I was talking to my son while he was preparing my grandson for football practice. The sound of his fatherhood continues to instill a great sense of pride within my being. At the same time, when I hear his fatherly instructions, and my grandson’s obedient responses, I become overwhelmed by the reality of my political handicap.
Capital punishment and mass incarceration cripples a free society with the psychological effects of knowing one poor decision can lead to spending the rest of your life living in captivity. Everyone you know and love continues to thrive – making new memories day-after-day, while your eyes and ears absorb the same walls and routines of day-to-day life inside of the box.
Once the gates close and the steel doors are locked, failure eats away at any aspirations to be more than your circumstance, similar to a terminal illness deteriorating its host. There are no light switches, thermostats, or windows for me to control. Prison extracts that most minute forms of independence – making success seem like a distant pipe dream.
Prison rarely grants the opportunity to unleash success from the shackled grips of failure. As a first time offender, I long for the second chance to show the most extreme failures can entail progression. Rehabilitation for death row prisoners in North Carolina is unsettling to a society who trusts that their political leaders’ core values are what fuels the potent engine of justice.
These same leaders ignite their megaphones and political platforms with the malarkey of capital punishment being a justifiable deterrent to crime: the need to kill, in order to prevent murder. They will convince their constituents that it is more suitable to build more prisons than schools.
Underplaying schoolteachers while cops get a pass for escalating black death rates. If our kids are not being taught properly; if they’re not staying in school, they are destined to join the ever-growing population of mass incarceration. Some will even meet the demise of a poisonous cocktail that the twisted political leaders will promulgate as humane.
Looking at the free-world from a slit five inches high, I can clearly see the generations of my son and grandson resisting defeat while in the sights of capitalists eager to fill up their prison spaces. Death row prisoners, on the other hand, know the disappointment of defeat, yet some have proven rehabilitation through prison programs like: social psychology, creative writing, journalism, and the chess club.
In most cases, success is stimulated by failure. The best way to understand success is to know that it is subjective. The successes of Barack Obama, Michael Jordan and Jay-Z are templates of what can be accomplished when your work ethic speaks louder than your proclamations.
In life, we all fail to some degree. As my grandson takes the field for his Pop Warner football team, I am inclined to see that he can drop a pass, and then come back to the huddle for the very next play. If he stumbles before making a tackle, he can still recover to make a game-saving stop.
However, some prisoners take their place in the stadium of outside competition – winning through our diligence to change the game. Others may choose to sit in the parking lot, listening to the game on the radio. To fail, and end up in prison, could mean the end of your opportunities to fail again.
Copyright © 2016 by Leroy Elwood Mann