What Can I Do While My Brother Is In Prison?
August 24, 2008 6:34am CST
Hello. This is hard. My brother has been in and out of jail since he was 17 years old. My mother did not treat him well at all as a child. I tried helping him when he was 16 but he was doing things that were destructive to my apartment and I could not afford him. He would spend time in jail and get out but do something really stupid and get arrested again. It was never for violence but for stealing/robbery. But came you blame someone who has been on paper and they cannot find a job? Society does not make it easy for you to get a job and establish yourself especially now that background checks are the norm. You are constantly judged eventhough you have served your time. It sucks. My lifestyle is different than my brothers and I do not trust him because his 20's has been filled with nothing but anger, breaking the law, probably he was on drugs, etc. To be honest, I am scared of him and scared to get back involved with him. He called me one time several years ago and I did not take his call. He left messages like "Pick up the phone. We are family. Is this how you treat family?" I didn't pick up the phone because I knew that whatever he wanted to tell me or ask me would add stress to my life or be some sort of bad news. And physically and mentally, I could not handle any more bad news at the time. But I guess he called to tell me he was going back to prison as I later found out. Lastnight, I decided to search online to see if I could find him. And I did. He is in prison for 10 years for robbery. He has been in prison since that phone call I imagine which is nearly 3 years. His first photos look like the brother that I last saw. Young, healthy, and vibrant. Yeah, he looks untrustworthy to me but he looked healthy. The next year's photos, you can see that he looks halfway vibrant but then he looks angry. Really angry. Then this year's photos, he looks like he has gained some weight, he has aged, he looks sad, really sad, and he looks like a zombie. And it has only been 3 years.... My first instinct is to go see him, write him, send him some money and open myself up to him. But I have a family that I do not want to expose to him. And I am scared. I also know that prison is changing him but not rehabbing him and I don't know what to expect. But he probably thinks that noone loves him and I know he doesn't love himself. I am torn. What should I do?
• United States
24 Aug 08
That's a tough one. Since it's not only you but you have family, this is even harder. I see you love your brother, or you wouldn't be torn by this and wouldn't still see the good in him. It's only natural to want to go and reach out and help. However, when you did it earlier, you got burned. Then again, he was much younger at the time. He most likely has changed, the question is in what direction. From what you see, it doesn't look like it went the right direction. Keeping in mind that you have family to protect, I'm not sure I would want to get in touch with him, if it were my brother. Then again, he has seven more years to go. Although he might get an early release, he would still spend some time behind bars. So reaching out, or going to visit him may not do much harm. Still, I would try and investigate further to see, what has happened with him, what is going on, how he is behaving. Base your judgement on what you find out. It bothers me a bit that your last contact was three years ago, basically just before he went to prison. A call to bail him out, help him find an attorney? Does he only contact you when he is in trouble? May he harbor any ill feelings because you weren't there to help him? These are the questions you have to ask yourself. Lastly, even if you don't want direct contact with your brother but feel obligated to help him there may be ways to arrange for help confidentially. You might want to have an attorney have a look at what can be done to help your brother deal with his negative emotions and to get back on his feet once he gets out. Your attorney can arrange for things without ever mentioning your name. Maybe even an anonymous care package may show him that there is somebody who cares. It is a difficult situation you are in. And I can fully understand your emotional turmoil over this. I hope you'll be able to find a solution that will suit everybody involved. Good luck!
17 Sep 08
It is of course better that you meet him. He may be angry yet he is your brother. You are his blood relation. You care a lot about him still you had to stay reluctant to him. It is not your fault though. You have to now make plans to visit him. Just imagine what would a lonely soul do in this world? What else would be punishing him than lonely and loveless life?? Hope you understand. Take help of your family (if they are ready to offer you!). All the best!!!
• United States
16 Sep 08
Feeling Guilty will not help the situation at all. Pointing fingers only leaves some pointing right back at yourself. Here is a thought....Maybe pick up a card for his Birthday or the Holidays are coming up soon. Drop it in the mail and leave the ball in his court. Just write a simple note in it, very generalized, if he responds then take it one step at a time. If he doesn't then that is his choice. But above all don't take his bad choices upon your shoulders. Only he can change that. Good Luck and May God Bless you and your family!
• United Kingdom
12 Sep 08
Your brother has taken the wrong path in life. He has made some members of your family scared and they perhaps want to forget him. He had a difficult childhood and going in prison probably has affected his self esteem. You are torn between wanting to help him and leaving him alone. He may think that nobody cares about him. I suggest you write to him and see what his reply is like. He might feel really depressed being three years into a ten year stay in prison. You could visit him once and tell him that you want to help him but you are scared that he will behave badly again. You could ask him to stay nice and think about becoming well behaved person when he gets out of prison. Years in prison and no contact from friends or family would turn many people in zombies. Your brother is scary so please be careful. Good luck.