I am an inmate in the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). For a long time, I was also a computer programmer. The sad fact is, because I am a prisoner, the State of Tennessee is afraid of me. They have actively impeded my education, and if they recognized the level of skill I actually have, they would ensure that I never touch a computer again and ship me to one of the most violent prisons to languish. I have been threatened with just that.
I know what community is. Many people in our society live in near isolation in their day-to-day lives. They have family; they know a few people at work; they attend social functions such as football games. But their sense of community is often weak, if it exists at all. A feeling of isolation even from one's nearest neighbors is all too common.
In addition to keeping offenders confined, the walls and the policies of prisons are designed to keep outsiders out as well. Why? Why are the voices of prisoners suppressed? When prisoners speak out through the internet or other forms of media, it is common to hear these objections: “Those men are criminals and they deserve to be locked away in silence forever! How dare they speak about their crimes? How dare they complain? Do they want our sympathy? We won’t give it! Do they want to glorify their sins and keep on harming their victims even after we have banished them? Let them rot forever!" We hear this and weep.