In My Underwear

When I was in prison—a famous prison journalist, published author and statewide renowned jailhouse lawyer—I would tell my wife (and most anyone else who would suffer through the listening) that if I was released from prison in my underwear in the middle of New York City, I would find a way to survive.

As Dierks Bentley’s song says, “what was I thinkin’”?

I was finally released in 2006 after serving more than 40 years (in some pretty dark, dangerous places) and I didn’t have on much more than my underwear when I walked out of the prison into my wife’s arms.

But what I did have was an upscale high rise condo (beautifully decorated) in which to live, a network of middle/upper class friends of my wife that embraced my reentry into the free world, and the financial resources to get the computer and legal skills at a local community college I so desperately needed to secure employment in the legal profession.

In effect, I virtually had every opportunity for a successful reentry into the free community made available to me by my wife. I didn’t have to worry about surviving in New York City in my underwear.

Still, after 40 years in a confined environment, surviving in the free community was no easy task—psychological adjustments had to be made, learning how to work in a professional setting had to be achieved, and developing the personal and social skills necessary to navigate in and about the nation’s fourth largest city had to be honed.

Believe me that free world adjustment was much harder than the ten years I spent in a maximum security cell or the five years I spent in a general prison population in what was called “the bloodiest prison in America.”

That brings me to the heart of this post.

ABC News carried a report on April 10, 2020 about inmates being released from “Locked Up to Locked Out” – inmates walking out of prison into a society in virtual lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some were released just weeks before the Covid virus effectively shut the free world down causing them to lose those initial successful reentry gains—job, place to live, and the prospect of a good, decent, law-abiding future.

Then Covid arrived, and the bottom of their world suddenly, and without much warning, fell out—no job, no place to stay, bills to pay, and a truck load of other concerns staring them in the face. Granted, the average person firmly established in the free world before Covid is now facing the same problems and concerns, but at least they have a network of friends, family and resources that allows them to  face the Covid challenges with some support.

The fresh-out-prison individual does not have these personal and psychological support mechanisms. They are pretty much alone—alone like being in a foxhole in the middle of a war without a gun. They do not even have the “going back to prison” option. Those facilities are now, or will become, human death traps. At least in the free world there are masks, surgical gloves, halfway houses, and the local food bank the help the newly released inmates survive the Covid pandemic.

I feel empathy for these guys. I still pray for those I left behind and will now pray for those who must face the challenges of surviving in a world being ravaged by a deadly pandemic.

Think about being in your underwear in middle of New York City, alone, and you will know what these guys are up against.



Like garbage, there is an endless supply of this stuff.

A few examples are in order.

The former Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly who spent $243,000 of taxpayer money to take a 35-hour journey to Guam just so he could tell the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt about how “stupid” and traitorous that beloved captain, Brett Crozier, had been for publicly disclosing the threat the Covid 19 virus posed to the ship’s crew. Modly was lucky to get off the ship and back to shores of the USA where he was forced to resign for being stupid.

And then there was Roseanne Barr talking to Norm MacDonald informing his listeners about what the Covid 19 virus is.

“You know what [Covid 19] is, Norm?” Roseanne explained, utterly awed by her own perception of brilliance. “I think they’re just trying to get rid of all my generation. The boomer ladies that, you know, that inherited their, you know, are widows. They inherited the money so they got to go wherever the money is and figure out a way to get it away from people.”

Yes, we know, Roseanne – take another Thorazine and get some rest, girl.

Let us not forget Bill O’Reilly, the former intellectual stalwart at Fox News, who recently told another Fox News giant, Sean Hannity, that there should be little, or no social concern for those who have died from the Covid 19 virus because they were “damaged” people who were on “their last legs” in life.

This idiot, who lends new flavor to stupidity, actually told Hannity that a “simple man tells the truth.”

And then there is the grizzled old man living in rural America who walks around the local grocery without a mask or gloves coughing through tobacco-stained lungs as he stacks cases of Coors Light into a grocery cart.

“Would you like a mask, sir?” a passing customer asks.

“What do I want a mask for,” the man in the dirty jeans (don’t even think about his underwear) contemptuously replies. “I don’t believe in that hoax-virus bullshit. You must be one them fucking MSNBC Democrats.”

The old man left the store, with half-dozen coughs and million aerosols lingering behind in the store, and got into his 15-year-old F-150 truck. He wondered aloud if he had enough beer to get him through Tucker, Ingram and Hannity later that night.


It is hopelessly etched into the DNA of humankind.

But it is interesting to think about which dating app could link the grizzled old man with Roseanne.