Who's Doing Time?

April 28, 2013

This marks exactly one month since my son's incarceration.  I went to visit him today.  I'd assume that the majority of you have never been to visit a prisoner in a level 5 correctional institution before, so allow me to set the stage.

First, you must call a week in advance and make an appointment after which they run a full background check on you before you are granted the visit.  Then once the day arrives, it's like an airport security check only more invasive.  You may only bring your keys and your ID (which they take during the visit).  There is a metal detector as well as a guard who scans you, asks you to show your pockets are empty, and has you lift your pant legs up.

Once you are granted admission, you wait.  And wait.  Until all of the visitors that will be seeing a loved one are through the security check.  Then you and the entire party plus a guard enter another room.  And you wait some more.  Until the previous wave of visitors comes down off the elevator and then you finally go upstairs.  On the second floor, after exiting the elevator, there is another short wait; and then finally your party is granted entry to the visiting room.

The photo above was the closest I could find to what the visiting room looks like, at least in our state.  But what you don't see in the photo is the row of inmates, men dressed in white, seated tall, leaning forward, eagerly waiting for their loved ones to come through the door.

Today my son sat behind two thick panes of plexiglass.  We locked eyes the moment I walked through the door and his broad, handsome smile lit up the room for me.  I took my seat at the stool and we both picked up the phone handsets.  He dialed his inmate number and suddenly I was able to hear that familiar voice say, "Hi, Mom."

Since everything we talk about is recorded, we didn't really discuss his case.  Instead we talked about what he does during the day, how he's feeling on his medications, what books he's finished reading, and the fact that he desperately needs a haircut.

Being able to talk to my son for 45 minutes without interruption, and look into my little boy's blue eyes while doing it, is worth all the waiting.  All the security hoops I am made to jump through seem like nothing when I know that for 45 minutes I can see and hear my son talking to me.  Really talking.

It occurred to me today:  I've spoken to my son more in the past month than I have in the last 2 1/2 years.

These visits are gut-wrenching as well as rejuvinating for us both.  The double-paned plexiglass not only keeps him in, but it keeps me out, unable to give my boy a hug, something we both desperately need.

He's not the only one doing time.

No comments:

Please share a comment