Most of the inmates at the facility that I am interested in are there for non-violent (specifically drug-related offenses). The process of re-entry for those in jail for shorter periods of time is much different from those who are imprisoned for longer time periods. I’m curious about the different challenges that people face depending on how long they have been imprisoned.
I’d imagine that those who are in prison for longer periods of time may experience some sort of culture shock when they finally enter the outside world – especially if they spent a majority of their life behind bars. The life that this person goes back to is not the life that they left from. How does a long-time prisoner go back to living normally – with freedom – when they spent so many years without it? Are they confused about the society that they are now in? How do they acclimate to the new lifestyle they’re put into without quickly being sent back to jail or prison? Why do some people return to imprisonment and others do not?
Now I want to take it a step further and look at those inmates who are in prison for the rest of their lives- those with life without the possibility of parole. If someone commits a heinous and violent crime at a young age, should they have the opportunity to better themselves and enter back into society? Or should they be punished for the rest of their lives? Waiting around until they finally finish their sentence – when they die. Should the money that is spent on keeping people behind bars be reallocated to something more positive – perhaps on rehabilitation programs? Education in prison? Something else?
The way that we choose to answer these questions shows something deeper about ourselves. Do we believe that people have the ability to change? Are people truly bad or are they influenced by their environment? And lastly, do we want to live in a world where people are punished for their mistakes or a world where people receive help and care when they commit a wrong-doing?