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Old 03-10-2018, 05:46 PM
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Default Long-timers and being institutionalized

My love has been going through a self-analysis period where he's trying to make sense of the path his life has taken and take steps before he returns home to heal things long overlooked. The counselors at the prison could care less and are not taking his requests to find information to help him deal with being a long-timer.

He's the first to tell you he's institutionalized and the men he was incarcerated with at 17-24 years old when he was transferred from the juvenile facility to state prison, raised him. Being incarcerated as an adolescent and well into his adulthood has had a strong impression on him and he's trying to find ways to help himself through reading and writing (journaling and poetry).

For those who've had similar experiences either being incarcerated for 15 years or longer, incarceration as a juvenile to their 30-60 years old, and being institutionalized, what steps did you take to help you?
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:49 PM
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I would probably start researching therapists in the area for when he comes home. He also has passed issues to heal as well.

Look for articles or books you can send him that may help him wrap his mind around the transition. Until he is faced with it, it is hard to know how he will react.

I'm sure there are others with great advice that will come along.
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Old 03-12-2018, 12:17 PM
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I wish I knew where to tell you to look for help. We're trying to help a friend who was down for a little over 20 years. He is so institutionalized that it's not even funny. I don't even know where to start. If you take him out of the kitchen, he can't function.
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Old 03-12-2018, 01:49 PM
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Therapy is a good idea.

Getting into a routine is also a good idea. That routine should include education, even on basics like taxes, credit counseling, basic technology, and the stuff that you take for granted that he hasn't been exposed to.

Routine should also include an exercise program. Hitting the gym, getting help from a personal trainer, getting into a class at the gym - good ideas.

If he's religious, then getting him into the habit of attending service and even joining the choir (he doesn't have to sing well, just be willing to sing) can help.

His schedule for the week should also include aa or na if that's applicable. Peer self help groups like adult children of alcoholics can help him look at issues that led to prison if that was a thing in his life.

Really, you want to start with a schedule that he can keep. Start small - therapy or something, each week and then add to it. Prison is fairly regimented - people telling him what to do and where to go. He might want to try replicating filling his schedule with positive things where he's mixing with the general public on a weekly basis and where he's learning the basic aspects of life.

Especially for people locked up as juveniles, he's missed natural transitions like preparing his first resume and filing taxes, and who really does understand the insurance thing any more, but he needs to embrace those challenges. Classes can be found apthriugh adult extension courses at your local community college and elsewhere.

Sit down with him and know that he needs to be nourished as well. I'm not talking about food, though nutrition is a big thing as the diet in prison is crap. But start with the basics. You've provided a roof over his head, clothes on his back, and a safe space. Now he needs to branch out into the community in relatively safe ways to learn the things he needs to know, take care of his mind and body (get him a PCP when he has insurance and have a full physical). Exercise, basic skills and knowledge, anything spiritual that he has chosen - all of that is the next step. But, it will feel less threatening if it's on a schedule, a schedule he agrees to and that he can meet. Find his priorities, help him find meetings and classes, and let him mix with the general public.

You've got a great start - he's free, has a safe place, has love and support. From here, it's just a matter of branching out. He can do this - it's just a matter of helping him to not be overwhelmed. So slow, add stuff with definitive start and stop times, and add stuff that allows him to be what he's already been - student, gym guy, religious participant. If you are interested, do some yoga together at the gym - a class where he has somebody familiar with him. Water aerobics. Whatever, as it will help him to get started if he doesn't feel like he's completely alone going out into the world, or trying to understand taxes, or doing an intro to the smartphone or something.
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Old 03-12-2018, 03:41 PM
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My love has been going through a self-analysis period where he's trying to make sense of the path his life has taken and take steps before he returns home to heal things long overlooked.
Mine is in a similar place. He's on his 16th year, spent most of 15-18 in a juvenile facility and then entered state prison at 20. The only difference is he does have access to pretty amazing guidance at his facility. This has come in the form of group work and from Lifers who act as mentors. Obviously the Lifers focus more on the insight and healing part, the group work helps get him thinking along the lines of a plan for the outside. But, there's theory and there's practical application.

