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28 May, 2008

JUMP's MC, Lena Hunter, On The After-Effects of Eight Years In Prison

What happens when a woman who had a life before she went to prison is released from prison and has no life to return to? Prisoner number 1250TN Speaks...

I unpack the boxes and take stacks of clothes over to the armoire. I pull out drawers and spend endless minutes trying to decide what goes where. I used to have a system where drawers are concerned and now I can’t remember what that system was. Underwear and socks in the top drawers or the bottom ones? Shirts and sweaters mixed together in the same drawer or separately? Night clothes on the left or the right?

The dilemma stumps me, sweeps my mind clear of any and all thought. I can’t understand what my problem is, why my mind won’t cooperate and make things easy for me. I am not a dumb person, I remind myself. I have a degree, though I have no idea where it is at the moment, and this isn’t advanced calculus. Something this simple shouldn’t require this much thought. So what is my problem?

Disgusted with myself, I leave the clothes sitting on top of the armoire and push boxes out of my way with my feet. I drop to the floor and lay on my back with my arms crossed over my chest like I’m in a casket. Inside, I was number 1250TN and here on the outside, I am still number 1250TN. My mind has no problem remembering that.

I do a hundred and twenty-five crunches in sixty seconds, huffing lightly with each one. I flip over on my stomach and do just as many push-ups, wishing there was a bar bolted to the wall or free weights sitting around for me to use. I can lift a hundred pounds like it’s nothing and before I got out, I was trying for a hundred and twenty five.

When I feel beads of sweat popping out on my forehead, I sit up and lean back against the bed, stare across the room at the clothes I don’t know what to do with. Then it comes to me slowly but surely. I realize I have encountered my first obstacle on the outside.

I have to learn how to make decisions for myself all over again.

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