I understand and respect it when people say prison camp was comfortable and not a real prison. The longer I stayed there, the more I understood the statement. However, some things made it more difficult to stay there. One of those things were false hopes and in this case, it was the false hope of Social Security Income payments for inmates, as well as a few others.
There was a rumor going around the prison camp that inmates could get up to $300 per month from SSI. In fact, there was a paper handed out that said federally incarcerated inmates (whether in prison, good time or halfway house) could receive money for all of the time spent in incarceration. It also claimed that any federal inmates could become bonded felons, receive disability, various cash awards, or loans.
Sounds amazing right? I was only in prison for two weeks and suddenly my current imprisonment was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was excited because that meant I could get about $5,100 since my sentence was seventeen months. I thought about starting a business with that money. I had also heard that there was a possibility that the Small Business Administration would give federal inmates a loan for up to $50,000 and would be bonded by the Federal Government. I honestly tried to take it with a grain of salt, but I couldn’t because it sounded like such a good way to get up on my feet after prison.
However, it turned out to be a complete lie.
None of the prison administrators knew of either program. I even had a family member call the 1-800 number, but it never worked. When I got home, I found this on the SSI website:
“Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments generally are not payable for months that you are confined to a jail, prison or certain other public institutions for commission of a crime. You are not automatically eligible for Social Security or SSI payments when you are released.”
Essentially, the only way I could get $300 per month for being incarcerated was if I was deemed medically insane and if my condition was permanent, meaning I couldn’t obtain a job or maintain my living status. On top of that, a licensed doctor would have to prove my case. Of course if I had that problem, then I wouldn’t be able to write a book or even wash dishes. I did find out that some inmates received their $300, but it wasn’t for the amount of time they’d spent in prison. They were receiving it every month for the rest of their lives. I also found out that the Small Business Administration wouldn’t fund inmates any amount of money.
Some people that are in prison firmly believe those papers circulating around the prison. They create imaginary lives around the idea of all of that money, just like I did. Inmates who are bound for ten years believe they are going to receive a large check when they get home.
The idea of receiving money was a major false hope. Other false hopes included early releases. At the time of my imprisonment, inmates believed President Obama, or whoever the current president was, would work with Congress to shorten prison sentences. Shorter prison sentences would free up space in the prisons so that they weren’t overcrowded. However, inmates from higher institutions have told me that this was a lie that they’ve been hearing since President Clinton was in office.
Another rumor and false hope was about reducing the 89% mandatory serving time to 50% for non-violent inmates. The only rumor that turned out to be true was the reduction of the crack law from 100:1 to 18:1. That law reduced a few inmates sentences as much as half or to time served. I’ve seen some inmates who had five more years to go, go home before I did.
Although prison camp isn’t the same as prison, it’s still takes away freedoms and privileges from people. False hopes only add insult to injury and unfortunately, while in prison, it seems to be just a part of the sentence.
For more got to SSI for inmates.