Loss of a Loved One
Loss of a loved one is hard to deal with. The loss can occur when you break up, when there is a death or when people move away and grow apart. But how does it feel when you lose a loved one to prison? The affects this kind of loss has on us can be different than any other loss we may have ever felt before. The feelings can be intense. While you may feel anger because of what they have done, you may also feel sad and lonely. Helpless is another great word to describe this feeling. Especially when you can’t or do not understand why this has happened. It takes a strong person to go through this, but you can make it through.
Being a Prisoner Does Not Make You a Monster
People go to prison for many different reasons. Some are very serious, while other crimes are non-violent. Some people in prison are actually innocent. So how should you handle it when someone close to you is sent to prison? Well the choice is yours, but remember all of us make mistakes. Getting in trouble with the law does not automatically make them a monster.
Most people have either done something in which they could have gone to prison for, or know someone who has done something that they could have gone to prison for. Just because you or they did not get caught, does not mean that you are any better then them.
Was it Just Bad Judgment?
If another person physically, emotionally or mentally harms you, of course you do not have to support them while they are in prison. If someone has hurt you in these ways, then yes, you need to move on and keep yourself safe and healthy. But what about all the other people? The ones who made a one-time mistake? The ones who used bad judgment? The ones who received extensive punishments for their crime? Believe me, sometimes prison sentences do not make sense. A person who has committed numerous hard core crimes could wind up with less time than a person who was caught with some marijuana in their pocket. Though they are both crimes, and punishable by law, there is a huge difference in the nature of the crimes. We need to understand that the law is not always fair and just, but we need to show our loved one that we are on their side.
Prison Does Not Rehabilitate
Prison is a hard and confusing place to be. It is supposed to be a place where people are rehabilitated and a place to learn your lesson so that when you are released you will not commit another crime. This is not the case. In order to survive in prison you need to think like a criminal, even if that is not how you thought before. You need to adjust to a lifestyle of anxiousness, always watching your back and boredom beyond belief. There is a lack of medical treatment and you are served barely edible food. While prison should not be a walk in the park or a luxury hotel, programs should be in place which actually rehabilitates people.
First of all I do not believe that violent and non-violent criminals should be placed in the same facilities. Crimes should be addressed and worked on through programs which help to prepare people to go back into the real world. Realistically. When you are living in a place which is full of crime in itself and hustling is the only way to survive, you are being taught crime. Not being healed.
I understand that it would be more costly up front to treat and rehabilitate people, but in the long run, if people are helped rather than harmed then the chances of them re-offending would be significantly reduced, therefore saving money to house people in the long run.
Loving and Supporting a Prisoner
That is why when someone you love goes to prison it is very important that you can support them in any way that you can; Not only with monetary support, but with moral support and emotional support. Keeping them in the loop with the real world is important. Showing your love and forgiveness is important. Reminding them of life, laughing and being there to listen will go a long way.
When your loved one receives mail and packages from you, it will help keep their minds on the positive. Sending books and puzzles will also help with the boredom.
If visiting is an option, try to visit as often as possible. The goal is to try to keep your loved one healthy mentally. Receiving support from family and friends will help tremendously with the process. Some places allow you to visit in a cafeteria style room while others are behind glass. Being able to bond and see you in the flesh can be very comforting and help with the stress that they feel on the inside.
Try putting yourself in their shoes. Yes they may have messed up. They may have made the wrong choice, but it could easily happen to anyone. What if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time or what if something traumatic happened in your life which led you down the wrong path? Would you want your friends and family to give up on you? Would you want or even expect the ones you love to be there for you?
I understand that having a loved one go to prison will change your whole life. It will make you angry and give you mixed feelings. It will be very inconvenient and things in life will not be the same for you or for them. It is okay to be angry and to even express your disappointment to your loved one. But beating them up about it is not going to change the situation. If you plan to have this person in your life once they are home, you can have a big impact on how they handle the situation. Getting released from prison knowing that there is not a soul on earth that is there to support you may be scarier than actually being in prison itself.