What is a "Hardened" Criminal?

There is a term that is used to describe the “stubborn” criminals that continue to break the law. But the truth is, anyone that has done time in prison is more than likely a hardened criminal. Consider this fact, no one leaves prison the same way they came in. Some leave better; some leave worse.

Persons that have been incarcerated have found that prison is not a happy place. The premise is that if the conditions are uncomfortable enough, people won’t want to come back. So officers talk down to inmates or are just unfriendly and unfeeling. Things move slowly. Outbursts of laughter are frowned upon because prison is a quiet place, believe it or not. Don’t let what you see on T.V. cloud your perception. The truth is that most days in prison go without major incidents. The hardest part of doing time, is doing time. The same people, place, food, and T.V. shows day after day will drive a person insane.

Men and women that were once the life of the party and laughed at every little thing don’t last long in prison. Too much laughter makes a man look weak. Laughing too loud is annoying because the time weighs heavily on the inmates. If a person is miserable, your happiness is viewed as disrespect. So there is not much happiness behind the wall.

Since officers and staff want to make the conditions unpleasant, they are usually disconnected and they do not treat the inmates as “free” men. They talk down or they ignore requests. Some even engage in disrespect. Things don’t move quickly. That means that an inmate begins to build a shell to protect himself from the uncomfortable conditions. Thus, he becomes hardened. That does not mean he becomes mean, he just appears insensitive.

When an inmate is released, it is hard for those that know him to understand why things don’t bother him. He seems insensitive and uncaring. That is not the case. Prison scars a person. And some things remain with him, even after release. The conditions that harden the person are so much more traumatic than normal conditions that normal things don’t trigger responses or emotions. This makes reintegration difficult, because the loved ones see him as insensitive, but that is incorrect. We feel, we are just equipped to deal with situations. We have been trained that we control nothing. We were told when to do and where to be for so long that the scars remain and when things are beyond our control, we simply accept the reality of the situation.

Most formerly incarcerated individuals are hardened. That does not make us bad people. It does not make us mean or unfriendly. But we do become virtually unflappable. Please do not view that as a negative trait. We are just conditioned that way.
Pastor Brown