Do some people prefer prison to freedom? If so, why?

We have a friend that got out of his 2nd stay in prison. He got his gate money and had nowhere to go. He went to his ex wife’s house, and waited on the porch for her to come home. He had a bag of his property in one hand and his see through tv in the other. Her current husband knew him, they were both from the same neighborhood and knew he was getting out, so it wasn’t a total shock. They told him he could stay on their couch for a few weeks as long as he looked for work and a place to live.

He found a job and a woman he was writing to while he was in prison, took him in. He did well for the first few months. Told everyone he’s never going back again, and was going to stay clean and do all the right things. I believe he tried. But, he wasn’t prepared to deal with every day life. Going to work, paying bills, making lots of decisions – for him, prison worked. He had structure and for what it’s worth, some type of support system. He wants to spend more time with my husband and other guys that have been successful after prison but they don’t want to be around him because he’s exactly the kind of guy that will do something to get locked up again (drugs in his car at a traffic stop, stealing something, illegal and/or generally stupid behavior ).

He hasn’t gone back yet but started using drugs again. I’ve heard some things from other people, nothing good. Not to say that prison isn’t hard, but life in society is hard. Doing the right thing, making good decisions when no one is watching, taking care of your responsibilities – that’s hard too. Maybe too hard for some people.

Bizarrely, it happens. Especially long term prisoners, who are secure and settled and have adapted to the environment. They have their needs met, and although they long for the days of freedom, they know that if they got out, they would go back to their criminal ways because that’s what they know, and won’t learn anything else. As if learning to be law-abiding is some sort of “compromise” with society, or as if they are violating some weird, imaginary, “convict code of ethics”, which some prisoners claim exists but strains the realm of irony that people who spent their lives breaking rules, laws, and customs at leisure would create a set of “rules” or “code” of their own. It is an illustration of why such boundaries are necessary, but the psychopath’s view is basically that THEY shouldn’t have boundaries, everyone else should. Anyway, if their basic needs are met, they adapt and get comfortable, out of spite if no other reason, because if the carrot-on-the-stick attitude of the parole board doesn’t control them, there is little else they can do. It is basically a battle of the wills between the convict and the authorities, which are parental figures, and re-creates the dynamics between them as a child/teenager and rebellion against their parents. Except these parents have guns. They also hear about the new technology and developments in the world, which has gone on without them, and people who have moved on without them, and they realize that they have no place in the new society anymore. It would not be worth the effort to them, and it IS an effort, the try re-adapting and adjusting to the new world in which we live, that they are extremely unprepared to deal with.

Some people are acclimated to the routine in prison. They are institutionalized having not had to care for or make decisions for themselves.

Imagine 35 years for example of this routine whether it is in general population, the hole or as a trusty. You get up every morning, are guided through your day and it doesn’t change. You might have a few transfers but for the most part you will be back in your routine.

Now, after 35 years your friends and family are mostly all dead or gone. You’ve managed to scrape together 214.34 cents and with the 100 dollars the state gives you with your cheap suit (all dollar amounts are hypothetical). You are released into society with whatever pitiful support system you have… or don’t have…

Where would you be most comfortable…?

There are probably some that have been incarcerated for so long and are so institutionalized that adjusting to the outside would be difficult. They might prefer to stay inside. There is also a phenomenon that occurs during the winter when homeless commit minor offenses so that they might get locked up for the winter months, not necessarily prison, but a few take it that far.

Prison sucks because it is full of mean people.

Freedom, what good is it? Freedom doesn’t keep me warm, doesn’t keep me dry, doesn’t keep me fed. Freedom doesn’t even keep me safe.

Freedom is a dream of opportunity. It is hope withering on a vine. Until opportunity comes along, prison offers food and shelter. Prison is where we go when hope abandons us.

But, then prison has those mean people.

A “lazy”

B “Gay”

C “No selfasteen”