Mt. OliveT he trip to the Mt. Olive State Prison was an experience that I will never forget. I had never thought of all the little things they do to keep the prison safe and under control. From the very start of the tour I thought to myself, "Why does it matter if we have more than one key, or earrings, or any other kind of jewelry. I could not even believe why we could not bring paper currency into the prison.
I was not even expecting to get patted down by the guards or having a dog smell for certain scents before entering the main prison. These ideas of what I thought the prison system was, was about to change. About to change as soon as I walked through those steal doors. Walking back and forth from the car to the prison a couple times was starting to get old. We were sent back to leave keys, leave jewelry, and / or take back paper money we had in our pockets.
I did not understand why we had to do all of this just to take a tour of the prison. These ideas changed as soon as the guards explained to us the possible dangers of having these items. The reason for leaving the keys behind was so that the inmates would not get a hold of them and use them in an ill mannered fashion. We were also told to leave the necklaces, and other jewelry behind. We left these items because if by chance a prisoner would get a hold of one of these items, due to loss of an item or a piece of jewelry would break and be lost, the inmates would get a hold of a gold necklace or another valuable piece of jewelry then there could be many fights for the right to own that particular piece. These fights could lead to a riot and a guard may end up getting hurt trying to break it up.
Now, the actual odds of any of that actually happening are slim to none but there is no need to take the chance of causing a fight or getting a guard injured just because we were to lazy to walk back to the cars. The guards also told us why bringing paper money into the facil it was not allowed. They said that even though the prisoners are not actually dealing with paper money and that all of their money is on a credit system they could still find ways to use that money. The guards told us that they could use the money to get drugs inside of the prison by getting someone to smuggle drugs in and then the inmate would pay them for the drugs with the paper money. Another reason for not allowing paper money inside the walls is that it would cause fights because "Big" John wants the money that "Little" Bill has, and "Big" John is going to get that money one way or another.
We were also told that inmates could sometime get a guard to smuggle items such as alcohol or drugs in and getting paid that way. (because we know they don't get paid that much anyway) Another idea I had of prisons which was proven wrong by going to Mt. Olive was the fact that prisons were allowing so many privileges to the inmates. I thought that the inmates should not be able to watch television, lift weights, play basketball, get on computers, or even take classes to get college credit. I use to believe that the prisoner should just sit in their cell and think about the crimes that they have committed.
I thought that there was no way we should let those prisoners get any privileges at all. They should just sit there and think of what they did wrong. After talking with one of the officers I realized that if they were just sitting in their cells thinking they would not be thinking of the crimes they committed but the ones they are about to commit. They are also thinking of ways to hurt guards or thinking of ways to escape from the prison. After the trip I believe these privileges are necessary to keep the inmates' minds off of other crimes and keeping their minds on those damn soap operas.
This trip really was an eye-wakening experience that will never be forgotten. The trip to Mt. Olive really shoved me the way things really went on inside the prison system. Though their precautions seem lame and unnecessary I realize that they are just doing what is needed to keep the prison staff safe, under control, and risk free of anything a prisoner may be willing to do..