Adjusting to Life at Home

Your Loved One is finally home! The adjustment from prison life to freedom is sometimes more difficult than the family expects.  The key is patience, understanding, and open communication.  Just as the former inmate has a plan, the family needs to have a plan to make this transition successful.  Consider the following concepts:

Loud Noises
Loud, sudden noises or sneaking up on a former inmate can produce unexpected results.  You need to remember that your Loved One has been living in a virtual war zone where they are always at full alert.  If an inmate startles or scares another inmate in prison, a fight can immediately break out.  Coming up behind an inmate and touching them can cause an inmate to spin around and swing.  Family members must be considerate of their Loved One’s personal space.

Technology
Things may be quite different now than when your Loved One was locked up.  It is not uncommon for an inmate to be overwhelmed with today’s technology.  Some inmates have never seen a cell phone or used the internet or even popped popcorn with a microwave.  There is a funny story about an inmate who was using the restroom at a hospital and didn’t know how to turn on the faucet because it didn’t have a handle and didn’t know how to dry his hands because there were no paper towels in the dispenser.  Technology moves very quickly and even the most tech-savvy inmates quickly lose ground to the rapid changes in society.

Alcohol, Drugs, and Weapons
Before you bring your Loved One home, you should get rid of all alcohol, controlled substances, and weapons if they are in your home.   Any alcohol, drugs, or weapons found in the home of a parolee could result in a parole violation and the re-arrest of your Loved One.

Routine
Inmates are used to having a fairly rigid routine.  Their schedules don’t vary a lot from day to day in prison.  At home, routines and schedules are very important, especially in the beginning.  Over time routines change and loosen up some, but family members need to be understanding about eating at the same time, bedtime schedules, etc. at first.

Communication
Inmates aren’t very good at sharing their feelings.  No matter who you are, little things will be annoying, and your Loved One has probably not been able to engage in an open dialogue about feelings for a long time.  Try to keep open communication before a mere annoyance becomes a real problem.  Make time to talk about feelings.