I start by writing that as a woman I send my support to all mothers (and fathers) whose daughters and sons are in prison. I had worked and was part of a project ran by the University of Malta and funded by the EU the ICW ESF project. In this project our task was to come up with a new policy for the improvement of Corradino. This policy was the fruition of a lot of hard work which included visiting foreign prisons observing endless hours of research and spending hours writing. I was informed that this policy is being used for improvement and I sincerely hope that in the right hands it will lead to more improvement. My sector was sports.
In a British prison abroad I observed how inmates are engaged in sports together with a fully equipped gym. Tournaments of various sports activities are done. Some coaches physiotherapists or officials who are now working in this prison were once inmates themselves. They studied while they were in prison trained were released continued to study even up to graduating to then returning back to work and offer their services in prisons. Needless to say that for this to happen in Corradino there has to also be an infrastructural change.
Alongside this project but which was open to anyone there was also a software questionnaire which one had to do with various inmates. I applied and was thankfully chosen. I wanted to meet these people. I wanted to see and feel the other side of the story. All I had was a given laptop with the questionnaire installed and a list of the inmates. No other information. In the room I sat with an official while the inmates came in one by one.
Before some readers throw insults judgments and draw conclusions I remind them what Christ had said to the scribes of the Pharisees: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
Each prisoner did not solely stop to answering the questions whose answers I typed in myself. All of them explained how and why they ended up there. Their main worry was common: what will happen to them when and if they come out – will they find employment an accommodation and will they be accepted by society.
In front of me I saw victims. They are victims just like those they stole from abused or killed are victims as well. All of them were failed by society at a point in their life and instead of finding a nucleus of support or finding help or even helping themselves to restart walking on the right path they got lost. In addition they were also victims of a trauma. And we must understand that in this lifetime not everyone will be able to heal and thus it is critical that we accept and comprehend this. The constant emphasis on acknowledging and healing trauma is admirable but it is not for everyone. Because some of us lack the ability to heal. Some people are unable to face their trauma due to the weight of their pain and the complexity of their trauma. Too much has happened and there is no chance of change. This is difficult to accept in our toxic positivity culture where trauma is the new buzzword and people forget they are not walking in the shoes of others. Just because you were able to heal parts of your past doesn’t mean that everyone else can.
We have all grown up in a traumatizing culture. Some of us did not make it through unscathed. That is a proven fact. And if we can simply accept this honor and comfort them as they are without attempting to ‘heal’ them we have a chance of co-creating a trauma-sensitive world that avoids this level of suffering entirely. Because insensitivity contributes to the perpetuation of trauma. The dissociative consciousness that perpetuates the trauma cycle is our tendency to turn a blind eye to the truth of people’s suffering to shame them for not healing and to blame it on their karma and choices. If you want to assist start by accepting people as they are console the bereaved and be sensitive in a world in which people have become desensitized to the pain of others. These alone will bring the world back to life.
I am not saying that we should throw away accountability. I am not saying that we should throw away the fact that they must face the consequences of their actions. But we have to see with the eyes of compassion. Compassion is not just a word. It’s a state of mind. It’s more than just an idea. It’s love at work. It’s not just something we do because it’s convenient. It’s something we consistently demonstrate.
We must show compassion for those who are in need for our common humanity for the strength required to persevere for the starting point for unity. I see myself in you and I see you in me and I want us to live together in love.
Let us work together for a better Corradino facility and better programs for the inmates for their future. Let us work together so that anyone who is turning all possibilities into a corrupt institutionalised gridlock while prohibiting a positive change to happen will be moved out so that compassion with love wins over for unity while we bring the world back to life.