Why Prisoners Stay Prisoners

About two-thirds of the arrested population find themselves back in jail. About 45% of federal inmates are rearrested within the first five years of their release. Criminals with a high-school diploma are 10% less likely to be rearrested, however, 40% more likely than convicts with college degrees. Also, over half of the male inmates have a mental illness, while 75% of females in detention facilities do. And only one in six men have reported getting any mental health assistance while in jail. These statistics say all that needs to be said, but I’m long winded so I won’t leave it at that.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I believe that prisoners and inmates are people. Like all people, they make mistakes. Like most people, they might have issues in their brain. Personally, I make mistakes and I also have a mental illness. I just haven’t made a big enough mistake to be treated like an animal, and my mental illness isn’t so severe that when it is mistaken for who I am I don’t appear dangerous.

Difficulties Of Finding Employment as an Ex-Convict

One of the hardest parts about coming into the real world after living in jail is finding a job. I have a little story for you that paints the picture just right.

There is a man who fell into a drug problem. He came into a great job too early in his life and blew it all on partying with his friends. He dropped out of school because he didn’t need a degree, and eventually started ruining his life. He eventually starts selling cocaine to cover his expenses, not realizing the spiral he has caught himself in. Luckily, he is arrested and put in jail long enough to get clean. However, the amount of cocaine they found on him was enough to label him a felon.

He gets out of jail and starts looking for a job. No degree, no money, and barely any confidence it becomes difficult. He wants to go back to school, but unfortunately, with financial aid in his state, you can commit almost any crime including violent, but distributing drugs makes you inapplicable.

He starts working for minimum wage because it’s the only job that looks past his record. He starts being able to live on his own instead of his friend’s couch. He can buy a car and that is about it for his expenses. And then the company he works for gets bought out and redistributes background checks. Anyone with a criminal record is not allowed to continue with the company, like our guy.

His car payment is due and his rent is right around the corner, he hadn’t made enough to save for an emergency working minimum wage. So, he takes his last paycheck and buys some cocaine and starts selling to his friends to cover rent. Just until he can find a job to make money honestly. And the cycle continues.

One thing ex-convicts are tired of hearing is no. Not because of lack of skills or lack of personality or character, but because of who they are on a piece of paper. Many criminals don’t want to go back to their ways, they just feel backed into it. Our society is so terrified of the word “felon” that anyone who is trying to improve their lives will have to struggle to do so. They have gotten past their past and are trying to move on. You should too.

Mental Health in Prison

I am also under the impression that people with mental illnesses need medication and/or therapy in order to become outstanding members of society. And yet we throw a bunch of those people in a place altogether and expect them to come out better when nothing was done to help them. One of the most common and very serious mental disorders in jail is Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Antisocial Personality Disorder is when the victim of this disease does not understand right from wrong. They have no empathy towards their fellow man and are very manipulative and destructive. The great thing about modern medicine is that there are ways to cope and treat this disorder. However, when it goes untreated is when psychopathic killers run rampant. And instead of treating their disorder, we sweep them under the rug.

This does absolutely nothing for our society. Letting people sit in time out, marinating in their own reality. When these people are released back into the population, they will be no different. People will still get hurt, and they will return to prison. This does not just go for ASPD, this goes for all mental disorders as well.

 

We are living in a time where we thirst for progress. All of us do, and we shouldn’t deny it to someone only because they don’t follow our societal norms. We want to become better people. And those of us who don’t, we need guidance to show us our errored ways. Prisoners are still people, and they deserve as many chances as we give the rest of the population that just wasn’t caught.

 

 

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My Family Turned Upside Down Again and I’m The Only One Who Knows It

Today I wrote the most beautiful thing I have ever written, but I don’t know if anyone will read it. It had raw passion and emotion. Sentence fragments in the perfect locations. Flawless segues and stunning vocabulary. But I don’t think anyone will read it because it was a letter to my dad.

I haven’t spoken with my father for about 18 years. Not since the day I told child services what he did to me. But there’s a catch to this story I didn’t learn until recently, and it’s a good one.

