#119 Prison communication pt 3 (retro)

April 1, 2010 at 2:50 am Leave a comment

Prison 101: Communication Pt 3

I think we have discussed just a part of a ton of stuff regarding just two elements of communications with loved ones in prison. There is much, much more that can be said about this, so I want to continue on this today.

As I write this, I just finished watching some of the Olympics and the Bengals vs. Packers game, and I am so ready for football season. Because this IS a blog, I get to kinda vent out on something that bothers me.

I love football just as much as anybody out there, and I have my favorites, but I can respect the GAME of football, regardless of the team. However, I think what the management of the Green Bay Packers did to Brett Farve was just short of satanic.

WOW, strong words…

This is NOT a shot at any Packer fan, not at all, this is a shot at management, and why egos and control are so damned problematic in any business. Brett Farve took Green Bay to TWO Superbowls, winning one. He has countless records in passing and is clearly the face of Packer Nation.

But when he tries to come back to football, the new General Manager decides that he does not want Farve, and tries to pay him off (call it a bribe) of 25 million to NEVER play. He is willing to pay Farve to never set foot on a field again…what gives him that right to close anybody else’s career.

When Brett decided that he wanted to play (completely in his rights) the team then works a deal with the Jets (nothing against the Jets either). But get this, the trade that the Packers made virtually GUARANTEES that Brett Farve NEVER gets anywhere near their football field. The Jets won’t play the Packers for about 10 years, barring ONLY a Superbowl. Brett wanted to go to Minnesota, and there were talks with Tampa Bay, but the Packers were not willing to give Brett any consideration. After all he gave to that team, this is how they treat him…like a criminal.

This is the imperfect world we live in, where a General Manager of a NFL team can screw a Hall of Famer so terribly, then have the audacity to sit in front of a microphone and a few cameras and act like they care about him…so cowardly. What the management did to Brett Farve was clearly more than the interests of the Packers, it was also with the intent to punish Farve for wanting to play again.

I appreciate what Farve did for the NFL, and I know the fans of Green Bay have to move on, and I also know that Aaron Rogers (?) deserves a chance, so I have no argument against any of them. But the management of that team did a horrible, evil screwing of one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and they KNEW what they were doing. I hope when Brett goes to the Hall of Fame, I hope he wears a Jets jersey.

But life must move on.

(and in that editorial folks, is a lesson that is prison based…I may share that with you another day….)

Now, let’s talk about prison communications. In the first couple of discussions I was breaking down the three basic forms of communications dealing with inmates in prison. I mentioned about letters and cards as the most obvious and cheapest. I talked also about phone calls, with the pros and cons. Now I want to talk about the third form of communication. Visitations.

I think if you asked any inmate what they would rather have ONE of, this would be the great majority. If I was still in prison and was asked if I would like to receive 5 letters, 3 phone calls or one visit, I think most inmates might take that visit. Easily this would be the case if an inmate was offered a choice of one letter, one call or one visit. I think visitations substitute for a multitude of the other forms of communication.


Because if phone calls give you the value of HEARING a loved one, then visits give you the value of SEEING them…and in some cases even TOUCHING them. There is so much value in a human being touching another in compassion. Whether a hug from your mom, or a kiss from your wife or girlfriend, the inmate gets so much out of these simple forms of affection.

Visitation means so much more than just driving down to the prison, meeting your loved one and talking for an hour or so. If you have seen it this way, you are missing out on a very powerful way to encourage your loved one.

There are so many positives with visits. A father in prison can see his baby son or daughter for maybe the first time. A son can talk to his mother and reassure her that he is ok. A person can talk with someone about certain things he or she need them to do for them. People can catch up on things and not have to worry about the 10 minute limit on the phone.

Visitations are also a huge morale booster. Most times when an inmate steps into the visitation area and sees a familiar face, it can be the best moment in months for a person in a pit of depression and guilt. Those 60 minutes (or longer, depending on the prison) are an escape from the problems that inmate has during the day. It won’t wash away all his worries, but for just a few moments, he can forget about it and concentrate on someone who cared enough to come see him.

