March 8, 2016

You Might Still Be Institutionalized If...

by Eric Wilkes (author's profile)


You Might Still Be Institutionalized If...

This next subject of my blog doesn't deal with the inmates who are in the prison system. Rather, it deals with the inmates who have been released and are trying to get the hang of being free citizens again.

The only problem is, there are many habits, practices, and behavioral patterns that certain inmates may have grown so accustom to, that it's tough to see how they can just erase that life style as soon as they step out of the gates. These habits and behavioral patterns have literally become a part of their character. In prison, this is known as being institutionalized, and is a subject that gets referred to quite often. But most of the time it's just used as a way of teasing a fellow inmate about the way he does something.

These are just a few of the behavioral patterns that I though would reveal if an inmate had remained institutionalized are being released. And, in presenting them, I though I might use the idea of the well know comedian Jeff Foxworthy (you may be a redneck if...) Also, if there are any of you who can relate with what I'm sharing here, and wish to share your remarks, feel free to add to my list. I'll probably be adding more of my own later.

You Might Still Be Institutionalized If...

1. You keep including your D.C. number every time you address an envelope of fill out a form.
2. You knock on the table before getting up from a meal.
3. You get a piece of cardboard to black a cold draft coming out of a vent, instead of just adjusting the thermostat.
4. You wear a pair of flip-flops while taking a shower.
5. You notice an untouched item on the plate of the person next to you and ask, "You gonna eat that?"
6. You see some cops drive up to the donut shop, where you're enjoying a cup of coffee, and you tell to everybody, "One time! One time!"
7. You flush your toilet at least five times.
8. You wake up in the morning and start staring at your bedroom door, waiting for it to spring open.
9. You put the salt shaker in your pocket upon leaving a restaurant.
10. You put your out going mail in the box without sealing the envelope.
11. You keep a rag next to each of your sinks so you can wipe them dry after every use.
12. You bring a seasoning packet with you to a restaurant.
13. You Check your incoming mail for any stamps that are reusable.
14. You brush your teeth at the toilet instead of the sink.
15. You tie some toilet paper around the bathroom door knob before using the toilet.
16. You have to stop yourself from telling the waiter that you're not eating the food, because he touched the tray.
17. You find yourself fixing some form of goulash for every meal.

Like I mentioned before, this is just a few of the countless practices that are out there. Oh, and if there are any of you who many not understand the significance of one of these remarks, please feel free to ask.



Replies (16) Replies feed

Azkadellia Posted 3 years, 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 2 months ago   Favorite
Dear Maze,

I just recently found this site and was going through your letters and responses to people and found your honesty and openness very refreshing and enjoyable. I binged on your letters and read what I could find. My brother is currently serving time for a murder charge and has been in there since the 80's when he was only 16. I believe him to be in his 50's now. I want to reach out to him and talk to him about his life and everything he has gone through and to try to understand things. He says he is innocent yet my whole family thinks he is isn't. I don't know. I wish he could be as open as you are. Anyway it is nice to read your story and I like reading the little individual stories you share with the world of what your life is like and the situations you experience and witness and are part of. I had a few questions if you don't mind.

What things do you do to occupy your time? How much time do you spend in your cell. How long have you been at your current camp? What's your favorite food that they serve you there? Do you have many pen pals? When are you going to be released?

Well that will do for now. I will look forward to your reply in the future. Take care and I hope you are well.
- Azkadellia

Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years, 1 month ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Anne Posted 3 years, 1 month ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 1 month ago   Favorite
Hi there.
This blogpost of yours 'You Might Still Be Institutionalized If..' is really amusing.
That number 8 'you wake up in the morning and start staring at your bedroom door, waiting for it to spring open' is hilarious - my God I was laughing my shoes off! haha. One can easily picture that! :-D
You have a humorous way of expressing yourself, and I encourage you to use that as a tool - which you already do (obviously), lol.

I haven't got to read all your posts, but I sure will. It's quite amazing that inmates have this opportunity reaching out to the outer world through Between the Bars - they're doing a great job for you.
Thanks for writing!

Eric Wilkes Posted 3 years ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Julia Posted 3 years ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years ago   Favorite
could you explain #6 one time?
thanks, Julia

Anne Posted 3 years ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years ago   Favorite
Hey you!

That's so true - laughter is the best medicine! I know that for a fact as I've been longterm ill, meaning for years, and I've more than once said that humor has helped me through this time. Silly humor and self irony is just great.

