The Dirty Path of Detention

By Sara Mullally

Visiting people in detention has been an immense joy and also a big stress for me. I don’t have children, but I could assume that people with kids have similar feelings.  Now that I have visited, I don’t want to stop because I think it is my duty as a human being to be present with others in their time of need. It is difficult to see the dirty path of detention take its course. We want to stand up and do something.  But our job is to listen and to be a friendly face. Our job is to be consistent whenever possible and try to ease the emotional burden on the visitee simply by being present and having someone to talk with.  Our job is to find the beauty in the situation even if it seems ugly.  Our job is to be human beings in a system that relegates someone to an inmate number.  

I have probably visited about a dozen people in the past year and brought another dozen or so volunteers into visiting for the first time.  I have also met some of the families and loved ones of people in immigration detention.  I have been able to take appropriate action in some instances to help the families connect with food, resources, and legal help.  And I have gotten the chance to tell others about the reality of detention by organizing a vigil, showing a documentary, and speaking at churches. 

These experiences here in Arkansas have profoundly shaped my 25th and 26th year of life.  I don’t know of many people my age and with my privilege that are exposed to these situations.  It is extremely important work and I love it.  Visiting has taught me a lot about life and what is really important- health, love, family, and community.

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