By A. Hosack, P. Berman, & K. Hecht
After being sentenced, Larry was escorted from the court room and sent to a holding cell. After a few hours, he was escorted towards a bus that was taking him and others to prison. One of his escorting police officers unintentionally stepped on his foot as they were walking. Larry didn’t believe in accidents, so he pushed the guard backward. As a result, two police officers strong armed him towards the bus and shoved him through the door. Larry fell and hit his head hard on a metal seat in the front row. H was pulled roughly to his feet and shackled to the bus seat by the guard on the bus who ignored Larry’s bleeding head.
Martin was already shackled in the front row. He had also had a “rough” entry into the bus. Without thinking, he had reached out to try and help Larry get up. Larry was about to thank Martin when he started back in surprise – noticing he was African-American. This was the first time in Larry’s life that he was face-to-face with anyone who was not White. Martin had met plenty of Whites in his life and generally kept his distance – they meant trouble. However, he had been raised by his grandmother to believe in God and try to treat others as he wanted to be treated. He reached out his hand to Larry.
Larry didn’t know how to take what had happened. Why would Martin have helped him? But, Martin had helped him and his hand was out, so Larry shook it. Once the bus was rolling, the two of them shared opinions of the judges who had sentenced them to prison. Neither had been to prison before and they didn’t admit it, they were both scared. Martin told Larry that his dad had been sent to prison and never came home. His grandmother couldn’t speak of it without crying. Martin told Larry he was sorry he hadn’t known his dad, but his grandmother had taken great care of him and his three sisters. Larry didn’t say it out loud, but he thought Larry had been lucky to lose his dad. The time past and to their surprise- Larry and Martin had a lot in common.
Once they got to the prison, they were separated. Larry was sent to a cell already occupied by a man about ten years older than him. When Larry tried to sit on the empty bunk in the cell, the man punched him repeatedly in the head and shoved him on the ground by the toilet; hitting his head on the toilet, he passed out. He woke up at night to find himself face down on the floor being raped by his roommate. When he tried to struggle, a blade was drawn against his neck and he went numb; there were more evil men than his dad… and he had just found one.
I don’t belong here! Get me out of here!
Larry could barely walk to breakfast when the guard opened the door and ordered him out. His roommate gave him a fast look, and he knew what it meant. The guard made a joke about the blood on his face, asking if he had started to eat something before breakfast; in that moment, Larry knew the guard understood what had happened to him and didn’t care. His dad had told him over and over what the world was like. Larry was learning the hard way his dad had been right. Was it safer to try to fight or go numb?
As he stood in line for breakfast, Larry had a hard time standing straight. The rape and his attempts to prevent it had caused some tearing of his groin muscles. Someone behind him was frustrated by his slow progress and shoved him hard forward. Larry staggered sideways and unintentionally bumped into the gang leader controlling life inside the prison. This could have been Larry’s last day in prison, but Martin rushed towards him and helped him again. He told Larry to apologize quick and then get back in line. Martin whispered in the gang leader’s ear; Martin had already found a place in the prison hierarchy because he was part of the same gang this man belonged in. However, he was low in the hierarchy and he knew he was taking a risk by speaking up for a White guy like Larry.
He took the risk because God would have wanted him too. Many bad decisions had led Larry to ending up on the prison bus, but prisons were full of men like Larry, who grew up in poverty and had no idea how to fit in to the institutions of society- like the legal system. Larry was to find out later they had even more in common, they both had met girls in high school who now cared for their children. While he had never spoken to an African-American before, Larry was more like Martin than he was the lawyers and judge who presided over his legal case. While Larry didn’t believe in God as Martin did, Larry did share the same value for loyalty. From that moment in the cafeteria, Larry would have laid down his life to defend Martin.
Larry is in prison, and Davy is not. This time spent away from Davy effects both father and son. Programs such as Parenting Inside Out are working to help incarcerated adults form relationships with their children while in prison and continue those relationships outside. To learn more, visit: http://www.parentinginsideout.org
In addition, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) a nonprofit organization that connects released felons with executives and entrepreneurs. The program focuses on teaching leadership and innovation skills, showing increased wages after release and lower recidivism rates. To learn more, visit: https://www.pep.org