Pelipost is more than an app devoted to printing pictures for your incarcerated loved ones. We believe in the importance of family reintegration far exceeds the physical product in hand. REMAINING CONNECTED is the BIGGER PICTURE.
In this second post in our two-part blog series we continue chatting with our co-founder, Becky Calderon, and explore the significant importance PRINTED photos had with motivation in mind. Make sure to check out Part 1 of the blog series also!
“Give me a reason to fight!”-Becky Calderon
Preventing Recidivism From Prison
Did you know the United States has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world? Roughly 76% of our incarcerated loved ones return to prison within the first five years of their release. The reasons vary from person to person but here are some common reasons for recidivism:
- Lack of Employment- due to criminal record or lack of employable skills
- Incarceration doesn’t fix the addiction (trauma coping)
- Mental Health & Wellness
- Overwhelmed by Reintegration into Society
- Influences and Lifestyle Choices
When I was in the maximum-security prison, I shared a cell with 8 other women. We were each in there for a variety of reasons but we all had one thing in common: Trauma. We are all suffering from some form of unspoken trauma rooted at the core of our identities. For some, these scenarios lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms (poor decision making, addiction, co-dependent relationships, etc) and if left unresolved continue to repeat themselves.
With that said, most of the incarcerated individuals I shared space with were familiar with life behind bars. It wasn’t their first experience and it wouldn’t be there last either. To my surprise, there were so many mothers sharing the same facility as their adult daughters. These families grow old together behind bars while their children and grandchildren await their return. Unfortunately, nothing changes when they are released so they return over and over again.
Photos Reminded Me of My Motivation
I remember vividly thinking: “I REFUSE to end up back in here and end my life on a negative note.” As much as photos validated my life outside of prison…. they also reminded me that I had a reason to fight for a better life once I was released.
The most painful day of my life wasn’t the day I was sentenced… it was actually the day of my son’s graduation from college. For me to be in prison on that day was the ultimate punishment. All his little life, I only had one goal! To see him succeed into adulthood and graduate college. Every little award ceremony, sports game, you name it…. I was in attendance taking photos and beaming with pride. To miss Joseph’s college graduation day was like MISSING THE ULTIMATE REWARD. Thus, you can imagine the importance having those photos from that day would have on my spirit.
I used pictures as the foundational reminder to do the WORK while I was doing my time. What is ‘Work’, you ask? There are countless programs, intensive support groups and resources available while you’re in prison. These programs are free but there is one stipulation: YOU HAVE TO WANT HELP to GET HELP! I remember one program that really made me deal with some heavy things from my past. I had to face my childhood trauma head on and it was painful. People don’t want to dig that deep because it hurts. If I wanted to get well and prepare for a healthy life outside of prison, I knew I needed to truly seek healing in my heart. Because of my son’s involvement (through photos, calls and visits) I remained motivated to use my time in prison to prepare for a healthier life outside. Some of my “cellies” didn’t have the same family support and their lack of motivation was a result. Without encouragement, nothing motivates them to change.
My Prison Story Led Me to Purpose
Do I regret my choices? Sure. However, looking back, I can honestly say I am grateful for my time in prison. It changed my life. Prison led me to even greater purpose. Without my prison experience, Joseph never would have had the idea for Pelipost. I wouldn’t be living the good, healthy, sober life I’m living now and for that I don’t regret a single day.
With that said, you might speculate that I just walked out of prison and lived happily ever after. That would be a lie. I got out in May and hit rock bottom by October. I was dealing with the consequences of my choices in real life and it hurt. My drinking returned, my marriage was unrepairable, and I was dependent on my parents to support me. The thing they don’t prepare you for with your release… is that you still COME OUT A FAILURE. Then again, thanks to the resources I received in prison… I knew I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE and that rock-bottom moment was the most humbling, life-altering reminder that I was worth the fight! Seven years later… I’m living a life I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams. Your incarcerated loved one could be too, just encourage them to push through and do the WORK!