“Lights On” outside the Santa Ana Jail
Be the cause volunteers, Tim, Varuna, Ann, Maudhvi, Kat, Sukh, Mindy, Gianna, Christine, and I, hooked up with Pete and Jacinda from the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Orange County to help out with a program called Lights On.
The St. Vincent De Paul Society of OC has been doing this for months now. Inmates are released from the county jail without much consideration or compassion. Often they were met by drug dealers and pimps. There are times that women are propositioned for sex by taxi drivers in exchange for a ride home. Sometimes the person is let out in a paper suit in the cold of the night if they had no clothes at the time they were arrested or the System lost their pocessions. I believe one hope is that if we acknowledge people being processed out as People, the revolving door system that has become of our jails will stop it’s really messed up cycle. Ann made a good point when comparing our penal system toAustrailia’s that the US system is pretty harsh compared to other “well-to-do” nations. Our politicians make a living on blindly being “tough on crime”– and it’s a damn shame! Our departments of Corrections definitly need reform becaue they are simply about punishment and not rehabiliation. And that has to start by treating people as people, both the COs and the inmates. This idea of crime and punishment is simply not working as it de-humanizes people and is a waste of our tax payer money. Our system of “The Ends Justify The Means, simply is not having it” (OK, I’m done venting…)
Obviously, people coming out of jail after being “processed” will not be in the best of spirits and some people don’t even have anyone to receive them outside. Lights On mans a RV with coffee, doughnuts or other snacks, cigarettes, chairs, clothes, and friendly people to greet these people as they come out. (I had to go back and edit this because I found myself referring to “inmates” instead of people, and what I learned from this experience was that we as a society sometimes lose our humane-ness or another person’s humanity in doling out our labels).