Former inmate Terrance Coffie has revealed that walking out of a jail cell is not the same as being completely free. The challenges that many released inmates face out in the streets alone make the security of jail cells more desirable than walking the streets free for some.
Any slip or unintended violation can land a former inmate back to prison on a probation or parole violation. There’s also the chances of reoffending and recidivism.
“I Was Used To Prison, Being Free Made Me Lost and Anxious,” Coffie Says
Coffie spent 19 years in and out of prison for drugs and attempted robberies. He got released back to society eight years ago from the Miami-Dade County jail.
When he was told the charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against him had been dropped, Coffie was very terrified. And the reason was simple: he had nowhere to go and no one to turn to for assistance.
“I was used to prison. It had been the only constant in my life. Freedom, on the other hand, made me feel lost and anxious.”
He arrived in New York City “lost, lonely, dirty and hungry.” The former prisoner went into a men’s homeless shelter. There he was introduced to the Ready, Willing and Able transitional work program run by The Doe Fund.
This a non-profit is a social enterprise that provides former inmates and the homeless with:
- Temporary shelter
- Paying jobs
- General social duties
Being Black & Poor Should Not Make You Resign To Crimes and Prison Life
The Ready, Willing and Able program provided him with a bed and a street cleaning job. The only conditions for being a part of the program was staying sober and attending classes until he was able to secure housing and decent job on his own.
In one of the classes, the director of the program told the men his own personal story of addiction and imprisonment. Coffie told them to never allow society to treat them as crap on account of them being Black men in America:
“In prison, I watched my life tick away. I consoled myself with the lie that men like me — black and poor — didn’t have much to do except lose our lives to prison, and hustle in between. Now, for the first time, I imagined my future.”
[amazon_link asins=’1498540902′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’prisonrideshare.org-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d4610796-e202-11e7-96d3-33c2ce8be6b5′] Eventually, Terrance Coffie obtained a Master’s degree in social work from New York University.
He became a useful member of society and the author of Race, Education, and Reintegrating Formerly Incarcerated Citizens: Counterstories and Counterspaces (Critical Perspectives on Race, Crime, and Justice).