We're planning to have a therapist for couples counseling and he'll spend six months in a halfway house before coming home. That was his idea and one I support. I truly don't want him coming out and latching onto me as his guide for everything. Of course I support him, but I have limits and I've been honest about them. He will get the basics from the HWH-- insurance set up, cell phone and how to use it, resume building, driving test and license and that leaves me free to be his emotional support during that transition. I can do that.
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Old 03-12-2018, 04:14 PM
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Just an off hand question but wouldn't someone who has been locked up be mentally disabled and eligible for disability, and medicaid? Not saying they are crazy but really the mental part after being locked up for such a long time would be beyond most peoples abilities to function in a normal environment. Not impossible but very hard and emotionally stressful.
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Old 03-12-2018, 04:25 PM
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Just an off hand question but wouldn't someone who has been locked up be mentally disabled and eligible for disability, and medicaid? Not saying they are crazy but really the mental part after being locked up for such a long time would be beyond most peoples abilities to function in a normal environment. Not impossible but very hard and emotionally stressful.
I'm sure that some might. But I also know how tight disability approval has become. I would think, though don't know, that they would have to be released and essentially fail to "thrive" first.
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Old 03-12-2018, 04:32 PM
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I'm sure that some might. But I also know how tight disability approval has become. I would think, though don't know, that they would have to be released and essentially fail to "thrive" first.
Actually I'm not sure that's why I asked, it's a valid disability I know that plus god knows what else after years of prison. Just a thought that I would look into if it was for my person. Only reason is certain things like insurance are not going to be affordable for someone right out the gate. Also I don't think anyone come's out mentally good after 20 years and they need the help to move on and stay out. JMO
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:06 PM
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Actually I'm not sure that's why I asked, it's a valid disability I know that plus god knows what else after years of prison. Just a thought that I would look into if it was for my person. Only reason is certain things like insurance are not going to be affordable for someone right out the gate. Also I don't think anyone come's out mentally good after 20 years and they need the help to move on and stay out. JMO
Without an actual psychiatric diagnosis, there can be no disability. You can check the SSDI and SSI website for information about valid psych reasons, but generally no. It's not going to fly as a claim for disability.

The guy is not developmentally disabled in that his IQ is generally high enough to actually understand and make his own decisions. Unless he's released directly from solitary with active psychosis, he's generally able to function. Most people who aren't able to function already had a diagnosis of schizophrenia or the like prior to going to prison, or leave with an active diagnosis and fairly heavy duty psych meds.

Further, somebody who meets the statutory requirements of being a danger to self or others generally gets released from prison to the waiting arms of the state hospital, complete with endorsement by prison psych saying that he requires that level of care.

So, no, just because somebody has never filed taxes before doesn't make them any more or less capable of filing taxes as your average 18 year old. Somebody who's never held a job before is no more or less disabled than a housewife going through a divorce and needing to find work for the first time.

And insurance, under Obamacare, is actually fairly easy to get in states that have extended Medicare/Medicaid to the poor and the working poor. I actually had a client apply while in a psych unit in MA. Her bill after a 6 week stay in that psych unit was less than $12 and her premium for the insurance that paid for that bill was $0. So, depending on your state, insurance could be readily affordable, even for somebody without employment and no history of employment who comes out of prison, finds himself in a psych unit after a breakdown.
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Old 03-13-2018, 06:31 AM
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I saw in another group that social security is starting to pay out for post prison ptsd for people that have done a lot of time. I have not researched it so I can't say it's true but i saw it recently.
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:34 AM
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I saw in another group that social security is starting to pay out for post prison ptsd for people that have done a lot of time. I have not researched it so I can't say it's true but i saw it recently.
PTSD is ptsd - it doesn't matter what the source is. The problem is getting an adequate diagnosis and not thinking that you're entitled to disability upon exiting prison.

