No matter how long or how short your term in prison was, there is some re-integration that needs to happen as you get used to being out on your own. Prison is a closed system, and after you are released, you are suddenly without the walls and boundaries that defined the previous months or years. If you going to be released soon or you have just been released, you should be aware that there is often a risk of re-offending shortly after you have been released. To make sure that you re-integrate smoothly, there are a few tips to follow.
Look For Assistance with Jobs
There are both government and private groups that are dedicated to helping people who had been in prison find jobs. Because most forms will ask if you have committed a felony, there is a chance that answering truthfully will mean that you will not get past the first scan. While this is frustrating, this should not mean that you resort to lying on the form, no matter how unfair it feels. Instead, talk to government or private organizations that will put you into contact with people who are willing to ignore your time in prison.
Connect With a Healthy Support Network
If you have been in prison, there may be many ties that have become strained or even severed. There may be the temptation to return to people who may encourage you to continue doing illegal things. The key to successfully re-integrating with society after you have been in prison is to find a network that supports you, rather than one that will drag you down again. Connect with friends or family members who were uninvolved with the reasons that you were incarcerated, and speak frankly with them. Tell them what you are going through, and make sure that they understand that you will likely be stressed as time goes on. Ask them for support, but be understanding if they cannot give it to you. You will also find that there are support groups that are ideal for this very purpose. They can put you in contact with people who have been where you are at.
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Get Mental Disorders Treated
Treating a mental disorder is always easier said than done, but it is an essential part of your re-integration. Mental disorders have a great deal to do with the prevalence violent crimes, and moreover, they will often affect your quality of life. There are free resources that will help you deal with mental disorders in your own life, and in many cases, support groups will also be of help. It is too easy after an incarceration to fold in on yourself, and to start to isolate. Over the long term, this does you no favors, and it could potentially be disastrous. Instead, seriously consider what mental disorders might be affecting your life and seek help. This is not easy, but it is an important part of getting your life where you want it to be.
Dealing with Substance Abuse
If you have had any sort of substance abuse problem, even if it was incidental to your arrest, now is the time to get them treated. While this could be lumped with getting mental disorders taken care of, it is worth a section on its own. Find support groups in your local areas, contact a rehabilitation program if necessary or find a mentor who can guide you through this rather rocky landscape. Substance abuse is a specter which can drive you towards re-offending, and given the fact that re-integrating with society is significantly stressful, a somewhat manageable substance abuse problem can quickly spiral out of control.
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Marlon Baker is a probation officer and guest author at How Do I Become A…, where he contributed the How Do I Become A Probation Officer? guide.