The last place any parent wishes for his/her child to end up is inside a prison cell. So will it be for any sane, well-balanced human being when it comes to fantasizing about the places one wants to visit in his lifetime. But life happens and some people’s fate are rather unfortunate.
It is a fact that not everyone who gets convicted is actually guilty of the alleged crime. Sometimes, it is the distressing case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time or being implicated because of some angry text sent to someone with terrible timing. Justice doesn’t always work in the favor of the innocent if enough evidence is not gathered and at times, it is the innocent who pays the price for the guilty party. What can we say? Life isn’t fair at times.
No matter how humanly decent a correctional facility is, I doubt a helpless homeless person would consider committing a crime just so he would have a place to lay his head. The whole idea of having one’s freedom curtailed is psychologically damaging and a permanent taint on the reputation even after one has served his time. The tag of being an ex-convict or ex-felon is one of the most despised universally.
The most painful part of being put away behind bars is the amount of precious time missed in the lives of those who matter (spouses, children, relatives). One misses significant milestones in the lives of his loved ones and sometimes, distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder; only colder. One comes out of jail and reconnecting with family becomes another hurdle. In a world now characterized with light-speed evolution, one could spend some years incarcerated and come out and find himself completely out of place, leaving him wondering where the world is rushing to.
When one is facing a judge and/or jury, the last thing on his mind is the opinion of onlookers as long as it doesn’t affect his case negatively. One would rather be set free with the whole world thinking he’s guilty than remain locked up with the outside world believing he’s innocent. After all, it’s the court ruling that counts. What others think doesn’t make one’s stay in prison any more comforting.
Throwing away 20 good, healthy, strong, productive years in prison despite one’s innocence is too much for a sacrifice just to be exonerated as innocent later. As long as I know that I am innocent of the alleged crime and I am deprived of a 1,460 days of my life already, that’s too much injustice to even bother about being considered guilty forever. As long as my conscience doesn’t condemn me, I’m good to go.
Obviously people’s perception of one’s status as innocent or guilty of a charge would affect how well one can fit back in society. When one was put away for some time and then exonerated, he is more likely to be offered a job out of sympathy for the injustice done him. Contrarily, if one was still considered guilty despite his innocence, society would continue to punish him by ostracizing him and denying him any opportunity to prove himself. That in itself, is a prison; one with more damaging impact because no matter where you hide, you can’t escape its walls.
Regardless, one’s freedom to do something productive with his life far outweighs society’s verdict on an alleged crime. I won’t choose to sacrifice two decades of my lifetime behind bars despite my innocence so society would believe my story. Four years is still too much to pay for a crime I didn’t commit. If the society thinks I’m guilty regardless, that’s their problem. If I have to move to another continent to start over, then so be it. I wasn’t born to seek the world’s stamp of approval. I was born to do something productive with what I was given.
No matter what you do, some people will never believe your story so just live your life and be sure not to find yourself at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Let me know what your thoughts are on this. Twenty years for innocent forever or four years for guilty forever?
© Josephine Amoako 2016