View Full Version : Institutionalized - What's the meaning?


eddieswife
12-09-2006, 09:58 AM
Hi,

My guy came of out prison and broke his parole in about a month later, after doing nine years. It was something as simple as not going back to his half-way house to sign in and stay there for the week-end like he was supposed to. He then panicked and took off his house arrest/ankle bracelet and disposed of the monitoring equipment. So they added a theft charge on top of his VOP.

I noticed when I first met him that he always seemed excited, jittery. One time he was literally jumping up and down with excitement, about to jump off my back porch. I told him once, "You are acting like an animal that has just been released from his cage." I did not know when I said that he was just released from prison after nine years.

When he came out of prison he had no family support or friends waiting for him. I had just met him a couple weeks after he got out. I really did not know anything about his parole terms and the rules regarding the half-way house he was staying at. He spent the weekend with me instead of going back to the half-way house. I asked him at the time if was he supposed to go back - he said no.

He lived out in the street and shelters for a few months before he finally caved in to my constant nagging for him to turn himself in and get his serving of time over with.

I am afraid he is institutionalized because he has done about 12-13 years behind prisons and jails in his lifetime.

He seemed real insecure when I met him and he lied about himself because he did not want me to know about his past. Also it took him months to tell me he was raised in foster homes since he was about 7 years old. He was abused as a child and his father was never in his life. I would not have loved him less for telling me who he really was, instead of the made up story he told me - he was from Haiti! He is just now stopping his pathological lies and fantasies. He's 44 years old.

I feel his being abused and abandonment as a child has contributed to his current life.

Now mind you, he now sees the errors of his ways and has made a turn around. It took about two years to get there! He is in school and staying out of trouble. He's even beginning not to lie for absolutely no reason.

My only issue now is - will he be institutionalized and not be able to function upon his release? Prison can be a security blanket for many men. I am wondering if my man can handle the stress of the outside world.

Can someone tell me what being institutionalized means to a convict or felon? I would like to hear from actual men that have done time.

Thank you.

HollowPoint
12-10-2006, 12:23 AM
Well yes it sounds like your guy may be classified as institutionalized. What that means to someone that has done a good stretch of time is I have a way out if I can't deal with life on the outside. Like you said it's a security blanket. Things are too hard for them on the outside then they VOP and back they go. They say "three hot's and cot".

A good person you may want to PM is Brian Rooney. Brian did 12 years and is a model inspiration for this forum.

Finally, I think you did a good just answering your own question BTW.:thumbsup:

wifewaiting
12-10-2006, 12:35 AM
Exactly as Hollow said - my husband and I define being 'institutionalized' as someone who cannot make it on the outside.

eddieswife
12-10-2006, 04:11 PM
Thanks Wifewaiting and HollowPoint - You repsonses were helpful to me.

I have been reading other threads here on the Forum and reading what people that have actually done time are saying and I am able to get more insight into my question regarding what being "institutionalized" is all about and how to deal with that problem once my love one is released.

Thanks a bunch.

Angie

burdenedwife
12-30-2006, 09:01 PM
I know every situation is different but I got so mad at my husband before he returned to prison because everytime something came up that he had a problem dealing with he would say "just send me back, I've been institutionalized and its easier dealing with things from the inside". Of course it may have been true because I don't know what its like first hand on the inside but I feel like he whoosed out on me breaking parole and returning to prison. It sure isn't how I pictured living out my grandma years........

eddieswife
01-01-2007, 07:44 PM
Burdenedwife,

I am so sorry to hear about your husband going back to prison. Does he still think he is institutionalized, you think?


I know every situation is different but I got so mad at my husband before he returned to prison because everytime something came up that he had a problem dealing with he would say "just send me back, I've been institutionalized and its easier dealing with things from the inside". Of course it may have been true because I don't know what its like first hand on the inside but I feel like he whoosed out on me breaking parole and returning to prison. It sure isn't how I pictured living out my grandma years........

burdenedwife
01-01-2007, 10:00 PM
Eddieswife:I think when he would tell me that he was trying to win a disagreement and get the best of me. He doesn't have that attitude today when I visit him but who really knows. Sometimes I saw the attitude that I didn't know what he had been threw because he was a hardened criminal now, I would just stare at him. Sometimes these loved one's in our lifes need to be brought up to date on the struggles we go threw while they 'do their time' and I was glad to explain it to him. He might be institutionalized by now but I know he misses his life, family and probably will do whatever it takes to be uninstitutionalized when he is released this time because he is getting up in age. Anyway if he doesn't then maybe he's a bigger fool then what I think and he better find somekind of connection with his cellie's because this family grows tired.

