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Thread: your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

  1. #1
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    Oct 2006

    Default your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

    My guy will have been in prison for 20 years, if he ends up serving all his time. I was just thinking tonight about when he gets out, "IF" "HOW" and "WILL" he be just that, institutionalized. I am sure that if someone has the right influences in their life it can help with this, but how does one go about "desensetizing" their previous life behind bars? Does it just happen after you have been out a certain amount of time? What helps? What doesn't help. Does anyone else out there worry about this, and how it will affect your relationship once they are released? I know "jokenly" he has told me that all I need to do is ring a bell and he will come running to dinner. Will I trip on him in the middle of the night sleeping on the floor because the down comforter on the bed is just too soft? Seriously, if anyone has been incarcerated and would like to enlighten us with your thoughts, that would be much appreciated, also. . . to those who are waiting for their loved ones to get out. . . have you tallked about this, what you think will happen, how you are going to go about handling the sitution.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

    From everything i have read and discussed, and in no way am i saying i am knowledgeable, but i have thoughts only........ i don't think that you can expect anyone after spending more than 20 years inside a dog box to come out and not be effected for life. Be it the mattress too soft, so many choices that lead to a feeling of being overwhelmed and confused. Wanting to always be in a position their back is not exposed. Technology and traffic, everything moving too fast. Loud noises can effect those that have spent a great deal of time in solitary, and then you have social anxiety disorders. Some do not even understand privacy. Then you have all the other small things like how fast they will eat, and the way in which they eat. So many little things that you wouldn't even think of.
    Post Incarceration Syndrome, PICS is something you may want to read up on. I honestly believe you need a plan of attack for the time your loved one is released, if not professional help, then a great deal of patience and communication with both eye's open and an understanding and patient heart.
    I am sure they can be productive members in the free world, but not without their own personal scars from their life experiences behind the wire.
    Last edited by smiley; 02-25-2008 at 12:45 AM.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Default Re: your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

    That is a good question and something that I think about for my guy. He has not been in but like 2 or 3 years but he is facing 13 I think or was it 10 anyway I wonder about him too me and his mom talk all the time now and she tells me stories about him like how he was when he was growing up and I wondered too if he would at different it if that’s something that I could handle I feel that when they first come home you would have to be so selfless and there for them like they would a child don’t have kids so I really don’t know to do that. It was funny that it was noted on how they eat my friend baby daddy he spent time in county and when he first came home he would want to eat roman noodle and mix chips with them or other crazy stuff like that. So I guess we will have to read up on our prison gourmet. When I talk to my guy I’m going to ask and see how he thinks that he was be different from being locked away

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

    that is something that i think is going to take time and patience what a new world from 20 years ago ! there is no one to tell him when and what to do , everything will be such a big ajustment he may not admitt it but im sure he will be a little scared .He can now take a bath ,come and go as he pleases eat anything he wants not worry about being jumped and the big thing is he has you i think its got to be worse of someone who has nobody to try and ajust to life beyond the prison walls i can only compare to to a vietnam vet or a p.o.w im sure there will be flash backs and the memorys will never leave but thank -God he has you to help him threw it .I wish him luck and i hope he makes it.I have no person experiance with this but thats what i think it would be like
    Last edited by dragonfly; 02-25-2008 at 08:44 AM.
    A single rose can be my garden... a single friend, my world.
    ~ Leo Buscaglia

  5. #5

    Default Re: your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

    To tell you the truth each person experience is different and depends on many things such as where they serve time what classification in a Trusty is a whole different matter than some on doing 20 year bid in Ad seg and length of time served what is the conviction . A Child molester is going to come out very messed up and paranoid not to mention very physically abused . I do not condone it but hey you rape a kid going to prison is gona be living hell , as he will be a target inside for the get go if his conviction is and usually will be made known if they should be out at all .If you are a a ex Cop/CO inside you are in for a rough time as well a prosecutor etc . it depends in many things
    each state is different also .
    There is not any one answer for you . each person reacts differently to incarceration and release
    after 20 years there is not a question they will take A LOT of time adjusting and need to take it slow as should any of their friends in the free world . I promise you this it will not be wine and roses at all .
    Also any one in for 20 years did something very serious and that needs to be considered as well it will affect getting a job . how others view them and despite POP psychology those all matter and a lot . All the love in the world will not fix many things going slow and not having high expectations is the best advice I can give any one spend time together slowly getting to know each other . as friend or dating slowly if that is the intention is best never rush into things .

    BTW prison is rarely quite even late at night it is if anything very noisy maybe wen Being alone is of the things I think any one who served time can say is tough as well as not having a set time to do many things beyond that well it is very hard to say .
    Last edited by ASE; 02-25-2008 at 04:08 PM.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    East coast
    wolfdreamer's: Devilish

    Default Re: your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

    The movie The Shaw shank Redemption is a great start to wondering about institutionalized inmates. As others have said 20 years is along time out of someones life it wont be a easy road there will be bumps and twists all along the way. From the way they eat, to the way they sleep, any and all things in between.