You wrote your favorite is #6, although I laughed out loud about 14 and 15, too, lol - too funny!
Not to mention #13, THAT my MUM did all the time!! haha :-D
You also had a post about nicknames, hehe, really amusing. Makes me wonder what nickname I would get, lol.. I'm not living in USA, and we don't use nicknames very often where I live. Perhaps a good thing. :-)
And yes, Between the Bars is absolutely a great opportunity for you all, and I hope it will last.
I've just learned that some prisoners are barred from having Facebook and some other social media accounts, a few states have come to this conclusion, but blogs are still 'allowed'. I actually believe Florida is one of them.

Well, keep on writing - funny or serious issues, everything is welcome. Besides, it's a great way to occupy the mind. :-)

Eric Wilkes Posted 2 years, 11 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Eric Wilkes Posted 2 years, 11 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Jamie Posted 2 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 2 years, 10 months ago   Favorite

Oh man, that list was so funny and so sad at the same time. The first points made me laugh but then comes number 1 and I feel so sorry.
I really look up to whoever had the "betweenthebars"-idea, this site is doing something so good.

(Sorry for my crippled english haha, it's not my mothertongue - I'm from Switzerland)

Wishing you the best,

Eric Wilkes Posted 2 years, 10 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Jamie Posted 2 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 2 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Hey Eric!
Or Maze. I'm confused, what should I call you? Where does Maze even come from? :) Sorry if you've explained that somewhere already, I didn't really read all of your posts... Its 00:34am at the moment and I should probably go to sleep soon, hehe. But I want to finish writing my letter to you. You have to wait long enough for it as it is, so I should be quick, right? ^_^
It's the 23.07. today, so I got your letter 11 days after you wrote it. I can imagine how hard it must be to wait so long for a letter and have to worry about whether the company is still working or not. Wait, actually, I can't. I mean, growing up in the age of social media, always being able to call and text anyone I want to... I can't really imagine being without that anymore…
Writing letters is exciting though! I think you're the third person who has answered me and it's always so interesting to read everything that other people write. I'd actually really love to send handwritten letters! (I can't even remember when I last did that. Probably a love letter when I was little, haha.)
But I guess that'd be too expensive for my student budget... Pity that I don't live in the US. Or.. Actually no.....
I think as I kid it was my dream to move to the US - thank you, mainstream media. Now I want to stay as far away from it as possible. Alone the fact that so many people actually want Donald Trump to become president... What the hell?! Why???

Don't apologize! I'm sad because of the system, not because of your writing. I mean I don't really know you and because of a little browsing through the internet I know why you are in prison. And of course I think what you did is horrible and scary, but I believe you're someone that'd could use a second chance. A chance to rehabilitate and live a more or less normal life again. Am I wrong? I just don't really believe in locking someone up forever or even killing them. I didn't even know that death penalty still is a thing until lately to be honest. Let’s fight violence with more violence, yay! America...
Actually, I found out about it through a series! It's called Prison Break. There's this guy (Michael) whose brother (Lincoln) is in prison for a crime he didn't commit - and he's even on death row! Michael is actually a genius and makes this really big plan to break his brother out of the prison (hence the name of the series...:D)
Anyways, this series made me become interested in prisons and after browsing through wikipedia (I don't even know why, I think I started by reading stuff about several serial killers, then about some prisons in America,…) I landed on various prisoners blogs and also this page, betweenthebars.
I’ve actually run out of space to write. It’s 1am now and for whatever reason it seems that I’m very talkative… I will write you a second letter, but I don’t know if you’ll get them both at the same time.
So until then!
See - um,... Read you soon,
~Jamie :)

Jamie Posted 2 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 2 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Hello Eric/Maze,
It’s me, Jamie, again. Hopefully you get this letter with the last that I’ve written, as it’s just been 2 minutes since I finished it. :)
A lot of people actually mistake Switzerland for Sweden, haha! Sweden is a lot bigger though, and Switzerland is probably richer. :P And I think Sweden is colder… Both countries have a really weird language though. Well, Switzerland actually talks 4 languages. French, Italian, Romansh (what the hell is that even) and German. The German is reaaaaally weird though. Are there any Germans locked up with you? I’m sure that it’s pretty multicultural in prison, no?
Say, I read that you're interested in psychology. I became interested in that topic too lately. Did you study it? And I have a question... Do you think that there a lot of people that could change if the system let them and get out of prison as better people? Yourself included?
Am I just dreaming when I say that I think a lot of convicts actually just need help themselves? That no one is completely evil? I’m always told that I’m too nice, and I could actually totally see myself trying to help someone who totally doesn’t want that and be killed in the process. Too pure for this world, probably… :P
I actually talked to my parents about this, but I don't think they really understand what I mean. I don’t even know if you do. I’m not that good at expressing myself verbally.
Sooooo… I think I’m done with my flood of words. :D I hope you’ll enjoy reading my letters, I definitly don’t want to be a nuisance…
Do you actually have any questions for me? I’m happy to answer everything that I can~!
Bye bye!

