctional technology companies like GTL often focus on big picture issues like breaking the cycle of recidivism through increased education and digital literacy. Yet it is often the small but vital things that make a difference in inmates’ daily lives, such as seeing their child’s smile on Christmas morning or telling their parents that they love them. During the holidays, it is just as important for inmates to be connected to their friends and families as it is for families outside prison walls.