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Recidivism is real.

By Imani

Financial and political powers use prison and punishment to maintain oppression, making it look natural and necessary. Prison doesn’t stop at the barbed wire fence, and it doesn’t end on release date. Ninety-five percent of prisoners are released. They’re emerging from their isolation poorer and more alienated than when they went in. They’re coming out with fewer economic opportunities and fewer human connections on the outside. Some come home to find that “home” no longer exists. So they slip back into thier old ways of survival because it feels like home.

The re-entry programs lack what’s needed to aid upon release adjustment. Many quickly fall into harmful patterns, sometimes just to survive, sometimes because it seems that everything is stacked against them. Their prison records prevent them in ever being able to just be another normal citizen, find gainful employment or stick out like a sore thumb.

For example; a friend of mines who was recently released after a 25 year bid said he was fortunate enough to be able to find employment. After receiving his first pay check, feeling proud to have his own money he went into a check cashing place to cash it. He handed it to the cashier who said in a condescending manner, “I only need the check not the stub attached.” Then handed it back to him (instead of just separating it). So he then separated the check from the stub and again pushed the check back into the little opening in the glass. She picks it up. Looks at it and smugly sucks her teeth and says, “You have to sign the back, what are you new on this planet, you never cashed a check before?” This went beyond customer service, this was disheartening. A classic case of not knowing what others had been through.

He said he was as angry as he was embarrassed. He replied, “No I’m not new to this planet. ACTUALLY it is the first time I cashed a check. Prior to going to jail I was a drug dealer and robbed places like this. So now I’m working a job making minimum wage so snobby, self righteous bitches like you can sleep and feel safe at night.”

He said the look of shock on her face humbled her silent through out the rest of his transaction, at least til she mumbled, “Thank you for your business.” Though it’s hilarious to think of her shock, and think this is what she gets. It’s a common scenario our newly released loved ones face when released. It’s still a harsh reality that in many cases it is and wide-eye awakening as to all of the things imprisonment takes from you. Things that you often can’t get back. Like dignity. Then their are those who are reincarnated for the flimsiest of reasons as “parole violators,” especially if they are black, or brown or native or poor. It’s TRUE that the above mention are the larger majority in prison and are mainly incarcerated, But if you think incarceration truly cares what color you are then ask any caucasian man sitting in solitary confinenent

The reality and ideology that prison is rehabilitating is suggestive at best. The reality is that more than 40 percent of those released return to prison within three years. Isolation does NOT “rehabilitate” people. Disappearance does not deter harm. And every man released is not rehabilitated so what’s the solution? Because recidivism is a wrong answer.

Stop Mass-Incarceration !!!

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