The knowledge that someone has power over you and your family is terrifying and when you find yourself in that position unfairly, the terror level is especially high. Guilt and innocence have little to do with the unfairness of it. Prosecutors have all the power to decide if they want a person in prison or not, and nothing can stop them. So, from the very beginning, we are powerless, defenseless. Sending a family member to prison means they are again powerless, defenseless--and without even the comfort of loving touch or familiar faces.
America builds more and more prisons (15 federal facilities opened in the last twelve years) and incarcerates more and more citizens, requiring more and more prison guards. Most people recoil at the idea of working as a prison guard and yet there is always someone who will do the job, no matter how many guards are needed. As of 2000, there were 270,317 custody/security staff in federal, state, and private adult facilities.
What happens to a person who is given physical power over others? If power corrupts, it cannot be good that we are putting an increasing number of people in positions of physical power over others.