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RECENT BLOG POSTS


Incarceration and the Cycle of Recidivism

I had an interesting conversation with my cousin who was recently released from incarceration. This was his second prison term and he says that this time he plans to stay home. I was curious as to how it must feel to be released from incarceration and return a short while … Continue reading

The post Incarceration and the Cycle of Recidivism appeared first on Life After Prison.

Stiffer Surveillance of Violent Offenders On Parole in DC

Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of Washington, DC, is in the process of laying out plans to stop what is said to be a spike in crime in the District of Columbia. The Mayor and at least two City Council Members have called for implementing policies that will call for searches … Continue reading

The post Stiffer Surveillance of Violent Offenders On Parole in DC appeared first on Life After Prison.

Sex Offenders Get a Bad Rap, But Are They All Criminals?

Prison reform and reentry seem to be the hottest topics these days. Some people believe that criminal justice concerns are the civil rights issue of the new millennium. There are countless advocates, activists and practitioners working on behalf of target populations that have been touched by the criminal justice system. … Continue reading

The post Sex Offenders Get a Bad Rap, But Are They All Criminals? appeared first on Life After Prison.

Searching for Employment After Incarceration

Yesterday I met with a woman who is looking for a job after incarceration. She explained to me that she was arrested for assaulting her husband who was abusing her. She served three years in prison for defending herself when she could no longer take the regular beatings. I asked … Continue reading

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Free Her Conference

Recently I participated in the Free Her Conference: Gender Responsive Criminal Justice Reform in Boston, Massachusetts at Harvard University Law School. It was a mindboggling experience, organized by Families for Justice as Healing. Women from all over the U.S. came out to share information about gender specific criminal justice reform. … Continue reading

The post Free Her Conference appeared first on Life After Prison.

Visiting Loved Ones in Prison

This month I was privileged to help facilitated a visitation trip to FCC Hazelton. The Federal Correctional Complex Hazelton has three facilities that house maximum security men, medium security men and medium security women. Over 70 family members boarded two busses to take the three-hour drive from Washington, DC to … Continue reading

The post Visiting Loved Ones in Prison appeared first on Life After Prison.

President Obama Visits a Federal Prison

We are all well aware of the complex dilemma America faces as the nation with the largest prison population. I’m pleased to know that the nation is taking a serious look at reforming the criminal justice system. In July of 2015, President Obama pardoned 46 people, several who were serving … Continue reading

The post President Obama Visits a Federal Prison appeared first on Life After Prison.

Disclosing a Criminal Past

Yesterday, on Thursday, July 9th at 7:00pm, I participated in a special program with a local radio and television station, WHUR, HUR-Voices, and WHUT-TV. We had a thought provoking conversation about how to combat youth violence. The panel discussion entitled, ‘Not One More’ provided me with an opportunity to share … Continue reading

The post Disclosing a Criminal Past appeared first on Life After Prison.

The Stigma of Prison, from the Gavel to the Grave

I went to Hawaii for vacation last week. That place is everything I dreamed it would be. I loved the blue water and the Aloha spirit that emanated all round me, but something upsetting happened there I wanted to share with you. I have served my time and completed my … Continue reading

The post The Stigma of Prison, from the Gavel to the Grave appeared first on Life After Prison.

Aging Out of Crime

I was pondering whether or not it is true that people age out of crime. Does serving a lengthy prison sentence make people stop committing crimes once they get out? I asked Sean Thompson-El, a 50-year-old Criminal Justice major who is a Graduate student at University of Illinois at Chicago. … Continue reading

The post Aging Out of Crime appeared first on Life After Prison.

Incarceration and the Cycle of Recidivism
I had an interesting conversation with my cousin who was recently released from incarceration. This was his second prison term and he says that this time he plans to stay home. I was curious as [...]
Stiffer Surveillance of Violent Offenders On Parole in DC
Muriel Bowser, the Mayor of Washington, DC, is in the process of laying out plans to stop what is said to be a spike in crime in the District of Columbia. The Mayor and at [...]
Sex Offenders Get a Bad Rap, But Are They All Criminals?
Prison reform and reentry seem to be the hottest topics these days. Some people believe that criminal justice concerns are the civil rights issue of the new millennium. There are countless advocates, activists and practitioners [...]
Searching for Employment After Incarceration
esterday I met with a woman who is looking for a job after incarceration. She explained to me that she was arrested for assaulting her husband who was abusing her. She served three years in [...]
Free Her Conference
Recently I participated in the Free Her Conference: Gender Responsive Criminal Justice Reform in Boston, Massachusetts at Harvard University Law School. It was a mindboggling experience, organized by Families for Justice as Healing. Women from all over the [...]
President Obama Visits a Federal Prison
We are all well aware of the complex dilemma America faces as the nation with the largest prison population. I’m pleased to know that the nation is taking a serious look at reforming the criminal [...]
Visiting Loved Ones in Prison
This month I was privileged to help facilitated a visitation trip to FCC Hazelton. The Federal Correctional Complex Hazelton has three facilities that house maximum security men, medium security men and medium security women. Over [...]
Disclosing a Criminal Past
Yesterday, on Thursday, July 9th at 7:00pm, I participated in a special program with a local radio and television station, WHUR, HUR-Voices, and WHUT-TV. We had a thought provoking conversation about how to combat youth violence. The [...]
The Stigma of Prison, from the Gavel to the Grave
I went to Hawaii for vacation last week. That place is everything I dreamed it would be. I loved the blue water and the Aloha spirit that emanated all round me, but something upsetting happened [...]
Aging Out of Crime
I was pondering whether or not it is true that people age out of crime. Does serving a lengthy prison sentence make people stop committing crimes once they get out? I asked Sean Thompson-El, a [...]
Life on Parole
Imagine what it would be like if you had to account to someone regarding every aspect of your life, forever. What if you had to send someone proof of employment once a month? Imagine how [...]
Abandoning My Children When I Was Incarcerated
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get over the grief and shame of abandoning my children for 18 years when I was incarcerated. When I went away, my son was 10 months old and [...]
Prison Families: A Survival Strategy for Incarcerated Women
Last weekend I stayed in a vacation rental in the Poconos with 10 women I had served time with. In total, we served over 140 years in prison. Being with them brought so much joy [...]
Love Inside and Outside of Prison
For the past six months I have been in a long distance relationship with the man of my dreams. I only get to see him every three to four weeks. Either I fly to his [...]
How Supporting Inmates Can Be A Coping Strategy for the Formerly Incarcerated
It is critical to understand your history and then be true to one self in such a way that one’s connection to the suffering of others is an integral part of understanding yourself. Dr. Cornel West [...]
Should Pell Educational Grants be reinstated for Prisoners?
It’s possible that educational Pell grants will be given to prisoners again on a limited basis. They were awarded in the past, but during the Clinton administration there was a change in policy and those [...]
A Long-Awaited Visit to a Mother In Prison
I took a young man to visit his mother who is serving 36 years in Federal Prison. Jamilla, the mother, has been incarcerated for 15 years. Her son Carter is now 18 years old. I [...]
Life in Transition: A Year after D.C. Bans the Box video
Video: View it here  For an update on progress nationally, according to bantheboxcampaign.org: “Campaign’s Success to Date: Today over 45 cities and counties, including New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, and San Francisco have [...]
Women, Re-entry and Everyday Life: Time to Work?
Yesterday I attended a training with the theme of women and reentry entitled, Women, Re-entry and Everyday Life: Time to Work? Dr. Venezia Michalsen facilitated the event. The training was based on a research study conducted by [...]
My Experience With Unicor Prison Industries
The other day I was reflecting on my personal experience with Unicor Industries, better known as Prison factories. I worked in Unicor several times while I was incarcerated in FCI Danbury and earned enough money to purchase [...]
Coping with Mother’s Day When You Have Been Incarcerated
Around the time of Mother’s Day, I can’t help but reflect on my anti-social responses to such events. During my incarceration I learned to accept my inability to be with my family during special occasions. [...]
Trauma in Prison and in Reentry
Yesterday I went into the Correctional Treatment Facility (C.T.F.) to meet with the women incarcerated there who are preparing for reentry. I met with about 30 women in two housing units to share information with [...]
The Heart Break of a Child with a Parent in Prison
I know a young man named Carter who is 18 years old who lives in Chicago and his mother is in prison serving a LIFE sentence. She has been in prison most of his life. [...]
Women Serving LIFE Behind Bars
I had dinner with my God-Mother today. When I was incarcerated she was my prison mother. She practically raised me. She shared a website with me of a non-profit foundation known as CAN-DO. They advocate for [...]
President Obama Commuted 22 Prison Sentences
On March 31, 2015 President Obama commuted the sentences of 22 U.S. Prisoners, all of whom were serving lengthy sentences for drug-related crimes. It must have been a shocking surprise when those individuals received a [...]
My Experience with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)
In the next month or so I will begin going into D.C. Jail to talk to the women who are incarcerated there about reentry resources and basic life skills to assist with their reintegration into [...]
Life as a ‘A Missouri Incorrigible’ in Special Management Facility (SMF)
One of the things I find most perplexing about incarcerated men is how they are able to withstand such lengthy periods in the hole, or in segregation, locked down in their cells. Women in prison [...]
Getting a Felon’s Voting Rights Restored in Louisiana
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights given to American citizens, however, once convicted of a felony, whether or not that right will be restored to you is up to the state that you [...]
Role Models and Their Impact on My Criminality and Reentry
My name is Curtis Brothers. Growing up I had guys in my neighborhood that tried to tell me to do the right thing in life, but I always let their advice slip in one ear [...]
He Expected Probation, Instead He Went to Jail.
My name is Jonathan. I thought I was going to get probation. Everyone I knew got probation for the same charge, but when I was called in front of the judge, he sentenced me to [...]
How to Survive Prison
Most people know the importance of working out and staying physically fit to survive prison, but mental strength and attitude play a huge role in getting through incarceration. Expand Your Skills If the prison offers [...]
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 [...]
Pregnant and Imprisoned
My name is Ashley. My probation officer violated me and had me sent to jail for three months. I was four months pregnant at the time. When I got to the jail, I told them [...]
Checking In To Prison – Aaron’s Story
When the judge sentenced me to six months in the county jail, my first thought was about my family. Without me there to work and pay the bills, my wife and kids would lose the [...]
Should I Tell My Kids I am an Addict?
If your children are over the age of six or seven they should be told if you are addicted to drugs. Children aren’t stupid, and no matter how much you think you are keeping the [...]
Wrongful Convictions: Innocent People Serving Time
Lately I’ve been watching videos about the exoneration of Derrick Wheat, Laurese Glover and Eugene Johnson, three young men recently released after serving 20 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit. Their release [...]
20 Years of Crazy
My brother was once a repeat offender who was in and out of prison like there was a revolving door. He started going to jail when he was about 13 years old, when he was [...]
Lashonia Etheridge-Bey Videos on Crime, Prison and Reentry
The Prison Dilemma, a video project exploring mass incarceration and the movement for criminal justice reform, has released two new video documentaries on Lashonia Etheridge-Bey. Part One: Lashonia discusses how she lost herself to a life [...]
A Male View: Traumatic Incarceration and Reentry
My younger brother Spanky served 12 years in prison. He is now in the thick of the reentry process. I often wonder how it must feel for him to be sleeping on the couch in [...]
Drug Abuse, Criminality and Recovery
I have been reflecting on drug abuse and criminality over the last few days. When I was incarcerated I saw countless women recycled throughout the prison system on violations due to relapse and probation/parole violations. [...]
Notorious Female Criminals in the United States Infographic
For decades, the number of women being convicted of felonies has been rising. The rate is not only changing, but it’s changing fast. Are women racing to prison? Is this a competition to see who’s [...]
Five Reasons to Go to Drug Rehab and Stay Out of Jail
You know you have a problem, because lately your life has been falling apart. But going to rehab or seeking outpatient treatment seems like a drastic measure, because you’re still surviving. Think about getting help [...]
Honoring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals at CSOSA
Yesterday I attended a Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) award ceremony in Washington, D.C. for Returning Citizens who are making strides to successfully reintegrate and for mentors who are working tirelessly to make [...]
Family Reunification after Incarceration
Some people say that when you are incarcerated you have to learn to live inside the prison walls and leave the outside world on the outside. The funny thing is that life on the outside [...]
Handling Death after Incarceration
It was in February 2015 that I lost my niece. She was 41 years old. We were more like sisters because we were born one month apart. My family members tell stories about how babysitting [...]
Restrictions on Greeting Cards for Inmates
Understanding what jails mean by “plain” cards and why they require them helps ensure your inmate’s holiday or greeting cards arrive on time. The facility’s website might have a vague statement about only sending “plain” [...]
What Info Can I Get From An Inmate Search?
Nothing is scarier than a missing person. You’re frantic to find out what happened. Then it hits you: Maybe your loved one got arrested. Many jails have websites that allow you to look up inmates [...]
Understanding Inmate Calling Plans
Most jails and prison contract with third party vendors to provide a way for inmates to call their friends and families. Some of those companies only have one choice, but many of them provide a [...]
Inmate Care Packages and How They Work
If your inmate is incarcerated in a jail that offers a care package program, you can have some fun surprising your inmate from time to time with a box full of things that you’ve personally [...]
Finding a Job after Incarceration Begins in the Mind
I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine, Rhonda Lewis, about getting employed after being in prison and how it relates to being positive and the law of attraction. Rhonda is an aspiring entrepreneur [...]
A Guide to Inmate Visitation Online
Jails across the nation are catching on to the popularity of offering remote, “at-home,” visitation. Not only is it convenient for jail staff, inmates, and family members, but it is also a way for the [...]
Incarcerated Women’s Mental Health Challenges
Prior to my incarceration, I had little or no knowledge about mental health conditions that adversely impact women, such as Bulimia, Anorexia, and Cutting. To be honest, I learned what little I did know from [...]
Inmate Mail: How to Get an Envelope or Post Card Pre-Metered
If the facility that your inmate is in will only accept pre-metered mail, it is important to know how to get that done. Sticking a regular stamp on it and sending it will only get [...]
Women in Reentry – Beatrice Codianni – Teresa Guidice’s Bust
Beatrice Codianni is a 66-year-old woman who served 15 years in prison after her conviction for Racketeering. She was a well-known gang leader who was released in 2008 from FCI Danbury. She went on to [...]
Coordinating Inmate Visitation To Minimize Conflicts
Most jails allow three to five visitors to see an inmate at the same time. Problems can come about when too many people want to be there simultaneously. Managing the visitation schedule will reduce stress [...]
Women In Reentry: Overcoming Emotional Deprivation and Vulnerability
Incarceration is traumatic. For women it’s particularly emotionally damaging. I guess if it’s true that women are emotional creatures by nature that would explain the damages to some extent. We do know that women are [...]
How to Send a Book to an Inmate
Almost all jails and prisons require that books be sent to inmates directly from the publisher or a reputable online vendor, such as Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. This requirement actually makes it simpler for you because [...]
Hope Is Essential While Serving Time In Prison
Someone once told me that they saw a sign inside of a prison where they were housed that read, “Welcome to Hell. Leave all of your hopes and dreams behind.” I couldn’t phantom something so [...]
The Execution of Larry Griffin and What it Meant to Others
Stories about the experiences of serving time with men who are on death row always incite my compassion. I have learned about friendships on death row, and I try to imagine what it’s like to [...]
What’s the Difference between Jails and Prisons?
Both jails and prisons house inmates but there are some important differences in what the two institutions are used for. Sentenced or Not? People accused of crimes but not yet convicted are held in county [...]
What to do if a Family Member Goes Missing
When a family member goes missing, it strikes fear in the heart of loved ones but panicking will not help the situation. The following steps can narrow the search and if authorities become involved will [...]
Visiting jail for the first time? Here’s what to expect.
Visiting an inmate in jail for the first time is like waiting to see a dentist. The anticipation and worry constantly increases until you are there and you realize it was not as bad as [...]
Christmas in Prison
I’m sitting here reminiscing on the years I spent behind bars, and I can’t help but recall the holiday seasons I lived through. To be exact, I spent 18 Christmases and 17 New Years days [...]
Three Ways to Make Jail Calls Cheaper
Telephone calls are a lifeline between inmates and their families. Just hearing each other’s voices helps ease the tension and anxiety surrounding incarceration. As nice as it is to get those calls, they can get [...]
The Truth about Prison Phone Calls
Your inmate needs to stay connected to friends and family. While lots of information can be shared on the phone, precautions must be taken so that everyone involved can avoid having future problems. Phone Calls [...]
How to Get Your Visitation Suspension Lifted
The hardest part of having your jail visits suspended indefinitely is not having any idea when or if you are going to be able to visit your inmate again. In most cases, visits are suspended [...]
Five Fun Photo Ideas to Send Pictures to Your Inmate
Face it. You can only send so many selfies, family group shots or photos of the dog on the couch to your inmate before it becomes boring for both of you. Try these ideas to [...]
With One Free Jail Call, Who Should I Reach Out To When I Get Arrested?
Anyone who has been incarcerated will tell you that once you are booked, given inmate attire, and assigned to a housing unit, your connection with the outside world is greatly reduced. During the booking process [...]
Finding Employment After Prison
Many companies will not interview a felon, much less hire one. While this is true and it can make life on the outside difficult, finding employment after prison can be done if you take the [...]
Solitary Confinement for Teenagers is a Bad Idea. Here’s What We Can Do About It.
Inhumane disciplinary isolation for incarcerated children is causing suicides and other harm. All who believe that teenagers deserve special attention at their time of need will be interested in the recommendations in this New York [...]
Supervision after Incarceration Is Not that Difficult
Today I can’t help but reminisce about the women I left behind in Federal Prison. Some of them are serving LIFE sentences for lesser crimes than I have committed. Yesterday I went to a Mass [...]
Consequences of Contraband Mail
At some point you might be tempted to mail contraband to your inmate. After all, how much trouble will it really cause, right? The answer is, plenty. The consequences of being caught mailing contraband to [...]
Why Commissary is Important
Commissary funds are deposited to an inmate’s account so he or she can purchase personal hygiene items, stationery supplies and snacks. Some lists also offer clothing, electronics, books and phone cards, among other things. A [...]
When Your Online Search Doesn’t Find Your Inmate
Many jails have online databases listing those who have been arrested. In some cases, the database is updated every few minutes. If you do a search but nothing comes up, it doesn’t necessarily mean your [...]
The Three Most Dangerous Prisons in America
There are many factors that go into choosing the most dangerous prisons in the USA. The media spotlights isolated cases of prison violence, which makes that facility seem dangerous. The fact is there is danger [...]
Time Inmate Visitation So it Works
Many jails provide a variety of visitation options during the week and you should take advantage of this if you can. Though your inmate will be thrilled to see you at any time, strategic scheduling [...]
Prison Skills Applied After Release
Getting out of prison and starting over is not easy, but with a little creative thinking, you can use the abilities you learned while incarcerated into useful tools for life. Organization – Almost everyone who [...]
How to find out if you’ve been a Victim of Fraud
In most cases of fraud, the victim’s identity is stolen and unauthorized purchases are made. News stories report victims making the discovery after they are thousands of dollars in debt for things they never purchased. [...]
Average Prison Sentence Per Offense
The one thing that is consistent about US prison sentences is their inconsistency. Each state sets its own rules to use for each criminal offense. The more serious crimes, called felonies, are typically given longer [...]
Sean Thompson-El is a Man Who Achieved His Goals, Despite Nearly 30 Years in Prison
Sean Thompson-El is a 49-year old man who has spent almost 30 years in prison. He was released four years ago and he had a five-year plan that he put into action. He wanted to [...]
