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Parole Camp

Apr 26, 2012

from the entry by Maanda Ntsandeni on Aljazeera:

....My journey to making Parole Camp began four years ago when a friend, Andrew May, invited me to South Africa's Pollsmoor Prison. Andrew, an American studying for his Masters of Law degree, was running a class on the Restorative Justice System for inmates approaching their release. 

Like many South Africans frustrated by the country's soaring crime rates, I was deeply prejudiced towards anybody who had served time in prison - choosing to focus on my belief that they deserved punishment while overlooking the fact that they had served their dues behind bars. 

But on that day in Pollsmoor Prison, when a woman in her forties stood up to tell her imprisoned husband of the difficulties she encountered in raising their children alone, I came to understand that crime takes its toll not only on the victims but also on the families of the perpetrators. 

The message that woman conveyed was that her sons, raised without a father's presence in their lives, were now following in their father's footsteps while she struggled to assert any kind of authority over them.

During the class, many others took their turn to speak out about how they had been impacted by the actions of their imprisoned children. In this emotionally charged atmosphere, some cried openly while others stifled sobs.

As tears welled up in my eyes, my attitudes were transformed.

Read the whole article.

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