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Chazidy Bowman Robinson shares her story of becoming an advocate around post-incarceration syndrome (PICS)

May 23, 2024

Chazidy Robinson’s journey into criminal justice reform began in 2018, fueled by her personal experiences as the former spouse of an incarcerated man.

“Robinson [Leading with Conviction™ 2021] is now a researcher and advocate. She’s part of a movement to formalize a diagnosis for the struggle that [her ex-husband] and many other system-impacted people go through.

“The name is post-incarceration syndrome [PICS].

“The term refers to a wide range of psychological, emotional, and social difficulties that can arise after being imprisoned. This can include anything from post-traumatic stress, to depression and anxiety, to relationship issues, and more.

“Robinson, executive director of the SOAR 4031 Foundation, sat down with ComVox Producer Mary Evans and shared about why this illness is important to her, and the importance of being properly diagnosed while inside and when leaving prison. …

I didn’t really hear anything that was telling me how to re-acclimate him into my home and what mental health looked like.

Chazidy Bowman RobinsonChazidy: “In 2023, my husband was scheduled to get out of prison. And in 2018, it just really kind of dawned on me, like, he’s getting out.

“And I’m going to different conferences. I’m in a lot of spaces where they’re talking about criminal justice and restorative justice, but I didn’t really hear anything that was telling me how to re-acclimate him into my home and what mental health looked like. I wasn’t hearing it.

“And when I was asking these questions, I wasn’t getting any answers, and that bothered because I was concerned, because I was in spaces with other women, and I was listening to these horror stories about when their loved ones were coming home, while I was also watching shows on TV, like Love After Lock Up and they were glamorizing my life that I know didn’t look like that.

“Or I was in groups about prison wives, and they were glamorized and being with someone who was incarcerated, but no one was telling me what to do.

“I began this quest about how do I deal with him? How do we deal with these men and these women when they come home? How do the children deal with their parents? How do we do this?

“And so I come across a man by the name of Terrence Gorski, and he was talking about post-incarceration syndrome. And it was the only thing that made sense to me.

“It was the only thing that I could really relate to was one where I was dealing with, and one that I felt like was spoke to the things that I was hearing, other people who were like me and what I felt like relate to my husband about the traumas that he was dealing with and the psychological issues that he was going through, and what other people that had came from was going through.

“In 2021, I spoke at University of Cincinnati about it. I was speaking about mental health and D. Rachel Nolan. She pulled me to the side. She said, ‘Hey, do you want to do a research study around this? Because I think we should talk more about it,’ because nobody was talking about it.

“We formed a focus group compiled of formerly incarcerated people, incarcerated people, their support group, and whatever that look like, whether it be a child, a mom, a significant other. And we just form these questions and put this research study together. We have been running these research studies around post-incarceration syndrome, and the idea is to get it deemed as a disorder so that people who are coming home from incarceration: 1) can really have something to identify with; 2) can get diagnosed properly with the traumas of incarceration; and 3) can identify the triggers that trigger them, and they can reintegrate back into society, into the home place, in a proper way.”

Listen to the full interview at WYSO.org.

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