There is no doubt that there are some very strong positives with visitation. But just like phone calls, it is a privilege. Don’t assume that every inmate must be guaranteed a visit…that’s not the way it works. For that reason, the privilege of visitation is also a form of control. If an inmate acts up, he can lose that privilege to a visit for a time. Don’t sit there and get upset and twist words on a prison support site saying that “my man is supposed to be able to get visits”. That’s not quite how that works.

You just cannot underestimate the power of this form of communication, which to me is the strongest form of communication in prison. You just can’t beat a face-to-face talk with someone who cares about you, especially when it is a break from the day-to-day life of prison.

I mentioned some of the positives of visitation, but there are also some drawbacks as well. One of the most obvious is cost. Remember, to send a letter might cost you less than a dollar (stamp, envelope, paper). To receive a collect call would cost you several dollars. But a visit can cost much more.

Even if your loved one lived 20 miles away, we’re still talking about gas there and back. But for most people, their loved ones are in a prison at LEAST 10 times that distance. The expense of driving hundreds of miles, and the time you put in it can cost a lot of money. And for some of you, it may also include getting a room at a hotel overnight. And we’re not adding in the extra stuff like buying a meal or two. You could easily spend $50-$100 on a single visit.

Now, I am not saying this is a bad thing, I am saying this is a downside. The difference between the two is that some downsides are worth it. Most of you are more than willing to accept the downside to be able to see your loved one. Some of you spent much more on such a visit.

Another “downside” if you will, is that you are very limited in your visits. For most prisons, visitation is on weekends. You get one visit per week, for about an hour or so. Some prisons might do it differently, but most have one visit per week.

And there is another drawback of the visit. Just as the upside is the high that the inmate gets for seeing you, the downside is the “crash” that happens when the visit is over. This is the part you don’t see, one I have experienced as well as many others.

I wrote a blog on this awhile back and talked a lot on how the inmate might feel after the visit is over, (good luck on finding that blog). In my time in prison, I had I think 3 visits. Not a whole lot, but for each one I had, there was a very depressing feeling after the visit is over. As I said, most of you may never have an idea of what this is like. An inmate goes from having a very good time with someone he loves to having to immediately adjust back to prison life. There’s no “time out” or anything like that to get the inmate readjusted back into prison life. There is no one you can talk to about how down you may feel after the visit.

Some guys I knew would take a nap as soon as they get back, because there is such a depressing feeling. It’s amazing that just one hour of bliss can turn into a few hours of depression. So why do we feel that way after the visit?

I think the reason some inmates “crash” is because there is such a sudden shift of lifestyles, and for many, that is too hard to adjust to. An inmate goes from the excitement of seeing a familiar face, meeting them, talking to them and getting immersed in all the things that are going on out there, longing for the free life they no longer have. But in that short time, they start to melt away a lot of that “prison life” and start absorbing the free life you share with them.

Then, when it’s all over (the visit), the inmate is shocked back into prison life. This is certainly proved true by the strip search that you get after the visit is over. I remember quite well going through that, and to me, it almost was not worth the visit. I realize that was after the fact, but honestly speaking, I almost didn’t think it was worth a visit to go through that strip search.

The end of a visit is almost like watching a really good movie, something you are really into and enjoying, and then somebody turns the television off and tells you to go to bed. Actually the comparison does not do it justice, because as an inmate we are often used to having the televisions in the dayrooms turned off when it is time for count time.

But regardless of the drawbacks, there is no doubt that this form of positive communication is very important to inmates. This form of communication comes with physical touch, which greatly enhances the power and encouragement you can give to one that is in prison.

I mentioned earlier that most people think that a visitation is just about going to see somebody in prison. I cannot say how much more a visit should mean to both sides of the prison wall, and in future discussions I want to talk more about that.

Well, I am kinda being distracted by watching the Olympics, so I better cut it short here so I can watch some more. I open up this discussion to anyone who has questions on the area of communications. There is much more I am going to talk about on this, so email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask me a question about it.

Don’t forget that I also have prison books, prison cards and prison encouragement certificates available. Email me to ask about prices. Well, time to go watch more Olympics…I COMPLETELY forgot about the USA Basketball game today while watching the games on another NBC channel…now I gotta find out what happened.

Gotta fly……..


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.

#118 Prison Communication pt 2 (retro) #120 Prison 101: Showers (retro)

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