I know talking about prisons can be controversial but the visits to the prisons on August 1, 2017, were very interesting. The field trip to Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) and the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) were experiences I will never forget. Currently, the United States is the leader in incarcerating people with 2.2 million individuals in prisons or in jails (The Sentencing Project).*  Prisons are meant to lock away those who commit heinous crimes yet the United States’ prison population has increased is due to the change in sentencing (The Sentencing Project).*.  It is unfortunate and terrible that people are being locked up for this.

This is not the first time I have been to a prison in California. I have been to the California Medical Facility and California State Prison Solano for social justice courses when I was an undergrad at the University of California-Davis. In addition, I have wrote a white paper about the criminal justice system in America and discussing the privatization of prisons. While visiting SVSP and CTF, it reminded me of visiting those prisons. While visiting these, prisons I felt the same way I did when I visited those other prisons as an undergrad. I felt I was visiting some kind of zoo, but I was also  aware that there are some bad people in these prisons. I felt conflicted about how these individuals should be treated considering what I have heard about the records of a number of these individuals have.  I realized that I have gotten used to the prison environment and how tense it can be. It was great to be reminded during the group debrief about the tense environment and the political platforms about prisons.  What was interesting about the visits was the conversation with the prisoners and listening to their life stories, especially their point of views of prison life and how they got stuck into this Prison Industrial Complex system. It was also interesting to speak to Latino correctional officers and their views about the prison system. In the past, I remember the correctional officers were mostly white and, now, the demographics have changed.

Overall, I appreciated the experiences and I believe it will help me continue broadening my perspectives on issues such as this.



*The Sentencing Project.Fact Sheet: Trends in U.S. Corrections. http://sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Trends-in-US-Corrections.pdf