Again, you need a diagnosis that fits the requirements for disability. pTSD can be such a diagnosis in some cases, but not all cases.

If you think you have ptsd as a result of prison, you're going to need a diagnosis that fits the disability requirements, generally including a psych record from within the prison. Then, you obtain an attorney and apply for disability. An attorney is the best, fastest way to be successful with disability. Expect to have to meet the requirements of the dept of rehab, to do therapy, and to be made ready to work. If you can work, you are not disabled, so there's that to think about.

Trying to fake ptsd for the purposes of obtaining disability is a crime and makes it more difficult for those in genuine need to obtain the services and support they genuinely need.

Oh, and expect at least 6 months for any new claim to produce a result.
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:28 PM
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I wish I knew where to tell you to look for help. We're trying to help a friend who was down for a little over 20 years. He is so institutionalized that it's not even funny. I don't even know where to start. If you take him out of the kitchen, he can't function.
This is what we learned when he came home years ago! He later admitted he was very uncomfortable in stores like Walmart because it was too noisy and busy, yet didn't mind being in stores like Kmart (can I find one now, all of them except one in our town is closed).

He didn't sleep when I was at work, stayed up the entire night until I got off from work, so that'll be something else I'm mindful of in the future.

All of the things we don't consider yet it was funny he easily adjusted to using a cell phone, but has no idea about having his own bills, using an ATM, having a job outside of prison, knowing how to drive, you name it!

There's so much reentry programs don't consider for long-timers at all.
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:40 PM
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Therapy is a good idea.

Getting into a routine is also a good idea. That routine should include education, even on basics like taxes, credit counseling, basic technology, and the stuff that you take for granted that he hasn't been exposed to.

Routine should also include an exercise program. Hitting the gym, getting help from a personal trainer, getting into a class at the gym - good ideas.


After a health scare and realizing they're only going to do enough in prison to keep him alive, he quickly began exercising and has lost close to 40lbs over the last 5 months He used to be involved in sports but when they cut programs, that changed and he wasn't big on working out.

If he's religious, then getting him into the habit of attending service and even joining the choir (he doesn't have to sing well, just be willing to sing) can help.

Our state prison has limited the influx of the churches that used to come biweekly and have services and Bible studies with the men. He's a studied Christianity and Islam so the background is there, he's lacking the fellowship.

His schedule for the week should also include aa or na if that's applicable. Peer self help groups like adult children of alcoholics can help him look at issues that led to prison if that was a thing in his life.

Really, you want to start with a schedule that he can keep. Start small - therapy or something, each week and then add to it. Prison is fairly regimented - people telling him what to do and where to go. He might want to try replicating filling his schedule with positive things where he's mixing with the general public on a weekly basis and where he's learning the basic aspects of life.

Especially for people locked up as juveniles, he's missed natural transitions like preparing his first resume and filing taxes, and who really does understand the insurance thing any more, but he needs to embrace those challenges. Classes can be found apthriugh adult extension courses at your local community college and elsewhere.


So true about incarceration and the lack of going through the natural transitions most of us did. We've discussed how he at times would do things a teenager would do---his response to things and situations would be misunderstood.

He hasn't had much of a routine since he lost his job being transferred. I've encouraged him to make up one to keep away from the mundane routine of what happens at the prison.

Sit down with him and know that he needs to be nourished as well. I'm not talking about food, though nutrition is a big thing as the diet in prison is crap. But start with the basics. You've provided a roof over his head, clothes on his back, and a safe space. Now he needs to branch out into the community in relatively safe ways to learn the things he needs to know, take care of his mind and body (get him a PCP when he has insurance and have a full physical). Exercise, basic skills and knowledge, anything spiritual that he has chosen - all of that is the next step. But, it will feel less threatening if it's on a schedule, a schedule he agrees to and that he can meet. Find his priorities, help him find meetings and classes, and let him mix with the general public.

This part should be easier in the long run. Given the steps he's taking now, it will only be a challenge to find things for him to be involved in when the time comes.

