If you’ve never been to jail or prison, or have not been incarcerated long enough to have been institutionalized, you may disregard this paper, or you may read this just to learn awareness of the mental challenges a prisoner has to deal with upon getting out. This is mainly for those who have been locked up for many years and have a hard time rehabilitating themselves with society upon release, finding themselves still in the prison mindset and concept of programming.

 

In my personal experience of being released after 3.5 years as an Asian (In jail, Asians run in a group called: “Others”), I got out feeling like I should only associate closely with other Asians. Any White, Black or Mexican person was someone I would politely acknowledge but would not even attempt to connect with.

Why do we only associate with our own race in prison? Because that’s how we were brainwashed by the jail system, and inmates almost took pride in the separation. They used race as a way to band up and protect each other, feed each other, and control the peace. And in a sense, it was a good thing. Jail was a lot more systemized in that way, there was less chaos and more order. Each race had a leader (shot caller) and everyone else just ran with him. If drama were to ensue between one race or another, it would be brought up between each races shot callers (assuming things didn’t just escalate to a fight immediately.)

As years pass of being in such a system, automatically clicking up with your race and “type” of people, it becomes instinctive. Once you are released and walk out free…your mind is still in the same mindset.

 

But here’s the thing: the threats and dangers that required such a grouping does not exist in typical average society.

People aren’t walking around in the free world with a wristband stating their race and association. People are not tense and standing around waiting for fights to jump off. People are not going around trying to find others “like them” to share food.

All that is gone.

The whole jail institutionalized mindset is geared to prepare for trouble. But in society, that trouble is so rare it practically doesn’t exist. As a matter of fact, just by having that mindset and by going around with it you are going to be the reason such problems and prison tensions  happen where it doesn’t exist.

It was very hard for me to catch on to this. I went around in a suburban city where most Asians are simply out to make a living and support their family, pursue their education and become engineers, doctors, programmers and the like. And it always took me off guard, because I was used to criminal, gang related responses. And then it hit me that by going around trying to associate with other Asians like the way I did in prison made me look reaaaally stupid.

What was I trying to do? Have us become a fighting force for drama? How stupid is that.

So what I eventually figured out is that when you’re released, you shouldn’t view people or focus on them in the same light you did in jail. Race doesn’t matter.

What matters is whether you are on the same page of certain goals and are like minded in your concepts. Find people who have the same interests as you, in a positive aspect. If a person has the same goals as you, who cares what their race is. They don’t have the same gang banging set tripping mindset as you might…or as I did.

Even now as I write this, my mind is still reeling and trying to adjust. I’m still standoffish to people of other races. I still view them as threats or potential enemies, where a fight can snap off at any moment.

It’s ridiculous. But acknowledging a problem is always the first step to solving it, so I hope that if you are dealing with the same rehabilitating problem as me that you will find this paper helpful in recognizing the issue so you can take the starting steps of solving it.

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