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Old 09-14-2019, 06:56 PM
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408MoonGem 408MoonGem is offline
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Default How to Prepare for PICS

Is there a way for us to prepare in helping a loved one deal with Post Incarceration Syndrome?

Yesterday my husband says, "look up PICS, it's a real syndrome and perhaps it will help you prepare for my transition".
I have much more anxiety now than I did prior to reading up on this. I'm not assuming anything, I'm just beginning to realize how serious of a transition this release will be on him. I'm questioning everything now! Even his reason to remain married to me.

When he was initially granted parole he told me a month later and sternly stated he did not want to be sidetrack with any relationship(s). Using the word in plural, I assumed he has a few sugar mommas, pen-pals, perhaps even someone he was fond of - I made it clear that I was open to being friends so long as he files for divorce - I'm no side piece on any level! A few weeks later he suggests we work on our marriage, which I was all up for.

I adore him, always will, I just don't know what to expect. How difficult can this transition be on a person who has served 2 decades in prison, I'm just now highlighting all sorts of thoughts and they are sad.

This anxiety will pass, I'm just on a high spin right now and looking for anyone's advise or suggestions on how to deal with preparing for PICS.
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Old 09-14-2019, 07:20 PM
onedayatatime13 onedayatatime13 is online now
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I believe reading up on it will help you prepare for his homecoming. It will lessen your frustration of things he may unknowingly do. Also, send him some information so he can prepare himself.

There will be a big transition as his world has been so small for a long time. A lot has changed in 20 years outside. If he hasnt read magazines in a while maybe send some to reacquaint him with the outside world esp technology and cars.

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Old 09-16-2019, 11:38 PM
Meami1 Meami1 is offline
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Aww, I’m sorry you’re so stressed about his home coming. According to one of your other posts it sounds like you never knew if this day would even come, and it’s a blessing that it is. Open communication is the most important and also so much harder than it seems. Reading up on it will definitely help you both. 20 years is a long time, think of how much has changed in terms of the internet and communication- having so much access may be like information overload. Plan to spend time together in quiet environments, don’t rush to do things all at once. He’s coming from a very structured environment and continuation of structure at least in the beginning as he acclimates May be very helpful. Good luck, and of course we are all here for you and want a positive outcome for you both.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Meami1 View Post
Aww, I’m sorry you’re so stressed about his home coming. According to one of your other posts it sounds like you never knew if this day would even come, and it’s a blessing that it is. Open communication is the most important and also so much harder than it seems. Reading up on it will definitely help you both. 20 years is a long time, think of how much has changed in terms of the internet and communication- having so much access may be like information overload. Plan to spend time together in quiet environments, don’t rush to do things all at once. He’s coming from a very structured environment and continuation of structure at least in the beginning as he acclimates May be very helpful. Good luck, and of course we are all here for you and want a positive outcome for you both.
OMG it's the thought of 20 years behind bars, the changes we've been through in technology, laws, civil rights, fashion, communication, state of mind, OMG - just writing about it gives me anxiety

Thank you kindly!! I have been doing a great deal of reading about PTSD and PICS. I'm highlighting and writing down everything I'd like to learn more about and or talk to hubby about.

Mid way through Jr's term I was still so young and mentally unprepared for the weight of carrying each other through this - I loved him fiercely, but I couldn't see an end to the 15 min calls 2-3 times a week, 2 one second kisses at visiting, no touching, no holding hands, the bills, the delay in mail, the distance, my unheard cries, rage of fits, and much more which blinded me.

I'm thankful he didn't divorce me - there was a stripper gal trying to convince him of marrying her for the family visits when California Lifers got them back, while I was with a German scientist who started talking marriage - I was like, uumm nooooo can't do, gotta go!

