The First Few Days of Life after Imprisonment

Society has an expectation that once an inmate is set free he or she can just jump right back into life, but that isn’t the way it works. The best way to get back into normal life after incarceration is to take a few baby steps the first few days.

Delay the Party

Friends and family are excited when you are released and often want to throw a large welcome home party right away. After being institutionalized, you will probably need a few days of peace and quiet before being able to face a crowd. Don’t be afraid to ask them to wait on the party for a week or two, or even longer, so you can fully enjoy the celebration.

Contact the Parole Office

If you are on parole, contact your parole officer right away. Not doing so will get you started on the wrong foot with the officer, and it could cause a violation. Go over all rules of supervision and ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Request a written copy of those rules so you can refer to them when needed.

Job Search

Goodwill has career centers nationwide that work with felons to secure employment. Call your local Goodwill Center and ask them if they have a career center and/or training, and if not, where the closest one is. Make an appointment for later in the week. You need a few days to adjust to being out, but shouldn’t wait too long before searching for work.

Network by asking everyone you know (who knows you have been incarcerated) if they know someone who is hiring and will hire someone with a record. Putting in applications only to be rejected is hard, but it is a numbers game. If you concentrate on applying to all companies recommended by friends, the Goodwill Career Center and other felon friendly organizations, you will increase your odds of getting a job.

Be willing to take any job in the beginning. The goal is to obtain employment and build a good work history so you will have a reference if you later want to change jobs.

Reconnect to Society

Whether it is church, a photography club or something else, find something that interests you and take part in it. You obviously need to avoid old running buddies, but can’t be expected to sit in the house without any friends. Choose activities that are interesting and do not involve drinking and drugs, and begin to rebuild your social circle. Meet Up can be an easy and casual way to get started.

Final thought: Being released can be scary. The longer you were incarcerated, the more of an adjustment you may have but with some careful planning and taking care to get on the right footing, you can get back into life and move forward.

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writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.