Life after Prison / Reentry

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 parole stipulations, yet I am still threatened by the sting of stigma, and this followed me to Hawaii.

My fiancé… Read more

Life after Prison / Reentry

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. “Both are true,” he said. Sean served a total of 28 years in prison on two separate occasions. Was Sean… Read more

Life after Prison / Reentry

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 it would feel to have someone visit your home monthly to verify that you live there and observe your surroundings. What if you had to ask for permission every time you wanted to travel across… Read more

Life after Prison / Reentry

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 my daughter was three years old. By the time I was released, they were young adults. My daughter had a child of her own.

I feel so guilty about the pain they endured during our… Read more

Life after Prison / Reentry

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 to my heart. I was so excited I barely slept because I didn’t want to miss anything.

We went swimming, zip lining, paint balling and dancing. Some of the women even played Pinochle for the… Read more

Life after Prison / Reentry

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 city, or he flies to mine. Sometimes we drive and meet one another at a halfway point. It’s an 11-hour drive one way.

I’m reluctant to tell people how we met at times because we… Read more

Life after Prison / Reentry

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

This quote from Dr. West made me think about the many people serving lengthy sentences I left behind when I was released from prison. Many of them have done lesser things than I have… Read more

Life after Prison / Reentry

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 grants to inmates were eliminated. I was recently speaking with a friend about how the education of an incarcerated or formerly incarcerated person can change the direction of that person’s life for the better.

A… Read more