A-Musings: Freedom’s just another word …

Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.

Memories, I have learned, if you know how to treat them properly, are one of the few really good things about growing old. Every so often, I might be on the computer or even in the car, a golden oldie will transport me back in time to days that, in my mind, were happier; in reality, I probably had just as many besieging problems camped around my brain in those days as I do now; I just dealt with them better!

And nobody sang like Janis, the original Lady Janis, Joplin – that is, as she belted out Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ over 50 years ago. Once heard, you could never forget that rasping voice:

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don’t mean nothing honey, if it ain’t free,
Feeling good was easy, Lord, when he sang the blues,
You know, feeling good was good enough for me,
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.”

Talking about Freedom leads my mind down the main east coast highway to our country’s sole prison depository and long-term place of incarceration: Bordelais. Since Mr. Hermann’s contract as Director was not renewed and he retired his post after many years of dedicated service to the Nation, great things have been happening at the Correction and Rehabilitation Facility – if I am to believe the many reports offered by visitors and others to the facility.

First are the uniforms that officers wear when they are on duty. The police-style uniforms are gone or due to go soon, so it appears, and are being replaced by khaki shirts and pants reminiscent of the old Colonial Days. Wait for it … they are even going to be carrying ‘batons’, ready to quell rebellious inmates ‘in a jiffy’. One can almost imagine the colonels and their fellow colonials sitting sipping their ‘Gin-’n-its’ on the balconies overlooking the exercise compounds supervised by their khaki-clad ‘chaps’. Of course, I may have got hold of the wrong end of the stick; it might be the inmates who are wearing khaki, but I am pretty certain they won’t be carrying batons to and from their units.

Secondly, security has been beefed up in innovative ways. In former days, despite official requirements for everyone to be searched before entering the facility, it was long suspected that the only way to get contraband into the prison was with the connivance of corrupt officers. Lobbing valuable assets over the perimeter fence was a dicey business at best. Numerous officers had been detained over the years whilst attempting to import undesirable substances. Under the new regime this will no longer happen: senior officers are now exempt from being searched when entering or leaving the facility, presumably because they would never attempt to import or export banned substances in the first place.

The new Director’s duties have been streamlined; he does not deal with administrative matters. He has appointed a senior officer as his Personal Aid – a newly-created post – whose job it is to deal with all the paperwork and tedious, mundane aspects of a Prison Director’s life. This far-reaching reform allows the new Director to spend more time in his new vehicle as he is driven to and fro by his own personal, newly-appointed driver – a post that had not previously existed or had been vacant. Let no one say that Bordelais does not create jobs!

Sunday is now a Day of Rest which means that there are no longer any church services held on that day at the facility, which further means that one of the inmates’ few sources of recreation and rehabilitation has disappeared on the Lord’s Day. Visits by friends and family are also banned on Sundays, the only day most visitors can be free to travel to meet their loved ones. These new measures of Enforced Estrangement and Collective Punishment are expected to make the inmates’ return to society even smoother and friction-free, once they learn to understand the Value of Deprivation.

The archaic rules that allow inmates already deprived of company or solace any real food during Segregation are now strictly enforced. Instead of providing inmates in solitary confinement with regular prison rations, meager as they are, they are fed – if that is the right word – on a diet of good, healthy, nourishing bread and delicious water. And some might say that we are not an enlightened nation led by enlightened leaders. “Pshaw!” I say to them, “Pshaw! And shame on you who dare doubt our Nation’s Path to Redemption and Righteousness through Care and Rehabilitation!”

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