eddieswife
01-01-2007, 11:05 PM
Burdenedwife,

I know what you mean. This is my first go around with my man. He has been gone for 23 months now. It's possible he can be home this Fall or Winter of 2007. I really don't think I can handle another go around of this. But I can't say for sure, I do love him so. All I can do is take it one day at a time, right now and when he returns.

Stay in touch with me here, will you?

Thanks,
Angie


Eddieswife:I think when he would tell me that he was trying to win a disagreement and get the best of me. He doesn't have that attitude today when I visit him but who really knows. Sometimes I saw the attitude that I didn't know what he had been threw because he was a hardened criminal now, I would just stare at him. Sometimes these loved one's in our lifes need to be brought up to date on the struggles we go threw while they 'do their time' and I was glad to explain it to him. He might be institutionalized by now but I know he misses his life, family and probably will do whatever it takes to be uninstitutionalized when he is released this time because he is getting up in age. Anyway if he doesn't then maybe he's a bigger fool then what I think and he better find somekind of connection with his cellie's because this family grows tired.

RedHerring
01-02-2007, 02:46 PM
Humans are remarkable adaptable creatures and can learn to live and even love any situation they are in. being institutionalized isnít a static state of being, however learning to adapt and change takes time and can be painful. It sounds like your man is making the steps needed to move on, there might be a few bumps along the way but it will get better.

burdenedwife
01-02-2007, 05:26 PM
Sure I will keep in touch with you here. I am interested in finding out how things turn out with you as well with your guy. Mine was gone more then just a few years when he paroled out so we had to get to know each other somewhat again even though we have been married most our adult lifes. I think being locked down the years he was did something to him inside but he wasn't out long enough for us try to fix it all the way. The one thing I am thankful for this time he is doing a serve all sentence so when released this time there will be no programs, parole, or strangers walking into our house day and night to see if he is living the right life. It wil finally be over for us so if he gets into trouble again he will probably die alone and in prison for being a habitual (not sure about that spelling) offender. Thats something that weighs heavy on his mind this round because like I said he is getting up in his years. Good luck to you hun and I'll be waiting to hear how it goes for you.

marcole6
01-04-2007, 04:22 PM
I would like to share the story of my ex-boyfriend, who I think is a walking breathing example of what "institutionalized" is. I met him in 2005, while he was fighting a case that could have got him 10 years. He ended up with a one-year sentence and was released in June 2005. This was not his first, second or even third time in trouble. He has been in and out of jail/prison since he was 17, he is now 38. The LONGEST he has ever been out is 9 months. I didn't really understand what that information represented until he became my boyfriend. He got out of jail in June 2005 and moved in with me. He had all the support in the world-a place to live, clothes on his back, food,etc. All he had to do was comply with parole, get his driver's license in good standing, and look for a job. I fully understood it could take a while for him to find a job given his record...To make a long story short, since that release in June 2005, he has been in and out four more times!! One time was for taking my car and keeping it for two days! When he is incarcerated, he truly hates being there and wants to do better. The problem is-HE DOESN"T KNOW HOW! It took me awhile to figure that out. He has never really lived as an adult on the outside. He has never held down a real job, managed his money, paid the rent, etc. He only knows life in prison and life "on the streets". When he gets released, he just goes back to what he knows and that inevitably leads to prison. There was a time when I would have done anything for him. I had to let that go because I realized that he is the only one who can decide that it's time to change, time to learn. He is back in now, on another parole violation. The last two times, he wasn't even out 30 days. It's so sad but I still believe PEOPLE CAN CHANGE. Unfortunately, I no longer believe my ex can or will. It has to do with giving up pride and being humble. Willing to learn what they don't know and face the scary unknown of the outside...Good luck to you all, I hope your situations turn out better than mine.

eddieswife
01-04-2007, 09:24 PM
Marcole6 - Thanks you for sharing your story. I know what you are going through. This is my guy's third time in prison.

