#103 Preparing for him after prison (retro)

March 19, 2010 at 3:55 am Leave a comment

Preparing for him after prison

How many of you have asked this question?

MANY!

And it does not matter whether you are a mother, a wife, girlfriend, sister, pen pal or whomever, this is a pretty tough question to tackle. The idea here is that for those of you who have a loved one near release, you have questions of what to do when he gets out.

Why is this a problem?

Because we all know that many guys who get out usually go back. Not ALL, but many. I cannot give you a percentage, but I might imagine it would not be too supportive or encouraging to you.

So how can you prepare your loved one to make a successful transition when he gets out of prison? There are a lot of ways to look at this, and I don’t imagine I can cover it all in one sitting, but let’s touch on some bases here.

One of the first things we can do is understand the frame of mind of an inmate. I can use myself as an example, but I can only use myself as ONE of many different examples. When a guy is near release, we often neglect to understand the lifestyle changes he has to make.

See, we as a society don’t put a lot of faith in people to change, especially ex felons. Remember folks, when a person enters prison, he or she has to adapt quickly to an entirely different lifestyle. This isn’t like going to boy scout camp, or going to visit a relative for a summer…this is prison.

The entire lifestyle of that person has to change, often much faster than they would want to. But this same adaptation has to happen when he is released back into society, and sadly, prisons do not prepare a person mentally and financially for that.

I gave you an example a few times about my release, how I was given a “gate check” when I was released. In many states, you get a certain amount of money by the state to get you on your feet and to help you get back into “free society”. In NC prisons, I think you have to be in prison at minimum of 3 years to qualify, it could be different in other states. Anyway, I got my big whopping check of $45.00 the day I was released.

Now…somebody tell me, what is an inmate supposed to do with $45 when he has been released from prison? I was blessed to have a family to go home to, but many guys don’t have that. Where can you sleep for $45? How many meals can you get with $45? Can you even buy a pair of pants, a shirt, shoes and socks for $45? (and underwear too, of course).

Now, even if you could do ONE of those, you certainly cannot do all. This creates a level of fear in some inmates because they are being forced to live in a society that they are not qualified to live in. Prisons do not prepare an inmate that has been in prison for 10 years to “adapt” when they have nowhere to go.

“But my loved one has a home”

True, he or she may have a place to stay when they get out, but are they mentally ready for the sudden change in life? This is worth considering because remember, that inmate didn’t go the mall last week, or went to the movies last month, or went shopping at Wal-Mart last year. Many inmates in prison may have been set in the ways of prison, living it 24 hours a day, every day for several years. It’s hard to break that routine in a day or two.

When I got out in 2001, the first place my brothers took me was to a restaurant for breakfast. Even though I was free, I felt like there was a big sign over my head that said, “ex felon”. My confidence in myself was low, but I didn’t want to show that to my brothers. In a funny comparison, it was kinda like Dracula trying to enter a church.

There is a level of confidence that you lose when you go to prison, and it may take awhile to get it back. To think that your loved one may have that the second they step out could lead to some misunderstandings.

“But he says he has so many plans and believes he can do them”

Well, that is great, because to be sure many ex felons develop legit plans and ideas they want to do when they get out, but many times that confidence lacks true planning and patience…and money.

What we often ignore is something simple…resistance.

Let me give you an example. One day we were watching a basketball game, and he said, “anybody can get a triple double. All you got to do is average 3 points, three rebounds, and three assists per quarter and there you go!”

(Now, to those that are not familiar with basketball, a “triple-double” is a very rare feat in the sport because it means that a player has to have double digits in three different categories; points, rebounds, assists, blocks or steals. It is VERY rare to see them, and in the course of the year, only a few players might get it a few times)

According to my friend, he claims that this is easy to do if you just look at the numbers. I mean, surely if you get 3 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists per quarter (NBA games), you will end up with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. A triple-double.

And it SOUNDS easy, but the problem here is simple…resistance. Do you think the opposing team is going to LET you do that? If it was that easy, you’d see much more of that.

What my friend was not accounting for was the fact that just because YOU want to do it does not mean it will be done so easily. The same goes for ex felons who have a great idea of starting a business the day after they get out of prison. Even if the idea is as pure as mountain spring water (now that I am getting thirsty), it still has to be tried.

And for many guys, this is where problems happen. Lots of guys have a great plan, and expect it to come to pass inside of a few months, a year at best. But when the trials, tribulations and other obstacles come, it creates some holes in the plan, bringing in doubt and frustration.

Trust me folks, I have been there. And don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying the plans don’t work, I am saying that often times we just didn’t plan on LIFE. An idea is an easy thing to think up, but to implement it means many other things have to happen. An ex felon can get frustrated when he does not see his dream going the way he wants. This can make it frustrating for you when you want to help, but he may not be patient enough to let the plan develop.

