Savvy Shabazz says “post-incarceration syndrome”—PICS—is real

April 2, 2024

“Researchers are trying to formalize a diagnosis related to post-traumatic stress on people who were incarcerated. It’s called post-incarceration syndrome, or PICS.

“The term was coined by Terence T. Gorski, a specialist in relapse prevention and addiction, in 2001 to describe something experienced by people who’ve left prison and are reentering society. It’s caused by a combination of PTSD, institutionalization, antisocial personality traits, social sensory deprivation and substance use.

“PICS can have different effects on a person, ranging from depression and anxiety to difficulty adjusting to life outside of prison and struggling to maintain relationships.

Once you realize why you do something, you’re more interested in, “How can I change this?”

“[Savvy Shabazz (Leading with Conviction™ 2023)], who is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Life Coach Each One Teach One Reentry Fellowship, said people in prison may already have previous trauma stemming from their childhood. Prison, he said, ‘is like a cherry on top.’

“‘A lot of people are already dealing with a lot of issues before they even get in prison. So now you’re packing it,’ he said.

“Shabazz also runs Savvy Shabazz Solutions, which provides reentry coaching and consulting for businesses that want to hire and work with formerly incarcerated people. Part of that work involves educating people and organizations about PICS.

“He said he’s spoken with formerly incarcerated people going through symptoms of the syndrome. He feels they recognized themselves in the symptoms, which helped them understand their behaviors.

“‘Once you realize why you do something, you’re more interested in, ‘How can I change this?’ Or, ‘How can I fix this?’ But if people don’t know, we’re just going to be a whole demographic of people walking around the nation dealing with PICS, but never finding the solutions or treatment for it,’ he said.”

Read the full story at Louisville Public Media.

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