I have just recently done some things to hurt our relatinodhip and part of it could be that I may not be sure if Eddie CAN stay out of trouble.

Best wishes,
Angie

eddieswife
01-04-2007, 09:26 PM
Burdenedwife - Things are not all that great going here with my relationship with Eddie - and Eddie does not even know that.

Thanks for your input,
Angie

Sure I will keep in touch with you here. I am interested in finding out how things turn out with you as well with your guy. Mine was gone more then just a few years when he paroled out so we had to get to know each other somewhat again even though we have been married most our adult lifes. I think being locked down the years he was did something to him inside but he wasn't out long enough for us try to fix it all the way. The one thing I am thankful for this time he is doing a serve all sentence so when released this time there will be no programs, parole, or strangers walking into our house day and night to see if he is living the right life. It wil finally be over for us so if he gets into trouble again he will probably die alone and in prison for being a habitual (not sure about that spelling) offender. Thats something that weighs heavy on his mind this round because like I said he is getting up in his years. Good luck to you hun and I'll be waiting to hear how it goes for you.

sunnyday1661
01-06-2007, 10:43 PM
burdenedwife,
just wondering are you sure he won't have any restrictions when he gets out? I know that my guy even if he doesn't get paroled will still be on community custody (which is what WA calls parole basically) for a year. I know this because the I was in the courtroom and the judge gave him community custody for a year even if he serves his whole time.

pmitch10
01-09-2007, 02:34 PM
As I see it, inmates are not prepared to blend back into society especially after having been behind walls for many years. Who can blame them? When they come out they have so many rules and restrictions placed upon them, about having a job, place to live, license, report here, report there, let us interrupt your life anytime we want,.....and try keeping a job that way....plus many other requirements...you know...no wonder they opt to go back. They are not prepared nor given enough of a chance to succeed.......oh ya.....get a job but you must tell them your a felon. Good luck!

burdenedwife
01-09-2007, 03:33 PM
burdenedwife,
just wondering are you sure he won't have any restrictions when he gets out? I know that my guy even if he doesn't get paroled will still be on community custody (which is what WA calls parole basically) for a year. I know this because the I was in the courtroom and the judge gave him community custody for a year even if he serves his whole time.

Yes we are sure and glad of this situation. We are so sick of him being told what to do. Its kind of like the post above this one- it did happen to us too-report here, go there, be sure to tell them you are on parole because we will visit you at work if we feel you are not there, hurry and run over to this counselling but oops I think you are supose to be over there doing another program at the same time,what do you mean you had to work 15 minutes overtime to make up for being here to report last week:you are in violation of your parole. But the best was when they made their late night visit and ID'ed each and everyone of our children to make sure that they too were not on parole. A serve all sentence in Texas mean he will serve out his sentence for day to day with no goodtime or anything like that. But the day he finishes I will meet him in Huntsville, Texas and we will finally be done with this- and believe me 12 years of dealing with TDCJ will be enough for both of us. The sunny coast of Florida is looking pretty darn good to us. I will miss my children, grandchildren and all my friends but I fear if we stay in Texas we will get caught up in this revolving door one more time and I just don't think I could live threw that many years again. Move over 'snowbirds' we're moving in. :-)

jewellsprincess
01-09-2007, 04:06 PM
yes alot of men can be institutionalized........my husband did 23 years he has been home over two years and he functions in life just fine he has worked from the day he came home............he adjusted easily i think it is up to the person himself..........not all are institutionalized no matter how long they have been down..........no matter what his requirements were or his restrictions he did what it took to stay out........

Brian Rooney
01-09-2007, 04:31 PM
Humans are remarkable adaptable creatures and can learn to live and even love any situation they are in. being institutionalized isnít a static state of being, however learning to adapt and change takes time and can be painful. It sounds like your man is making the steps needed to move on, there might be a few bumps along the way but it will get better.


I totally agree with this post and thank you Hollowpoint for the kind words...one of the biggest fears for me was whether I was going to make it or not out here, but I had a plan (and thank God some support)...but a lot has to do with the mentality of one who leaves prison. I used to see guys come and go before many of us got one shot and it used to tick me off to say the least, but RedHerring is right...it all takes time to adapt and there are new thinking patterns that go into ot all...I tried to prepare myself BEFORE I left prison...it is hard to do, but it can be done...

