In the United States, approximately two-thirds (68 percent) of people released from prison are rearrested within three years. Add two more years, and the recidivism rate jumps to over 76 percent.
Those statistics certainly are sobering, but they are not necessarily prophetic.
It is possible to have a happy, fulfilling, and crime-free life after prison. Here are five ways to set yourself up for success.
Life After Prison: Five Ways To Stack the Deck In Your Favor
Whether you have just served a short stint in county jail, or you’re coming off a decades-long period of incarceration, following these guidelines can help stay out of the system from here on out.
1. Develop a Support System
It is absolutely essential that you surround yourself with supportive people. Turn to family members, friends, or members of your church. You may need their financial support, but it’s even more important to have friends who will provide emotional support.
If you don’t have family living nearby or don’t belong to a church, look into support groups for ex-prisoners. There are several websites and online discussion boards where you can discuss the realities of life on the outs with others.
2. Expect Some Culture Shock
Depending on how long you’ve been behind bars, you might re-enter a very different world than the one you left. Technological advances account for much of the culture shock you will experience upon release.
It can be disheartening to observe first-hand how life has gone on without you. Catching up with relatives and friends can be wonderful, but it may also take an emotional toll. Knowing that you will go through a period of adjustment can make it easier on you.
3. Make a Fresh Start
Particularly if you are a recovering addict, it may be in your best interests to cut ties with your pre-prison life. If you don’t, falling back into old, destructive habits could be difficult to prevent.
To whatever extent it is possible, dissociate yourself from friends who use drugs. Also, distance yourself from your old hangouts, and find new, constructive ways to occupy your time.
Even those individuals whose charges were dropped before they began life in prison could benefit from a change of environment upon release.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help
Life after prison will present you with many difficulties. Once the initial excitement of being free has worn off, you might struggle to find a job and someplace to live. This is an area in which your support system can really help.
Let people know that you are looking for employment, need a place to stay, or are in the market for a vehicle. A healthy dose of humility will benefit you, as well. Finding your footing after time in prison can be difficult, but with perseverance and confidence, you will find your way.
5. Spend Your Time Wisely
While you are job-hunting, find a productive activity to occupy your time. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, give back to your community, and perhaps most important of all, keep yourself out of trouble!
Volunteer work will also be a good addition to your resume, and may even lead to a paid position down the line.
Life after prison is an exciting time, but it can also present multiple pitfalls to be wary of.
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