For most inmates, the path to rehabilitation can be long and arduous. It involves a lot of self-analysis and time spent on their own self to realize just where they made their mistakes and how they can improve themselves for the future. Prison rehabilitation means that inmates come out knowing where they made mistakes and joining society with their past actions behind them. Former inmates need to be different people in order to be accepted back into society and integrate there. The evolution into a different kind of person is usually done in two ways; change and growth. The two are normally confused with each other, however they cannot be more different.

What is Change

A change is known as a shift to a different kind of state. A change is recognized as either introducing elements that are foreign to you into your life. An example of a change can be a newly incarcerated inmates reaction to being incarcerated.

He may blame the police, his lawyer, his environment, etc. As such he’s consumed with anger and refuses change. He will spend his days in prison fighting, gambling, watching senseless television shows and seek out others who crave the same thing. His old habits will not die in prison and he’s destined to return.  If he were in the mainstream society working a 9-5 he would be moving on to a different job because he happened to be facing problems in his current one. A change usually depends on the situation and involves a person deciding that they cannot change the situation or induce a difference in them that will make the situation bearable. Hence they transform themselves or the situation into something new. The difference is that he can not change prisons as swiftly as he might change a job unless he becomes such a threat to the security of his correctional institution.

Other inmates begin like the first. They initially serve their time fuming at the system and show little remorse. They think to themselves “I’ll never be able to serve 2, 10, 20 or 30 years in prison.” After serving half their time, educational, drug programs and other opportunities may be suggested by the parole board or unit team. He now moves towards change because “he has to” in order to be released earlier then he thought possible. His thought process is “what’s in it for me?” The sole motivation for change is, once again, because he has to.

A number of inmates simply accept the fact that they’ve committed a crime. They are remorseful and understand that prison is their home for quite some time. These inmates don’t blame the system and admit (whether poor or born with a silver spoon) they had options. They did not have to sell drugs, commit a hate crime or begin a Ponzi scheme. Prison is a process that must happen and although they are not thrilled about being incarcerated they do react positively to it.

Then there are inmates who are an anomaly. These inmates decide change; in prison they create programs that make their prisons a better place by helping their fellow inmates read, write, speak foreign languages, understand the stock market, facilitate programs such as anger management, AA, NA, domestic violence, etc. The Warden, Associate Warden and Captain views him as an asset. His mission would be the same whether he had 6 months or 60 years. Upon release these inmates are the innovators, the movers in the mainstream, they are the creators of their own world and high achievers. No longer will they be bound by the fear of hard work, fear of feeling that the world is out to get them or the fear of failure. They understand and embrace the fact that failure is not a stumbling block but a stepping stone to greatness.

What is Growth

Conversely, growth happens to be inducing change inside your own self. Instead of changing the situation you are caught in, you try to influence it or influence yourself to adapt to it. For a prison inmate who happens to have disagreed with certain laws of society and went to prison for doing so, growth means learning to live with those laws. Of course, a person cannot make themselves immediately adapt to things they do not like. Hence, they need to slowly change their ideals and themselves. They need the motivation to grow.

The Difference Between Change and Growth

Both change and growth require a lot of motivation to undergo. However, they are not the same thing. The main differences that exist between change and growth whether inside or outside of prison are:

  • Change can be an instant process. Simply transform your situation into something different. However, growth is a slow process requiring self-learning and changing oneself from the inside
  • Growth is always done internally, with a person’s own motivation, whereas change can be imposed from the outside
  • Change is usually an isolated event. It happens and doesn’t need to happen again. On the other hand, growth is a perpetual process and can even be called incremental
  • Although a person can undergo change with just a single decision, growth requires constant work and motivation.
  • For any person, growth always happens to be a positive development for them. However, change can either have negative or positive effects on them depending on the situation and the kind of change.
  • A change in your life can be the very first step in your growth. It can act as a catalyst for it. Conversely, growth is always done with a comprehensive and strong desire to transform yourself into a changed person.

Leave a Reply