Redherring is right...it is painful and I had to tae take "baby" steps but I have 4 friends out here who have done time (with me) and they are ALL making it...a lot of the rust has to come off but in the end the old ways of thinking go away and the prison mentality leaves...you will never forget but you don't have to live that way anymore...

I have to say this...the one thing that prison takes away from a person is the ability to decide for himself. True, we still have to make deisions, but they are limited. Out here, we are faced with making decisions (our own) all the time...many people from what I know cannot handle that and go back to prison...they are not capable of making decisons out here and many get frustrated and give up...it is tough out here...no one said it was going to be easy, but being free is more important to many than being locked up...many have unrealistic goals and get frustrated when they fail.

I was incarcerated for 12 years...two weeks later I was at work...a week after that I was in a major university taking college classes...was I nervous...heck YES!!! I got frustrated and angry, but I never gave up. I had a lot of people support me and they also told me how it is out here...

One of the reasons why I moan and grian about people who blame the system for everything is because once that individual is released, people don't want to hear it....the PO doesn't want to hear it, the loved ones don't want to hear it...no one wants to hear it. The "lip-service" and the promises should be left at the gate...out here is where it counts...unfortunately, many can talk the talk but they can't walk it out here...they go back and that is reality...

Let me say this...I am my own man...I am no one special...I just value my freedom...I thank all who have supported me in PTo...it has made a difference...it can happen to anyone...IF they want it to...peace.

Brian

burdenedwife
01-10-2007, 10:34 AM
After reading this post by you Brian it has me wondering if my husband has truly been institutionalized or just doesn't have the strength to pull himself out of the situation. I believe he understood that parole was not going to be a walk in the park- so to speak- but I think after a time he just gave up with all the late night checks, showing up at his work and putting too many programs on him at the same time he was supose to be somewhere else. They just made it too hard on us even as a family with alot of support. But I am glad to see and you give me alot of hope seeing you being able to adjust and wanting more out of life. Thank you for helping me to see and understand that maybe it isn't just a case of being screwed over by the system and maybe he needs to really apply himself when released the next time.

Brian Rooney
01-10-2007, 02:45 PM
After reading this post by you Brian it has me wondering if my husband has truly been institutionalized or just doesn't have the strength to pull himself out of the situation. I believe he understood that parole was not going to be a walk in the park- so to speak- but I think after a time he just gave up with all the late night checks, showing up at his work and putting too many programs on him at the same time he was supose to be somewhere else. They just made it too hard on us even as a family with alot of support. But I am glad to see and you give me alot of hope seeing you being able to adjust and wanting more out of life. Thank you for helping me to see and understand that maybe it isn't just a case of being screwed over by the system and maybe he needs to really apply himself when released the next time.

I don't really think that men or women can become insitutionalized unless they solely depend on the state...this type of thinking shows that the individual can't think for themselves...believe ot or not, I have met some people who didnt want to leave prison because it was easier for them on the inside than out here.

I think a lot of the mental aspects of prison can play a major part or problem when a person is released. A lack of preperation is also a factor. I heard so many guys say "Man, I just want to nbe free!"...but what does that entail...being free? Does it mean grabbing a beer or having sex? For some yes....but freedom is much more than that...the reality is that it is hard out here and many just can't cope because they haven't "thought" about what they need to do...it is hard to make decisons when they have been made for you for so long....some just need to grow up and eventually they will get tired of incarceration and give it an honest try out here...

Let me say this...parole os not hard at all...it is easier than probation (at least in VA)...I now see my PO every 4 months...it isn't that hard to make it on time to a meeting...it is a lack of discipline in oneslef...the PO will be tough in the beginning but this goes back to actions speak louder than words...the "lip-service" is over with out here...I think it is funny that many in prison can abide by the rules on the inside but when they get out they can't...doesn't make sense...this is where it counts...prison means nothing....the sytem doesn't make the man, the man makes his own identity and goes from there...and my point is this...if people hate the system so much and blame it then why do they go back??? That always gets me...people get comfortable in prison and don't value freedom...hopefully when given another chance, they will...

