When your loved ones come home from prison you think that they will be the same person as they went in only older. You think that they will come out, get their live together, be a part of the family and be a part of the community. This is not always the case. Some come out and right back. Do they go right back in because they can’t stop doing living a life of crime? Maybe, or perhaps the system is broken and doesn’t realize what is really going on with inmates.
Some inmates do like the life of crime, some inmates really can’t handle the pressure of the outside world and they need the structure of prison to take care of them. Others do not have any family and feel that the inmates in prison are their family and always will be so they get sent back to be with that family. The inmate has been in so long they are institutionalized and can’t handle being outisde of the prison. And sometimes what happens in prison follows them into the outside.
When inmates are confined to their cells(9×9 box) for days or months they lose part of their cognitive ability. Communication is so important, when you are not able to do that, you lose that sense of worth, that feeling of belonging and that feeling that someone loves you. When you have trauma such as these, it changes you in ways that you never thought possible. When inmates have explain the feeling of being held in solitary confinement for a year, they say it almost breaks them and that they lose so much of themselves. It is difficult to recover from that especially if they don’t have anyone that cares about them. Can you image how that would feel? I most certainly can not.
Some professionals will say inmates are insititutionalized by how long they have been in. That may be true. However, having gone through the things that they have to do, hear and see also causes PTSD. When you have mental health issues all the doctors do is give you medications that may or may not help you, It’s the same medication for everyone.
When my son came home it was rough. He didn’t understand why he would go to the gym and go into the locker room and come out angry. He didn’t understand why he had to sleep with light on or why going to the grocery store was so overwhelming for him. Small rooms are better or in a crowed places he’s always looking around and has to know where everyone is. He cried when he told us what he had to do to survive in prison. It was so heartbreaking to hear what he was saying and no my son is not the same person. He will forever be changed. My son has PTSD.
There are things that your loved ones will want to tell you but in their own time. Those things maybe the most horrific thngs imaginable. Things that they had to do, watched, heard or made someone else do. Be patient, listen and try to understand. The quote ” Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes” by Atticus Finch has never been more true until now. We don’t know what we would do if we were to go to prison.
I hestitated to write this blog because of the harsh reality of the secrets behind the walls. The secrets that no one wants to talk about. Things that inmates had to do, see hear and go through just to survive in prison. The horrors of being in prison. The rape, the murders, fights, overdoses, gangs and the extorion. All the things that people don’t want to believe or talk about. Sure, most people say jail or prison is ” three hots and a cot’. It’s so easy in there. You go in and it easy to do your time. You don’t have any responsibility, everything is done for you and one day you just walk out after your time is up. However, this is not reality. TV shows aren’t reality either.
Is that a realistic way to think of prison though? I have had a lot of people ask me where I get my information from. I research, I get reports like Prison Reform, and news articles. It is easy for me to research anything, but to get the heartbreaking, tug at your heartstrings stories come from the ones who live it and continue to live with the prison life everyday.
My advise is to get help for your loved ones. PTSD and trauma is very difficult to deal with on your own. Be there for your loved ones they need you. Don’t push they will come to you when they can. These conversations are very difficult and even more difficult to hear. Your loved ones will feel embarrassed, ashamed, and will think you will see them differently. Tell them you love them and support them.