Jail Trip 2019

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On September 24th, approximately forty students and chaperones eagerly ventured off to the Riverhead Correctional Center for an experience that had been looked forward to for about two weeks prior. Students signed up rapidly with friends in order to make it on the list on time, yet what was it about this trip that made it so compelling? Was it the chance to witness an environment that we hadn’t experienced before? The corrupt notion that in some instances being imprisoned is “cool”? Or simply just an excuse to miss a day school. From what I observed, It seemed as if all of these reasons were plausible ones.
The build up of enthusiasm was at its peak as the awaited day arrived, however, this wasn’t necessarily in the most positive manner. The bus ride to the facility alone was one of rowdiness among the students and disappointment among the teachers. Verbal discipline by officers soon became a common occurrence as rules continued to be disobeyed within the facility. The head correctional officer was stern, making it clear that no sort of disarray would be tolerated while on the tour. This of course, quieted all down.
Directions were gone over and security was gone through, allowing us to finally be able to walk through the inmates’ cells. There were feelings of both eagerness and fear generating among the students. Personally, I felt as if I were at a zoo. As I walked through with my peers, staring at the inmates and surveying their living situation, heinous comments were said and crude actions were made. What would normally make me very uncomfortable, made me somewhat sympathetic toward the inmates considering it was as if it were all scripted. I knew for a fact that we weren’t the first and certainly not the last school to embark on this tour, and for the inmates, this was the only source of entertainment they truly knew.
To finish the tour off, we had the chance to meet and listen to six of the inmates stories. This encounter, too, had its moments of discipline and discontent. Select students were put against walls and others cried, while some found it all to be very engrossing . The stories shared by each inmate were unique, giving a variety of backgrounds and reasons as to why they ended up where they are. But although diverse, there was one recurring theme throughout each of their speeches that wasn’t hard to miss and shouldn’t be too hard to follow. Simply being that it is only by making poor choices that you too could be sharing your story as to how you ended up in jail.