5 Positive Steps for an Inmate to Take: Jail to Release

photo of jail uniform shirt
Bexar County Jail


Advice to Send to Your Loved One

Being sentenced to time in the Bexar County Jail isn’t as bad as having to go to prison but it still affects your life and the lives of those who love you. You will lose your job, lose your freedom, possibly lose your home and have legal bills. Those are just the obvious issues. While in jail you may have feelings of guilt, depression, inability to sleep and fears of losing your partner.  These things take quite a bit of a toll but there are ways you and your family can help you get through this.

1. Keep in Touch

  • It’s important to keep in touch with your loved ones as much as possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s phone calls, visits or letters. Whatever they can do will help you to feel that you matter. Don’t think about only your family. Ask friends to send you letters too.
  • Write back to the people who send you letters. Writing is a way of releasing our feelings. It will help you to feel a little bit better. You have to be yourself but try not to get too negative when you write. If you spill your guts in anger you will carry that anger with you through the rest of the day. That won’t help you. Try to look for some positive things. Write about a funny thing that happened or a book you read and enjoyed. The positive feelings you have when you write about good things will stay with you just like the negative feelings will.

2. Stay Aware of Current Events

  • Watch the news or read the newspaper to stay up to date with what is happening in our community, the rest of the nation, and the world. This is another thing that will help you feel like you are part of the community.
  • A diet of just news can be depressing. Watch a basketball or football game. Or any other kind of sport that may interest you. Try watching or reading about a sport you’ve never paid attention to before. Maybe swimming or tennis.
  • These things will help you when you are writing letters to others. They will give you something more to talk about. Understand that people who are not in jail can feel guilty too. They feel bad that they can do things that you can’t. When you bring up topics that are not related to you being in jail, it will be easier for them to speak about things they did.

3. Exercise Daily

  • If you’ve watched anything about animals you’ve probably seen an animal pacing back and forth in a cage. Confinement is hard. The animal is showing stress but a person can take steps to avoid that stress. Exercise is key. There are a lot of emotional benefits you receive from exercising such as reduced stress, feelings of satisfaction, self-confidence…
  • One of the most important aspects of exercising is it increases your ability to get a good night’s sleep. That is really important in a jail setting. A lack of sleep can cause irritability and poor judgment. Those are things that can be very dangerous in jail.
  • What you do to exercise doesn’t really matter. Play basketball, lift weights, do push-ups or sit-ups, run in place. All that matters is that you expend energy in a physical manner to help increase your oxygen intake, get your blood flowing and your heart pumping so that you can benefit from a better frame of mind.

4. Take Advantage of Education Programs & Support Groups

  • You are in a place that you can’t leave. You may as well look on the bright side. Find the silver lining. Most jails have programs that can benefit you when you are released from jail. Educational programs are always to your benefit. A lot of jails will help you get your GED if  you never completed high school.
  • If a jail doesn’t have much to offer you can always turn to educational books. It doesn’t have to be a book about math or science. Educating ourselves comes in many forms. It could be a book on woodworking, welding, small motor repair or finances. Don’t overlook books on meditation. That can be very helpful particularly if you have high emotions.
  • Then there are the programs that can help you with addictions such as substance abuse or alcoholism. There are programs on parenting. And if you choose, there are ministers who can help you get closer to your faith.

5. Leaving the Jail

Eventually your time will be up. It will be a wonderful feeling but strange as it may seem, there can be a little fear involved too. What will you face? Will your family and friends perceive you differently? Did your partner wait for you and if so, is the relationship the same or has it changed? Will you be able to get a job? This is where your letter writing pays off because it will be so much easier if you have help. Communicating helped you to keep your relationships strong while you were away. It reminded your family and friends that you are still the same person but maybe a little bit better.

  • You may have lost your home. Plan for a place to stay. Don’t push family members into letting you stay with them if they are not comfortable but ask them for help into looking for places you can stay when you get out. There may even be programs that offer housing for inmates released from jail.
  • Money will be an issue. If you are lucky, you will have someone who can help you out but most people don’t have that. You will need to get a job quickly and will need to be able to support yourself during the time it takes to get your first check. This is where a lot of people fall back into the problems that landed them in jail. Ask your family or a friend to try to find places that will hire someone who has a record. There are companies that specifically help people with a criminal history. They understand the problems people face and help them to get back on their feet until the person is able to find something else.
  • Let your family know what kinds of problems you may have and ask them to look for support groups you can join when you get out.
  • You may not have wanted your children to see you in jail. Plan on how you are going to reconnect with them. They will have questions. How will you answer?

We incarcerate a lot of people here in the United States. Many people have been in the same situation as you. And many have been able to move on from their mistake. But it takes work. Regardless of how much support you have, only you can make the commitment to do things differently once you get out. Good luck.

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