The insistent request on the part of some prisoners to have a conversation is one of the first things that strikes one who enters a prison. Some prisoners never have visitors nor occasions to speak with someone outside of the penitential institution. There are those who have lost family connections, or who have been detained in locations far from their relatives. Our visits therefore assume a decisive importance especially for those who have no one who goes to visit them.
In prison we have known directly the intolerable suffering of prisoners and the struggle of the relatives. The closed prisons, distance from dear ones, forced inactivity produce great discomfort. The prisoner lives in the expectation of the end of the sentence. There are persons who are actually "expelled" from the social fabric, from the family context and, most of all, are deprived of a real perspective of rehabilitation and re-integration. Elderly, adults and young people find themselves branded by the mark of delinquency that is difficult to erase. With the passing of time, the prison leaves an indelible judgement, a bit like those tattoos which either out of boredom or habit the prisoners have engraved on their skin.
The discomfort also frequently involves those who work within prison walls. It is a hardship that is frequently noted in enclosed institutions which undermines relationships between the human beings, deteriorating their relationships and causing alienation from outside society. The presence of persons extraneous to the prison world positively conditions the closed environment of the institution, introducing a climate of serenity.
I warmly wish to go out of the tunnel of my ending term of imprisonment. I want to take my leave with considerably good intentions. Further, I want to greet with an ideal handshake all the prisoners who have shared with me every harshness and bitterness here in jail, bearing all in silence and with endless suffering. Very often I felt discouraged and useless, depressed and mortified, for the lack of a friendly word, of an incentive to be confident and to collect myself. Dawns and sunsets followed each other in an endless series of gestures and thoughts. I would like to start again living the same way as the majority of people, with honesty. I need a new dimension of life, far from every tunnel, to be able to smile again and to look at the past, detached from the logic of prison. I wish to give a meaning to the sorrow, because it has changed my way of thinking and acting. I promise to leave behind me the ruins of a colourless past.
Letter of a 70-year-old prisoner close to be released from prison