You've got a great start - he's free, has a safe place, has love and support. From here, it's just a matter of branching out. He can do this - it's just a matter of helping him to not be overwhelmed. So slow, add stuff with definitive start and stop times, and add stuff that allows him to be what he's already been - student, gym guy, religious participant. If you are interested, do some yoga together at the gym - a class where he has somebody familiar with him. Water aerobics. Whatever, as it will help him to get started if he doesn't feel like he's completely alone going out into the world, or trying to understand taxes, or doing an intro to the smartphone or something.
That was the challenge the last go round. When his PO extended his curfew and he had to take the day to do things on his own, he got "lost" and that was the slow transition to back to where he is now. Being overwhelmed by how much had changed since he was a teenager and being released into a world that has the expectation that you know how to do this and are familiar with that can be beyond our understanding in the moments that follow when they're released.
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:44 PM
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Therapy/counseling will definitely be an option to address the losses (deaths) of three important people close to him. I don't believe he's grieved while he's been incarcerated and when the time comes, I would rather he have the resources to handle it all. His loss of his grandparents stands out because they were his sole supporters and he hasn't addressed how much that has had an influence on him in all these years.

On top of being incarcerated for so long, how he deals with relationships needs to be addressed, not just his family who he has an inconsistent relationship with, but ours as well.

I've shared books that touch on much of this, but to sit down with a professional is never a bad thing.
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:52 PM
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Therapy/counseling will definitely be an option to address the losses (deaths) of three important people close to him. I don't believe he's grieved while he's been incarcerated and when the time comes, I would rather he have the resources to handle it all. His loss of his grandparents stands out because they were his sole supporters and he hasn't addressed how much that has had an influence on him in all these years.

On top of being incarcerated for so long, how he deals with relationships needs to be addressed, not just his family who he has an inconsistent relationship with, but ours as well.

I've shared books that touch on much of this, but to sit down with a professional is never a bad thing.
Therapy for you to as well. The process could try your patience at times and as you both navigate this support will be huge.
Is he religious? Maybe the support of an open minded church and groups will be helpful. He can relearn how to interact in social settings without being overwhelmed or feel judged.

Just remember baby steps. It could take him a while to adjust. Hugs!
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:38 PM
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Therapy for you to as well. The process could try your patience at times and as you both navigate this support will be huge.
Is he religious? Maybe the support of an open minded church and groups will be helpful. He can relearn how to interact in social settings without being overwhelmed or feel judged.

Just remember baby steps. It could take him a while to adjust. Hugs!
Yes, I've been not only dealing with his incarceration but the passing of my father and my mother's diagnosis of Alzheimer's. The past 10 years have been a lot.

So many churches here are resembling businesses and in and out one stop for worship, I took a step away from it after the small church I went to lost most of their membership who were getting older and passing away. I miss the fellowship.
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:52 PM
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This is what we learned when he came home years ago! He later admitted he was very uncomfortable in stores like Walmart because it was too noisy and busy, yet didn't mind being in stores like Kmart (can I find one now, all of them except one in our town is closed).

He didn't sleep when I was at work, stayed up the entire night until I got off from work, so that'll be something else I'm mindful of in the future.

All of the things we don't consider yet it was funny he easily adjusted to using a cell phone, but has no idea about having his own bills, using an ATM, having a job outside of prison, knowing how to drive, you name it!

There's so much reentry programs don't consider for long-timers at all.
One thing you might keep an eye out for is PICS = Post Incarceration Syndrome You can research it online.
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Old 03-18-2018, 10:48 PM
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One thing you might keep an eye out for is PICS = Post Incarceration Syndrome You can research it online.
I believe there's a thread shared on PTO a while back.
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Old 04-25-2018, 03:56 PM
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My love has been going through a self-analysis period where he's trying to make sense of the path his life has taken and take steps before he returns home to heal things long overlooked. The counselors at the prison could care less and are not taking his requests to find information to help him deal with being a long-timer

He's the first to tell you he's institutionalized and the men he was incarcerated with at 17-24 years old when he was transferred from the juvenile facility to state prison, raised him. Being incarcerated as an adolescent and well into his adulthood has had a strong impression on him and he's trying to find ways to help himself through reading and writing (journaling and poetry).

