I didn’t feel like it (I was exhausted and my head was pounding) but I went for a little bike ride after work. My bike was in the back of the car so I drove down to the nearby Forest Lane train station – one that the Cottonwood Trail runs by. I changed clothes in the car, which is difficult for me, and pulled the bike out of the hatchback, which is easy. While I was getting my shit together I noticed this advertising sign stuck in the grass border around the parking lot.
This saddens me. Not so much that somebody has started a shuttle service to the local prisons (For Family and Friends) – if there is a need, there should be someone to fill it. It saddens me that there is such a need.
And look at that bus! I can see chartering a van to take my friends and family for an afternoon visit at the slammer… but who could fill up that bus? That thing has a dual rear axle – that’s a serious hunk of bus there. Are they are thinking about more than mere visits? That bus would be useful for a prison break. You could take a whole unit over the fence and drive them to a nice afternoon at a baseball game all for one low price. I wish that was true… over the obvious fact that there are enough folks up the river that you can fill a bus up on visiting day.
Across the parking lot is a cheap gas station that has a constant flow of shady characters moving in and out with bags full of bottles. I guess the people that run the shuttle service figured out (maybe with extensive research and a focus group or two) that friends and relatives of incarcerated jailbirds tend to walk through this lot – maybe carrying their cheap booze to the train. People riding the train with alcohol won’t have a car they can drive to the pen. They would need a shuttle.
I haven’t seen that ad anywhere else.
So I climbed on my bike and went for a short ride. My head never stopped pounding, so I only went a half-dozen miles or so, stopping at a shady bench to read a short story on my Kindle. While I was loading my bike back in the car for the trip home I watched a few folks walk through the lot… but nobody asked for a pen so they could write the phone number down.
I love to hear these stories from across the pond, love this one.
This made me feel sad. Well written.
A very thoughtful observation and post, Bill. Thanks. It’s my understanding that the United States, with 5 % of the world’s population, holds what amounts to 25 percent of the world’s population behind bars. We are surrounded by a hidden gulag.
That’s an interesting observation. There has to be a better way.
On the other hand, I’ve seen people go into prisons and interview large numbers of inmates and they consistantly come away with the observation that the vast majority of the prison population is made up of people they wouldn’t want back out on the streets anytime soon.
It saddens me, as you pointed out, that such a percentage of the local community is behind bars as the need a shuttle service. Assuming this is local; is this a County or regional prison?
I don’t have an answer to that question. There is a cluster of Dallas city jails downtown, but you would not nead a shuttle (the train/bus system goes there). I would imagine the shuttles would be used to go to Huntsville (the large state prison, about a hundred and fifty miles away) or to the large number of State, Federal, and private prisons in West Texas (a full day’s drive).
Very nice piece. Sad, humorous and thoughtful.
It is sad that there is a need for such a service. Way too many people in our jails and prisons. (Not saying they should be set free….just saying maybe people should stop doing the bad stuff that lands them in jail in the first place.)
Quick question, If you had a family member, parent, child, aunt, uncles, or spouse would you turn your back on them?