UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON

40

Chapter 10

DEALING WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

 

Friends and family are the most important part of an inmate’s life. It is also one of the most lacking elements in inmate’s lives in America. Many inmates have no friends or family on the outside. They have only the friends they meet in prison. Most inmates come from broken homes or in some cases, no home at all. Those who had friends when they were on the street, find that once they go to prison, those were not really friends at all. Once an inmate has received Christ as his Savior, he will realize that most of his life was “a lie” and that he needs to live in the truth of God’s word. Along with that comes the reality that he needs family and he needs to find some true friends.

The judicial system sends thousands of criminals each year to prisons for what it calls “rehabilitation”. For the inmate, that is just a word used to make everything appear the way it should be and not the way it really is. Rehabilitation can only come from within a person who sees the need for change and wants it!! Even if that is true, a person needs to know how to make these changes in his life. This triggers a search for advice.

In prison, time has a way of stopping, of standing still. The days and weeks do pass but time still seems to stand still because every day is the same. Everything is so systematic that nothing really changes. An inmate gets up at a certain time, eats at a certain time, gets locked up at a certain time and goes to bed at a certain time just to do it all again the very next day, over and over. Even the food seems to be the same day after day. The inmate’s room is the same day after day. The people one sees everyday are the same day after day.

So a person who wants to change things in his life will find it harder than he thought to do so in prison, mostly because of the dull, repetitive, every day life. I have seen inmates who have an abundance of potential to be a really good person, but when you try to show it to them, they just brush it off and don’t even think twice about it. Most of these inmates are the ones that don’t have friends or family on the outside to write or visit them. They have picked friends in prison who have fallen prey to the dullness of systematic prison life and have no hopes or dreams. They have no desire to change or look forward to a brighter future.

I have also seen men who came to prison with much family and friend support. They are always getting visits, mail or calls on the phone, some every day! These inmates are much more up beat and even encouraging to other inmates who are down. Even for some of these, as time passes, and the prison’s systematic way of life slowly creeps into their attitudes, they lose hope. Future hopes of a better life diminish and before long they are speaking rough to their friends and loved ones on the outside. Many friends and family stop communicating because of this attitude. These same inmates begin complaining about everything and start to always talk negative to everyone.

There are also the more dramatic type of inmate who is full of highs and lows. These inmates fall prey to the dullness of prison life on their lows and then grab for any light of hope for their highs. A letter from a girl friend or a job in prison or money in the mail, dramatically effects their emotions for a while. After such an event, they are high on life for a time with all kinds of hopes for a better life. Then just a few weeks later, they are right back in to the same old life style of depression with no hope and future plans.

The last type of inmate might not have much going for him. He might not get much mail and perhaps only a few visits a year. His attitude is one of steadiness, kindness and

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