Being released from the cells is one of the most important news every prisoner wishes to receive. The excitement of having the freedom back into their hands, meeting their family and friends and interacting with the outside environment without going through many punishments and strict programs is exciting. However, all these become problematic when one steps out into the world again to find things that have significantly changed and that life is not smooth as one thought. Integrating back into the community is usually a difficult journey and requires one to be open-minded and emotionally strong to endure. The following discussion is about the things I would do after my release from prison and the challenges I will likely face.
After prison release, the first thing that I would do is to find a sound support system in the community. That is, I would look for mentors and helpers who will help me have an easy transition back into community life. This includes having someone who will provide housing or be with my family, and look for friends who will impact my life positively by helping me to socialize and integrate with the other community members and help me beat the boredom and withdrawal that also hinder me from being overtaken by the societal stigma. I would also focus on therapy sessions to help maintain my behaviour change program, ease up on my transformation journey, and help me forget the past.
Having settled in a comfortable household and having a sound support system, I would also engage in more socialization that will help me in building networks and also help me with securing employment. Having a job will help in having income to help with my upkeep and also make me independent and open to learning. I would also ensure I check on my mental health and behaviours around people and avoid people who bring negativity around me. Having undergone a reforming process in prison and acquired some skills, I would also focus on establishing myself as a good brand and selling the skills I have learnt by planning how to start a business.
Reintegrating with the community is one of the hardest things parolees go through, as they are usually discriminated against, and society often has a negative perception of them (Moak et al.,2020). However, to help cope with my life after jail, I would ensure that I have a robust support system to help overcome the challenges. One of the biggest challenges that I would encounter in life after the jail is not knowing where to begin. As a parole and away from the family and the community, one of them has an alloy to deal with to ensure their life is back to normal. This includes reconnecting with family, friends and other community members, securing employment, and finding a house or home to live in, among others. Finding a way into the community may be stressful and hard to deal with, especially if one was jailed in their youth and released as an adult. I will have a hard time trying to reconnect with my friends and extended family members.
Another challenge that I would face is family strain. Reforming my life back to normal requires high family support in terms of finances to help me settle my life back to normal (Jones, 2018). Although most family members step in a big way to help, the efforts often decrease with time, leaving the nuclear family with many responsibilities. At the time, finances may become limited and make it hard for the family to help in coping and helping the parolee to transition quickly back into their everyday life. Financial strain, however, is one of the minor problems the family will encounter; understanding the rules that I will have to live by will be another challenge I will face with my family. Being from a humble background having all the members understand the rules I will have to abide by might result in negative experiences with some of the family members resulting in conflicts and stress in the family relationships.
Another challenge I am likely to encounter is securing or finding employment—having a historical record of being inside the bars, very few people trust your behaviour change. Most employers often end up discriminating against the paroles since they do not want to associate their companies with persons with criminal records (Thornton,2018). Besides, it is not easy for parole to walk into a company and submit their job application letters and curriculum vitae. This is because most employers often require them to explain the gap between their work experience or the criminal records in their cover letters and why they were incarcerated. Besides being withdrawn from the community, I have lost much social capital, meaning that I have few connections to the people with the most incredible wealth in helping me find employment.
Finally, being paroled and facing life after jail is one of the most challenging processes that one has to endure. Focusing on building and understanding the self is the most important thing one should focus on after the jail release; seeking a comfortable home and a robust support system around oneself is an excellent step to coping with life after jail. Not knowing where to begin, family strain, and the struggle to find employment are the standards and most significant challenges that every parole is likely to face after release.
Moak, S. C., Walker, J. T., Earwood, M., & Towery, G. (2020). Using reentry simulations to promote changes in attitude toward offenders: Experiential learning to promote successful reentry. American journal of criminal justice, 45(1), 126-144.
Jones, A. (2018). Correctional control 2018: Incarceration and supervision by state. Prison Policy Initiative, 12(11).
Thornton, D. G. (2018). The effects of institutional discrimination on the successful reentry of ex-offenders (Doctoral dissertation).