Stephen Price has an open heart for people enmeshed in the correctional system in the United States. Shortly after I first met him he drew me into teaching poetry at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute Treatment Center.
“The Massachusetts Treatment Center is located within the Bridgewater Correctional Complex and is a unique facility due to having a population of civilly committed Sexually Dangerous Persons as well as state prison inmates identified as sex offenders. Each population is located within separate areas of the facility. The civil commitment process is determined by General Law Chapter 123A. The Mission of the Massachusetts Treatment Center is to promote public safety through the responsible management of criminal and civil commitments while providing a comprehensive and effective sex offender treatment program.” (from it’s website)
That experience, which was mostly about being taught the truth of poetry and being ministered to by those I expected to serve, continues to be one of the most powerful in my life. This poem from Stephen’s blog is about the many who are involved in every incarceration. To read more by Stephen go here
They come every week;
They step off the bus that drives them to the gate
or park old cars, often borrowed
from friends or parents
in the lot where toddlers and small children
tumble out of vehicles
like dice from a shaken cup.
Young mothers with babies on breast or hip
sullen teens pulled away from weekends
elderly parents, faces lined with shame.
Inmates come to visit inmates.
if it weren’t for the glass partition
and the regulation dress code,
Just looking at the faces
you couldn’t tell
who will go home when the visiting hours are over
and who will go back to the cell block.