From Inside Supermax: Thoughts on Reintegrating into Society (14 of 18)

It’s interesting to me that you and two of the other juveniles serving LWOP (and probably a whole lot of other inmates) have said that if you were freed, you’d just want to move to a cabin in the mountains or to a remote ranch or someplace where you could have some peace after having spent so much time in the chaotic environment you’re in. Of course you know that because you’d be on parole and you’d have to get a job right away, you wouldn’t realistically be able to do that. In fact, life would probably be very stressful for you because there would be a lot of pressure to comply with the terms of parole and you’d be dealing with a lot of things you’ve never dealt with before, like learning to drive, getting a license, finding employment and a place to live, finding an entirely new way to interact with other people, managing money and it’s quite possible that you’d also have a certain amount of press attention and notoriety to contend with. Have you been able to consider realistically what kind of external support systems you’d really need in order to “decompress” and make that kind of considerable transition?

I am quite fortunate to have a very supportive network of friends and family. If I were to get out today I would have numerous places I could live, here in Colorado with at least five guaranteed jobs, not to mention that I could live with my family in Illinois and Arizona. I think that is the most important key to my success if I get out. If I’m living with friends or family who will hold me responsible for my conduct and guide me in the “normal” ways to do things, I’ll do just fine.

Getting out will be like being a teenager again. Since I’ve never lived on my own and without a caretaker, I’ll need “real” people, not the system, to help guide me and prepare me for independence. I’d be responsible for housework, shopping, a schedule, things which if I’m living on my own I could easily neglect. Living with a loved one would keep me from buying only steak and pastries and eating at odd hours or letting my freedom go to my head and letting junk pile up in the house. Having someone I care about as a daily reminder that anything is worth staying out would make me put up with even the most unreasonable restrictions a parole officer could make (and I’ve heard some doozies). Living with friends and family would also quickly create “normalcy”. I’ve never lived on my own so I would not be going into an unknown situation. I could quickly readapt to life as a kid at home.

Some of the stresses of getting out won’t be much different than those in here or will be eased by living with loved ones. For instance, in prison I still have to have a job and take silly rehabilitation classes, something a lot of guys complain about. Financial stress seems to be the number one reason that guys fail on parole. Parole officers sometimes make guys quit good paying jobs; there are a ton of fees for classes, drug tests, electronic monitoring, etc.; and then there’s the task of acquiring all the day-to-day items of life like dishes, furniture, clothes, and linens. That stress breaks a lot of guys who leave with only a bus ticket and $100. You can’t deny that living with a loved one saves a lot of money and gives a fellow shoulder to carry the burden of stress. I feel like there’s nothing I can’t handle “with a little help from my friends”.

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