This morning as I approached the entrance to the Gate House (the first security checkpoint of the prison), I noticed that an inmate was in the process of being released. He was dressed in street clothes and was holding a large plastic bin that clearly held all of his belongings. A correctional officer was directing him to step aside and wait as the transportation van was pulling up. I recognized the inmate as a former inmate clerk who had worked in our program office. I knew that he had been a lifer; I guessed that he’d been found suitable for release by the Board of Parole Hearings and that the governor had not opposed the decision. I wasn’t aware of just how long this particular inmate had been in prison, though, until I walked into the Gate House and overhead two other correctional officers talking about him.
“He’s a B number,” one C.O. said.
“So he’s been down a long time,” the other C.O. remarked. “He’s in for a culture shock. A lot has changed in the world since then.”
I was pretty sure that this former inmate was headed for post-release housing that would assist him in making the transition from prison back into the community. It would have been part of the conditions of his parole. Silently, I wished him well and made my way into the prison for the day.
At the end of my 10-hour shift, I was glad to be coming home to this.