Archive for the ‘Prison Life’ Category
Turkey Day is followed immediately by an onset of shopping with the retailers playing Christmas music, decorating their stores, and doing everything possible to get you into the holiday spirit but inside the prisons it's just another endless stretch of sad days for most of the prisoners, missing their family and trying to find a way to kill time and prevent boredom until they are released.
To make it even more boring, school and the other classes are usually canceled for an extended period. While some of the offenders don't like school, most will agree that the days without anything to do make the time go by even slower.
On Christmas day there is usually a meal that is better than the other days (slightly), but in some units (particularly those run by the private companies like GEO and CCA) a better than average meal will be given for one meal and then a sack lunch with a bologna sandwich for the other meal. Just as an aside, the holiday meals in the prisons run by the State are much better than those run by the private corporations whose only concern is profit.
The hardest part about Christmas for inmates is the time away from the families. We at TexasParoleNow.com want to reiterate our annual suggestions for those of you who have family or friends who are locked up during this this holiday season:
- Visit and write as often as possible. Nothing is more uplifting to a prisoner than seeing their family and getting a letter from someone is a welcome surprise.
- If you can afford it, put a few dollars "on their books" so they can visit the commissary. The ability to buy even a couple of "soups" can do a lot for the morale of a prisoner and the purchase of even a single sweet is a big deal.
- During the Christmas season consider sending something to them. A gift in prison is hard to select, but books are usually best, since most books will make it through the checkers and are allowed to go directly to the prisoners. The books must come from a store or a publisher though.
- Of course, if parole is being considered during the next year or so we suggest sending them the printed copy of our eBook How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet. This not only lets them know you are thinking about them but also gives them something to do by allowing them to work on their parole package from inside the walls. The package at the link above includes both a printed copy that can be mailed to them and also a digital copy for you.
- Christmas cards are both inexpensive and welcome. They often provide the only decoration in a drab room or cell. Not only do they brighten up the are but they are also a constant reminder that someone on the outside still cares about them.
Anything you can do to let an inmate know they are still a part of your life is extremely important so take a few minutes this holiday season to tell them you care.
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.