Eric Wilkes Posted 2 years, 9 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

babcain56 Posted 2 years, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 2 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
This is Jessica F. Do you remember me? I know we lost contact a few years back, my apologies. My life has been rough. I am, however, interested in getting back in touch with you. I need a fresh address. Get back to me. The site says I will get your response by the 22 of August. I look forward to it.


Jamie Posted 2 years, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 2 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Hey Maze,

Hah - Go me! Always with the good questions. :P I just read your "What's in a name?" article and guesses where the names come from. It was fun, but I'm probably wrong with everything.
The labyrinths/mazes look so cool! They remind me of brains. I actually did them and it took me foreveeeer (and I cheated a little, starting from the "End" side... Hehe. :x). Especially since I don't have printer, so I had to trace my path with my finger, lol. You said one of them has advice in it? I didn't really get that. Maybe because I couldn't draw in it. :( But thanks for sending them! They're really, really cool.
How old where you in 4th grade when you started doing them? We have a different school system here so I don't really know.
Do you draw them for other prisoners sometimes too?
Don't worry, I don't really get offended at anything, haha. I bet you don't really either. You seem to be a really chill person too. But you're funnier than me. :D
Is Florida very multicultural in general or why did you think so?
Mhh, I don't know much about politics either, but I know that definitly wouldn't want him as the leader of my country. But that's probably why he's there - to make you vote for Hillary, because she's the lesser of two evils. I actually liked Bernie Sanders.
And nope - I wasn't born there yet. :D My birth date is 29th March 2000.
Ewww, math. :P I prefer languages. And history. We can choose like a main subject in our school, mine is Art. I really liked drawing when I was younger, but now I just chose it because I didn't like the other subjects. Lately I became interested in Psychology as well! I'm probably going to choose it as my optional subject next year. But I'm particulary interested in criminal psychology. If that doesn't change in the next three years (that how long I'm still in school), maybe I'll study it in University. :)
You said that if they think what they do is right, they won't want to change. I want to become someone who changes their ways of thinking, you know? And I know that I'll probably get disappointed because as you said, I really have a kind heart. Too kind sometimes. But I'd like to help everyone that I can to become a better person.
I'm afraid I didn't really find what you wanted me to look for. But I don't believe that you're a completely bad person. Even when I know what you did - well, at least the direction. "1ST DG MUR/PREMED. OR ATT." - Thanks internet. Mind telling me more about that?
My life style...I dont think it's that interesting but of course I'll answer your questions and add some things that come to my mind I guess. I don't have a part-time job, no. I tried helping in a bakery once but it was much too stressful. And I realized I'm way too shy and awkward to sell things, haha. Sometimes I walk the dog of my neighbours to get a little extra money though.

I'll answer more in another letter, ran out of space again - whoops!


Jamie Posted 2 years, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 2 years, 9 months ago   Favorite
Hey again!

Soooo, you were asking me what kind of music I listen to. Everything, really. But mostly rock. I've been listening to a lot of indie rock lately (Arctic Monkeys!♥). And my favorite band is "The Pretty Reckless" (Alternative-rock band) and I also really like Marilyn Manson. My taste in music changes all the time to be honest, sometimes I listen to metal bands like Slipknot - the next day I'm obsessed with K-Pop (Korean Pop) bands. Wait - can you even listen to music in American prisons?
I don't have a car yet. You can get your license with 16 in America, right? Here it's 18. And I doubt that I'll have the money for a car & license in 2 years so that has to wait.
And now some more or less interesting information about me... :P
- I don't have any siblings (I sometimes wish I had an older brother though.) and live with my mum and her boyfriend in a small townhouse. We actually moved to Switzerland because of him, before that I lived in Germany until I was 12.
- I'm vegan. (Just had to put that in here because everyone jokes about how vegans always have to tell everyone that they are vegans...:D)
- I've always really liked Anime! I don't know if you know what that is so I'll explain~
They're basically just japanese Cartoons. :) Do you know Pokémon, Dragonball or something like that?
- When I was little I believed in god and always prayed with my grandma. But now I'm an atheist.

Sooo, I don't know what else to write to be honest.
Hope to hear from you soon:)

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Eric Wilkes: RSS email me
Comments on “You Might Still Be Institutionalized If...”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS