Day: March 6, 2019

#DayofEmpathy: Inside America's Prisons

On March 5, the Revolutionary Love Project joined with #cut50 in support of the National #DayofEmpathy.

The #DayofEmpathy is an opportunity to shine a light on people impacted by incarceration in the United States. Americans impacted by the criminal justice system met with federal, state, and local lawmakers to share their experiences. Family members who have lost loved ones to violent crime, formerly incarcerated people, children of incarcerated parents, individuals who have overcome addiction, and many others joined together across demographics and party lines.

Valarie Kaur's award-winning film, “The Worst of the Worst,” takes us inside a supermax prison, where inmates are held in solitary confinement for months, even years at a time. Hear their stories—then take action.

“Northern is meant to break your spirit, and tear you down. It’s not about rehabilitation at all, it’s about straight up punishment. They want you to think of yourself as an animal, as not being human.” –Keishar, former Northern inmate

“I didn’t want to live. I was lost. I felt like I couldn’t do anything anymore. I wanted to give up. So, I started harming myself. I cut myself with things nearby. Break a battery, make a blade. Bite myself.” –Misael, former Northern inmate

“That first day I was free, it was happiness and confusion. I had to learn how to be a person again. I still have a problem walking, pronouncing my words. I got to learn how to talk all over again. I got to become a person again because I was an animal for 3 ½ years.”—Darnell, former Northern inmate

“Outside of work, I look at things differently, approach things differently. I was diagnosed with PTSD. Certain noises, you know like people running—when you’re in prison, people running means they’re responding to an emergency. So when you see people running, you get that jump—that I’m going to react and respond.” –Pete, Correctional Officer

“They had a rule they actually never implemented where you could only work at Northern for 3 years because of the mental stress it causes. I thought that was a good idea, but I stuck it out and stayed. The reason I stayed was because all my other buddies stayed, and I’m staying with them.” –Mark, Correctional Officer

Ways you can turn your empathy into action:

• Learn more and join #cut50 at an event near you: DayOfEmpathy.org
• Write a letter of love and solidarity to a person recently released from incarceration or a person recovering from opioid addiction: www.ReclaimLove.us

Watch highlights from an MSNBC discussion about the film: