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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 or This requirement actually makes it simpler for you because [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
Drastically Reduce the Cost of Calls from Your Out of State Inmate
Most facilities contract with a third-party company so you can fund prepaid calls, but if those calls are long distance, it can become cost-prohibitive. Luckily there is a way to pay local call rates for [...]
Get a Special Visit If You Live Far From the Jail
The logistics of visiting an inmate who is incarcerated very far from where you live can be tricky. If the jail has very short visits or requires a specific visitation registration processes, it makes it [...]
Parental Visitation: Know the keys to Helping Your Child Visit Their Parent in Jail
Children typically desire contact with their parents, even if a parent is incarcerated, so learn the ropes to keep the connection going: Keep it Simple Depending on the age of the child, you can explain [...]
How Does a Bail Bond Process Work?
Many states allow defendants to be released from jail to wait for court by paying a percentage of the total bond amount. Percentages range from 10 to 20 percent depending on state law. Understand how [...]
Can I Visit an Inmate if I am on Probation or Parole?
A friend or family member has been arrested and this has created chaos and stress. Before you race off to visit him or her in jail, if you are on probation or parole you need [...]
What Does a 15 Years to Life Sentence Mean?
A sentence of 15 years to life, 25 years to life or similar sounding words all mean the same thing. The only difference is the time frame. What the Number Means The number in the [...]
Consequences of Providing Contraband to an Inmate
It is never a good idea to mail contraband to an inmate or to bring it on a visit. The consequences for such actions are serious not only for the inmate, but also for you. [...]
Voting Rights for Felons in Alabama
The state of Alabama allows felons to have their voting rights restored under the following guidelines. You must have completed your entire sentence, including incarceration, probation, and parole, or community supervision. Once completed, you have [...]
Maine Marijuana Laws: Decriminalized but Still Tricky
Decriminalizing Pot doesn’t always mean it is completely legal. Here are some current guidelines. Possession Unlike several other states that chose an ounce as the cutoff for a civil penalty, Maine allows you to possess [...]
4 Good Places to Find Prison Pen Pals
Learn About Them Through friends. If you know someone who is incarcerated or has a family member incarcerated, ask for the name of an inmate who might like having a pen pal. This is an [...]
Can a Felon Possess a Gun In Georgia?
Georgia law is very clear on its position regarding convicted felons in that state owning or possessing firearms: It follows the federal law when it comes to guns and felons. The Basics: With the exception [...]
Getting a Felon’s Voting Rights Restored in Massachusetts
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights given to American citizens, but that right can be lost if you’re a convicted felon. It’s up to the each state to decide their laws about restoring [...]
Massachusetts Marijuana Laws
Decriminalizing Marijuana doesn’t always mean it is completely legal. In some cases, such as in Massachusetts, possession of less than an ounce is no longer a crime but is now a civil offense. Possession It [...]
Can a Felon Own a Gun In New Mexico?
Generally speaking, federal law makes it a crime for a convicted felon to own or possess a gun or ammunition.  If you were convicted of a federal felony crime, you must receive a presidential pardon [...]
Why Doesn’t An Addict Get Clean After Overdosing?
As told by an addict who overdosed and almost died twice before giving up drugs. How often did you get high before you overdosed? By the time I overdosed the first time, I was getting [...]
When the Newness of Sobriety Wears Off
Sobriety is like a love relationship. When you start out, everything is exciting and new. When I first got clean, everything I read, saw and heard about sobriety was very attractive to me. I spent [...]
He is a Drug Addict, but he Keeps Passing Drug Tests – How?
The probation department has the ability to send a test off to be examined for tampering, but you don’t have those same connections. Understanding how they can be cheated will help you test him more [...]
Getting a Felon’s Voting Rights Restored in Hawaii
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights given to American citizens, however, once you’ve been convicted of a felony, whether or not that right will be restored to you is up to the state [...]
5 Ways to Help an Addict While he is Away at Rehab
Unless your friend is still living at home with parents and has no bills or responsibilities, he/she is going to need some help while at rehab. The five main reasons addicts worry about being gone [...]
Bio-chemical treatment for Alcohol Addiction
One method of treatment for alcoholism is the bio-chemical method. While other recovery paths concentrate on powerlessness over addictions and the acceptance of a higher power, the bio-chemical treatment places importance on stabilizing the brain’s [...]
Getting a Felon’s Voting Rights Restored in Illinois
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 [...]
Getting a Felon’s Voting Rights Restored in Florida
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights given to American citizens, but once you’re convicted of a felony, whether or not that right will be restored to you is up to the state that [...]
Can a Felon Possess a Gun In Illinois?
Illinois law allows certain convicted felons to own or possess guns. Federal law still makes it a crime, and in some cases the feds have pursued prosecution in states that allow it. Only an attorney [...]
What Happens When an Illegal Immigrant Commits a Crime?
If and undocumented immigrant is charged with committing a crime, there can be three different legal outcomes. 1. ICE Gets Involved The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enter information about an arrested immigrant into [...]
Are Penalties Stiffer For Selling Drugs in a Drug-Free School Zone?
Being accused of dealing drugs or having enough in your possession for resale is a serious situation, but many states have also implemented additional penalties for drug situations near a school. Each state sets its [...]
Getting a Felon’s Voting Rights Restored in Michigan
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 [...]
Can a Felon Own a Gun Oklahoma?
Generally speaking, federal law makes it a crime for a convicted felon to own or possess a gun or ammunition.  If you were convicted of a federal felony crime, you must receive a presidential pardon [...]
Can a Felon Possess a Gun In Colorado?
Colorado law allows certain convicted felons to own or possess guns. Federal law still makes it a crime to do so, and in some cases the feds have pursued prosecution of those who possess guns [...]
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 [...]
Can a Felon Possess a Gun In California?
California law allows some convicted felons to own or possess guns. Federal law still makes it a crime to do so, and in some cases the feds have pursued prosecution of those who possess guns [...]
What Type of Arrest Warrants Will Cause Social Security Benefits to Stop?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) can only stop your benefits if the arrest warrant is for a fleeing crime. If there is a warrant for something other than fleeing, it does not qualify for benefit [...]
5 Steps to Mailing Commissary Money to a Federal Inmate
In addition to these five steps below, keep in mind that when you mail the commissary funds, they must go through the United States Postal Service. You cannot use Federal Express, United Parcel or other [...]
4 Things to Tell Young Kids When Dad is In Jail
While your husband is incarcerated, your children will want to know what has happened. These four things can ease their mind without burdening them. Explain why he went. Without being specific about the exact crime [...]
You are on Felony Probation: 4 Things Not To Do
Being on felony probation means you report to a probation officer by phone or in person, typically once a month.  Between your reporting dates, you need to stay on your probation officer’s good side. 1.    [...]
How I Overcame Fear in Jail
Anyone sentenced to jail or prison for the first time is scared. If they tell you otherwise they are either lying or they’re mentally ill. Your imagination runs wild and every jailhouse show you have [...]
4 Things to Avoid During An Arrest
Only an attorney should advise you of your individual arrest situation but in general, these four suggestions may help stabilize your situation. Don’t try and argue your way out. In most cases, by the time [...]
Inmate Voting Rights: Can I Vote After Being Convicted of a Misdemeanor Offense?
In most states, once you are released from jail for your misdemeanor conviction your voting rights are fully restored. In some cases, you are still allowed to vote even while incarcerated. In the states of [...]
Losing SSI and SSDI Benefits While Incarcerated
Your husband goes to jail and you figure his Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits will at least help with the bills even though he is not home to receive [...]
Can a Deported Immigrant Get Back Into the U.S.?
Typically, once an immigrant is expelled from America, he is not allowed back into the country for any reason before a specific amount of time has passed, but in some instances he will be allowed [...]
Dealing with a Drug Addict: How I Started Letting Go
If you are dealing with an addict in your life, you already know that you won’t be able to keep it up forever. There will come a point where you will need to reclaim your [...]
Can a Felon Own a Gun In West Virginia?
West Virginia still requires you to receive a pardon from the governor’s office before you can own/possess a gun in that state. Obtaining a pardon in West Virginia is very difficult. Over a recent period [...]
Helpful Workout Routines if you are in State or Federal Prison
Incarceration is scary. It doesn’t matter how old or tough you are, fear is a natural response to being sent to prison. Not showing that fear is one of the most important things you can [...]
Drug Addiction and Anger: Why Should I Do Anything for Him After All He Did?
When your boyfriend was doing drugs, there was chaos everywhere he went.  Now that he completed rehab and is in recovery, he might need assistance with a few things to get started again. Putting your [...]
What if an Inmate Becomes Terminally Ill?
You were handling your husband’s incarceration by visiting once a month, writing constantly, and hearing him out during phone calls. Recently he was declared terminally ill, and all you want now is to spend his [...]
An Inmate Can Meditate to Alleviate Fears in Prison
If someone you know is in prison, you can be sure there is stress involved in that inmate’s daily life. Prisons are loud, can be dangerous and there is very little freedom. In addition, simply [...]
5 Things Not to Talk About During Jail Calls
When he calls, it is a natural instinct to talk to him about what’s going on in your life, but be careful. Never lie to him, but be smart about what topics you bring up [...]
5 Facts About Your Supplemental Security Income Payments While You Are Incarcerated
In many cases, you don’t have control over the number of days you spend in jail, but if you are planning on not bonding out in the hopes of building time on a future sentence [...]
What is an Interstate Compact Agreement for a Felon?
An Interstate Compact request made while you are on probation or parole can take a long time, but there is no other way to have your supervision transferred from one state to another without it.  [...]
A Bath Salt Addict Describes Why She Gave Them Up
How did you discover bath salts? I was on probation and my probation officer was giving me random drug tests. A friend told me that the current drug screens being used in my county didn’t [...]
Why and How Drugs Are Divided Into Different Classes and Levels
The class of drug is typically included in the criminal charge for possession, sale or use. For examples, the charge would read, “Possession of a Class I drug for resale,” or “Possession of a Class [...]
When 12-Step Programs Don’t Work For You
The 12-Step program is not the only method used in rehabs to assist addicts in getting clean and living sober lifestyles. Some rehabs accomplish the same goals through the following means: Medication Medications are available [...]
Caring for an Inmate, Even If You Can’t Visit the Jail or Prison
Visits are a lifeline for most inmates, but if his jail is very far away, or there are other reasons that make it impossible for you to visit, there are other steps you can take [...]