Has anyone ever spent over a decade in prison, what was it like to be released? (See Amazing Answers)

Has anyone ever spent over a
decade in prison, what was it
like to be released?

Source: Quora

I did EXACTLY a dime so I’m going to go
ahead and answer this one. So how did it
Surreal. Surreal to the max. I woke up that
morning and didn’t even get ready to leave.

I just went about my normal program (or
tried to). About 6 months prior to my
release I had been called into the
counselor’s office and told that they
miscalculated my date and that instead of
August 15 I would go home October 30.

That may not seem a big deal, but when you
have been down 9 and a half years and you
are now MONTHS away from release, every
single day becomes a real live hell. I knew
that a release date is an elusive thing. I
ended up getting mine pushed back from
2013 to 2015 during my time upstate. When
you get close, every movement someone
makes becomes suspicious, every guard
looks like he wants to set you up and fuck
you out of your freedom. It’s stressful to
say the least.

So once I stepped out that gate holding
onto my guitar, bible and copy of Anna
Karenina… I screamed. I saw my mom, dad,
brother and sister in-law and their son
whom I had never met… I felt like my heart
was going to burst. Everything seemed
bright, there were so many colors. People
walking around just wearing whatever
clothes they wanted, just walking
wherever… it boggled the mind. I ate a
french dip sandwich from our favorite
family restaurant in L.A. on the drive
home… I wish everyone could know just
how good food tastes after 10 years of
eating slop. I really do. It’s unbelievable.

For the first few days I couldn’t stop
opening my front door and walking
outside. I’d stare at the night sky for hours.
Submerging in water after having only
showers for 10 years was amazing. Every
sense felt heightened. I couldn’t wipe the
smile from my face.

Of course there were drawbacks too. After
so much time I don’t really have any
friends. My experience during the decade of
my 20’s is so vastly different than “normal”
people that it can feel very isolating. I can’t
tell very many stories because prison is a
completely different culture with
completely different values… nobody would
understand who hasn’t lived it. Sure I have
a great perspective on life and how damned
lucky I am to be alive and free, but it makes
it all the more frustrating having to engage
with people who think that getting locked
out of their car is a tragedy of the highest
order. Remembering and still feeling in my
bones the hell of that life can really
highlight the pettiness and banality of much
of human existence out here. And of course
I still get nightmares. Panic attacks.

Extreme anxiety over simple social
interactions. I have been out over a year
and noisy crowds still get to me. Sporting
events are hit and miss; I tried going to a
Charger game and had to take several
breaks to find a quiet place by myself to
calm down. It’s a process that I will be
going through for the rest of my life.
So… like everything in life, it’s a give and
take. Actually getting released from prison
was incredible. Just breathing the air
smelled sweeter. The problem is all of the
unavoidable psychological damage that
comes with long periods of incarceration
and isolation.


Well, I didn’t do the time, my husband did.
He was in for 30 years. So I’ll tell you what
my observations were when he came back
into society.

He went to prison at 19 and was released at
50. So, culturally, he missed quite a bit. He
couldn’t believe all the people walking
around with phones. Using an ATM card
took some getting used to. He brought out
a ton of prison lingo, which is fascinating
somehow. He referred to our bedroom as
our “cell” and our neighbour’s homes as
“their cells”. Prison food is a strange
concoction of foods from the kitchen and
the commissary, and he still eats “breaks”.
They’re basically Ramen noodles with
things added to them to make a meal. My
husband adds crushed cheese puffs, pickles
and tuna. He loves to take baths and will
walk up and down every aisle in a store and
marvels at the things for sale. What was
strangest was, we’d lay in bed on a Saturday
morning and he’d say he had to go to the
store. Later that day he’d walk past me, out
the door, without saying a word. He’d come
back with bags and put the groceries away
and again not say a word. I would ask why
he was upset and that confused him. He
wasn’t mad, and he told me he had to go to
the store that day. We had to establish
relationship etiquette so he’d say hello and
goodbye and eventually it became natural
to him.

He still has dreams about prison, usually
they’re borderline nightmares. He is always
scanning when we’re in open areas – eyes
darting around – always looking around for
a threat. He gets concerned about his mom
and I just doing something simple like going
out to walk the dog. I believe he has (had)
something like PTSD. He developed a very
direct communication style which, once I
got used to it, I learned to appreciate.

Having a husband that spent time in prison
is probably like having a pet pit bull. Some
people believe all ex offenders are
dangerous and some are. Some don’t want
anything to do with him. But some people
are willing to look past labels and see the


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