My mother and father got a divorce when I was 5. He had anger problems and was an alcoholic. I would remember hiding under my mom’s desk upstairs when he was angry. As a tiny little thing, a big bumbling angry man is terrifying. One time I woke him up because I had a nightmare and he grabbed me, choked me. But when he came to, he embraced me and kissed me and told me how sorry he was. Naturally, he was just a violent man.

I also have regular memories. At church, being excited to see his head pop around the corner. I would run to him with my arms up high, pleading to go on his shoulders. He was so tall, I loved being tall, too. One morning he was braiding my hair and I cried because he “hurt my hair”. He turned me around, smiling, and took a big bite out of one pigtail. He asked if that hurt, I said no. And that was when I learned it was my head that was sensitive, not my hair.

Gifts on Christmas, driving around looking at lights. Scrambled eggs in the morning when we stayed at his apartment. Regular dad memories. Until I was twelve and had a nightmare.

My nightmare almost felt real, it was terrifying. I woke up almost hyperventilating. In my dream, my father had molested me in the bath tub. It was so scary I went to my sister, and I confided in her. And she told me that it wasn’t just a dream. It was a suppressed memory.

She told me stories of how he would do things like that all of the time, she would get it the worst because she was older and was trying to protect me. In that moment, at twelve years old, I became a victim of sexual assault. I became a victim of a pedophile. And that really rocked my world.

How can you trust anyone when the one man in your life who is supposed to love and protect you doesn’t do either of those things? How are you supposed to live your life normal knowing that at such an early age you were just an object. I became depressed and started thinking about suicide. At twelve years old.

My mother found a butcher knife in my dresser. She would go through my room often, wondering what had changed about me. I was her perfect angel, and I had turned into what she liked to call, “a poster child for birth control.” Which every child wants to hear from their mother.

She sent me to a children’s mental hospital for three days. I remember going there in the ambulance, and being scared because it was surrounded by barbed wire. I brought my teddy bear that had potpourri in the head because it calmed me, but they took it away when they saw it had a ribbon around its neck.

They talked to me, asked me why I had the knife. I told them I wasn’t going to use it, of course. Just thought about it. They “counseled” me for a few days. Coloring and watching movies, then eventually my mom came back and took me home.

My depression wasn’t gone and mom could tell. She started taking me to the psychiatrist and psychologist. They would give me new meds every few months, wait to see if I got better, and when I didn’t they would prescribe me something new. During all of this time, I am also hitting puberty. Not only is my brain going insane naturally, the medicine trying to balance me out didn’t help.

After about the third therapist, they pulled it out of me. I didn’t want to tell anyone because it was mine. My problem. My secret. But they got it out of me, and eventually pulled my mom in. When I told her, I could see the world crumble in her eyes, and flood out of her tear ducts. She was just as broken as I was then.

I wanted it to be over at this point. I wanted to sweep it under the rug, something I learned how to do well in my family. But they kept persisting. Social services came to my school, and then my house. And saying the words over and over felt disgusting. I wanted it to stop.

Finally, they left. I stayed in my room most days playing video games. Since childhood, my pastime has been writing and playing video games. So I would write terrible poetry in my downs, and my less intense downs were filled with video games. The only things that made me happy.

My sister just left one day. She was gone. I was left alone in a house with a mother who didn’t know how to handle me. I was confused in how to feel. I was a victim and I was powerless. And the worst part about it all was that I was alone.

I would also cut myself, of course. In stupid places at first. I would carve words into my arms that say things like “Worthless” and “Failure”, having to cover them in ace bandages. People would ask what happened, and I would lie and say that my cat got me good or I fell learning how to skateboard. Eventually, I learned to do it in small places on my wrist I can cover with an armband, and then eventually just my thighs. I never wore shorts because I was always made fun of for how pale I was, so it was perfect.

My father used to send letters with his child support. I would read them and then call him and talk about what he wrote and what was going on in my life. After child services left, the next letter in the mail was a blank piece of paper. He was done talking to us. And we were glad.

I would cower in the corner at gym class outside, scared he would be coming for me. As I got older, I started looking through crowds for his face. Both relieved I didn’t see him, and disappointed. I was in marching band all through high school, and even though what he did to me was unforgivable, I couldn’t help but wish just one time he would show up. Just once

I tried to kill myself several times. Each time getting sent to get my stomach pumped or to drink that nasty charcoal that makes you throw up and poop black for a month. I had no value in myself. I chased every guy who smiled at me but never giving up my virginity. Because I could still hold on to it. It was special to me.

