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Review of As Free As An Eagle: The Inmate’s Family Survival Guide


Review of As Free As An Eagle: The Inmate’s Family Survival Guide

by Sarah Barton, FASTEN Editorial Staff, 2005



A myriad of studies have revealed that ex-offenders who maintain jobs long-term, avoid substance abuse, and have strong family relationships have reduced rates of recidivism.  As Free As An Eagle:  The Inmate’s Family Survival Guide is a guide for soon-to-be-released inmates based upon three family life courses created by author Daniel Bayse for use in Alabama’s prison system. This guide is designed to help inmates avoid returning to prison by taking responsibility for their actions and repairing or improving their family relationships.  In addition, it provides help for family members who are preparing for the inevitable stresses and adjustments following the ex-offender’s return from prison.  Although this guide is not overtly faith-based, it contains many scriptural references and presents a Christian worldview.


As Free As An Eagle discusses the reasons why individuals commit crimes and the need for inmates to accept responsibility for them.  It emphasizes the importance of developing a “settled” lifestyle (being dependable, trustworthy, ethical, and free from substance abuse) and developing close family ties.  Inmates are asked to examine the thoughts and attitudes underlying their decision to commit a crime and given instruction about how to avoid passing these thoughts and attitudes down to their children.  The inmate is given guidance about how to avoid the destructive process of “prisonization,” or accepting the language, goals, relationships, and roles of their “prison families,” by maintaining strong relationships with their families back home.  In addition, prisoners learn how to break their “invisible chains”--improper loyalties, abuse of power, violations of trust, and self-centeredness that led the inmate to commit a crime--by making a commitment to ethical living.


This guide helps inmates to discern which family relationships can or should be saved and the steps he can take to rebuild them.  Inmates gain understanding in what love is, how to communicate their true feelings, and the importance of forgiveness, and learn new problem-solving skills. 


Because research shows that inmates who remain employed in their first job for an entire year are less likely to return to prison, the guide contains information about how inmates can find and retain a job.  Inmates are given instruction in the importance of persistence, interviewing, handling rejection, addressing employers’ concerns about hiring an ex-inmate, and the need to be trustworthy and dependable employees.

While this guide may be used by inmates individually, it also is a terrific resource for pre-release programs.  Program directors and mentors may use it to stimulate discussion with inmates to help them prepare for a successful return to their homes and to society.

Related Books
As Free As An Eagle

Related Links
American Correctional Association

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