Excerpt from "Sorry"

Credit: Excerpt from "Sorry", by Tina Reynolds. Courtesy of: Chelsea Miller.

Written by Tina Reynolds
Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States (2010)

shackled and handcuffed so much
I believed I was sorry
believed I was an isolated incident
sittin in the bullpen next to Sheila
stepping over Pam,Alberta,Denise
to get a bologna sandwich
lining up to squat
waiting 24 hours for a decision to be made
one more that I wouldn’t be making for myself

we stopped making decisions for ourselves a long time ago
we all took different paths to end up in this valley
feasting on the addict attitude

I can’t possibly cut that with a spin on the truth
I was not an isolated incident
I am not an isolated incident

— From “Sorry” by Tina Reynolds

This excerpt of Tina Reynolds' poem reveals some of the emotional impacts of incarceration on one woman of color. In “Sorry,” the author recounts the painful process of rediscovering her identity and self-worth, and realizing that her experience in prison is not isolated – that mass incarceration is not a result of individual actions, but of systemic issues in society.