‘You Have One Minute Remaining.’ Why I’ll Always Drop Everything to Answer My Brother’s Calls From Prison

A million families live this way: Sending money they can’t afford. Making court dates they don’t have time for. Driving five hours only to be turned away, because the facility is on lockdown or because someone’s dress isn’t long enough.

It’s the way the guard talks to you when you visit, and how you’re herded single file through dingy corridors to pay too much for microwave concessions. It’s watching your loved ones demolish that food and how they’re marched away when the visit ends.

It’s feeling alone, though everyone you know has experienced this.

One in two Americans have lived some version of this story, because half of all U.S. residents and a full two thirds of all Black people have a loved one who has done time. However, it’s not just the family members who are frustrated.

It’s especially hard for people in prison.