How to Adjust to Life After Prison

Updated April 17, 2017

Institutionalisation is the process by which inmates adjust to the environments in which they live, according to Craig Haney of the University of California-Santa Cruz in his paper "The Psychological Impact of Incarceration." After spending a significant amount of time in prison, having to reintegrate into society can pose a serious challenge. Although adjusting to life after prison is no easy feat, hard work and proper planning can help you achieve a comfortable position. Making the transition from prison into society will take time and patience.

Ask a reliable family member or friend if you can stay with them until you become financially independent and stable. Ensure that the friend or family member doesn't indulge in activities that will cause you to relapse into your former lifestyle. Avoid people that drink, abuse drugs, fight or engage in illegal acts.

Itemise a list of all the goals you aim to reach. Write down ambitions such as a job, housing, family, education and career. List the goals in order of importance. Write a short paragraph next to each ambition, detailing how you plan to reach the goal. Place the goals list on the refrigerator or bedroom wall. This will be a reminder for you each time you look at it.

Create a resume and cover letter. Apply for local jobs that suit your skill set and experience. Fill out applications at local temporary job agencies. Focus on finding a job that will allow you to save money. Open a savings account and deposit a portion of money into the account each time you are paid.

Search for housing that is within your budget once you find a steady job and save enough money. Rent housing in a neighbourhood with minimal violence and crime. If you cannot find an affordable apartment or home, consider getting a roommate.

Join a support group, church, mosque or any supportive organisation. Become as active and involved as you possibly can. Find people that have similar interests and goals.

Start dating. Ensure that you see someone who is goal-oriented and positive. Take your date to places such as the movies, bowling, church or a park. Do activities together that will allow the relationship to grow.

Develop hobbies and activities that you like to do. Practice the hobby at least twice a week. Having a hobby will keep your mind off your troubles and allow you to live in the present.

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About the Author

A family therapist and graduate of the University of Louisville, Tyran DeWalt has written relationship and holistic self-care practice advice for close to a decade. DeWalt relishes in being able to combine his zeal for writing and his commitment to assisting people manage everyday life challenges.