By Beatrice Codianni
The truth can only set us free if we are aware of it.
When it was announced that Teresa Guidice was going to be sent to Danbury Federal Prison Camp for crimes involving bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, Reentry Central was inundated with phone calls from the media asking if we would speak to them about what it would be like for her in the Danbury Camp.
At first we were apprehensive. We did not want to be a part of exploiting Teresa’s situation. But when several reporters suggested that prison camps were comfortable, laid back places I felt that, as Managing Editor of Reentry Central, I had to speak up on behalf of the women, Teresa included, who are incarcerated at the Camp.
The following are just some of the facts I spoke about that unfortunately ended up on the cutting room floor:
- There are 2.2 million people incarcerated in America, the largest incarceration rate in the world.
- One in 28 children in America have a parent behind bars.
- There is a hugely disproportionate amount of African Americans behind bars, and the criminal justice system is racist.
- Most parents who are sentenced are not afforded the opportunity of serving staggered sentences as Teresa and her husband were allowed to do.
- Many children of incarcerated parents end up in foster care.
- Prison camps are a waste of taxpayers’ dollars because people can only be sentenced to a prison camp if they are not a threat to society. It is much more cost effective to sentence a person convicted of a non-violent crime to an alternative-to-incarceration program.
- The majority of people who are released from prison have a really hard time finding a job, or a place to live, (unlike Teresa who stands to profit from her experiences via paid interviews, a book, and maybe a reentry reality show.)
I knew when I was asked to speak, the focus was going to be on Teresa Guidice, but I was hoping that a crucial fact, or two, regarding the harsh realities of America’s criminal justice system would be reported.
I was wrong.
The prison camp at Danbury is not “cushy.” Nor is incarceration funny as is portrayed in the Orange is the New Black series. Until the media focuses on the real story about mass incarceration in America instead of on a few celebrities who go to prison, there will continue to be public apathy toward millions of average human beings warehoused behind bars.
What Teresa can buy on commissary should not outweigh the real facts concerning mass incarceration.
Beatrice Codianni of New Haven is the managing editor of Reentry Central, an online news source for criminal justice reform. Codianni and Andrea James, author of “Upper Bunkies Unite” and cofounder of Families for Justice as Healing, were instrumental in the creation of Real Women, Real Voices.
Editor: Alicia Wozniak
*Originally published in Reentry Central