Prep for Release, Plan for Future
Imagine you have just been released from prison. What do you plan to do with your freedom? Finally eat some real food, smoke a cigarette? Buy some Jordans? Get drunk? Score some dope? Get laid? And then go report in at the parole office?
If this sounds like a good parole plan, you obviously did not spend enough time planning for your future. Maybe what you need is another term, so that you can devise an effective parole plan to enhance your chances for success. That faulty parole plan was one that I used many times. I even changed the order, and reported to the P.O. first, but for me it always ended in a violation of parole, or a new term.
Failure to plan is planning to fail, and as convicted felons the odds are stacked against us. If you are a high school dropout, woman, or minority, the opportunity for legal financial advancement are already adversely affected enough. But there are ways to level the playing field, and put the odds back in our favor.
Many prisons have pre-release classes, and re-entry services available. If your institution offers such programs, take advantage of the opportunity. If not, check your prison's library for resource guides that often provide addresses of transitional housing, and re-entry services in your area.
Residential drug programs are also a good place to build a foundation once you are released. Due to the demand of these services there usually are waiting lists, so start writing them when you're about a year to the house. And many have classes for life skills, computers, parenting, and resume building, while also providing you with a safe, clean and drug-free environment to reside, oftentimes at little or no cost to you.
If you do not have a GED, make an effort to get it while still imprisoned. If you do have a GED, sign up for vocational or college courses. This will optimize your time, by turning unproductive time into a constructive endeavor. A transitional re-entry plan is also an excellent way to plan for your release (see example below). You know your weaknesses, but you have the power to correct your faults.
Example Transitional PlanFirst day goals:
- Report to parole office to discuss parole conditions, and any issues pertaining to the expectations of a successful parole.
- Abstain from drugs and alcohol.
- Check in to transitional housing.
- Call family.
- Obtain social security card, library card, and bus pass.
- Register with the employment development department, and update my resume.
- Apply for general assistance.
- Register for community college.
- Continued abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
- Locate and attend AA or NA meeting to find a sponsor.
- Buy a smartphone.
- Attend church.
- Visit family.
- Stay within the structured program of transitional house.
- Get at least a part-time job.
- Continued participation in AA/NA.
- Open a bank account.
- Obey all laws, and report to parole officer as scheduled.
- Be active in my church, and volunteer in free time.
- Meet other positive people.
- Continue living alcohol- and drug-free.
- Be punctual in work and school.
- Continue following the program rules of transitional house.
- Report to parole office as required, and obey all laws.
- Excell at work and at school.
- Maintain sobriety.
- Stay active in the church.
- Do volunteer work in the community.
- Be an exemplary resident of transitional home.
- Obey all laws, and comply with parole conditions.
- Continue AA/NA participation.
- Maintain excellence in work and school.
- Stay active in the church.
- Help others.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good practical example of the planning that should be done before release to help with the challenges of parole. We would substitute political organizing for church involvement, and we'd sub any programs that help someone maintain (or increase) sobriety for AA/NA.(1)
This brings up another thing we'd encourage people to consider about their release goals. Is your top-level goal to integrate into the labor aristocracy, get married, and live a "normal" Amerikan life? Or is your top-level goal to put in work into the anti-imperialist struggle for the liberation and self-determination of oppressed nations? Whatever you set as your top-level goal should have mid-level (practical) and low-level (tactical) goals attached to it, and any mid-level goals that don't lead you to your top-level goal should be avoided.
Whatever your overall life goal is, finding a community to get involved with is a good way to create ties and build a support structure, which is imperative to avoiding another bid. Some people find this in the church or NA, but there is also often family, friends and political comrades to look to for this same support. Political work on the streets can help to give you further motivation to stay out of prison as you see how much more effective you can be when not locked up. Materialists who reject religion will do better building their community outside the church.
We don't yet have the resources or infrastructure to offer all of the support our comrades being released need and deserve. And so we really appreciate this list of options for some essential services. Ultimately we must provide our own housing, rehab programs and schooling to get free. But for now, we can take advantage of services offered by others (even the state) as we build to that point. What we can offer is political engagement and support. In exchange for your organizing work we can also offer regular check-ins, advice, and day-to-day support helping you navigate the streets. Together we can enable you to be a productive member of the revolutionary movement.
Everyone should tell us your likely parole or release date so we can keep in touch as it approaches. But it's especially important that you tell us if you have a release date in the next 3 years. We need to start planning and working together now.