After being locked up for years in a kind of halfway house between the world and total oblivion, what is it like to step foot back into the world again?
Does the rush of happiness and relief descend into immediate terror about the future? Or does the happiness plateau as realism sets in?
Former inmates have shared their experiences on post-prison life, detailing the euphoric highs and deep lows that come with re-acquainting with society.
When a sandwich is all you need
“Humbling and glorious,” one former prisoner described the experience on Reddit.
“I got put on a Greyhound bus with other prisoners. Some had been locked up for decades. One guy saw a Segway and flipped the f*ck out, he couldn’t believe it.
“I ate a veggie sandwich from Subway that day. It tasted like freedom.”
What’s an iPhone?
When one man found himself sitting on a seat outside prison in the moments after being released, an old woman came and sat with him.
“The old lady caught me daydreaming and interrupted by saying, ‘Would you like to call somebody?’
“The thought had never crossed my mind a few minutes earlier when she’d mentioned me not having a phone and showing me hers. I wasn’t worried about Pat. I knew he’d get there soon enough, and if I only had the chance to make one phone call, I’d preferred to call my mother anyway. ‘Yes, please. I live in Dallas though. Is that going to be long distance?’
“‘Oh, honey, you’ve been gone a while, huh? Long distance is free on these things.’ And with a friendly cackle, she took out her phone again and asked, ‘Who do you wanna call?’
“‘My mother, if that’s okay.'”
When handing him an iPhone, she released he didn’t know how to use it. Sure, he had seen them on TV and in magazines. But he’d never held one, and certainly didn’t know how to operate one.
“Before I had gone to jail, phones still had buttons. But this thing was little more than a rectangular piece of glass. Almost immediately, she realised her mistake and held out her hand to take the phone back. ‘Here, I’ll dial it for you. What’s her number?’
“For the first time in well over three years, I was able to talk to my mother without being preempted every five minutes by a recording reminding both of us that this call has been placed from a correctional institution. When my mum answered the phone, I was all smiles.
“Just another reminder that I was free.”