    Few people are completely unchanged or unscathed by the experience. At the very least, prison is painful, and incarcerated persons often suffer long-term consequences from having been subjected to pain, deprivation, and extremely atypical patterns and norms of living and interacting with others. most people agree that the more extreme, harsh, dangerous, or otherwise psychologically-taxing the nature of the confinement, the greater the number of people who will suffer and the deeper the damage that they will incur.

    Like all processes of gradual change, of course, this one typically occurs in stages and, all other things being equal, the longer someone is incarcerated the more significant the nature of the institutional transformation. When most people first enter prison, of course, they find that being forced to adapt to an often harsh and rigid institutional routine, deprived of privacy and liberty, and subjected to a diminished, stigmatized status and extremely sparse material conditions is stressful, unpleasant, and difficult.

    Persons gradually become more accustomed to the restrictions that institutional life imposes. The various psychological mechanisms that must be employed to adjust (and, in some harsh and dangerous correctional environments, to survive) become increasingly "natural," second nature, and, to a degree, internalized. To be sure, the process of institutionalization can be subtle and difficult to discern as it occurs. Thus, prisoners do not "choose" do succumb to it or not, and few people who have become institutionalized are aware that it has happened to them. Fewer still consciously decide that they are going to willingly allow the transformation to occur.

    It may seem more or less natural to be denied significant control over day-to-day decisions and, in the final stages of the process, some inmates may come to depend heavily on institutional decision makers to make choices for them and to rely on the structure and schedule of the institution to organize their daily routine. Although it rarely occurs to such a degree, some people do lose the capacity to initiate behavior on their own and the judgment to make decisions for themselves. Indeed, in extreme cases, profoundly institutionalized persons may become extremely uncomfortable when and if their previous freedom and autonomy is returned.

    A slightly different aspect of the process involves the creation of dependency upon the institution to control one's behavior. Correctional institutions force inmates to adapt to an elaborate network of typically very clear boundaries and limits, the consequences for whose violation can be swift and severe. Prisons impose careful and continuous surveillance, and are quick to punish (and sometimes to punish severely) infractions of the limiting rules. The process of institutionalization in correctional settings may surround inmates so thoroughly with external limits, immerse them so deeply in a network of rules and regulations, and accustom them so completely to such highly visible systems of constraint that internal controls atrophy or, in the case of especially young inmates, fail to develop altogether.

    Prisoners learn quickly to become hyper vigilant and ever-alert for signs of threat or personal risk. Because the stakes are high, and because there are people in their immediate environment poised to take advantage of weakness or exploit carelessness or inattention, interpersonal distrust and suspicion often result. Some prisoners learn to project a tough convict veneer that keeps all others at a distance.

    Prisoners struggle to control and suppress their own internal emotional reactions to events around them. Emotional over-control and a generalized lack of spontaneity may occur as a result. Admissions of vulnerability to persons inside the immediate prison environment are potentially dangerous because they invite exploitation. As one experienced prison administrator once wrote: "Prison is a barely controlled jungle where the aggressive and the strong will exploit the weak, and the weak are dreadfully aware of it.

    Some prisoners are forced to become remarkably skilled "self-monitors" who calculate the anticipated effects that every aspect of their behavior might have on the rest of the prison population, and strive to make such calculations second nature.

    Prisoners who labor at both an emotional and behavioral level to develop a "prison mask" that is unrevealing and impenetrable risk alienation from themselves and others, may develop emotional flatness that becomes chronic and debilitating in social interaction and relationships, and find that they have created a permanent and unbridgeable distance between themselves and other people. Many for whom the mask becomes especially thick and effective in prison find that the disincentive against engaging in open communication with others that prevails there has led them to withdrawal from authentic social interactions altogether. The alienation and social distancing from others is a defense not only against exploitation but also against the realization that the lack of interpersonal control in the immediate prison environment makes emotional investments in relationships risky and unpredictable.

    Some prisoners learn to find safety in social invisibility by becoming as inconspicuous and unobtrusively disconnected from others as possible. The self-imposed social withdrawal and isolation may mean that they retreat deeply into themselves, trust virtually no one, and adjust to prison stress by leading isolated lives of quiet desperation. In extreme cases, especially when combined with prisoner apathy and loss of the capacity to initiate behavior on one's own, the pattern closely resembles that of clinical depression. Long-term prisoners are particularly vulnerable to this form of psychological adaptation.

    In addition to obeying the formal rules of the institution, there are also informal rules and norms that are part of the unwritten but essential institutional and inmate culture and code that, at some level, must be abided. For some prisoners this means defending against the dangerousness and deprivations of the surrounding environment by embracing all of its informal norms, including some of the most exploitative and extreme values of prison life.

