Several weeks ago I met with a 37-year-old man who was the author of a remarkable, if disturbing, posting on Craigslist about how difficult life has been for him since he was released from the Utah State Prison's maximum-security wing, Uinta 1.
You can read the posting in its entirety below.
While the post at times seems more like venting than a cohesive argument, he does, particularly in the opening section, detail a life that is impossible to imagine, one that has been closed off not only from society, but also from the general prison population.
The sensory deprivation of Uinta 1 took its toll on him, he writes. "For many years I was locked in a cell all by myself 23 hours a day. The cell was the size of your bathroom. No human contact. No hugs. Just constant screaming and yelling and banging of other inmates."
And then, he writes, he gets released a free man."Me having complete freedom brings tears to my eyes, because Im far from free."
He explains in simple language how alienated he feels from the world he has been abruptly released into, how his days and sleepless nights are filled with an over-agitated kind of mental and physical pacing that reflects how he's swapped a physical prison for a mental one, an experience exacerbated in part because nobody in society bothered to reach out to him to help him adjust back into "normal life."
After 20 years in prison, eight of them in solitary, he has no friends to turn to or talk to, he can't manage with any degree of sophistication a basic cell phone and no one will give him a job. If his criminal record doesn't shut people down, his extensive body art will, he concludes. He trusts no one; that was a luxury that he could not permit himself when growing up in an institution from a teenager to an adult.
No woman would accept him for his past and who he is, he writes, and if they did, he would not view himself as worthy of her love. "Saying she could do better than me is an understatement."
Toward the end, the piece shifts into an angry rant against law enforcement, local and federal.
But then he writes, "Out of all the people in this crazy world that we live in, it is me that wishes I never thought like this, If I never thought like this, then that would mean I would have never done 20 years in prison. I chose to believe that some cops have honorable intentions, but it took no discipline to create this system, so therefore nobody takes full responsibility for it. Maybe that explains why I am having a hard time taking full responsibility for my life."