The “Other Side” of the Fence

It is the hidden side of prison. The side that gets little mention in the press. The side that serves a different kind of time.

I met her just as she was entering Stony Mountain Institution for the first time.  She stood in the entrance to the prison, fear etched on her face.  English was not her first language, her husband had just started serving a federal sentence and she was trying to drop off some personal effects.  I noticed her standing there, uncertain of what to do, so I walked over and began to talk with her. The tears were not long in coming as she talked in broken English about her husband who had just been sentenced.  She was trying to drop off some personal effects. She didn’t know who to talk to and had no idea what the process was.

As someone involved in prisons for a number of years my interactions with families have been many.  Few are aware of the burden loved ones carry: uncertainty about their sons, fathers, boyfriend, husbands safety, confusing prison rules and regulations, restricted and limited contact.  All these and many more combine to make the term, “serving time on the outside” a reality.

Over the years The Canadian Families and Corrections Network has worked hard to raise these concerns and provide resources for the families and those who have loved ones serving time in Canadian prisons. I would encourage you to visit their website.  They have a wealth of information.

Although Open Circle’s primary role is to provide friendship to those in prison, sometimes we also connect with families. Providing them with an opportunity to talk, shed a few tears, and hear some kind words of encouragement.