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Now that our journey had taken on an entirely new path I feel like I can catch my breath. It isn’t so scary not hearing from Daniel now. It feels like his life is finally beginning.

He is wearing street clothes, he had a physical, he will begin working at a local poultry farm and he will get his own cell phone. He will also be allowed day passes to come home for extended periods of time.

Life in a Transitional Center is good, but it is just a step up from prison. Yes, prison is the fire, but a transitional center is the red-hot skillet.

The building is a worn out, dark, dingy and cold place. I am not sure how the officers can even stand working there. When I go visit I walk down the hall of windows where I can look directly at the residents in their “day” room and in the back ground I see the narrow metal bunks where they sleep.

Daniel stands at the glass door waving at me, feels like I’m looking in a zoo window. Why is he behind that glass? What is the point of this?

I have been struggling with this question for quite some time now. What was the real purpose of locking Daniel Boccia up for 6 years? What did we, as a society, gain from this? We understand we must punish people when they break the law, but again, what is the benefit to society.

In the 5 years and 2 months of his incarceration he has never had any real opportunity to grow and change. He had no educational opportunities, except where we paid for some college courses. The prison had an HVAC class that he loved, but abruptly ended before he completed it.

I’m not saying poor, poor Daniel, let’s sprinkle magic fairy dust over him and make him all better. What I am saying is that how on earth do we think punishing someone for 6 years will have beneficial effects on society?

We take smart people and remove all possibility for them to grow, change and learn, then we release them in an already hard to navigate world with no tools, resources, money or skills. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Can you imagine what it is like for someone who has spent years in prison and has never been on the internet? Imagine if they have no family? Where will they go when they are released? You might say “not in my backyard.” But I have more news for you, they are in your backyard right now.

Homelessness is a crisis, I saw 3 homeless people this past week in Alpharetta. Yes, it’s here too, as much as we try to ignore it. We have a lost society of “couch surfers” and people living in motels that are not even counted as homeless.

Prison is a warehouse for people with serious and persistent mental health and substance abuse disorders. The prisons don’t have the financial capability to fix this mess and as we lock up more people for longer periods of time we will only create more homelessness, which in itself is a public safety issue.

Transactional housing is a beginning for many men and women to recover and rebuild. To reintegrate back to the communities, they came from and to reunite with the families they hurt. If we are a compassionate society then we must offer men and women who are leaving prison, jails or rehabs a safe place to live.

So back to life in the TC. While not the most conducive setting, someone like Daniel who has done hard time can figure it out. He will do the best he can and is mentally ready to begin life regardless of his surroundings. So off to the poultry farm he goes to earn his first paycheck in over 5 years! Life in the TC might be the frying pan, but at least he’s out of the fire!

Please consider a year end donation to The National Incarceration Association so I can continue to bring about serious changes in our criminal justice system.

Much love,

Momma Kate