Releasing From Prison To A New Normal     by   Ruth Utnage

I’m going to release from prison in November of 2021. Trump is the likely POTUS and 6 months ago that meant getting a job in Seattle was not going to be hard, in fact, my assumption was that I was going to be able to easily secure funding for a start-up. The stock market was still a solid option to grow a little wealth and my major worry was what I was going to have to cut out goal-wise in order to make a decent second half of my life.

But now…I’m not so sure.

My previous plans are all but laid to waste now. I had a few years of a solid economy to rely on in order to secure at least an undergrad degree, if not a graduate degree, in order to ensure career stability. After over a decade in prison I needed all the advantages I could get just to compete in a flourishing economy. I don’t know hat I’ll have to do now.

The current pivot in my release planning is to continue with my collegiate pursuits, a grad degree in Health Services and then find a way to with Washingtons’ DOC to shape prison culture and influence an all out paradigm shift into a more effective corrective state. How I’m going to make money and survive in Washington’s most expensive county, well, I don’t know yet.

The new normal is yet to be entirely determined, the fallout from COVID-19 has not been assessed because, as a country, we’re still hunkered down waiting this thing out. The hope is that our economy returns into a strong institution and that our countries leadership is capable of rebuilding our stability. I hear every single day of a new institution changing to adapt, like remote learning, patronless sports, limited contact dining which begs the question- where are all the current unemployed going to go?

What are the effects of this on social classes? Is it going to be possible for me to advance in economic class as fluidly as I could have had I released say, a year ago? Are we going to simply return to business as usual?

I am not sure, but I do know that I am resilient and intelligent. I am going to accomplish my goals and reach the end of my pursuits. I may be many things to many people (hated by some, loved by many more) but what I am not is lazy, stagnant, or afraid.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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“A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, then by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.” (“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire )