Monday, March 1, 2010

#74 Prison Institutionalization (retro)

Prison Institutionalization

Wow, that’s a long word…I better make sure I spelled it right…

Today is Saturday, the first FULL day of college football and I am sooo ready! In fact, in about 15 minutes they are supposed to have the Appalachian State vs. LSU game on ESPN Classic. It was normally scheduled for a 5pm but with Hurricane Gustov impending, they had to change it. My best goes out to everyone in that area.

I do have ties there since I was born in New Orleans.

And for that reason I kinda pull for LSU, knowing that they will probably smash the Boonies by 30-40 points. But I also have room in my heart for App State because I think they were hosed by ESPN with that popular vote of play of the year. There is no doubt that App State beating Michigan was one of the biggest upsets of football history. So I root for App a bit, and because they are from the conference where I went to school…and some of you who read my blogs know that my school and App State are bitter rivals. (go Cats).

But I am not one of those fanatics of teams. I think it is a fun rivalry we have with Appalachian State and I have nothing against those guys. In fact, it was a guy FROM App State that helped me on day. One summer while working in Raleigh on my rising senior year, I had no car and had to walk home in the pouring rain. Cars passed by me like I was a nut (and I had to have been for walking in the rain, no umbrella). A guy pulls up and asks if I needed a ride… I accepted.

We talked and he asked me where I went to school, I told him I was a rising senior at Western Carolina, and he told me he was from App. It was very ironic, but I was extremely thankful that he was there to help me. So I have nothing against App at all. Love those guys!

Anyway, I say that to kinda share that help can come from anybody, something I have experienced more than once, in and out of prison. Anyway, I got an email today from a person who asked me to blog about how prison can make an inmate institutionalized. This is a big concern for a lot of you because you worry that your loved one will come out worse than he went in. Is that possible?

Yes it is.

Does it mean every guy that goes in will come out an even worse criminal?

No, not at all.

I want to see if we can get going on this, so I want to open this up to those of you concerned about this. I won’t get too much in detail with it right now, since I am focused on watching football today, but it is something I would like to blog about. I actually do have a few writings on this, but I don’t think they are on the current prison blog I have. If any of you remember my earlier writings as masonik4, you probably have read a post called “The Prison Coin” and another on my 3rd year anniversary out of prison (can’t remember the name of that.).

If you are reading this and are a member of certain sites, look up my posts and you might find it (good luck on that though). But those posts and others I wrote talked about how prison can indeed create a mentality, or as we call it, “being institutionalized”. Is there a legitimate truth to it? Well, sure there is.

I mean think about it, if you spend a long length of time in a life-changing situation, you stand a chance (positive or negative) of being institutionalized. I can give you three examples, one we already know…prison.

But there are two others that can be seen as similar examples. One is the military. Spend a few years in the military, or in combat, and see what that does to your frame of mind and mentality. You get locked into the routine of that daily life, and after awhile, it almost becomes part of your DNA. So when you come home, that military life style is still deeply embedded in you. And the military is an institution…

Now note I am not saying anything negative about the military or comparing it to the negatives of prison. I don’t want any idiot here trying to twist my words to make it seem like I am not grateful for what those men and women do for our country. But it cannot be ignored that if you are in the military for 3 years, 7 years, 10 years or so, it will have a profound effect on your routine of life, even after you leave.

Just as prison is seen as the negative, the military is seen as neutral, having both good and bad effects (and I will never understand how our country can ignore the financial needs of a man or woman who serves their country and comes home to debt).

But it also works in a positive measure as well. Institutionalization can also be very positive, as in the third example…college.

Think about it, you spend 4 years in an institution of higher learning, and those years will have a profound impact on how you look at life. Now I know this may not go for every college student, but I had the best years of my LIFE in college. If I EVER find that time machine, I am setting that sucker for those four years, and then I am breaking the handle!

But in each of those three examples, we are talking about an institution where the individual spends a large amount of time, and each is indeed a life changing experience. Whether positive, negative or in between, there is a chance to be institutionalized. But in terms of prison, we are looking at some of the negative effects. There is a great fear that your son will go to prison and come out ready to rob the next bank he sees. There is a great fear that your boyfriend or husband will come out of prison and be one of the meanest human beings on the planet, because he learned it from the other guys in prison.

Any truth to that?

Well…we have to talk about that. I want to be able to kinda take my time with it, and I don’t think it is fair for me to rush a blog and cheat you out of my best. Heck, the game is already on, so I will miss the first few minutes of the game….


Ok, we gotta end this blog, I am missing football. But I had to at least blog a bit on this because the person who emailed me asked about this, and I certainly want to help talk about this if we can. If you guys want me to go into depth on this, email me. I am also looking for support for my writing, so anybody out there that wants to support me financially, I would appreciate it.

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