Amy B. Smoyer, PhD

Prison Food, Incarcerated Lives, Health & Social Work

The View

Now this, my friends, is a view.
My apologies about leaving you in the lurch at the end of my last post.  Here, the saga of castles and lions continues...

After an hour and a half of nervous driving, we arrived safely at our destination. We didn't run out of gas. We weren't attacked by mobs of crazed teenagers, stray dogs or escaped prisoners. As is often the case, our "problems" were constructed entirely by our own imaginations. No lions or tigers or bears, just people and fields of grain. We checked into the hotel and went to sleep.

We awoke the following day in a little piece of paradise.  The sun was shining and after a breakfast of jamon, bread and coffee, we took a short hike to the top of the town's hill to explore the ruins of its old medieval castle. From this vantage point we could see, literally, all of Castilla y Leon. No surprises from those pesky Moors from up here.  Shortly thereafter, we were joined by a man from the town, about my age, walking his dog.  He stayed with us for awhile, chatting about the town and the view. Then he asked if we had seen "The Post."  We shook our heads, I had no idea what he was referring to, so we followed him down the hill to see.

The Post, it turns out, is the old whipping post located in front of the Town Hall.  Is it just me or does everyone encounter criminal justice monuments on their journeys? The bad guys (and gals?) would be tied here and lashed for all their wrongdoings. See Javier's demonstration below...

Prisons were created to do away with this type of corporal punishment. Penitentiaries, as they were know at the time of this transition, were considered an improvement, a progressive reform that affirmed offenders' shared humanity and capacity for rehabilitation. The view they saw then is surely not what we see today. Who knows what these reformers would think of our roadside fortresses. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.