When he called this morning, I wasn't expecting it - I asked him if he remembered how ill I felt at our very 1st visit (I actually had to sit down and he bought me a sprite to help my nausea)... I guess I never told him that I had forgotten how to breathe and swallow from how nervous I was when he walked into the visiting room - well, I've been feeling like that again when I hear his ringtone - it's ridiculous how silly happy I am to hear him laugh or to say BAAABE, when trying to get a word in - OMG I can't wait, I caaaant!!! I know, I have to

Last edited by 408MoonGem; 09-17-2019 at 09:34 PM..
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:27 PM
Hurley123 Hurley123 is offline
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Default This is a old post you might find useful

04-02-2008, 08:41 AM
full article and related materials can be found at;


The Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS) is a serious problem that contributes to relapse in addicted and mentally ill offenders who are released from correctional institutions. Currently 60% of prisoners have been in prison before and there is growing evidence that the Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS) is a contributing factor to this high rate of recidivism. [i]

The concept of a post incarceration syndrome (PICS) has emerged from clinical consultation work with criminal justice system rehabilitation programs working with currently incarcerated prisoners and with addiction treatment programs and community mental health centers working with recently released prisoners.

This article will provide an operational definition of the Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS), describe the common symptoms, recommend approaches to diagnosis and treatment, explore the implications of this serious new syndrome for community safety, and discuss the need for political action to reduce the number of prisoners and assure more humane treatment within our prisons, jails, and correctional institutions as a means of prevention. It is my hope that this initial formulation of a PICS Syndrome will encourage researchers to develop objective testing tools and formal studies to add to our understanding of the problems encountered by released inmates that influence recovery and relapse.
Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS) - Operational Definition

The Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS) is a set of symptoms that are present in many currently incarcerated and recently released prisoners that are caused by being subjected to prolonged incarceration in environments of punishment with few opportunities for education, job training, or rehabilitation. The symptoms are most severe in prisoners subjected to prolonged solitary confinement and severe institutional abuse.

The severity of symptoms is related to the level of coping skills prior to incarceration, the length of incarceration, the restrictiveness of the incarceration environment, the number and severity of institutional episodes of abuse, the number and duration of episodes of solitary confinement, and the degree of involvement in educational, vocational, and rehabilitation programs.

The Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS) is a mixed mental disorders with four clusters of symptoms:

(1) Institutionalized Personality Traits resulting from the common deprivations of incarceration, a chronic state of learned helplessness in the face of prison authorities, and antisocial defenses in dealing with a predatory inmate milieu,

(2) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from both pre-incarceration trauma and trauma experienced within the institution,

(3) Antisocial Personality Traits (ASPT) developed as a coping response to institutional abuse and a predatory prisoner milieu, and

(4) Social-Sensory Deprivation Syndrome caused by prolonged exposure to solitary confinement that radically restricts social contact and sensory stimulation.

(5) Substance Use Disorders caused by the use of alcohol and other drugs to manage or escape the PICS symptoms.

PICS often coexists with substance use disorders and a variety of affective and personality disorders.
Symptoms of the Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS)

Below is a more detailed description of four clusters of symptoms of Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS):
1. Institutionalized Personality Traits

Institutionalized Personality Traits are caused by living in an oppressive environment that demands: passive compliance to the demands of authority figures, passive acceptance of severely restricted acts of daily living, the repression of personal lifestyle preferences, the elimination of critical thinking and individual decision making, and internalized acceptance of severe restrictions on the honest self-expression thoughts and feelings.
2. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [ii] is caused by both traumatic experiences before incarceration and institutional abuse during incarceration that includes the six clusters of symptoms: (1) intrusive memories and flashbacks to episodes of severe institutional abuse; (2) intense psychological distress and physiological reactivity when exposed to cues triggering memories of the institutional abuse; (3) episodes of dissociation, emotional numbing, and restricted affect; (4) chronic problems with mental functioning that include irritability, outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, and an exaggerated startle response. (5) persistent avoidance of anything that would trigger memories of the traumatic events; (6) hypervigilance, generalized paranoia, and reduced capacity to trust caused by constant fear of abuse from both correctional staff and other inmates that can be generalized to others after release.,
3. Antisocial Personality Traits

Antisocial Personality Traits [iii] [iv] [v]are developed both from preexisting symptoms and symptoms developed during incarceration as an institutional coping skill and psychological defense mechanism. The primary antisocial personality traits involve the tendency to challenge authority, break rules, and victimize others. In patients with PICS these tendencies are veiled by the passive aggressive style that is part of the institutionalized personality. Patients with PICS tend to be duplicitous, acting in a compliant and passive aggressive manner with therapists and other perceived authority figures while being capable of direct threatening and aggressive behavior when alone with peers outside of the perceived control of those in authority. This is a direct result of the internalized coping behavior required to survive in a harshly punitive correctional institution that has two set of survival rules: passive aggression with the guards, and actively aggressive with predatory inmates.
4. Social-Sensory Deprivation Syndrome:

The Social-Sensory Deprivation Syndrome [vi] is caused by the effects of prolonged solitary confinement that imposes both social isolation and sensory deprivation. These symptoms include severe chronic headaches, developmental regression, impaired impulse control, dissociation, inability to concentrate, repressed rage, inability to control primitive drives and instincts, inability to plan beyond the moment, inability to anticipate logical consequences of behavior, out of control obsessive thinking, and borderline personality traits.
5. Reactive Substance Use Disorders

Many inmates who experience PICS suffer from the symptoms of substance use disorders [vii]. Many of these inmates were addicted prior to incarceration, did not receive treatment during their imprisonment, and continued their addiction by securing drugs on the prison black market. Others developed their addiction in prison in an effort to cope with the PICS symptoms and the conditions causing them. Others relapse to substance abuse or develop substance use disorders as a result of using alcohol or other drugs in an effort to cope with PICS symptoms upon release from prison.
PICS Symptoms Severity

The syndrome is most severe in prisoners incarcerated for longer than one year in a punishment oriented environment, who have experienced multiple episodes of institutional abuse, who have had little or no access to education, vocational training, or rehabilitation, who have been subjected to 30 days or longer in solitary confinement, and who have experienced frequent and severe episodes of trauma as a result of institutional abuse.

The syndrome is least severe in prisoners incarcerated for shorter periods of time in rehabilitation oriented programs, who have reasonable access to educational and vocational training, and who have not been subjected to solitary confinement, and who have not experienced frequent or severe episodes of institutional abuse.
Reasons To Be Concerned About PICS

There is good reason to be concerned because about 40% of the total incarcerated population (currently 700,000 prisoners and growing) are released each year. The number of prisoners being deprived of rehabilitation services, experiencing severely restrictive daily routines, being held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time, or being abused by other inmates or correctional staff is increasing. [viii]

The effect of releasing this number of prisoners with psychiatric damage from prolonged incarceration can have a number of devastating impacts upon American society including the further devastation of inner city communities and the destabilization of blue-collar and middle class districts unable to reabsorb returning prisoners who are less likely to get jobs, more likely to commit crimes, more likely to disrupt families. This could turn many currently struggling lower middle class areas into slums. [ix]

As more prisoners are returned to the community, behavioral health providers can expect to see increases in patients admitted with the Post Incarceration Syndrome and related substance use, mental, and personality disorders. The national network of Community Mental health and Addiction treatment Programs need to begin now to prepare their staff to identify and provide appropriate treatment for this new type of client.

The nation's treatment providers, especially addiction treatment programs and community mental health centers, are already experiencing a growing number of clients experiencing the Post Incarceration Syndrome (PICS). This increase is due to a number of factors including: the increasing size of the prisoner population, the increasing use of restrictive and punishing institutional practices, the reduction of access to education, vocational training, and rehabilitation programs; the increasing use of solitary confinement and the growing number of maximum security and super-max type prison and jails.

