Urban Prisoners Without Hope


I was a social worker in New York City for two years and I worked in the slums. About 3 million people live under the poverty line in NYC and many of them live in slums that defy description. For one year I was a protective diagnostic caseworker for abused and neglected children. I was the one who went to the homes and investigated abuse and neglect and removed the child when necessary. This stressful job took quite a toll on people. The average caseworker lasted three months on the job! I lasted a year. The next year I was an undercare social worker and had custody of a caseload of about twenty children who had been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and were living with foster parents. I saw masses of people trapped in New York as if it were a prison.

When the movie Escape from New York came out I went down to a movie theatre downtown Manhattan near Times Square. It was like a group interaction event. People definitely empathized with being trapped in New York. Where people view themselves as being in prison, they will view the police as prison guards, and the situation fulfills itself when police ACT like prison guards. I have seen things I hope no one has to see again. I KNOW what the Afro-American community in Baltimore is feeling. I sympathize with them. But the problem is that most Americans do not want to empathize. They just want the problem to go away. While I was a social worker we had 100,000 homeless people living on the sidewalks. People just stepped over them and went on their way. Then one day, the police came in vans and trucks and all of a sudden those 100,000 people were no longer there? Where did they take them? We have a police crisis in North America because we have a crisis of conscience! We have a crisis of care, or lack thereof. But we are just so busy, aren’t we? We go to work and keep our house in order and that just consumes our energy. Who has the energy to care? If you want to pray for something, pray for the energy to care!!!!

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