If you fell asleep for a whole year, imagine everything you would have missed. There would be scandals, news, pop culture updates… Now what if you fell asleep for ten years? Twenty? Imagine all the technology that’s come about in the past decade: huge advancements in cell phones and computers, internet can be found everywhere, electronic payment systems have become popularized, the list goes on and on. If you were asleep while all of this was being created, tested, and sold mass market, you wouldn’t have any idea how to cope when you woke to find such foreign objects all around. The world moved on without you. Prison is like that indefinite sleep, except while the outside world raced on, you were stuck in a static system of routines. How does one readjust to a life of which has passed him or her by?
“If you’ve never been inside a jail, you learn that once a person is incarcerated, there’s an indoctrination of incarceration. So now you’ve got a system within a system. Now you’ve got a system over here that teaches you how to number one: how to scheme and survive. So if I’m incarcerated for seven years or ten years compared to somebody incarcerated for two or three years, my mindset is so entrenched and so locked-in to scheming, to trying for me to get over. In order to survive I learn how to beat the system and have the upper hand. So when I come back out into society, what I’ve been equipped with is not something that’s rehabilitated me; what I’ve been equipped with is something that’s causing me to be more at a disadvantage and to be more trying to scheme it over. So instead of me coming back into society and trying to be productive, I come back with the same mindset, the same attitude. And that’s what we’re trying to change. And we’ve got to change that, because seven years ago- two years ago, three years ago before you were incarcerated- things were a lot different. It has changed so greatly since that individual has been locked up, but you’ve got to change the mind- the thinking process- in order for that individual to see the reality of it. We can’t let them come back out and continue to be thieves, drug dealers, robbers, murderers, rapists, molesters… We’ve got to get them back into society. So before they get there we’ve got to have something that initiates a positive change.” -Dr. T.T. Pope
After leaving prison, most people feel like they have become a changed person. For most of these people, the change occurred due to the length of their sentence as well as an active drive to be better. For a few, change was necessary in order to survive. In either case, upon exiting the system and reentering the outside world, one is no longer the same person he or she was when he entered so long ago. Very few people exit the system with the same mentality that put them in, but those people do exist. This is exactly what community leaders and reentry programs are working to change.