ACCORDING TO THE Bureau of Prisons, there are nearly 145,000 Inmates somewhere in the federal prison system of the United States of America, I am
among them. The privilege falls upon me, A.I. Marchron, to narrate what has evolved into a unique firsthand account of certain experiences shared by several
remarkable individuals. After much deliberation, my peers and I chose to appropriately title it “The Unity of the Forgotten”. “Forgotten” is the past participle of “forget”, which means to treat with inattention, or neglect. That is what we are, and that is how we feel. You must understand, as Inmates, society frowns upon us, because we’ve either made a mistake, or have been accused of making a mistake. As a consequence, we’re placed into detainment institutions, first off as an exchange of our freedom in payment for our wrongdoings (or perceived wrongdoings), thus offering vindication to a victim; and secondly, to rehabilitate. But often times, even after we have undergone the rehabilitation process, completed programs designed to improve our characters, and served our time, we still continue to be shunned. Yes, there are those in the system that have no desire to, and no intentions on putting in the effort to make a change. These are career criminals, sadly fixed on the objective of doing wrong. Yet there are many of us who do want to change, that are genuinely regretful about whatever mistake it was that we made, and have worked diligently to improve upon ourselves. Time cannot be unwound, so there is nothing we can do to change whatever has been done. So we ask, what would it take for us to get another chance? What would it take for society to accept us once more, allow us to get regular jobs, and attend regular institutions without severe prejudice? Is there anyone out there that can claim that they are absolutely perfect? We’re hoping that this project will help humanity to see us, and the conscientious side of our community, as what we are, people; people that have fallen, and that are trying to get back up. As the sons, brothers, and fathers we are, who want to be loved by and properly care for our families, (our direct sentiments originate from the male based institution in which we are domiciled, but we’d also like to acknowledge the nearly 11,000 female federal Inmates that are presently imprisoned as well; the daughters, sisters, and mothers, that we believe would share our opinions).
The characters depicted in this project are all real (in my best Joe Friday). Their names have been changes solely for the purpose of protecting their identities, as each one (including myself), remains actively detained within the system as of the time of this book’s creation. The original vision for this work began with one, was shared with two others, and then blossomed over the course of several months. We deliberated amongst ourselves, and decided that we wanted to create something that would never be expected of us, something that people would think was impossible for us to pull off. Could we do it? Could we actually write and publish a legitimate book while trapped in a cage? We took the leap, applying the direct efforts and cooperation of exactly 16 Inmates of different backgrounds, ages, economic stations, and belief systems, in tackling this undertaking. Let me digress a moment however, in order to help you understand and appreciate that our working conditions throughout were anything but ideal. A daily life without freedom in itself, as I’m sure you can imagine, is not the easiest path to endure. As an Inmate, you’re told when to awaken, when to sleep. You’re told what to wear, when you can bathe; your meals are all pre-decided for you. You’re told when you can talk on the phone, or when you’re allowed to see a family member; what you can receive or mail out. Oh, then there’s the small matter of an Inmate’s personal safety. Let me be clear when I say, the “inside” is not an environment for the weak, the foolish, or the disrespectful. Say or do the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time, and there’s the stark possibility that you’re putting your good health at risk; and so as to not overstep my platform, in the words of the great Forrest Gu