Consequences of Introducing Contraband
It might be tempting to bring your inmate something from the outside, but doing so can have very serious consequences. If your inmate asks you to bring something illegal into the facility, he or she [...]
Four Tips for Re-Entry
“The world that we left was long gone. The danger was that our ideas had become frozen in time. Prison is a still point in a turning world, and it is very easy to remain [...]
Darius Clark Monroe’s Film, Evolution of a Criminal, and Thoughts on College After Incarceration
Last week I participated in a panel discussion following the screening of a film called Evolution of a Criminal, by Darius Clark Monroe. The film was a self-made documentary about Darius Clark’s decision to rob a [...]
Missing Phyllis Hardy: Remembering a Senior Citizen in Prison
It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and as the Christmas holiday draws near, I can’t help but think about a women I left behind in federal prison. When I was incarcerated the most exciting time during [...]
Fun Ideas to Mail to Your Inmate
Mail is a great way to communicate with your inmate. In addition to serious letters, here are some fun ways to amuse each other through the mail. These can be done on postcards or letters. [...]
How To Keep an Inmate Involved in the Lives of the Children
One of the hardest things for an inmate to deal with is being removed from his or her children. Not being there for daily routines means missing out on much of the child’s development and [...]
Pregnant and in Prison – Now What?
Going to prison or jail while you are pregnant sometimes can’t be helped, but you will need to be sure you get the proper treatment and medical care while incarcerated. You’ll also need to make [...]
Your Rights as a Pregnant Inmate
If you are incarcerated and pregnant, you need to be sure you notify the prison staff immediately. You will be given a pregnancy test to be sure you are expecting. If you are, some changes [...]
Is the Search for Happiness after Incarceration Harder?
Someone asked me recently, “How are Returning Citizens different from the ordinary person in regard to the search for happiness?” Happiness is one of the most important elements of existence. One doesn’t have to be [...]
Searching for Happiness after Incarceration
I just had my 41st birthday this week and it’s been very challenging. I had many friends try to get me out of the house to celebrate, but I just wasn’t in the mood. If there [...]
What Happens if You Bond Someone Out and That Person Flees?
In the chaos of an arrest it is easy to get caught up in the moment and race to bail someone out of jail. Bonding someone out is not hard to do, but if that [...]
Best Days for Inmate Phone Calls
As much as you would like to talk to your inmate each day, the cost of inmate phone calls makes this impossible for most people. If your budget can only handle a couple of calls [...]
Parents in Jail: Getting a Preschool-aged Child Ready to Visit
Preschool-aged children are very attached to their parents. If one of them is suddenly arrested and incarcerated it can cause lots of anxiety. Allowing the child to visit the parent can help alleviate those fears [...]
How Long Does it Take to Reintegrate After incarceration? Is There An Answer?
I am perplexed by the daunting question of how much time it takes to reintegrate after prison. Maybe there is no concrete answer and it’s purely subjective. I find myself asking many of my acquaintances [...]
After Prison, How Much Help Is Too Little or Too Much?
I spent some time talking to a dear friend who spent 20 years in prison. When he became incarcerated he was 20 years old. He has been home for five years. We spoke at length [...]
Fun Ideas for Inmate Mail
Writing to your inmate is an invaluable way to communicate. You’ll have your share of serious life issues letters, but here are some fun ways to entertain each other through letters. These can be done [...]
Deciding How Much Money to Put on the Books
What does the inmate need? Contact the jail and ask what basics are supplied. Most jails give the inmates toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap and toilet paper. Ask them what happens if the inmate runs out [...]
Cost Effective Ways to Visit an Inmate
The expenses of traveling to visit your inmate can add up quickly. These cost saving measures will make it less painful for your budget. Traveling by car Gas up early Gas up on a weekday. [...]
Why The Male Model Doesn’t Work for Women Inmates
This is content sponsored by Netflix (producers of Orange Is The New Black) for the New York Times. There are some interesting facts and a few videos worth watching if you are concerned with the [...]
What is an Inmate Money or Commissary Account?
Most jails and prisons in America allow friends and family members of inmates to make deposits to inmate money accounts. They are set up to give the inmate access to various services including commissary purchases [...]
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