The effects of being incarcerated

Blount, E. W.

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The Effects of Being Incarcerated... 
 ...Noone seemed to care who we were on the inside, all that mattered were two (2) numbers: the length of your sentence and your I.D. number. In America's cities, former prisoner's are everywhere, seated across from you on the subway, pushing the cart next to yours in the supermarket, standing behind you in line at the movie theatre and so on. It's impossible to pick out these ex-cons. Once we are no longer required to wear jumpsuits or I.D. cards pinned to our chests, we look just like everyone else. The reality is inescapable. America has become a nation of ex-cons (13 million people have been convicted of a felony and spent some time locked up, that's almost 7% of the U.S. adult population.) Most of these ex-cons come from urban areas and most return to the same neighborhoods they left from. Men and women come back from prison changed people, they carry scars (visible and invisible) from their years behind bars. Some come home with H.I.V, Hep C., TB, or worse. They have new enemies maybe a new gang affiliation. All the frustration and rage that has been built up inside them while them while they were locked up comes home with them too, to make a long story short, we never come home the same way we came to prison. In prison, an addiction may have been kicked or you may have picked up a drug habit you've never had before. We may have acquired a new resolve to abandon our criminal ways and turn our lives around. Or we may have learned from others how to be a better criminal - a more skilled car thief or dope dealer or gun-runner. Not surprisingly, the odds of success are thin. We have no money, few job skills, little education, and a history of bad addictive life-styles. Forty (40%) of people released from prison are back behind bars within 3 years because of a new crime or parole violation, some of us aren't able to cope with the "real world" because all we know is how to function as a criminal. Almost every criminal justice dollar is spent locking people up and keeping them in prison. Nothing is done to help reform the "con" while incarcerated. The phenomenon of people leaving prison has become a popular topic in the academic and criminal justice circles. Where it is referred to as "re-entry." Public discussions usually leave out the voices of former prisoner's. Relying instead on statistics, but the true story of America's exodus of ex-con's can't be told only with numbers. Coming home from prison is about learning to control your temper without using your fists. Controlling that urge to get high that put you in prison in the first place. It's about finding a place to sleep. It's about remembering how to feed yourself. It's about finding self-esteem. It's about re-connecting with love ones and family (which is the hardest) and trying to earn respect from the children you abandoned. And it's about trying to find a legitimate way of earning money to live a more prosperous life. While no one prisoner's home coming story is truly representative, there are many common themes. Very often this story has two (2) tales: there is the solitary journey of the ex-con reforming to a changed world. And if you are fortunate enough to have relatives or love ones waiting for you, there is the family's story too... Imprisonment not only permanently alters the lives of the ex-con, but also the lives around him. Leaving prison, we try to undo some of the damage our absence has caused. Progress will be slow, if it comes at all and we can become frustrated. "After being taken away for so long, you come home and you're a complete stranger to your family." "They love you, but they're angry with you at the same time because of everything they went through when you weren't around." You can't get back birthdays, you can't get back the graduations, you can't get back the nights when your loved ones wanted you there and you were nowhere to be found. You can't get those years back!!! No matter what you do in life, you can never go back... The best thing to do is to let go and move on. No sense of holding grudges. Stay close to those who never gave up on you and live the life of a human being and not that of an ex-con...

Author: Blount, E. W.

Author Location: Massachusetts

Date: February 1, 2018

Genre: Essay

Extent: 2 pages

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