Archive for the ‘Prison Life’ Category
We recently got a letter from someone who had done a little time in a Texas psrison and he offered the best explanation of the reason people fail to complete their parole and get revoked so, with his permission, we are sharing pertinent parts of the letter.
"I was convicted of a white collar crime and was unprepared not just for prison but also for the people inside. Being locked up away from your family and friends is bad enough, but that's not what I'm talking about. I was unpreapred for how many prisoners look at prison as a way of life.
There are a lot of gangs in prisons, I think everybody has heard that but they don't realize the extent. In the minimum security "unit" where I spent most of my time, we lived in buildings which were dorms back when it was an army base. The gangs, who called themselves families, would occasionally have meetings to decide how things would run in the dorm. As an older member of the population I was never pressured to join, never hassled to pay, etc. but many of the younger members would "hook up" with one of the gangs as soon as they got there.
In my particular dorm room (and that sounds a lot nicer that it was) we had 8 men, each with their own bunk. One of the guys in my room was a young Hispanic man. He was 21 and had been in prison twice since he turned 18. He told me that when he made parole the first time, and when he made it again on this charge, life wouldn't change for him on the outside. He would still smoke pot when he wanted, drink when he wanted, and sell dope. While he didn't say it, I could tell he liked the camaraderie that existed in the gang, that he felt he was a part of a family, and that he didn't have to worry about anything happening in prison because he belonged to the gang.
Also, he was one of the "jailhouse tattoo artists" and so his food drawer was always full from the tattoo work he did. "In the world" as he referred to life outside the prison, he worked at a fast food place and didn't make enough money to have any extra which was the stated reason he sold drugs.
Unfortunately, nothing that happened in prison was preparing him for any life other than the one he had always known once he was released. While he was required to attend school and try for his GED, he knew that the GED wouldn't result in any increased opportunities for him.
I knew without a doubt that he would be revoked within a few months of being released and after he served his full sentence, woudl be back on the inside for committing a new crime within a year or two.
Until the system can figure a way to break the cycle for these people, the recidivism rate will remain high because they don't know anohter way of life."
Sad, but true.
After the parole packet has been completed and submitted there is the long wait until the decision is made and the inmate and family notified then the even longer wait until the actual day of parole. Bear in mind that things can still go wrong, new warrants can appear, the inmate can do something that causes the parole to be withdrawn (so tell them to stay out of trouble!) but for most it is just a matter of waiting the two or three months.
There are more than one place in Texas now that prisoners are actually transferred to and released. The most famous of these, and the original release point, was from The Walls in Huntsville.
The prisoners being released on parole and those who are being released because their sentence have been completed are treated virtually the same, with the exception that the ones on parole have to make a stop by the parole board office at the prison.
On the day of their release, prisoners begin by eating breakfast just as on every other day of their sentence. They then gather their items and wait to be called. The soon to be ex-prisoners clear their accounts at the medical facility on site (if necessary), receive their "walking money" ($100 for released prisoners and $50 for parolees) and some type of clothing, At the TDC release points it is usually donated "street clothes" and at privately run facilities like the one at Mineral Wells it will be a jumpsuit. They also receive a bus voucher to the closest bus station to their approved release residence and in some cases a ride to the bus station. For those inmates who have family or friends waiting to pick them up there is no need for the bus voucher.
Parolees are informed of the date, time and place of their first parole appointment, usually within 48 hours. At that appointment they will be instructed on expected behavior and often tested for drug use. Unfortunately, many fail this first test due to drug use either in prison or in "celebration" of their release.
It is important for the family and friends to remember that there will be some adjustment to life "in the world" no matter the length the people were imprisoned and so patience may be required.
Don't be surprised if the requests the releasees make seem trivial. A favorite television show, a favorite food, or just some time alone, all are common items that we take for granted, but which are dear to someone that has been locked up.