Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Fence Broken Ocean Plants Hiking Adventure Fun Original
Fence Broken Ocean Plants Hiking Adventure Fun Original
Charlotte Reader / Her Campus
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Louisville chapter.

As I sat down to reflect on my time on the tour of the jail for my Criminal Justice class, I quickly came to the realization that there are no words that can fully express what I was feeling as I walked past the inmates. I have genuinely never experienced anything like this tour. Throughout the entire thing my stomach was in knots and tightened after every turn of the corner. I felt as if me being there, walking through and looking at the inmates, was dehumanizing them. With our tour guide pointing out and explaining the process that a man was going through at the beginning of his jail time, being checked up and down, our group looking at his full body X-ray, I had to turn away because I felt like I was completely invading his privacy. As we walked past rooms full of bunk beds along with beds scattered all over the ground, the inmates approached the glass and tried talking to us. At one point, a woman, looking not much older than thirty walked up to the glass, looked me straight in the eyes and warned me to never find myself in her position. Her piercing eyes full of regret is something I will never forget. The smell is something like no other. I have nothing to even compare it to because it is something you can only experience firsthand. 

As we went up to the other floors and walked passed inmates in their uniforms, I continued to make eye contact with them but was unsure what my proper reaction to them was supposed to be. To any other person I would smile, so why was I treating them differently than any other human I would walk past? I constantly told myself they would take it as me mocking them rather than me treating them like I treat any other human. They are no different than you and me, yet I continued to unconsciously dehumanize them as I quickly broke eye contact and looked at my feet in fear I would offend them. 

When our tour guide told us we were going to actually go into the detox pod and talk to the women, we all looked at each other with apprehensive looks. Being one of the first people to walk in, I was still unsure how to react when I made direct eye contact with them so I looked down once again. It was explained to us that there were two groups of people in this pod, those who were in the process of detoxing and those who acted as their mentors. Their mentors were inmates who had volunteered to take on the role of helping women in their detox process. When prompted to ask them questions, someone in my group asked them why they chose to volunteer as a mentor. One lady spoke up about how she wanted change in her life. Another told her story about how she needed a reminder as to why she did not want to find herself back on the floor in such an immense amount of pain as were the women around us. She expressed to us how when she was addicted. She would not describe herself as an addict because she genuinely did not think she was. Rather than putting food in the fridge for her children she would spend her money on drugs, and that was why she applied to be a mentor to these women—so she would not find herself in that position ever again. 

We toured the old part of the jail, which was your stereotypical kind of jail you see in the movies. Walking single file between bars on both sides of us, the inmates would walk right next to us and talk to us. When none of us knew how to react, one of them replied with, “You know you guys can talk to us, right? We don’t bite.” Another example of us unconsciously dehumanizing them, we simply did not know how to react to their presence right next to us so we instead looked straight ahead, denying their presence all together. My experience at the jail is hard to put into words because I cannot even put an emotion to what I was feeling. It truly was like no other encounter I have ever had. 


Fallon McAllister

Louisville '23

I am currently majoring in Marketing and Management at the University of Louisville where I am a member of the 2019 pledge class for Chi Omega! My hobbies include playing soccer, making earrings, and drinking coffee!
Campus Correspondent at the University of Louisville I am an International Affairs and Communication major and minoring in French and marketing at the University of Louisville. If I am not studying, I am at the UofL Student Rec Center where I teach cycling/spin classes!