I Think My Brother is Institutionalized!

I think my brother is institutionalized. He has spent most of his life in and out of prison. Beginning at the age of 15 years old, he went from Juvenile facilities to the United States Penitentiary over a two-decade span of time. During one stint he spent 12 years in prison. He came home and stayed on the street for 18 months before he was back in again. The other day I ran across a journal entry that I wrote when I saw my brother while I was in the transitional house after my own release from prison. I really thought things would be different. Boy was I wrong…

Journal Entry
January 30, 2012

I saw my little brother today for the first time in almost two decades. He’s actually a grown man, 36 years old. But, he’s still my little brother.  He’s so tall and handsome. I am so very proud of him. I have to admit he was one of the most hardheaded delinquents you would ever not want to meet when we were growing up. God is truly merciful. Don’t try to keep up with how plentiful his blessings are. They are more than the hairs on your head. I never gave up on my brother, but I’ll admit that there were times when I felt like I’d never get through to him. I used to write him countless letters when we were incarcerated, talking to him about change, reform and progress. I had a mustard seed of faith in him. Now look at him. He came to visit me here at the transitional house and brought me a cute little outfit, a bracelet and a watch. I’m going to wear this outfit next week when I go job hunting. He was wearing his culinary uniform. I am so proud of him. He just completed a 12-year sentence and he is working a full time job. He has a lengthy juvenile record and a grade school education. I never thought he would get a job. I never thought he would do right. I thought he was institutionalized in all honesty. I’m surprised and pleased. He is doing so well. God is good.

My brother has since been re-arrested for Domestic Violence. He is now serving three years in a State Prison because he was unable to handle some hurt feelings. I believe that one of the most damaging effects of incarceration is the inability to effectively deal with interpersonal relationships. Being alone, ostracized, degraded and so deeply hurt can turn a seemingly strong prisoner into a vulnerable emotionally wreck of a person if one is not careful.



About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 

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