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How we started?

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Imagine being stuck in a small cell, not knowing what lies ahead. So many thoughts race through your head as you try to understand what’s coming in the next few years. Suddenly losing control over your own life can really mess with your mind. Simple things like deciding when to eat, when to wake up, or even when to use the bathroom are taken away from you. It’s like your basic humanity is being stripped away.

People who used to be by your side slowly start disappearing from your life. Basic tasks like having pictures, contacting the courts, getting legal help, talking to bill collectors, or letting others know where you are become incredibly challenging. And as you look around, you realize that everyone around you is in the same tough situation.

How can anyone expect us to change and improve ourselves when we’re stuck in a place with just four walls, surrounded by programs that don’t seem to help when we eventually get out? Even asking a loved one for a small favor can take months, or you might not even feel like you need it anymore.

Sitting on that cold metal toilet, staring out of the small window with bars, they found themselves lost in deep thoughts. Even the rats that scurried around at night couldn’t bother them anymore. It made them realize that this couldn’t be the end of the road.

They had a vision – a place where incarcerated individuals could get things done without relying on others who might not understand or care about their needs. A place where they could maintain their sanity and mental well-being, feeling a sense of normality amidst the chaos. This was just the beginning.

Normally, the justice system aims to punish those who break the law, teach them a lesson about the consequences of their actions, and help them become better members of society once they’re out, so they don’t repeat their mistakes. But it’s puzzling – how can you tear someone down and lift them up simultaneously?

“Inmates R Us” was born from a real need. A need to support those who society had given up on or forgotten. It was created to prove that they wouldn’t let their surroundings define them or become another statistic of repeat offenders. Despite the challenges from staff, society, and the system itself, their mission was to uplift, to feel connected to the world, and to find a sense of normalcy as they prepared to re-enter society and succeed against all odds.

What our name represents?

Let’s talk about why we chose our business name and why certain terms matter.

We recognize the word Inmate has been used to degrade those who have been incarcerated. Inside those prison walls they are commonly referred to as a number or a last name. A constant reminder of where they are and the devalue as a human is placed on them.

The word “inmate” can make people feel less like themselves and more like just a label. You know, when prison guards call them “inmates,” it can be embarrassing, especially when their families are around. This term has slowly changed over the years.

Labels that strip away a person’s humanity create unfair assumptions and push them to the sidelines instead of helping them rebuild their lives. People who have been involved with the justice system are not just their past mistakes. The words we choose to talk about them should show who they really are, and recognize that they can change and improve over time.

The way we talk about things is important because it affects how we see and treat each other. Using certain words can make people think of others in a bad way or treat them unfairly. For example, when we call people “inmates,” it can make them seem like they’re only defined by being in jail, and that’s not fair.

We believe in treating everyone with respect and giving them dignity. So instead of using words that might make people feel bad, we prefer to say things like “person with justice system involvement” or “person impacted by the justice system.” These words show that there’s more to someone than their past mistakes. We also use terms like “loved ones” to talk about family members, and “clients” for the people we work with.

It’s important to us that everyone feels like they matter, no matter what their situation is. We want to help people who’ve been through tough times get back on their feet and have a fair shot at a good life. So, let’s remember that words matter, and we’re here to make sure everyone gets the respect they deserve.

We’re here to prove that “Inmates” are just like us—regular people who deserve the same love and respect as anyone else in the world. We’re talking about service workers, nurses, doctors, business owners, mothers, and nannies—everyday folks.

When the word “inmate” is used to describe people in prison, it’s like a mean slap in the face. We’re here to stand up against that and change the negative way it sounds. We want to remind everyone that you can’t judge someone by that label. You never really know who might have been called an inmate before. The word that’s used to put people down, we’re using it to lift them up.

We want to show the guards, the staff, and all the doubters that inmates are real people too. Imagine if you got to know someone and then found out later that they had spent time in prison. Would you still think of them the same way?

More than 640,000 people come out of prison and rejoin our communities each year, and guess what, one of them is just like us!

-Inmates “R” Us

Creator: Hispanolistic | Credit: Getty Images
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