Undue Familiarity - Reader Response

After reading Ellen Collett’s essay “Undue Familiarity,” about teaching inmates in juvenile detention [September 2016], I was questioning my own relationship with younger inmates here in prison. I’m reluctant to talk to them other than to ask how they want their hair cut at the prison barbershop where I work. A day or so later I cut R.’s hair. He’s twenty-three and told me he has been locked up since he was fifteen. I felt compassion for him.

Collett’s essay had humanized R. for me. Last week I asked R. if he wanted to read it. He did, and afterward he and I had a good conversation. Collett gave us a way to talk to each other in spite of our age difference.
— Greg, Virginia

Read "Undue Familiarity" online here.