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After months and months of patiently waiting, the day has finally come – your loved one is coming home! It’s been a long time in the making and you and your family couldn’t be more excited to see their face, give them a big hug, and for life to finally return to normal. Well, we hope that seeing their face and giving them a big hug will hold you over for some time because “getting back to normal” is going to take some a while.
The harsh reality of a loved one obtaining their freedom is that life isn’t going to return to normal as soon as they return home. They will go through several different emotional stages such as culture shock and depression, as well as adjusting to the stigma that is associated with having a criminal record. As a family member, we want you to be prepared for things they will face as they adjust to everyday life.
Culture Shock – As you can imagine, the world continues to evolve while your loved one is in jail. This includes all aspects of life such as technology, politics, and entertainment. Once they are released, they will need to learn new technology – things like the latest smartphone, social media, or navigating websites. As your loved one navigates the new technological, political, or entertainment industry landscape, it is important that you remain patient and answer any questions they may have.
Depression – After one is released from jail, depression is common. As liberating as it may be, it will be tough on your loved one to readjust to daily life outside of strict schedules and constant supervised routine. Furthermore, they will begin facing the stigmas and the harsh reality of trying to obtain employment with a criminal record. Your loved one may feel lost as they try to find a new purpose and value in society. It is important that you help guide them, listen to their frustrations, and remain positive.
Anger Management – One way to show authority in jail is to show aggression toward other. It is important to remind your loved ones that this kind of behavior is not acceptable outside of jail. As someone who cares about them, it’s important that you help them find other means of expressing their frustrations and controlling their anger.
Fight Addiction – If your loved one had an addiction prior to going to jail, or developed one while in jail, it may have impacted their personality. It is important to show support for them and offer outside resources such as a therapist, social work, or a doctor to help them combat their addiction and stay clean.
We know you are excited to see a loved one obtain their freedom. However, we also know that as exciting as it may be to be released from jail, you and your loved ones will face difficulties as they resume their life as a free person. It’s important to remind them of your support and be a constant source of positive influence as they adjust to life outside of jail.