I am pleased to share a guest blog titled: 7 of the Best Things I Did to Prepare for Prison
About two months ago I was released after spending over 15 months at a prison camp. After a few weeks at home to decompress I have had some time to reflect on some of the things I did right and some of things I didn’t do right prior to going to prison. Here are a few of the things I did that in retrospect were very helpful. I hope sharing this list will be helpful to you.
Created a Mail List
Before I left I updated my address book with all my friends and acquaintances. This was actually a hard thing to do. I was embarrassed, depressed, and generally in no mood to be friendly. But, I forced myself to email everyone before I left and let them know what was going on with my case, my sentence and my future. Then, I put all those names into a convenient mail list so that my wife could quickly forward messages to the entire list. Corrlinks, the prison email system, is very constraining and can only handle 30 or so contacts. Every few weeks I wrote a letter, sent it to my wife via Corrlinks and she would then forward it to the entire list. This type of communication was a wonderful way to stay in touch with so many people. Each time I wrote many people would write back with personal messages or general words of encouragement. This made me feel connected. I even learned a lot about my own friends. Some people love to write!
Thorough Medical and Dental Review
Prison medical is spotty at best. Personally I felt that our in-house doctor was excellent. But, the horror stories are real and the bureaucracy is stifling to the medical staff. Get everything possible taken care of ahead of time. Do everything from teeth cleaning to complete physical. Medical conditions in prison can be a real problem.
Saw a Family Therapist
You cannot underestimate or anticipate the angst, fear, frustrations and anxiety that you, and more importantly your family, will go through while you’re gone. Talking about all of this early and often was helpful. There is no shame in seeing a counselor. If there was ever a time, this is it.
Spoke Honestly to My Children
My wife and I chose to deal with our kids in an honest way about my sentence. This was not so simple as they were in elementary and middle school at the time. Some people mistaken believe that they will somehow hide their prison sentence from their kids. “Dad is away for business” or “Dad is living in Switzerland for a two years.” I met several guys who tried this and it always ends up in tragedy. Kids are smart and have access to google. Now is the time to move forward with honesty
Prepared to Enter RDAP
Not only do you receive time off of your sentence, but you will find the program is generally a constructive way to spend your time while in prison. For white-collar inmates the RDAP environment will be much more productive and structured than normal prison. While the material may or may not be ideally suited to your situation, if you keep an open mind you can use the structure of the 40-week course to improve your life.
Became Open to a New Life Direction
Think of your time in prison as a chance to reboot your life. This is your time. Time to reflect, time to think, time to learn, and most importantly, time to build the life you never did. Maybe it’s a new career? Maybe it’s a new attitude? Follow that long forgotten dream you surpassed years ago. Treat this is an opportunity and a gift. Don’t waste it prepare for prison.
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