I have just finished reading “Beyond Bars: Rejoining Society After Prison”, a sort of “what to do after prison for dummies”. It is a step by step description of what to expect when you get released, and how to survive on the outside. It is co-authored by two professors, Jeffrey Ian Ross and Stephen C. Richards. Mr. Richards served nine years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. He was in nine different federal prisons. He is now a professor of criminal justice. Mr. Ross is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, College of Public Affairs, and a Research Fellow of the Center for International and Comparative Law.
This book details the trials and tribulations of Joe and Jill Inmate after their release from prison. Their fictional stories are a conglomerate of different experiences inmates encounter. Few know before hand that their dreams of a perfect life on the outside is not how real life is.
Real life always presents problems, and it presents even more if you have FELON tattooed on your resume. This book has real life solutions for the inmates who are getting out, and the families and loved ones of those inmates. Life has changed while the inmate serves his or her time. Lots of things change in relationships, technology and general life while they are incarcerated, particularly if they are in for a long time. People move on and may have found other relationships, or perhaps the inmate’s family does not trust that they can make a decent life. Maybe their children have grown to dislike them. These are just a few of the problems they may encounter. Add to that, the fact that they may not have a place to live or any money to survive on, and the problems they may encounter increase.
This book has suggestions and solutions for the problems. It describes the different types of halfway houses and the problems inherent with each of the different types. It even suggests the released felon not get a vehicle, as police run plates all the time, and driving a car could lead to problems. It talks about how to get a job, how to create a resume and how to dress for an interview. There are many other suggestions and solutions for how to act and survive without going back to prison.
If your loved one is close to release, I suggest you get this book for them. Sure, they may know some of what is talked about or even most of it, but they will find a confirmation of what to expect and solutions for problems. It is an excellent reminder that they need to prepare for life on the outside, not just get out and fall into their old routines, which will get them back in prison very quickly.
Listen up…your loved one can make a decent life out there. It can happen, but it takes work, diligence and the ability to keep a peaceful mind in the face of adversity.