Awhile back, we visited my brother and his family at their home near San Francisco. And we decided to tour Alcatraz island, now a national park with many of the prison buildings still intact and open for viewing.
Honestly, I wasn’t super pumped about a prison tour, but it included a ferry ride in the beautiful San Francisco bay, and we were looking for something their high schoolers would also enjoy, so off we went.
Many of the men imprisoned at Alcatraz had made terrible and violent choices. They were no longer considered safe to society or even in normal prisons. The stories, pictures and sound recordings we heard were deeply unsettling. And even being there, decades after the prison had closed, left me with almost a sense of fear of this place.
But as I walked around and imagined the lives these men led and heard about the conditions they lived in, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of sadness for them, for the trajectory their lives had taken. For what must have been a tough life even before ending up at Alcatraz- I imagine stories of poverty, oppression, violence, and trauma. I thought of people who are imprisoned under these systems and in these types of places even now. What a difficult life that must be.
Living on Alcatraz might have been like living among the tombs.
- Mark 5:1 - 20