We recently got a letter from someone who had done a little time in a Texas psrison and he offered the best explanation of the reason people fail to complete their parole and get revoked so, with his permission, we are sharing pertinent parts of the letter.
"I was convicted of a white collar crime and was unprepared not just for prison but also for the people inside. Being locked up away from your family and friends is bad enough, but that's not what I'm talking about. I was unpreapred for how many prisoners look at prison as a way of life.
There are a lot of gangs in prisons, I think everybody has heard that but they don't realize the extent. In the minimum security "unit" where I spent most of my time, we lived in buildings which were dorms back when it was an army base. The gangs, who called themselves families, would occasionally have meetings to decide how things would run in the dorm. As an older member of the population I was never pressured to join, never hassled to pay, etc. but many of the younger members would "hook up" with one of the gangs as soon as they got there.
In my particular dorm room (and that sounds a lot nicer that it was) we had 8 men, each with their own bunk. One of the guys in my room was a young Hispanic man. He was 21 and had been in prison twice since he turned 18. He told me that when he made parole the first time, and when he made it again on this charge, life wouldn't change for him on the outside. He would still smoke pot when he wanted, drink when he wanted, and sell dope. While he didn't say it, I could tell he liked the camaraderie that existed in the gang, that he felt he was a part of a family, and that he didn't have to worry about anything happening in prison because he belonged to the gang.
Also, he was one of the "jailhouse tattoo artists" and so his food drawer was always full from the tattoo work he did. "In the world" as he referred to life outside the prison, he worked at a fast food place and didn't make enough money to have any extra which was the stated reason he sold drugs.
Unfortunately, nothing that happened in prison was preparing him for any life other than the one he had always known once he was released. While he was required to attend school and try for his GED, he knew that the GED wouldn't result in any increased opportunities for him.
I knew without a doubt that he would be revoked within a few months of being released and after he served his full sentence, woudl be back on the inside for committing a new crime within a year or two.
Until the system can figure a way to break the cycle for these people, the recidivism rate will remain high because they don't know anohter way of life."
Sad, but true.
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