The Impact of Imprisonment
Considering Prison’s Lasting Effects
MARCH 2017

“The Prison Experience”
Considering Prison’s Lasting Effects

It may be difficult for a regular citizen to empathize with the challenges inmates face in the hidden and sometimes mysterious world of prison.

Yet those of us who have always resided outside prison walls can certainly relate to having felt traumatized at some point in our lives and to feelings of loneliness and isolation, common experiences both during and after a prison sentence.

Recently released inmates often call Project 180 seeking assistance and, during our conversations, reveal challenges they face after release. We discussed some of these in a recent Herald Tribune Media Group guest column, “Consider prison’s lasting effects:”

Formerly incarcerated individuals report a lack of self-confidence and coping skills, loneliness, a fear of large crowds, and difficulty approaching and crossing busy streets. Others state they are extremely reluctant to interact with strangers by phone or in person, sometimes for months after release.

Those who have served long sentences report that they are in a ‘fragile state’ when they leave prison. Former inmates who relied upon a code of polite and respectful interaction in prison in order to maintain a safer environment, often experience co-workers and supervisors in the outside world as rude and disrespectful.

To expect recently released prisoners to immediately begin functioning in the outside world without a supportive social network reflects a troubling lack of knowledge about the prison experience and its aftereffects.