This is a blog that was inspired by someone I began a correspondance with while still in prison at SCI-Cresson in Cresson, Pennsylvania. I can't remember exactly how I heard about the web site Peg Swan has for Forum For Understand Prisons (FFUP) at http://www.prisonforum.org/ but I think it was through something a fellow inmate showed me about a request for articles from prisoners.
"Short Note," as I nicknamed him, knew I liked to write and that I was a frequent contributer to Graterfriends, a publication with prisoner contributions published by The Pennsylvania Prison Society http://www.prisonsociety.org/. So, he brought it to my attention and I wrote a couple of articles and sent them off to Wisconsin and later I sent a couple things I had written previously, one of which had been in Graterfriends.
Peg liked my writing and she started posting some of what I sent. At that time I was writing mostly about parole issues and how the prisons in Pennsylvania were overcrowded and what I saw from inside. The reasons for the overcrowding problem in Pennsylvania prisons wasn't being fully disclosed to the public, at least not from the information we saw inside the prison.
I contacted her after my release and it was her idea and inspiration that put this blog on the map - or on the Internet if you will. At the time I wasn't even sure what a blog was. She gave me encouragement and some info on how to start it and from there I admit to stumbling into how to do it and get it online and posting stuff. It is a continuing work in progress as I continue to learn how to do things. I am not the most technical minded person and I seem to find things by accident and do things and sometimes don't remember how I did them. Ah...the joys of being 63. Well, as you can imagine, coming out of prison after 10 years created a lot of catchup work to do in the technology area. I don't have a cell phone. For one I can't afford one right now, and for two, I am not sure I really need or want one at this point.
As I progress through this, I hope to get links into and from other places so more people can read my blog. While it is aimed at people who have been released from prison to relate the obsticales I face, it is also targeting their families and friends who might be able to help in certain areas and the general public as well. As for the ex-offenders like myself, I am hoping that my experiences can help other ex-offenders and then in turn they can help others.
The Andy Rooney in me has to say this. What exactly is an ex-con or an ex-offender? An ex-wife is someone who used to be a wife. An ex-ballplayer is someone who used to be a ballplayer. Neither is a wife or a ballplayer any longer because they are removed from that position. Does that mean an ex-offender is no longer an offender? It really is an oximoron of sorts, don't you think?
OK, back to business.
The ultimate goal is to get information from organizations like The Pennsylvania Prison Society and any group associated with reentry for ex-offenders sent to me or posted as comments on the blog. Along with this, Peg is planning to address these concerns and I hope to be a part of that. We are reintegrating ourselves into the community and the community needs to know how they can help. WHY? It isn't the pay because there isn't any. Call it a community service.
The staff liaison/advisor for the incarcerated James A. Crew Chapter 359 of the Vietnam Veterans of America of which I was a member and served as vice-president and president of in prison, used to talk with us about many things. Before I go further I need to give a shout out to the volunteer veterans of VVA Chapter 364 of the Laurel Highlands (Johnstown) who came in regularly and talked with us. I have gotten notes and even a phone call from some of them checking to see how I am doing and offering advice to me. It is evident from these men that someone out there does care about us.
Anyway, our staff liaison/advisor, Mr. Chris Danison (who was a Unit Manager at the prison), would tell us about how there is an "us" and "them" attitude outside in the community. The "us" say you take care of "them" with the later being the prisoners and the "us" being the community. They do this without the sense that one day we will become part of them. The reality is that over 90 percent of prisoners will be released at some point and isn't it, or shouldn't it be, part of the communities (and businesses) responsibility to help them reintegrate rather than make it harder?
An unfortunate fact is that some who reoffend do so because they can't make it on the outside, for various reasons, and prison is like a safe house. A place to sleep and three meals a day. It isn't a life by normal standards, but for some it is more than they had or are finding outside in the world.
I want to make a point to say that not all people who have been in prison are "bad guys." I really hate the term I heard too often in group sessions in prison that "I made a mistake," but the reality is that it is the case in many instances and not all people in prison are career criminals. That being said, we all need a chance once released and that leads us to this blog.
So whether you are an ex-offender, company executive or community activist looking to improve the community, you are part of this blog. I welcome any and all input. If you would like to post something, send it to me and I will review it and put out anything relevant. And the clock on the wall says there is nothing more to say here.
As Frazer Crane would close with, "I'm listening."
This is a blog about reentry into society for persons released from prison and the many difficulties and barriers they face. The writings contained in this blog come from personal experience and they are intended to put out information from the real life adventures I have come up against with navigating my reentry into society. The blog welcomes submissions from anyone who is or has gone through reentry after prison as well as from any authorities, organizations, etc. with information that would be help for prisoners with their reentry to society after incarceration.