I was in prison and you visited me. Matthew 25:36
There but for the grace of God go I.
Prison life is a miserable life. People who could not control themselves to conform to the law are tightly controlled by others with rules far more objectionable than the rules they violated.
Instead of not stealing a car, a prisoner cannot drive anywhere. Instead of controlling the impulse to strike an enemy, a prisoner must have his or her every movement controlled. Instead of refusing to connive for illicit gain, a penniless prisoner loses precious freedom. Prison is where convicted criminals live in a sorry state of punishment.
Without laws, the ensuing chaos would demonstrate how vile and wicked human beings can be to each other.
Without self-control, without love, and without honesty, a darkness so deep and consuming creates a world of infinite pain and suffering, both inside of thick prison walls and out.
There is no confinement as infinite, hopeless, and bleak as the prison of the self-damned. Christ offers free release, yet hardened hearts refuse to reach out to receive it from Him. In the words of John Ciardi, "Like addicts, the damned both hate and love their self-destruction."
In the following lines of Matthew, the king damns those who did not visit prisoners with compassion. To visit a prisoner, is like to see a sacrificial lamb, carry your sins, and burn in your place. Prisoners, from desperation, or passion, or greed, violated man's law, while for the same reasons, we repeatedly violate God's commands.
Visit to console the prisoner, and to awaken to the consequence of choosing darkness over light.
But when you go there, to prison, remember that unlike Hell, there is hope of release, and repentance, even small surprising blessings, and worship. There is Daniel in the flames; there is Jesus Christ.