My probation officer (or PO as they’re commonly called) visits me twice a month to check up on me and see how I’m doing. Yesterday he stayed for an hour, and we talked about his experience working in prison as an activity therapist.
When I asked if rape is common, he said that in the ten years he spent working within the prison system, he had never personally witnessed it and said it’s less common than people think. The only sex-related situation he recalled ever dealing with was a lesbian love triangle at a women’s prison.
As I talk to more people from both within and outside the prison system, I become more confident that I’ll be able to handle myself. My PO says that prison is no more dangerous than society, and the environments are more similar than people think. If you go in looking for trouble, you’ll find it. If you mind your own business, treat people with respect, and keep yourself busy, you’ll do fine and time will go by quicker.
A common complaint among inmates, my PO says, is the abundance of free time. “A lot of inmates get bored and zone out. The smarter ones fill their time with hobbies, furthering their education, and work on a plan for after their release.”
While I understand that prison is not going to be enjoyable, there’s this tiny sliver of hope in the back of my mind that the whole experience could ultimately be a positive one and take my life into a whole new direction. I have this romanticized fantasy that I’ll work hard in prison, gain the respect of inmates and staff, work on a masters degree, write a book, and maybe after release, I’d go on to work at the prison as a counselor for other sex offenders.
It’s crazy, I know. But I think that’s what my PO means when he says I need a plan.