“My surprisingly friendly post-prison life”
Alexander Hall has a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Bard College through the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). He was released in 2018 and now lives in New York City, where he co-owns a strength training facility in Manhattan and works as a Housing Associate for BPI, assisting returning alumni with their housing needs.
It was weeks until my release, and I couldn’t believe how fast time was flying by. I had spent close to 13 years in prison, and I was actually about to go home. It just didn’t feel real. I had so many plans and aspirations. I was convinced that I was going to succeed. But for this success to mean what I thought it should, I was clear about one thing: I was going to redefine myself, independent from my past.
You see, once you’ve been to prison, society has a way of deciding how you’ll be perceived. But I wasn’t just worried about discrimination; I was worried about being undervalued. I didn’t want to brand myself as a “formerly incarcerated person.” No offense intended to those who do, but I wanted people to value me for my talent, not use my incarceration as an entry point.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that in redefining myself so adamantly apart from my past, I would cut myself off from a portion of my life that played a significant role in the person who I have become. It would leave a significant void. Sure, I would encounter discrimination by connecting with my past, but I also stumbled upon a world of empathy, understanding, support and amazement. In part, because so many Americans know somebody who has been locked up.
De ervaringen van Alexander Hall bij zijn terugkeer in de maatschappij, kan je hier lezen.