America: Land of the Free, Home of the Imprisoned - FAMM

America: Land of the Free, Home of the Imprisoned

I used to be regarded as one of the nation’s heroes.
Now many won’t talk to me,
They think of me as less than zero.

What does it mean when you tried to live a life of service?
And one mistake can make it all worthless.

What happened to the words, “To err is human?”
Is there a magical high horse you found,
That makes you better than the next man?

A bad choice,
A wrong that can’t be undone.
Does that need to define me?
Leave me with no one?

I am human.
Complicated mind, imperfections and all.
We are not just one thing,
Or 2, or 3 or 4.
We are complex beings with a capacity to grow,
Every second, more and more.

My family paid the price,
They had to suffer needlessly.
Regret and pain is what I have to live with the rest of my life.
I can’t run from it,
I can’t hide from it,
I can’t skip along merrily.

My actions were never meant to be malicious,
But they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Many don’t believe me.
Even though I’ve never given them reason to doubt.
How do I accept that, reconcile it?
How does it all work itself out?

I believe in phrases like, “Innocent until proven guilty.”
And, “Beyond a reasonable doubt,” I do.
But our justice system says, “Screw that!”
“We just want to beat you!”

What is a justice system with so much inequality, bias and corruption?
What is a correctional system,
That doesn’t care to lead anyone toward redemption?
It’s a system so lost,
That it needs to correct its own direction.

We say America is the apex, the peak.
But what makes us the best of the best, so to speak?

Our military might is nearly unmatched, no doubt.
The mightiest in the world by far.
Does being able to put a boot on someone’s neck,
Make us the best, number one, a star?

What about where we rank with education, literacy and equality?
I don’t think so.
There is another category the mighty U.S. leads in, though.

The rate of incarceration is the highest in the world.
Locking up Americans and throwing away the key.
Is what the U.S. of A. excels at.
Taking constitutional rights away from you and me.

They label you a felon.
Take away your right to vote.
Are you not still an American citizen?
Should you lose your chance at a future of hope?

After you’ve done the time for your crime.
After you’ve paid your penalty, given your pound of flesh.
How does a “just” system allow you to continue to be persecuted,
Often all the way up until your death.

If you make the choice in life to break the law,
Yes, you must be ready to accept punishment,
Just like the next man.
But when you walk out from behind those walls,
Whether you call it “probation” or “supervised release,”
It’s a continued prison sentence,
With hopes of putting you back in that can.

It was drilled in me to lead by example.
To set the bar high.
To show what is right, not to judge.
Should the rest of the world just follow America’s lead?
And sweep the problem under the proverbial rug?

— Sean G.

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