For those who've had similar experiences either being incarcerated for 15 years or longer, incarceration as a juvenile to their 30-60 years old, and being institutionalized, what steps did you take to help you?
Well, briefly....I went in at 16, and came home at 43. I'm 49 now, and I'll be there first to tell you that life on the outside is sometimes too much for me. And I think anybody that gets close to me knows it. It's allot to do with not having any responsible living skills. No experience in anything, very little education compared to what there these days, and just plain growing up in the joint and"raising" the younger dudes to be convicts rather than men. I don't associate much with people in general, and find myself very much a loaner. Relationships have been extremely short and a disaster, because I tend to attract the wrong element, and my territorial ways have overlapped into my free world. Just give your guy his personal space when you can tell he needs it, don't be a Snoop, and give him as much trust and love you possibly can. Don't criticize his hobbies or look over his shoulder. I'm sure you know how to approach him and how to deal with him at certain times. I don't know how long he was actually in prison or where. Alot has to do with how they did there bid, if they were out of trouble, in gangs, etc. If you have any specific questions I'll be glad to help if I can. As you might be able to gather I'm at a loss of words, my social skills are lacking, and that has allot to do with the way I did my Time. I was in segregated housing for 9 of 26 years, in the beginning. I'm doing the best I can, but I'm self conscious, and feel like I have CONVICT written all over me.
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Old 04-25-2018, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Ridley68 View Post
Well, briefly....I went in at 16, and came home at 43. I'm 49 now, and I'll be there first to tell you that life on the outside is sometimes too much for me.
You have a unique perspective to offer and I think you've painted a helpful picture for those of us loving a long-termer and praying we can make a life together after prison.

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Old 04-25-2018, 04:51 PM
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I spent nearly eight years in prison, and didn’t enter as a juvenile, but wanted to pass on an encouraging story about a young fellow I mentored. He too entered prison as a teen and did not get out until he was nearly 30. Long story short, he took a job as a doorman when he first got out, then landed a job selling cars and progressed into the dealership’s finance department in about three years time. He was making well into a six figure income after three years. Now, he started his own small used car lot and is doing very well with that. I’m just passing this on to point out that prison is a chapter that can be put behind. I have done the same with similar (but not as outstanding!) success. The transition back is a long game and there is a lot of anxiety to deal with, especially in the first months. The two best “friends you have is patience and a few people to provide emotional support and understanding. The halfway house is a good landing pad to start the transition, but it can also become frustrating with all of the accountability it requires. My best advice is to take it one day at a time, and maintain a sense of humor about it all. Best of luck to you!
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Old 04-25-2018, 05:29 PM
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My husband was incarcerated for almost 21 years the first time at the age of 17. He spent another 8 years back on a parole violation. He stated to me that one of the most important things he did while locked up was to keep up with the news, local and world wide.

With him, it helped that from a young age, he learned how to drive trucks and dump trucks while working with his step father. It also helped that he read a lot.

For somebody who was locked up as long as he was, he has made a pretty remarkable transition to society. He definitely knows how to use a cell phone, and he has taught himself how to use a computer. He knows the city we live in better than I do. He still doesn't miss the news.

He does not like crowds, but gets extremely restless if he has to stay in the house too long. He still tends to respond to some things in a harsh manner before he thinks about what comes out of his mouth. When I see he needs his space, I give it to him. He still has a huge rebel streak that has a hard time following rules, but he knows he has to play it straight because he doesn't want to go back. I help him when he asks for help, but let him figure out things on his own a lot too. He has continually surprised me in many ways. I still get pissed with him sometimes, but it's mostly about how he responds to people and dumb kid shit.

He's doing remarkably well all things considered.
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