A big crowd of people was there at Times Square in New York City. They looked so weird to Otis Johnson who has been in prison for a Whole period of 44 years! Streets were so crowded and people were walking so fast garmented with modern clothes and a lot of accessories….everybody was rushing ahead in the direction of his office, college or workplace.
Being far from his society since 1975, Otis felt absolutely overwhelmed and completely confused..Guys appeared with wires in their ears and somehow a strange clothing style…they seemed to be extremely busy…Otis has found himself in a desperate need to understand what was going on around him.
Otis Johnson got out of prison in August 2014. He received a 44years sentence after a policeman murder attempt. He was sent to jail at the age of 25 and he reached 69 years of age by the time he has been released! He was about to leave prison before but an official decision has been taken to keep him for an extra eight months.
Unluckily enough, Otis has witnessed the prison reform area during Obama’s presidency. The new reform gave the prisoners an additional period in prison in which they undergo job trainings and other housing schedules.
Obama’s plans were to redirect prisoners’ attitudes and actions and lead them to the right path. He claimed in an official speech that it’s never too late for prisoners to change themselves.
By the end of 2014, there was a remarkable decrease in the number of prison population. On the other hand, the number of prisoners over the age of 55 has doubled from 1999 to 2014 and the number is estimated to know another increase again because of bad living, housing and public service conditions.
Old prisoners recently released like Otis are finding big obstacles towards correct reintegration in society. They simply couldn’t cope simply because of the huge gaps existing between generations.
Marieke Liem is a researcher at Harvard Kennedy School has asked many prisoners about their general conditions and he deduced the following final conclusion:
When they were in prison, they used to follow strict orders and a completely different way of life totally controlled by higher authorities..Now they are exposed to a radical change including modern technologies and new services where they feel like aliens!
His first steps outside prison granted Otis ID documents, $40 ad two bus tickets. Otis was disconnected from his family and a local organization helped him dealing with his new life issues!
Otis has started a new trip to be a part of his new society. He started to practice meditation and spiritual activities; he now regularly goes to a local mosque and navigates his new world trying to understand people.
Prisoners with long sentence dream a lot to leave the obscure walls but they are getting overwhelmed and limited with a society they don’t know and concepts they can’t master. So, are they going to taste and enjoy their liberty?!