Sunday, November 6, 2011

Daniel's Exigency

After scanning through the most recent posts I've decided to discuss the exigency of Sharon Daniel from a personal experience I had of visiting Tennessee's Riverbend maximum security prison. This prison is also the site of the state's electric chair and lethal injection facilities. It currently holds around 700 offenders, more than half of which are considered high risk prisoners.

So of the few "field trips" I had my senior year in high school, one of the most, for lack of a better word, memorable ones was my trip to Riverbend. I went with a Social Conscience class who had been able to get us a tour of the place. We met staff from all different departments, a couple of inmates, and toured the grounds of the prison.

Daniel's project about the horrifying condition of the prison system, along with Miller's discussion of exigence, led me to thinking about the chilling surreality of that facility. Any reader who takes but ten minutes to explore Daniel's project would immediately question why people, although considered criminals, are receiving such inhumane treatment. This sympathy is cultivated from our identity as a collective species, and invites us to participate in recognizing that "social need" that Miller says we can address in a "socially recognizable and interpretable way" (158). "Public Secrets" is a manifestation of voices, thoughts, and pictures that you can't know without having experienced it. But assembling the struggle of the inmates' situation in this form allows their actual voices to be heard. It lets the reader connect with three minds: the author's, the inmate's, and his own. The project addresses a "socially objectified motive," creating the need for us to react, to respond.

Daniel's exigence is the realization of corruption in the system. It is a part realizing the flaws in our procedures from prisons, perhaps rooted even deeper in the state government. The introduction of this project to me through this class shows me that I also have witnessed a social pattern of separateness and that someone such as Daniel is out to expose it.

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