Essays: First Day of Freedom

“On my first day of being released from prison, I will stop at Popeye’s and get me some chicken.”

Today I spent the afternoon grading practice GED essays. The topic was “Things I’ll do on the first day of my release.” Mothers are among the first people inmates vow to visit.

I miss my mother and all she have done for me. I miss the way she cook. Her food is the best. In my family we don’t go out to eat a lot because we love the way my mother cook. We can’t wait for Thanksgiving to come because my family love to eat my mother’s cooking. Being at my mother’s home is like remembering yourself as a child.

Mothers come up often in student essays. When asked to write about their heroes, many men choose their mothers. When writing about their favorite holidays, mothers are dedicated to the first paragraph alongside the Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas hams. Fathers, however, are seldom mentioned because many of the men grew up without fathers. Out of sixty students, only one mentioned his father specifically:

My father is the best father a young men could have in his life. He has always took me to all the football games. My father is more to me than just a father. He is a friend. We talk about how I can be a better man to my wife.

Children are mentioned a lot, too. This past weekend was Father’s Day, and during Sunday’s church service, the pastor asked by a show of hands who in the congregation were fathers. In a room full of over one hundred men, I was one of three (that I could see) who did not have children. Of the essays that mentioned spending time with kids, one in particular stood out:

I will spend time with my kids having fun and doing things they like to do. I would get to know them better. I would talk to them about any and everything. I would have a look on my face that my kids would ask me what’s wrong. I think I would be messed up because of how long I have been away from them.

Surprisingly, several students mentioned wanting to take baths on the first day of freedom.

I can’t wait to take a bath. I been taking showers for fourteen years and counting, I just might take shower shoes to the bathtub with me. [smiley face] Soaking my limbs in some hot water with body wash will be nice. I want a bath towel and a face towel, not all in one.

Not surprisingly, sex is also high on most (if not all) of the men’s priority lists. One essay consisted of a single sentence: “On my first day of release I’m going to be with my girlfriend all day and stay in bed doing our grown up thing in I can’t go into details so the end.”

While may students mentioned looking for a job when they get out of prison, there are some who will never learn:

My first day out I got to get me some money. I plan to do a lot of borrowing cash from family and friends. Just trust me. I no how to get money.

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