Posts Tagged ‘institutionalization’

Dennis Haines has written articles for us in the past.

I’m back with my continuing adventures in the real world. The irony is that I have noticed that “real world squares” are not that much different from cons in the joint in some ways. In the month and a half that I have been out I have been observing people and how much the same we are. And to think that I used to feel like I didn’t fit in with normal people and now I find out that we aren’t that different after all.

Case in point, I take the same bus to work every day Monday to Friday at roughly 6:30 am and there are a group of regulars who are taking the same bus. I find that I always sit in the same spot and that everyone else tries to as well. The funny part is that if someone is sitting in someone else’s regular spot, you can actually see the annoyance on their faces at the interruption in their routine. It brings me to mind of people’s spots in the dining room in the institution, except it doesn’t end in violence.

That’s not the only place I notice the same type of behavior. In the lunch room where I work everyone has staked a claim to their chairs and although I don’t believe they would get violent over it, they will tell you if you are sitting in their spot.

So what I’m getting at is that I find it strangely comforting that regular people exhibit the same behaviors that I’m used to from the institutions. I was concerned with my level of institutionalization, but I’m finding that observing the world and putting it in perspective is really helping me along. As people we are all the same, and we all have our little comfort zones. Sometimes these zones are challenged, but it’s our reactions that set us apart.

I write these types of thoughts as a little bit of therapy for myself but also in the hope that maybe someone else who is just getting out will read them as well and maybe be comforted. I hope that I can send a message of hope to someone else who just got out and may or may not be struggling. I hope to let them know that every day out in the community is an adventure just waiting to be undertaken. For me it’s my time to take life by the horns and live it in the best way I can and, if I’m lucky, I can help someone else out along the way.

Dennis Haines has told me specifically that he wants his name and email revealed. He would appreciate any comments you have. You can send them directly to him if you want.

prison“I just don’t think I can make it on the outside,” the forty-four year old man said. “Except for a few years in my teens, I’ve been in prison all my life. I got out once in my twenties, but two months later I was back in.”

Try to picture who would say these words – a mass murderer, a hardened identity thief or a conscience-less drug dealer?

No, a gentle person, gets along with everyone, loves to read, and struggles with gaining weight.

Remember the old man in Shawshank Redemption who got out of prison after many years, couldn’t adapt, and hung himself?

While people going back to prison is in the self-interest of prison staff, it’s not in the self-interest of taxpayers. A conservative figure is $100 a day to keep a man in prison.

De-institutionalization is not even one of the goals of the prison system.

In my experience the first weeks out of prison are the roughest for a man. For years his life has been on a rigid schedule. He doesn’t have to think for himself, he just has to follow orders.

Much could be done, for example day visits along with a guard in civies. As the man nears getting out, he could have weekends with his family. Another idea is a special, month-long exit program taught by experts in de-institutionalization, social workers, community parole officers and ordinary citizens.

If more people from the community were involved with prisons, it would help a lot. Right now few community people are welcome in prisons

When a man or woman enters prison, officials teach them how to live in prison. They should teach them as well how not to live in prison.