The U.S. has a really messed up prison system, to completely understate the situation. In Ava DuVernay's documentary on the prison system for Netflix, 13th, she shares a number of truly alarming statistics: the U.S. comprises 5% of the world's population, but we hold 25% of the world's prisoners. The movie goes on to explicate how mass incarceration is used to perpetuate modern-day slavery and a constant policing of the poor. It's a grim, but educational viewing.
Unfortunately, not many people have watched it, or done any kind of self-education on the subject whatsoever! We have so many prisons, prisoners, and former prisoners in the country, but most people have a completely unsympathetic view to their plight. Though being released from prison implies you've paid your debt to society, many people still treat anyone convicted of a crime like they're tainted for life.
Reddit user u/Hdalby33 shared a screenshot of a text conversation that completely encapsulates this hypocrisy, which was first shared on the Instagram account How To Not Get Tattooed. In it, someone writes that they want their money returned because they didn't realize their tattoo artist is a convicted felon. They use the words "prison monkey," and demand an additional inconvenience fee.
That's a pretty disgusting message!
But it's almost worth it for the clapback from the tattoo parlor. They are not taking this laying down.
The shop deliberately works with people trying to get back on their feet after serving time, and works with charities with this sole purpose. They were obviously disgusted by the discriminatory behavior of this entitled jackass, and banned them from the salon for good.
The post went viral on Reddit, and user futhee shared a story about their uncle, who also deliberately works with people who have been released from prison.
"My uncle, bless him, is an engineer with his own successful firm and he almost exclusively hires people who have spent time in prison," they wrote. "When I first heard this as a teenager, I thought he was a lunatic. Then I spent some time at his office many years ago.
"He loves helping his employees become educated, gives them time to learn necessary skills, and then pays them well to help them build a good life. I love my Uncle Fred and will never forget this valuable lesson he taught me about second chances."
User msixtwofive asked a great question: why do we consider people who have served their time as needing a "second chance"? They suggest that's not really the right way to think about it:
The thing is, why do people believe it's a second chance?
Second chance would be they didn't go to prison. When they're done paying their time they're done.
This is one of the things I hate about america - they have a boner for f**king sending people to long ass sentencing and then on top of that there's a ridiculously impossible society to go back into with a criminal record.
Whats the f**king point of prison if your debt to society remains unpaid after you get out.
A lot of people agreed that this system wasn't working, and there were some specific reasons why:
Yep, prisons make a lot of money off prisoners, in both their labor and contracts from the government. It helps them when citizens who have never experienced the prison system maintain a culture of distrust and dislike towards those who have. Then they won't be able to find work and are far more likely to turn back to crime to live.
But it really doesn't make sense to think that way, as user OneNeptune wrote:
What’s the alternative this person has in mind? That anyone convicted of a felony would be locked up for life? Wards of the state forever? Homeless? At what point has a convicted felon paid their debts to society? I thought that was the purpose of the prison sentence - ideally (im unfortunately well aware of the reality) an opportunity to reform the convicted to become a contributing member of society. If the convicted served their sentence and earned a release - then as far as I’m concerned their debts are paid and they should have the opportunity to lead a normal life.
On the text's Instagram post, people also applauded the parlor's response:
One person even shared some very personal firsthand experience with a former felon:
If you want fewer criminals in the world, give people who have served their time an opportunity to live a regular life.
And if you're just being a jerk to get your deposit back, well, the salon said it best!