Saturday, January 24, 2009

Norton

I read another short story for my diversity class and it really made me think about how we as a nation treat those who break our laws. Obviously I have a very liberal stance on this but I would love to hear from someone who feels differently.

Norton #59900
Judee Norton
1991
Anthology of American Literature pg. 2674


I chose to write this piece after reading the Reader Response of Lisa Watkins. In her response she stated, “Illustrated is the misuse of power by the governing authorities in order to keep the prisoners emotionally down-trodden and without a voice. The struggles this prisoner faces between “saving face” with her fellow inmates, standing up for the truth, pleasing the staff, and her own emotional torment is unfathomable to most of us here on the outside.” Her statement indicated to me that this essay would be full of emotion and conflict.
After reading and reflecting on the piece, I could not help but think about how futile our efforts are in incarcerating those people in our society who need our help the most. In her short biography of Norton, Judith Scheffler explained that Norton was in a State Prison from 1988 to 2002 and came from a background of addiction and poverty. In her writing, Norton clearly expresses her feelings of oppression and her need to save what little pride she had in order to survive the brutal environment surrounding her.
Hubert Humphrey said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped." Here in the United States we failed this test. We choose to place the “sick” among us in prison, where drugs are easily accessible, rather than helping them overcome their addictions. Our government looks to please those who will vote for them, as well as those who will donate money and time to keep them in power. They overlook the fact that our prisons are full of poor minorities because these individuals do not have the means to “buy” freedom.
In her writing, Judee Norton captures the humor of the irony embedded in the Justice System. It is unfortunate that we live in a nation that supports and engages the principle of breaking the will, soul, of our prisoners. By attempting to show dominance they are only fueling the fire of hate that is so rapidly spreading across this planet. I am not saying that we should show mercy to every prisoner, there are those in the system who intentionally destroyed the lives of others. These people should be removed from society. What I do know is that we as a people need to stop destroying the lives of those who can still be saved.