A lot of people view prison negatively. For them, a prison is a hellish place where the guilty and those who are innocently accused of crimes are locked away to suffer the worst in life. There is rampant violations of human rights. A breeding ground for the worst social evils. The prison cells are usually dark and filthy where many of the prisoners cry out for attention and understanding. Living conditions are far from being hygienic and convenient which pose danger to the physical, emotional and mental health of the inmates. Many of them are suffering from various illnesses, depression and anxiety disorders.
A prison or penitentiary is supposed to be an institution where those who are found “guilty” of violating the law are physically confined to serve their sentence. The justice system of any country imposes imprisonment as a legal penalty for the commission of crimes with the end goal of disciplining and rehabilitating them. However, some of those who are in charge of these prisons seem to be the ones who need rehabilitation and discipline.
Once a prisoner completes his sentence and is released from prison, he can either change to a better person or go back to his lawless ways. Leaving the penitentiary is a great relief to every ex-convict who is willing to do everything a good citizen does. But as soon he gets out of the confining prison walls is the realization that the social stigma of being an ex-con will follow him wherever he goes. Society may be willing to forgive ex-convicts but may not readily give them a chance to have a brand-new life.
Ex-convicts always face the reality that finding shelter can be a problem. Whether they are alone or they have families to return to, there are always the neighbors and the community they have to deal with. People may not easily trust their presence and they will obviously feel the unwelcome treatment and rejection. Starting a new life means looking for a job in order to earn a living. Felons who have paid their debts to society often discover that the road to opportunities are blocked with prejudice. Job opportunities will not give them priority and preference. Ex-convicts experiencing social rejection can lead to a number of adverse emotional and psychological consequences such as social anxiety and insecurity, loss of self-esteem and depression, and post traumatic stress disorder.
Social anxiety is simply the fear of being with people. Ex-cons who suffer from this condition find it hard to interact with others. They always feel that they are being watched, criticized or judged negatively by other human beings. It is the persistent feelings of self-consciousness and anxiety. They typically experience a sense of dread and nervousness in the build up to the feared situation, and analyse or ‘replay’ the situation in their mind when it’s over, ruminating on how they could have done better. Sufferers of social anxiety may also experience physical symptoms such as trembling, blushing or sweating.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects a person’s eating and sleeping habits, the way one feels about oneself or self-esteem, and the way one thinks about things. Depression is not just a passing mood that can be willed away. When ex-convicts experience social rejection and get depressed, they may have a hard time pulling their act together. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when a tragic event happens involving physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The harm could have happened to the person PTSD or to a loved one, or the person is a witness to a tragic scene that happened to loved ones or strangers.
PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.
Ex-convicts have tragic experiences while being held in prisons. Social rejection adding up to their pent up emotional wounds may trigger a post traumatic stress syndrome. This is why most felons return to prison after a few months of freedom. They end up going back to their old ways due to the pressure of a critical society who are not ready to give them another crack to a better life.
A number of non-profit organizations and social welfare groups are now helping those who are getting out of prison walls to move on with their lives by providing them shelter, jobs, counseling and rehabilitation. It is not meant to spoil or pamper them. Only to help them get up on their feet in order to start up on their new journey in life. Most of these non-profit groups believe that given the best scenario, ex-convicts can change and can do everything that good citizens do. Because most people involved in these organizations are reformed felons as well.