As a male presently confined at the Indiana State Prison, I have spent almost 20 years of my life behinds bars. Since being here, I have seen a large influx of youth between the ages of 14 and 25 coming into the institution with lengthy prison sentences. A large percentage of them will spend the next two or three decades in prison because of bad decisions. The wrong choices in life can ultimately lead to a life of misery and pain.
The individual who chooses this life will be subject to every form of emotional, physical and mental abuse that one can imagine. Apart from normal society, prison is a subculture where a person no longer has control over his life. The most rudimentary choices of everyday life, such as where you live, what time you go to bed and when you get up, the food you eat, the people with whom you eat, work and sleep are all chosen for you. In addition, you will face constantly changing rules and policies to fit the situation at hand. This level of existence conditions you emotionally to accept being socially disadvantaged, socially disabled and socially maladjusted to a degree that is totally unacceptable in today’s social order.
Prison denies you the social freedoms an individual enjoys in society—such as being with family and friends. Because of institutional policies and lack of visiting space, visitors can only visit an average of twice a month. After awhile the lack of quality time spent with family and friends tends to distance them and dismantle your relationships. This serves as an assault on your sense of self-worth, and often causes you to become hostile and indifferent toward society as a whole. Therefore, the conditions of prison have effectively caused you more harm than before you entered.
Also, I must emphasize that prison life forces some individuals to exist on a subhuman level just to survive. A lack of financial support causes them to resort to illegal methods to get by during their period of incarceration. This stark reality is indeed unfortunate because you will find yourself participating in the same acts that contributed to your imprisonment. And in prison this type of behavior could lead to your losing your life, or cause you to take someone else’s life.
You don’t want to spend a lifetime being incarcerated, having to deal with degradation and humiliation. Determine in your mind you are no longer going to participate in negative activity, or put yourself in a position where you might lose your freedom. Now is the perfect time for you to set some positive goals for your life. Make education a priority, because it will afford you an opportunity to pursue those things in life that are fulfilling and meaningful. Don’t end up regretting the choices you made and wondering if you’ll ever be free again.