Prison Commentary: Exonerees and The Ills of Release - Week 12

Prison Commentary: Exonerees and The Ills of Release - Week 12

Course: HNRS 302: Extreme Punishments: Life, Death, & Solitary Confinement
Written: April 7, 2014 

Published: March 6, 2017
© All Rights Reserved

Written during Destiny's junior year of college, Destiny poignantly provides commentary and reflection on readings for the week for a University Honors course titled "Extreme Punishments." Each reading required the illumination of the following 4 structure components: takeway(s), a free write, a quotation(s) of interest, and a question(s). 

Week 12: Among Murderers: Chs. 1-10


  • Although release is highly anticipated, former prisoners may feel out of place in everyday life (pg. 23)
  • Former prisoners may have a difficulty sleeping once released, although they may dream of sleeping in more comfortable and welcoming rooms (pg. 28)
  • Many prisoners complain about prison food (pg. 71)
  • Some prisoners may feel like parole officers are domineering and controlling (pg. 79)
  • Lack of job rehabilitation and employment remain barriers of entry into society for former prisoners (pg. 79)
  • Often times, prisoners have experienced violent and damaging childhood experiences (pg. 112)
  • Unfortunate childhood experiences may cause negative implications for inmates emotionally and socially in the future

Free write

Introduction: Why Murderers

It stood out to me when Heinlein mentioned that in relation to empathy, “murderers are obviously very low on our list of priorities ” (pg. 7) Maybe from society's’ viewpoint, murderers are at the bottom of the totem pole. Usually in prison, rapists are very low. Rapists are often alienated and attacked because the crime of rape is deemed as vile in prison. On the other hand, murderers may “run the shots” more and evade harsh bullying.

I. Freedom Day

    It was interesting to read Heinlein accounts of Angel’s unsteadiness upon release. I can’t imagine only viewing myself in a 10-inch mirror, like Angel did. I have a full-length mirror in my room and everyday I see myself in it! It seemed ironic that the house where Angel lived was gone (pg. 240). Yet, his victim’s house remained. It’s almost as if his past was still “haunting” him.

    II. At the Garden

      Like Angel, Adam was aware and uneasy in his surroundings (pg. 31). I laughed to myself when Heinlein mentioned that Adam wondered if others were as aware of him as he was of others. It stood out to me when Heinlein wrote that Adam came to realize that he would die in prison. I talked to my dad (in prison) on the phone yesterday, and he mentioned the same thing. It’s painstaking. It was also interesting when Adam was identifying the qualities of cacti (pg. 33). I watched an interview some time ago where a multimillionaire and music industry executive named Lyor Cohen said he practices the very same task--observing nature.

      III. StreetCode

      Like Angel, Bruce had difficulty learning to shop (pg. 40). Once again, this solidifies the fact the former prisoners may have a challenging time reintegrating into the normal flow of everyday life.

      IV. Talking Murder

        It was chilling when Heinlein explained that after Angel strangled his victim, Olga, “he felt relief” (pg. 54). Similar to my emotion, the author mentioned that she had trouble sleeping after hearing the story (pg. 58).

        V. Poster Boys

          It was clever for the author to end this chapter by juxtaposing how two people from opposite words perceived Angel: the founder of the Fortune Society, David Rothenberg and Rich, a former inmate. Rothenberg’s perception was more positive and trusting, while Rich’s was more skeptical (pg. 69).

          VI. Dinner with Bruce

            It wasn’t surprising when Bruce disdained prison food. However, it was surprising to read that he had a tricky time deciding what food to eat after release although he had freedom of choice (pg. 71).

            VII. Job Readiness

            I understand why Angel was upset with the domineering, yet “wishy-washy” behavior of his parole officer (pg. 79). It’s understandable that Angel would be more sensitive and aware of being controlled or when someone switches plans (i.e. parole officer agreeing to extend curfew, but then reneging).

            VIII. Prisoners Still

            At times, Heinlein had to grapple with the past of Adam, Bruce, and Angel. Her perceptions of them as criminals and as interviewees arose (pg. 102).

            IX. The Penis Dialogues

            The trio tells of uncomfortable experiencing with reintegrating into love life. Adam’s anecdotes are very telling! (pg. 107)

            X. At the Barber

            I made the connection between violent and unfortunate childhoods and prisoners. Angel had a violent childhood, which led to a violent future (pg. 112). It’s often challenging to break this cycle. However, it is possible.


            • “Freedom was a relief, surely, but it was also a challenge.” -pg. 2
            • “Every person is beautiful until proven otherwise. “(pg. 29)
            • “Television prepares you terribly for reality.” (pg. 57)


            • Did Angel, Adam, and Bruce use the same legal team to assist them with release?
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