Innocence.


[lyrics, after the continued]

This is the kids' song right now. We listen to it every first period in art class while we draw and paint. They sing along enthusiastically, thumping their chests with their fists while they shout "I'm an innocent man!"

It moves me. I'm telling you, it's such a contradictory feeling being in there with them sometimes. Because they are so beautiful at times. Writing essays, drawing and painting, singing, joking with you, smiling, crying. They are just regular kids. And it's easy to love them. And then maybe a minute later they might be talking about robbing someone, or they might attack another student, or it might be you that thinks about what they are accused of doing.

And with one foot on my soapbox and one foot on the ground, I'll just say that out of 125 kids in the facility only 2 on average are white. This tells me that when white kids get caught stealing, fighting, or jumping the turnstile, they get fined, scolded and/ or counseled. And that injustice is the reason I can't believe that most of these babies belong there.

Do children belong in jail? Ask yourself that. Because we are not only talking about big boys. I have two 11-year-old, tiny, little boys. I wish I could take pictures, because I feel like if you knew, you would be outraged. You really would.

Do you know an 11-year-old?
What size shoe does he wear?
What are his favorite shows on television?
What's his favorite food?
His favorite song?

Does the 11-year-old you know ever misbehave?
Curse? Talk back?
Has he ever hit anyone? Been hit?
Taken something that wasn't his?

When he acts up next time, imagine having a cop walk in and handcuff him. Take him to a jail. Fingerprint him. (Is he scared yet? Has he started crying?) Take his clothes and make him stand there naked. Make him bend over so that they might search his butt crack and scrotum for contraband. Send him to the shower with dozens of boys who are up to 10 years older, and 150 pounds heavier, than him. Send him to a mess hall with those same boys who want his food and milk. March him, hands behind his back to a cell in a jumper that he has to roll up 6 times so that the too long pants legs don't drag under his jail-issued sneakers. Then your naughty 11-year-old can go to sleep in his cell, on a narrow cot with his jail-issued sheet. (Is he afraid of the dark? Does he cry out for his mother?) Will he be able to hide his fear in front of the older boys? He will need to.

Do children belong in jail?
Would you allow your child to go to jail?

Cassidy: "Innocent" f. Mark Morrison
"Did my time in a county jail.
Just when things started going well.
And I paid the price for the crimes that I did.
Wanna change my life. Wanna raise my kids.

I'm an innocent man. I'm an innocent man.
Misunderstood. I'm misunderstood.
I'm an innocent man. I'm an innocent man.
Just from the hood. I'm just from the hood.
I'm an innocent man. I'm an innocent man.
Misunderstood. I'm misunderstood.
I'm an innocent man. I'm an innocent man.
Just from the hood. But a man is good. Understood?

Change the life that I
That I live
Got me living five
Living negative
Need to leave the thing
That is destroying me
So I pray to God
That he has mercy
I'm an innocent man"