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Relativity & the Prison Experience…

Over the course of 20+ yrs in federal prison, I’ve come up with a number of idea constructions to deal with my time and circumstances, and responses to a variety of behaviors and problems that confront me—and others.  


   Being perceived as an “Old Head” and a professional, I get my share of newbies dealing with the prison problems.  (I completed my formal education thru an accredited doctorate in psychology [PsyD], and specialize in forensic applications.)   

   Many prisoners are themselves professionals, and some even officers in the military and corporate world.  

   One of the most surprising factors for them is the fact that prison is little like they imagined.  Once one gets past the jail/court menagerie, prison itself is basically composed of a mindless warehousing routine (wake, work, rest, sleep).  

   Prison staff are a combination of institutional robots punching a clock, along with the few (but critical) authoritative abusers…perpetuating a vicious cycle that they themselves probably experienced.  

   The big surprise for new guys is their fellow prisoners.  Aside from the 3%-or-so of criminal predators, and the “in-your-face” man-child, street-culture affectation of certain ethnic groups, the vast majority of prisoners are no different than what you would meet in your neighborhood, at work, and wherever you hang out–city street, main street, or Wall Street.  

   Probably the two biggest problems they face are their relations to those in the so-called free-world, and their perception of time—their sentence.  

   In terms of the change in status from a free and lawful citizen, to a prisoner and a felon, I simply point out that The Man—whomever that is to them—has shot his wad.  That’s it.  They’ve done their worst…it’s done, behind you.  The closet’s open and the boogey man is out from under the bed.  In that sense, you’re FREE.  Ironic, really.  The greatest tool the conservatives have is fear.  Once they convict and sentence you, it’s gone…unless you let it continue. 

   As for family on the outside, they’re propbably a lot more resilient than you think they are.  They know you’re gone for the duration and that you can’t provide any significant help.  In fact, quite the opposite.  You’ll be surprised how much they’ll be able to adapt.  They have challenges and realities to confront as well.   

   In fact, it will be your most positive role to support their decisions and independence.  And when you get out, to adapt yourself to that independence, not the other way around.  

   Confronting one’s sentence—that beast lurking on the path in front of you—is also relative.  

   One technique I’ve used I was reminded of the other day when I saw on the news that a 30’ asteroid zipped by the earth over Singapore at some 38,000 mph.  A hit on a major city would have killed millions.    

   In fact, about a million of these objects up to 120’ wide cross earth’s orbit every year.  Less than ½ of 1% of them have been mapped.  Sooner or later…  

   Time itself is an objective wall, but how one perceives it is purely relative.  Take speed…  How fast do you think you’re moving when you walk and run?  When you look at the sky and watch the sun rise or set, it is actually you who are cycling with the planet at about 1,000 mph.  You’re also revolving around the sun at about 67,000 mph.  

   The entire solar system is traveling around the center of the galaxy at 568,000 mph.  (It takes 250 million solar years to make one galactic year.)  

   A couple of Bell scientists discovered back in the ‘60s cosmic background radiation (CBR) providing evidence for the Big Bang theory.  Measuring that frame of reference thru the Doppler shift we find that our entire galaxy is traveling towards the constellations of Leo and Virgo (for you astrology buffs) at a speed of 1,300,000 mph.  

   So where are you going?  How fast are you getting there?  Just as fast as you wish…it’s all relative…  

               Dr. Publico

Category: Education
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