Episode 49

The Prison Post Podcast #49 Lauren Kessler, Award Winning Author of "Free"

Published on: 31st August, 2022

95 percent of the millions of American men and women who go to prison eventually get out. What happens to them? On this week's episode of The Prison Post Podcast, we have a conversation with immersion journalist, Lauren Kessler. She has taken a deep dive into looking at the Challenges of Life After Prison. Her book: 'Free' Two years, Six Lives and The Long Journey Home" is powerful, moving, emotional, and revealing. Lauren is both clear-eyed and compassionate, as she follows six people whose diverse stories paint an intimate portrait of struggle, persistence, and resilience.What is the road they must travel from caged to free? How do they navigate their way home?

Lauren Kessler is an award-winning author of ten works of nonfiction, all of which combine lively narrative with deep research and in-the-trenches immersion to explore hidden worlds. The creator of two graduate programs in creative nonfiction, she founded a writers’ group for those sentenced to life in prison at a maximum security prison.

There's Arnoldo, who came of age inside a maximum security penitentiary, now free after nineteen years. Trevor and Catherine, who spent half of their young lives behind bars for terrible crimes committed when they were kids. Dave, inside the walls for 34 years, now about to reenter an unrecognizable world. Vicki, a five-time loser who had cycled in and out of prison for more than a third of her life. They are simultaneously joyful and overwhelmed at the prospect of freedom. Anxious, confused, sometimes terrified, and often ill-prepared to face the challenges of the free world, all are intent on reclaiming and remaking their lives.

"FREE" is a gripping and empathetic work of immersion reportage, "FREE" reveals what awaits them and the hundreds of thousands of others who are released from prison every year: the first rush of freedom followed quickly by institutionalized obstacles and logistical roadblocks, grinding bureaucracies, lack of resources, societal stigmas and damning self-perceptions, the sometimes overwhelming psychological challenges.

Here's some of the reentry topics we discuss:

• The common challenges those recently released encounter in the first month that very few people truly understand?

• What being imprisoned means to your sense of self and how to reclaim that?

• What being surveilled, regulated, and managed does to your abilities to trust yourself and others?

• How you learn to function and reconnect, like understanding the latest technology?

• The rocky road of learning how to make so many decisions, big and small, every day?

• The staggering racial inequality behind bars (1 in 6 Latino boys and 1 out of every 3 Black kids will go to prison in their lifetime) and the overall “epidemic of mass incarceration” in the U.S., which accounts for 25% of the world’s prison population?

• What communities can do to help those returning from incarcerated life become a functioning part of that community

To purchase a copy of Lauren's book on Amazon visit this link: https://www.amazon.com/Free-Years-Liv...

Click this link to visit her website titled, "The Lauren Chronicles" and check out Lauren's other books at http://www.laurenchronicles.com/activ...

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About the Podcast

The Prison Post
Transforming Lives and Healing Communities by Reimagining Reentry
The Prison Post is a podcast interviewing leaders in the criminal justice reform, restorative justice, and social justice movements. In addition, we share the transformational stories of the currently and formerly incarcerated and highlight what CROP Organization is doing by reimagining reentry for returning citizens.
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About your host

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Richard Mireles

With a Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management from California Coast University, Richard is a dynamic public speaker and expert communicator with Advanced Leadership and Communication certifications with the world recognized Toastmasters International. Having spent over 21 years inside of CDCR, Richard made abundant contributions as a cofounder of the Inside Solutions think-tank and lead intern for the CROP Organization’s programs offered within institutions. An inspiring leader and powerful orator with over 35 transformational coaching seminars and workshops, Richard possesses the uncanny ability to capture a room's attention while conveying impactful messages to any audience. He has an advanced certification as an Alcohol and Other Drug counselor (receiving a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his contributions to the recovery community) and was the only known incarcerated person to earn the status of associate trainer for John Maxwell’s EQUIP Leadership and its Million Leader Mandate.