Prison life is hard. Outside can be harder. CSP revisited.


Prison life left behind, but now what?

Prison life left behind, but now what?

Prison life gone bad?

I’ve known, and been a victim of, someone who recidivised. Recidivism refers to committing a crime after being “rehabilitated” in prison. When it comes to prison life, it’s a big “No No.” To victims,  everyday taxpayers, ideologues supporting prison reform, and criminologists like me who study this sort of thing. Recidivism is a sign of corrections failing to “correct.” A sign that prison life may’ve hindered more than helped an inmate.

The story below is a followup to the blog I wrote last week about post-prison adjustment in Maine:

“Gil Larrabee has been out of prison for 20 yeas and is just now feeling as if his life is together.

Another former inmate has only been out for a year and wishes to keep his identity hidden, fearing it will hurt his chances at getting his life back on track. He says, “I broke down when I got out. I was suicidal, didn’t think I was going to make it and it was a real struggle. I even thought just going back to prison would be a better solution than to try to make it on the street.”

For many inmates the transition from a cell to the outside world is difficult.

Difficult transition.

The anonymous former inmate says, “I’d been locked up in a cell for 14 years and it was a shock to come out of a cell and into the world again. I thought it was going to be an easy transition but it was a major struggle.”

Larrabee says, “It was well over 20 years ago when I got out. The one thing that was a problem for me was the changes that took place in that 10 year span. When I went into prison I didn’t know what a cell phone was, when I got out of prison you couldn’t get away without cell phones.”

Prisoners are released into many different situations. Some have family, others don’t. The anonymous former inmate says, “I was displaced…I didn’t know anyone. I came up to Bangor with a backpack and a small box and that was all of my belongings. I had saved up a couple of thousand dollars from working at the prison and basically homeless, no job and just a few prison clothes.”

It’s difficult for them to find housing and employment. He says, “It’s been over a year. I’m still unemployed. I’m on social security disability insurance. I was fortunate enough to get that and I really don’t know what I would do without it. Nobody was hiring. They say it’s a small town and everybody knows everybody and chances are you’re not going to get hired in this town.”

Prison life vs Real life.

Prison life vs Real life.

But with programs like The Columbia Street Project, these former inmates  can get some of the help they need to start piecing their lives back together.

The anonymous former inmate says, “That was what got me through the barrier working with the Columbia Street Project. Now I have a good support network here in Bangor with councilors, with church members, with Stan Moody. I was very fortunate that way.”

…Reverend Stan Moody, Director of The Columbia Street Project says, … What they do at the prison, when you’re done you’re outside the door of the prison with $50 and a bus ticket anywhere in the state of Maine and that’s how you get your start and if you haven’t made this connection and if you don’t have a place to go, you’re just going to drift back into what you were doing before you got there.”

Prison life gone good?

What’s interesting is that the CSP faith-based program may be on to something. But, why haven’t more programs like it been established? Maine’s a New England state with that Rugged Individualism that makes New England so proud. Why haven’t Maine, New England, and the rest of the U.S.

What do you think?


To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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