Institutionalized is a term given to an inmate who has completely bought into the prison mentality. Their thoughts, speech, and actions all portray someone who has been locked up for far too long.
The other day someone asked me who’s my team, being it’s football season is here, and I replied by telling them the names of my counselor and case manager, and the person said, “really bro?! I am talking about football, not prison.”
These are early signs of becoming that term and if I wasn’t getting out next year I would be concerned…
An inmate who is institutionalized will most likely struggle with day to day activities and interactions, once released from prison. They will most likely confront anyone who they felt is being nosey or isn’t minding their own business, even if that individual is simply trying to be helpful.
They will knock on a table when they are getting up from a meal, letting them know they are leaving, like we do in here. They will also knock before they enter a door, even if that door isn’t the front door… kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc, and that is if they can even go through doors. They might even chose to avoid them all together, because doors are meant to be locked and only cops carry the keys to open them. So in here if a door is shut, we avoid them.
As far as sex, they might have troubles maintaining an erection outside of the shower.
Around the hours of 4 pm and 10 pm, as well as 10 am on weekends you will find them in their room waiting for count time. Someone who is institutionalized might take this practice home with them and have their kids check in at these times as well.
They might choose to continue to live out of a locker or have a bunk bed even if nobody lives above them, who knows they might not even take the bottom bunk, because they feel it leaves an increased chance of assault.
Taking naps will also be out of the question, since they will be unable to let their guard down.
Construction areas might be confused for out of bounds areas and coming into contact with them might create panic and resistance.
They might also avoid other races, not because they are racist, but they think they are not allowed to associate with them.
If they were never a shot caller in their prison group, they may be unable to make important decisions on their own, and may wait for someone they look up to to speak for them.
They will also make a priority of controlling the TV and they might consider the living room to be a TV room, where they have a specific square on the ground that they consider their spot and don’t leave that square.
Don’t think about moving their chair, ever, and while we’re at it don’t touch the TV if they’re watching it without asking first or not meaning to, they’ll go off.
There will be a strict schedule to follow and if that is interrupted there is no guessing how far he/she will go to get back on track.
Last but not least, they will without a doubt be a clean freak, regardless of what they were like prior to prison. That means something might be installed, a second handle possibly, at the top of the door, so they don’t have to share a handle with the rest of the traffic.
Also, don’t forget about the “pink spray”as we like to call it… we’re assuming/hoping it’s sanitizer in prison, which will be located inside spray bottles, in the bathroom, kitchen, and hallways throughout their house.
Last but not least, do not force any change on the individual getting released, you must let nature run it’s course. Eventually he/she will adapt to the norms of living outside of prison. Just try to be there and breathe deep.
Thanks for listening!