The Attrition of My Perdition
An Essay by Shane Kohut AKA Napoleon
This isn't my first time in prison. In fact it's my fifth. Through three cases and a couple of parole violations I've spent 232 of the last 252 months incarcerated in the Missouri Department of "Corrections."
Counting my juvenile and Division of Youth Services time I've spent 21 years and 2 months of my 37 years on this earth institutionalized. More time in than out. I sometimes wonder where my "home" really is.
I'm currently 8 years in on a 25 year sentence for kidnapping my daughter and her mother. Think of that what you will, however, keep in mind that no one was harmed. No one was harmed in any case that has ever sent me to prison, but that's not to say that I've never caused harm. I am who I am. What I've done, I've done.
This is by far the longest sentence I have ever received. This is the sentence that has made me desire to change. Not to change my morals and my outlook on life, but to change my actions, and reactions, upon my release.
The longest stretch I'd done prior to this was 7 years that began when I was 16. In between then and now there were periods that lasted 18 months or less.
The differences in doing a short bid and a large bid are a lot more than just the time you spend incarcerated. The way that you do your time is different. The prisons that you do your time in are different. The short bid is not only easier because it's shorter, but also because it's easier on the mind and easier on your relationships with those on the outside.
It's not hard for a wife, girlfriend, family or friends to wait a couple of years for you to come back to them. They count the months and days with you. They visit, they write, they accept calls and they maintain the relationship.
When you're doing a large bid, that's when the attrition comes into play. The years slowly wear away your relationships. The letters, the visits, the phone calls all get fewer and fewer. Friends fade away. Wives and girlfriends disappear. Family members move on. Your support system diminishes year by year. So not only have you lost your freedom, you've lost everything else with it. Only the people who truly love you and care about you remain. The ones who are strong enough to withstand the hardships of this perdition with you.
I call this condition "perdition" because that's exactly what it is; it's dangerous. It's not just a dangerous place to live, it's a danger to your mental health and your overall outlook on life. The way you deal with people, how you react to certain situations, how you live your life - it's all shaped by this deleterious environment.
There are people that leave prison as better human beings. They are able to improve themselves while incarcerated. This is not to say that prison ameliorated them, because I see no "correction" in this center, but they ameliorated themselves while in prison.
Yet with the recidivism rate above 60% this shows that the majority of people that are released are not "corrected." Instead they have been corrupted. They learn to distrust authority. They learn to hate. They learn to be violent, or more violent. They leave these places, released back to the public, worse than when they came in. Where is the "correction"?
The attrition of this prison system slowly takes away whatever was good in your life and replaces it with negativity. We are being punished for our crimes. I have no problem with that. I'm all for, "Do the crime, do the time" however, the things that come along with doing that time go unnoticed by the administration... but not the convict. We live it everyday - whether we're in here or out there.
I've written a poem called, "The Con."I hope that it's included with this essay. It will give you some insight on my life and the life of many others.
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