Life After Imprisonment

The Criminal Justice System exists primarily to punish those who commit crimes. Ideally, the system aims to judge and give out suitable punishments to those who deserve them, and at the same time give every person, guilty or not, a fair chance to fight their case. Primarily, this involves the police, the courts and the corrections systems.

The court is where the decision is made on whether a person is guilty or not, and if so, what punishment is to be received. Prison or jail time is one of the most serious kinds of punishments given out to those who committed severe crimes. While both terms are sometimes used interchangeably, prisons usually hold those who have longer sentences while jails hold people with sentences of less than a year, or those awaiting trial.

Regardless, what is obvious is that the effects of both jail and prison sentences extend far beyond the time spent in confinement. These effects can last for a lifetime. Even those who have served relatively short sentences may find it much more difficult to go back to living a normal life after being released.

These consequences are not to be taken lightly, thus it is important to make sure that no one is given such a punishment undeservingly. As such, many people who are facing a criminal charge choose to hire a lawyer to represent them when appearing in court. Lawyers specialised in this area are known as criminal defense lawyers, or criminal defense attorneys.

Those who cannot afford a private attorney can be assigned a public criminal defense lawyer, where fees will be paid for by the government. Both private and court-assigned defenders will work diligently to ensure that their clients are judged fairly. However, some may point out that public defenders tend to have a higher workload and lower pay. Furthermore, you cannot choose the public lawyer assigned to you.

Going to prison can cause social, psychological and economic impacts in a person’s life even long after their imprisonment period. In any case, having a good criminal defense lawyer is crucial in minimizing the damage of any criminal sentence. To find out more what makes a good criminal defense lawyer, keep reading here.

Social Stigma

Most people can understand that those who have been to prison before will definitely face some form of discrimination from society. Opportunities for work, education, and living arrangements will be much fewer.

Of course, there are jobs that strictly require a clean criminal background. But there are also many cases where employers immediately reject anyone with a criminal record regardless of their skills or suitability for the job. Landlords may also be unwilling to rent out spaces to people they know are ex-convicts. Not being able to achieve these basic things like having a stable income and a roof over your head can make life very difficult.

Re-Entry Into the New World

The barriers to leading a normal life don’t end at stereotypes and other people’s attitudes. In a podcast titled “Why Life After Incarceration Is Just Another Prison”, socialist Reuben Jonathan Miller mentioned that there are over 45,000 regulations actually erected and enforced legally that prevent ex-convicts from doing various things that other people can.

These affect anything from employment, housing, and healthcare, to restrictions on travelling and even consumption of alcohol. These rules, though certainly created for a reason, makes it harder for them to resume a normal life even with the help of those willing to give them a second chance.

Furthermore, those who have spent a long time in prison will definitely face challenges in adapting to all the changes that occurred when they were in seclusion away from the rest of the world. While there are re-entry programs designed to help tackle these problems, the effectiveness of these programs are mixed and they are not fully developed yet.

Mental Health, Psychological Effects

Last but not least, there are many studies revealing that time in prison negatively impacts inmates’ mental health. The lifestyle and environment inside can worsen an already unstable mental condition, or even induce psychological issues that persist long after being released.


“And so one question is, does the punishment match the crime?”, Miller asks. Criminal law is complicated and many different factors can contribute to the eventual sentence given out by the judge.

Misdemeanours, or crimes that are considered less serious, may possibly get away with other lighter forms of punishments like paying a fine. Those judged guilty of a felony, a severe offense, will most likely be sentenced to a lengthy imprisonment at the minimum.

The age of victims involved, whether the accused was an accomplice or directly involved, the severity of the crime, and the mental state of the accused at the time of the incident are just some of the many factors that can affect the outcome of the trial. Thus, having a capable defense during trial is paramount in making sure that one will not have to suffer unnecessary consequences despite their mistakes.