Exiting Prison as an Elder
After one week of being released from a Federal prison, a 62 year old man robbed a bank. He didn’t have any guns or weapons, and from what is being told, he didn’t even have a vehicle. In my humble opinion, male returning citizens over the age of 50 have the toughest time reentering society.
In my many years of putting together programs and developing release plans, this age group is the hardest to plan. There are several reason I can point to, but I will share with you this one. Their peers are looking to retire and settle into the second half of their lives; many of our returning citizens have failed to invest in any retirement system and have no financial plan for the remaining years of their lives. Not to mention, the kind of work that is available for a returning citizen over the age of 50 is not the type of employment that leads to matching 401Ks and IRA accounts.
There is a dilemma. I say all of this to give you some insight as to why some returning citizens give up before they really begin. The obstacles are too great, the technology is too advanced, and the will to overcome adversity is engulfed by the storm that’s outside of those prison walls. I believe that’s what may have happened to this 62 year old gentleman. He didn’t know how to survive in this new society we live in; he was institutionalized. He spent most of his life in state and federal prisons, so doing TIME became easy, comfortable, and what he knew best. When I get a chance to visit jails and prison, I encourage inmates NOT to get comfortable. “Don’t place pictures on the walls!” It’s a sad day when human beings are satisfied with prison because its so difficult to reestablish yourself after incarceration. Now, I know many people will argue and say, “this is a part of the game when you decide to commit crime”. I respect that opinion, but we all have to agree that more can be done to assist returning citizens so that they don’t feel helpless when they return home from incarceration. Where did it all go wrong for this 62 year old man? Was it his childhood upbringing? Did the system fail him? Did the prison fail to rehabilitate or punish him? Could it be all of thee above?
What I know is that at 62 years of age and with more than half of his life spent in state and federal prisons, this particular invidual gave up on himself. He lost the battle in his mind and the results will be damaging. He will probably die in federal prison, but could it have been prevented?
At Risk Youth Conflict Resolution Elderly prisoner Inmates Prison Prison reform Prisoner