Fred's friend Michael had just gotten out of jail. He couldn’t walk properly, because the police beat him with a log. The prisoners were only fed garbage. Michael pointed to some kale in an open sewer, and said that was what the jail food was like. He was in a room with 100 other men, and he was in there for so long, with only an electric bulb for light, that his eyes stopped making tears.
I mentioned this to Fred and Fred told me that he too had been in jail. He did some math in his mind, trying to figure out which years of his life had been spent in jail. From 16 years old until 19 years old, he said. I asked Fred how many of the young men in Kibera had been in jail, and he said out of 100, maybe 93 were jail birds. They could fly, he said. Fly right into jail, fly right out again. He said he could recognize a jail bird just by looking at his face.