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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Book on Prison Life

Behind Bars: Surviving Prison is a very interesting look at the harsh realities of prison life, written by two authors who were either imprisoned themselves for years or worked with prisoners. You’ll learn about code words used, about legal procedures before prison and in prison, different kinds of prisons and prison gangs, about what (not) to say when you’re arrested, the grim outlook within prison and the psychological pressure, and more. One chapter discusses how to avoid fights in a prison:

Even after release, life isn’t easy. It was hard to get education within prison, and it’s hard to get a job outside of prison as you’re now convicted, a fact available in public databases. If you’re on parole, you may also not drink any alcohol, and the slightest misbehavior lands you back in jail. What may be the worst is the disorientation you’re facing after long prison terms, the authors tell:

When they come out of prison, most men are disoriented and have to make major psychological readjustments. To suggest that these convicts are a little shaky on their feet is a misunderstanding. Most have “get out of prison” stories about how they’d forgotten how to time the flow of pedestrians on the sidewalk or traffic on the street and experienced great difficulty simply walking around town. Others who’ve spent a considerable period of time behind bars become disoriented with new technologies, like those found in late model cars. Even the inability to find the high-beam dimmer may trigger a crisis of confidence.

One prisoner we know, who served nearly 50 years in maximum security, went to a supermarket. The last time he’d been shopping for groceries had been the 1930s. He became so surprised by the store’s automatic doors and electronic checkout counters that he drew attention of the store manager, who then called the police. After the cops showed up, the man was arrested for disorderly conduct. After getting out of jail, he reported to his parole officer, stabbed him in the neck, and then was transported back to prison.


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