A Decorated Soldier
Will I ever wake up from this nightmare? Every day for the last ten years I’ve been living a nightmare. My brother is dying in federal prison. He has Parkinson’s disease and I’ve have watched him go from a person who shook some to a person who cannot control his tremors, cannot hold his head up, can barely eat, and is losing his eyesight. What makes the nightmare worse is dealing with the Federal Bureau of Prison. Forget everything you think you know or have been told about how the prison system works and the people employed at a prison. It’s worse than anything you think you know or can imagine.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has no consideration and no concern for how the family is affected. Visitation is a stressful, emotional event. Due to a traffic accident en route to the prison one weekend I arrived late to see my brother in the medical infirmary. I was blocked from visitation. I was two minutes late and they shut the gates. It was heart-wrenching.
“Prison is prison. It’s not designed for comfort,” one of the prison guards reminded me. I assured him I was aware of that but that no one looks at what the family deals with… Whether that person is guilty or not, that family is broken.
Initially I could only picture what prison was like from the movies and television shows I’d seen. I worried that someone was hurting him? I worried about his health. I had a lot of questions. Of course you don’t know what goes on in prison. Nobody tells you what goes on. You have to find out for yourself. You have to live it for yourself. In the beginning I would call to check on my brother. I recall a heated response of one guard at the facility: “I’m so sick and tired of you people calling up here!” Another guard told me, “This is not a prep school, this is a prison. If he is beaten and raped he had it coming to him.”
I never forget what continues to happen to my brother. I see the pain on my mother’s face when she has to see it. I see the pain on my father’s face when he remembers what has happened to his son. I see it even when I try to push it from my mind.
I’ve met many family members who live a hundred kinds of hell on earth because their loved one is in prison. The following is from a poem the sister of an inmate in Leavenworth shared with me a few months ago. It says what many will continue to feel until this nightmare is over.
That man you condemn is loved by someone who has to endure.
A Mom and a Dad who has given him life!
What would you do if this happened to yours?
Deny all your love and close all the doors?
Do you honestly think I’d sink to a level
And just turn my back and deem him a devil?
He was wrongly accused and is serving his time
And No! I do not agree with the crime.
‘That woman’ you point at, yes it is me
I was born with a name, as I’m human you see!
I’m innocent! just in case you’ve forgot
And love him whether you like it or not!
I’ve had the abuse, the comments and more
It’s nothing I haven’t heard all before
I mean no offense when I say this to you
I’m a victim as well- A forgotten one too.