Effects of Longterm Imprisonment
While the average time served in US prisons is 34 months, many inmates are serving sentences longer than this. According to a 2009 report by the Sentencing Project, 140,610 out of 2.3 million inmates are serving a life sentence. However, with the possibility of parole, not all life sentences mean inmates spending their lives behind bars. Some inmates will return to society and face many challenges.
One issue with long term imprisonment is the effect on family. While the inmates connection to his/her family may remain the same, the family moves on. Some spouses will divorce over the crime itself. The inmate now faces their long term sentence without the support of a significant other. Even those whose marriages survive the initial ordeal will encounter many more challenges along the way. Spouses are facing the prospect of spending a great period of their lives alone. The inmate knows this and will now have the added anxiety of wondering: will they find someone new, will they cheat? Children further complicate the matter. The child will grow up without a father or mother. At any age, the child will go through milestones that the inmate will miss: first words, first steps, first day of school, first date, graduation, marriage, grandchildren, etc. The long term inmate will likely miss one or more of these events. Young children may not remember their parent. They will likely have no relationship with the inmate. Even those who manage to form some kind of bond find it is very difficult to maintain from behind bars. The released inmate then has to be a part of a life that they were absent from for years.
Another issue with long term imprisonment is employment. In five or more years, much can change. As society changes, technology advances. An inmate's prior skills, training and education may now be irrelevant. While "free" workers may face the same dilemma, they also are given time to gradually...
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