After high school, I fell into a drug problem. It was a terrible boyfriend problem, as well, but I call it my drug phase. Painkillers were my Achilles heel, and I would do anything to get them. I was stealing, lying and whatever I could do to get my fix. Anything to escape this world I lived in. Until I eventually went to jail for long enough to get clean. I ruined relationships, I ruined my life with a felony record, and I was still a broken girl with daddy issues.

Lately, I have been getting my life together. I have been clean for four years, and I haven’t cut myself in two. I have a job where I manage a café, I free-lance write articles and design websites. I’m building my own business and it is happening for me. I am working so hard building relationships and trying to be the best person I can be. And I am falling in love with myself.

I love who I am today. I am strong and empathetic and understanding and quirky. I forget to take pictures on vacation because I’m too in the moment, and I find a silver lining in almost every situation. The strongest thing I have in my blood above all else is hope. And that has been picking at me.

My sister came back into our lives several years ago. She came with a husband one Thanksgiving, which was weird. I didn’t really know who she was. My sister was a shy, timid, soft creature. This person was bubbly, eccentric and goofy. But I adapted.

This last year I started noticing something. I started to think she may have a lying problem. I would notice little things here and there, but nothing I could prove. I asked her one day about why she left me. I told her how abandoned I felt, and she said mom kicked her out. And I hated mom for that. I hated her so much for taking my lifeline away.

I hated her until recently. When she told me she never kicked my sister out. How she would call her all the time begging her to come home or at least tell her where she was. And that confirmed my fear, my sister was a liar.

This fear was harboring inside of me because, for several years, I have wondered if what happened to me actually happened. But it had to, I didn’t go through that adolescence for nothing. And I think that the tough times that information brought was the reason I would tell myself it was true. But the more I thought about it, the less it made sense.

Of course, my memories could be suppressed. That happens. But I literally have no memories except a memory of a dream. Not the memory the dream refers to, just the dream. And all I said was “that hurts”. But I have all these other memories of him. And the fact that I was told by a 17-year-old pathological liar who likes to victimize herself for attention, makes me think it never happened.

I want you to just take this in for a second. My entire life of suffering was because of a lie. I am covered in scars over a lie. I have missing memories from my drug problem that sprouted from a lie. I have a felony that sprouted from a lie. I went to mental institutions and was put in rooms with actual insane people because of a lie. I lost my childhood, my adolescence, and early adulthood to a lie.

And I wasn’t the only one who suffered.

My father must have had problems at home. I know people cut off connections from him, because who would do that to their daughter? And who lies about that? Well, apparently, I do. On accident.

So, I wrote a letter. I wrote a letter saying how I don’t believe that what I said was the truth. I wrote about how I didn’t do it maliciously, that I also suffered in this situation. I lost my father, and I lost me. I wrote about memories, the good and the bad. None of them being the fabricated one. It was passionate, and it was heartfelt.

But if it was me. And I saw my name on an envelope. I wouldn’t even open it.

I won’t be surprised if the most beautiful thing I have ever written, will never be read.

New Study Says E-Cigarettes Are Healthier Than Tobacco

I am a smoker. I don’t like being a smoker, so I am looking for ways to quit. I’m not one of those strong empowered people who can just stop, I have to beat myself into self-control.

Something that has helped me quit smoking is e-cigarettes. Not the gas stations $7 ones, the clunky boxes that make it to where I can’t hide that I am a “vaper”.

When I started vaping, everyone would tell me that it was just as bad as smoking. That there were countless studies on it, and how I wasn’t doing anything to better my life. Which in that case it’s just like hey thanks. Not like I’m trying to kick an addiction or anything. Your positive words are so helpful… I’m not bitter.

But BEHOLD! A new study has been released that says that vaping is actually healthier than smoking.

How is Vaping Better?

One thing some people don’t know, is that vape pens don’t hold any tobacco in them. They just have the liquidized nicotine. So you aren’t inhaling harsh smoke, you are inhaling nicotine vapors. They also don’t contain the same level of toxic chemicals. That’s got to be something to get behind, right?