    Few prisoners are given access to gainful employment where they can obtain meaningful job skills and earn adequate compensation; those who do work are assigned to menial tasks that they perform for only a few hours a day. With rare exceptions — those very few states that permit highly regulated and infrequent conjugal visits — they are prohibited from sexual contact of any kind. Attempts to address many of the basic needs and desires that are the focus of normal day-to-day existence in the free world — to recreate, to work, to love — necessarily draws them closer to an illicit prisoner culture that for many represents the only apparent and meaningful way of being.

    Prisoner culture frowns on any sign of weakness and vulnerability, and discourages the expression of candid emotions or intimacy. And some prisoners embrace it in a way that promotes a heightened investment in one's reputation for toughness, and encourages a stance towards others in which even seemingly insignificant insults, affronts, or physical violations must be responded to quickly and instinctively, sometimes with decisive force. In extreme cases, the failure to exploit weakness is itself a sign of weakness and seen as an invitation for exploitation. In men's prisons it may promote a kind of hyper masculinity in which force and domination are glorified as essential components of personal identity. In an environment characterized by enforced powerlessness and deprivation, men and women prisoners confront distorted norms of sexuality in which dominance and submission become entangled with and mistaken for the basis of intimate relations.

    Prisoners typically are denied their basic privacy rights, and lose control over mundane aspects of their existence that most citizens have long taken for granted. They live in small, sometimes extremely cramped and deteriorating spaces (a 60 square foot cell is roughly the size of king-size bed), have little or no control over the identify of the person with whom they must share that space (and the intimate contact it requires), often have no choice over when they must get up or go to bed, when or what they may eat, and on and on. Some feel infantalized and that the degraded conditions under which they live serve to repeatedly remind them of their compromised social status and stigmatized social role as prisoners. A diminished sense of self-worth and personal value may result. In extreme cases of institutionalization, the symbolic meaning that can be inferred from this externally imposed substandard treatment and circumstances is internalized; that is, prisoners may come to think of themselves as "the kind of person" who deserves only the degradation and stigma to which they have been subjected while incarcerated.

    For some prisoners, incarceration is so stark and psychologically painful that it represents a form of traumatic stress severe enough to produce post-traumatic stress reactions once released. Moreover, we now understand that there are certain basic commonalities that characterize the lives of many of the persons who have been convicted of crime in our society. The dysfunctional consequences of institutionalization are not always immediately obvious once the institutional structure and procedural imperatives have been removed. This is especially true in cases where persons retain a minimum of structure wherever they re-enter free society. Moreover, the most negative consequences of institutionalization may first occur in the form of internal chaos, disorganization, stress, and fear. Yet, institutionalization has taught most people to cover their internal states, and not to openly or easily reveal intimate feelings or reactions. So, the outward appearance of normality and adjustment may mask a range of serious problems in adapting to the free world.

    Although everyone who enters prison is subjected to many of the above-stated pressures of institutionalization, and prisoners respond in various ways with varying degrees of psychological change associated with their adaptations, it is important to note that there are some prisoners who are much more vulnerable to these pressures and the overall pains of imprisonment than others. Either because of their personal characteristics — in the case of "special needs" prisoners whose special problems are inadequately addressed by current prison policies or because of the especially harsh conditions of confinement to which they are subjected — in the case of increasing numbers of "super max" or solitary confinement prisoners they are at risk of making the transition from prison to home with a more significant set of psychological problems and challenges to overcome.

    there are an increasing number of prisoners who are subjected to the unique and more destructive experience of punitive isolation, in so-called "super max" facilities, where they are kept under conditions of unprecedented levels of social deprivation for unprecedented lengths of time. This kind of confinement creates its own set of psychological pressures that, in some instances, uniquely disable prisoners for free world reintegration. Indeed, there are few if any forms of imprisonment that produce so many indicies of psychological trauma and symptoms of psychopathology in those persons subjected to it. My own review of the literature suggested these documented negative psychological consequences of long-term solitary-like confinement include: an impaired sense of identity; hypersensitivity to stimuli; cognitive dysfunction (confusion, memory loss, ruminations); irritability, anger, aggression, and/or rage; other-directed violence, such as stabbings, attacks on staff, property destruction, and collective violence; lethargy, helplessness and hopelessness; chronic depression; self-mutilation and/or suicidal ideation, impulses, and behavior; anxiety and panic attacks; emotional breakdowns; and/or loss of control; hallucinations, psychosis and/or paranoia; overall deterioration of mental and physical health.
    All people want is someone to listen.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006

    Default Re: your loved one "institutionalized" after prison

    I was thinking of the same movie when i wrote what i did boy that was a good movie
    A single rose can be my garden... a single friend, my world.
    ~ Leo Buscaglia

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