ocpyropunk
01-16-2007, 02:56 AM
Marcole6, I was involved with someone just like your guy. He has been in prison and jail, mostly prison, for the most of the 11.5 years that have elapsed since he turned 18. I did all that you did, and found that my guy has only ONE skill for living in the real world. He doesn't know how to fill out a job application or prepare a resume. He does not know how to behave during a job interview or what to say. He failed his driving test twice, without learning a thing from the feedback he was given, having concluded that he failed as a result of racial prejudice (he's white). The one survival skill that he has is to find women who will support him financially, emotionally and practically, until he goes back to jail or prison for using drugs or committing crimes to get drugs. It's that simple. He will admit it himself. Not to say that he is incapable of caring about people. But he doesn't let caring for anyone stand in the way of getting what he wants. For example, I was handy for shelter, but i don't do drugs, so he had to have another woman to get drugs to do with him. The saddest thing is that me and the other woman were friends, and our dealings with him cost us both -- I went through a SWAT-like raid on my home, when my daughters were both present, as well as getting arrested and spending a night in jail, and spending money for a lawyer. And my cell phone bill -- you don't want to know. She ended up spending about 10 days in jail, the cost of rehab that she was sentenced to do, as well as losing her daughter at least temporarily. My conclusion is that the MORE institutionalized the guy is, the more dangerous he is to be involved with as far as bringing you into THAT world with him. I, too, am no longer with this person and thank my lucky stars that i got out of the situation before worse happened (the police were watching my house towards the end, and although he wasn't living with me, every time he came by, they'd show up, too, and i'd be left to deal with them while he ran out the back door). Oh, and like your guy who took your car, my fella disappeared in the middle of the night with a rental car I had and then ditched it when he almost got pulled over by the cops, which is what led to the raid on my house. And yes, he IS back in jail and either going to prison or rehab, more likely the former.

KylesGirlfriend
01-16-2007, 12:08 PM
imagine this. you're been locked and cramped into a tiny room with white blank walls, a cot, and you eat nothing but mac and cheese, bread and water everyday for 3, 5, 10 years. You didnt go out much, cos your freedom was limited. You were always around other inmates who wore the same clothes as you-- there was no creative spark in the air. There was no music, entertainment, diversity, or spontanity (sp?). Everything was the same and routine everyday-- dull, boring, bland, and predictable.

Suddenly you're a free person and you step out into the incoming traffic.There's so many cars, lots of confusing noises, colorful trees and flowers, children dressed in bright neon outfits, and the sun is shining so hard, so bright. It can be so overwhelming and even a bit too much to take in for a prisoner that's recently released out on parole.

You all have to be patient and give it time. It's not his fault he's institutionalized. Try to imagine YOURSELF in that situation and see where he's coming from.

HollowPoint
01-17-2007, 04:10 PM
It's not his fault he's institutionalized. Try to imagine YOURSELF in that situation and see where he's coming from.

And I assume it's not his fault he committed the crime that put him there? Please.....:rolleyes:

counsellor
01-17-2007, 06:38 PM
Hi Eddieswife,

I'm not a man who has done prison time (hey, I'm not even a man!), but I thought your post was interesting. I have worked with people who would be "institutionalized" from varying settings - group homes, custody, psychiatric wards. When I have heard the word "institutionalized" being used in conversations about someone I work with, it is usually in reference to someone who relies on the structure and function of the setting in order to be successful. Many times, they are more comfortable in those settings and will do whatever it takes to return - whether it's breaking the law or attemping suicide. Many of the clients I work with realize that they have come to rely on the setting to a degree that is concerning and that it interferes with their success outside of that setting.

erinmichaels
02-02-2008, 01:52 PM
I dont think "institutionalized" mean's he "cant" live on the streets.

I did over 13 straight years. I am institutionalized. I am somehow making it out here. I am not doing well....but I am not committing new crimes or parole violations.

To me, "institutionalized" means the same for a person getting out of prison after a stretch as it does for a person on the streets going TO prison for the first time. You know the life you know, and this new life you are trying to live isnt normal to you. Coming from prison to society is a very difficult thing to do, especially if you spent a significant amount of time inside. To learn what you need to learn is one thing. But what do you do when you NEED to learn something, but a) dont know you NEED to know it, and b) dont know WHERE to learn it even if you KNEW you needed to know it?

"Institutionalized" means many things to many people. To those of you who never went to prison, writen words are what you know. To those of us that HAVE been to prison, how WE see it is how it is defined. And from my own experience, we ALL see it differently.