It’s been suggested in the study that e-cigs are 95% healthier for everyday consumers than tobacco cigarettes. That’s an A+.

Another A+ they get is smokers had 97% more evidence of toxic chemicals in their system than e-cigarette smokers. However, there is that last 3%…

Vaping Still Isn’t Healthy

Listen, I know I can’t just switch to vaping and call myself good and healthy. New studies are always coming out for just about anything. We are constantly discovering new things are bad or good for us. And these studies don’t say “%100 safe!” anywhere. So we have no for sure answers, but I can feel better about myself smoking my e-cigarette over my regular stinky one.

Why You Should Stop Blaming Violent Video Games

 

Many video games have a bad reputation for violence. Luckily, a study released in March of 2017 states that violent based video games do not have long term effects on our empathy. This completely debunks the myth of violent video games begets violent society. And now we have the question, are there benefits behind these games?

The best example of violent video games are first person shooters. The goal of the game is to kill anything in your path, being ruthless on your quest for vengeance. Games like Call of Duty where you play with real people and spend hours killing their avatars. What are the benefits behind these types of games?

If you aren’t a gamer, and don’t fully understand the vocabulary, a first-person shooter game is also known as FPS. It is when the gamer plays in the perspective of the character, and uses analytic skills and reflexes to continues through a map, shooting enemy targets along the way. It would be easy to assume that these games have a negative influence, fortunately we now know they don’t.

When we look at gaming at a cognitive perspective, researchers have pointed out the enhance in cognitive functions with gamers. Not unlike transferable skills in the corporate world, the mind-bending exercises that video games propel their audience into have basic principles that can be used in real life experiences.

Evidence of this claim is in multiple studies given to gamers as well as non-gamers. Subjects are given action based video games (Which are also known as violent video games), and then studied accordingly.

Subjects who were given action based games had higher special resolution and visual processing as well as faster and more accurate attention allocation. These players are put into high stress situations, being forced to make split second decisions that will either light up winning neurotransmitters in their brain, or make them feel like a failure. Not unlike real life situations.

Gamers who are good at first person shooters are also better at filtering out unnecessary details. Considering they are often bombarded with multiple things on the screen, realizing how precious their time and attention is, they are able to quickly decide what is important and what is not. Giving these gamers the edge, unaltered by distractions.

Enhancing your cognitive skills comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it is through real life experiences, or animated ones on the screen. Your brain can’t tell the difference, so it grows just the same. Now we can stop putting down violent video games, and start praising them and using them to their fullest potential.

Ingredients With Long Names Wont Kill You

I recently had a conversation with someone who makes her own bath bombs. She was listing off all of the chemicals that she puts in them, and I’m imagining some crazy science experiment going on in her basement.

Of course, to make sure I really embarrass myself, I make a comment after she recites, “Sodium Bicarbonate”.

“Sounds like a meth lab,” I joke. It’s just baking soda. Tartaric acid is something that comes from fruits. And I looked like an idiot. Which happens often, I can admit.

It got me thinking about people who stay stationary in the grocery store for several minutes, looking for something with ingredients they can pronounce. “If I can’t pronounce it, it must be bad for me.”

Let me save everyone the embarrassment, and let you in on some secrets. LOTS of food and drinks have ingredients you probably can’t pronounce. Let me show you one.

Here are some of the components that are in a food that I decided to google:

Ascorbic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Citric Acid, Glutaminic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Histidine, Selenium, are you scared yet? All these crazy words that you’ve never heard of, it’s probably some over processed garbage from a fast food restaurant?

Well fast food does serve this food. So you were right on that, good job. But that all that scary stuff is in lettuce. That food that people eat to not eat food that’s bad for them.

You should still worry about what you are eating, just be smart about it. Processed foods are highly addictive and lead to weight issues and heart problems. Eating a lot of sugar causes weight gain and risks diabetes. Eating too much red meat can give you iron poisoning. Some of the things you probably are eating too much of are things you should be worrying about. Even being on a strict diet can lead to health issues.

You must be mindful of all things when it comes to your health. Just not your lack of vocabulary.

I hope we all learned a valuable lesson today. Big words are not scary.