Both the number of clients suffering from PICS and the average severity of symptoms is expected to increase over the next decade. In 1995 there were 463,284 prisoners released back to the community. Based upon conservative projections in the growth of the prisoner population it is projected that in the year 2000 there will be 660,000 prisoners returned to the community, in the year 2005 there will 887,000 prisoners returned to the community, and in the year 2010 1.2 million prisoners will be released. The prediction of greater symptom severity is based upon the growing trend toward longer periods of incarceration, more restrictive and punitive conditions in correctional institutions, decreasing access to education, vocational training, and rehabilitation, and the increasing use solitary confinement as a tool for reducing the cost of prisoner management.

Clients with PICS are at a high risk for developing substance dependence, relapsing to substance use if they were previously addicted, relapsing to active mental illness if they were previously mentally ill, and returning to a life of aggression, violence, and crime. They are also at high risk of chronic unemployment and homelessness.
Post Release Symptom Progression

This is because released prisoners experiencing PICS tend to experience a six stage post release symptom progression leading to recidivism and often are not qualified for social benefits needed to secure addiction, mental health, and occupation training services.

· Stage 1 of this Post Release Syndrome is marked by Helplessness and hopelessness due to inability to develop a plan for community reentry, often complicated by the inability to secure funding for treatment or job training;

· Stage 2 is marked by an intense immobilizing fear;

· Stage 3 is marked by the emergence of intense free-floating anger and rage and the emergence of flashbacks and other symptoms of PTSD;

· Stage 4 is marked by a tendency toward impulse violence upon minimal provocation;

· Stage 5 is marked by an effort to avoid violence by severe isolation to avoid the triggers of violence;

· Stage 6 is marked by the intensification of flashbacks, nightmares, sleep impairments, and impulse control problems caused by self-imposed isolation. This leads to acting out behaviors, aggression, violence, and crime, which in turn sets the stages for arrest and incarceration.

for all those women (and your guys out there, too) waiting to get their loved one at the gate and take him home, I would like to warn you to MAKE YOURSELF AWARE OF ANY AND ALL "PROFESSIONALS" ASSIGNED to care for your husband post release. it goes well beyond AODA and Anger Management.

I trusted the professionals to care for my husband's mental well being, only to find that not only did they apparently fail him- but they evidently were not aware of the full spectrum of his emotional and mental issues. the professionals enlisted to care for my husband post release didn't seem to know about PICS, and just brushed off the very real dangers associated with the mental illness PICS.

my husband just finally snapped out Saturday night, and I am lucky to be okay. that is all that I will say (for now) but I wanted to share that in my newly discovered hindsite, Charlie had all the symptoms- and niether one of us suspected, and apparently nor did his PO or those assigned to treat him. living with a man that has PICS is an emotionally debilitating process, and one that you cannot usually identify til it's too late (such as in my case).

PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ARE ACTIVELY INVOLVED WITH YOUR HUSBANDS POST RELEASE THERAPY/COUNSELING/ETC. it's IMPORTANT because YOU are his biggest advocate, and not every medical institution is designed or equipped to provide the appropriate care for a long term sentenced offender.

PICS can masquerade as domestic abuse, bipolar, schizophrenia, histrionic personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and just plain ol being an asshole from hell -- all at once!~

I am left to pick up the pieces of a marriage I cannot move forward with, but I am slowly deciding (I think) to not file the divorce proceedings until I am certain he is cared for, and no I am not talking about money on his books and visits. the man need HELP NOW, more than ever. yet, at the same time he commited a series of new crimes that he needs to be held accountable to.

if your man has ANGER ISSUES IN THE JOINT, PLEASE BEGIN PLANNING FOR HIS POST RELEASE CARE -- NOW!!!! it's imperative, because Charlie was/is institutionalized - it was not only a red flag, but a mark against him in the eyes of those who were supposed to help him.
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