Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC.
I met Roy on the sidewalk near Union Station in Washington, DC where he was quietly panhandling. Roy is a 40 something, quiet and affable man who has been living on the streets of DC since being released from Federal Prison almost a year ago. Since his release he has been “on paper” as they say, meaning that he reports to a probation officer and cannot leave the area without permission. The irony of this situation is that Roy was not homeless when he was living in Louisiana at the time he was arrested and sentenced to Federal Prison on a drug charge. As often happens in the Federal Prison system, prisoners are transferred all over the country to make space for newly arriving prisoners or because they can be moved to less secure facilities. At such time that they are released, that takes place in the community where they were last incarcerated. Such is the case for Roy who finds himself far from home with no way to get back to Louisiana. He says he will be free of his probation responsibilities in two months and will try to leave the area. Roy makes no excuses for what got him incarcerated and feels that he has repaid his debt to society. It’s too bad that the Federal Prison system actually contributes to the recidivism problem by dumping people on the street and telling them to stay out of trouble. If you see Roy or someone like him ask if you can help out in some way. At the very least say hello. I guarantee you’ll both be better off for having had that experience. Roy agreed to this photograph in exchange for a small monetary compensation.