What if, for example your loved one did 10 years in prison, and wants to start a clothing store? He wants to sell the “hottest threads” and sees himself being financially independent inside of 2 years. Well, it’s a noble idea, and there is nothing wrong with that, and surely you WANT him to succeed. But something is missing and it might bother you.

You worry IF he can stick with it when the times get a little tough.

So he gets out of prison and he wants to hit the ground running. First thing he needs is a job to fund his dream. So he tries to get one…and has problems because of his record.

Resistance meets him as soon as he steps out of prison.

What do you do? You don’t want your loved one to backslide in failure, but you also know that he has to develop patience as well. But here is a mental problem many inmates face…loss of time.

A lot of guys get out of prison trying to “make up” for lost time. They missed so much while in prison that some feel that they have to speed up their lives to catch up. It’s one of the reasons why some ex felons think or want that dream to materialize inside of a year or two, or it is a bust.

But it is also the same mentality that has guys running around to catch up with their “friends”, and that can also become a problem. The great irony about a lot of “friends” is that many guys get in trouble with those guys, but when you go to jail or prison, they are the last ones to want to visit you or even write a letter. But the second you get out, they want to meet up with you and have a good time. Or, it is the other way around, and the inmate himself runs back to those guys.

Lots of parents have big problems with it, but the hard part about this is that the ex felon has to adapt to the new lifestyle. You don’t want him to be a hermit, but at the same time you don’t want him getting involved with guys that could get him right back in trouble. Yet if an ex felon has no friends, how then shall he get back into society?

Sometimes an ex felon believes that the only people that will accept him are those same friends that got him in trouble to begin with. At any rate, these pressures come on an ex felon to try to find familiar friends and put dreams into action.

How do you prepare for that, or how can you prepare him for that?

To be sure, this isn’t easy, because no formula I can give would be helpful to everyone. Even if it works for one, it might fail for the next 100. But there indeed are things that can be done, and it starts with something simple.

Pray and do not worry.

See, we are talking about a thing that is larger than you can handle yourself, so why burden yourself with it? If you have a loved one in prison nearing release, and you are worried about how he may adjust, then take a moment to pray about it. Why? Because you are asking God for some guidance and some peace. You’re gonna need both.

You need guidance because remember, the ex felon is often not aware of the resistance to a dream he has. Many guys come out with a plan that seems flawless, but at the first sign of problems, they give up or get stressed out, as if it is not for them to succeed, which then creates low self esteem. You need guidance to be able to be a gentle help in his goals. Whether that goal is to start a ministry, start a business or just get a good job to pay bills, he or she is going to need help from someone who has been in society long enough to know how some things work. I mean, think about it, where were we 10 years ago with technology? You think an ex felon that went in 1998 knows a lot about the internet, ipods and HDTV?

He needs someone he can lean on, to help him get readjusted to society, and you need that blessing of guidance, or wisdom, to help him. You are also gonna need some peace as well, because let’s face it, if you were expecting him to walk out of prison with a halo around his head, you are sorely mistaken.

This is where a lot of people on the outside miss it too. They place too much burden on the ex felon to be perfect, when he wasn’t perfect going in prison…and neither are you.

Even the most religious person has to understand that we live by grace and mercy, because none of us are perfect. When a person comes out of prison, remember that they are coming for a very negative lifestyle (prison) to one that is just slightly better (joke…maybe…)

Because of this, loved ones outside the prison have to be helpful but also gentle to understand the transition it takes to adjust to society. Does this mean you laugh it off if he goes out and gets drunk on the first day out? Of course not. But what I mean by that is that you cannot place the burden of doing everything right on him.

Some parents want their loved ones to be so perfect that they are actually forcing that same person to push them away. These are very delicate times where you have to be there for them, but not to smother them. Am I saying to never let them go out to be with the “fellas”. No, you got to give him a chance to live, he’s no good to you cooped up under the roof all day. But there is a balance that you can help him establish, if you have peace that God will look after him.

Guidance and peace will be of a great help to you because we are talking about the changing of a lifestyle, and that often takes more than what a person can give. And with the guidance comes wisdom to talk to him while he is in prison to see what he really wants to do, so you can see what you can find out about that idea. If your loved one wants to start that clothing business, what does that require?

A business license, some money, some catalogues of clothes, a place to establish business, things like that. What can you find out about it to send to him, so he can be reading up on this? Give him the time to plan with facts, rather than just an idea. This can help him see his dream or goal more clearly, rather than just wishful thinking.

Peace gives you confidence that even as he slips (as we all do often) he will be ok because you are trusting God to help him and you. With that peace you abandon worry, and not sit up late at night wondering if he will be ok, or if things will work out. Even if things DO go off the road, do not abandon that faith. Many people give up as soon as the car starts rolling off the road, not realizing there is plenty of time to steer it back on the road.

Well, there is much more we can talk about, but I will wait for you guys to email me, I am at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com so hit me up and ask me about stuff, or ask how you can support my blogs, or ask about my books and cards.

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Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#102 Prison communications pt 7 (retro) #104 Prison Jobs 102 (retro)

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