What’s scarier than being locked up in a Texas prison for 26 years? Returning to a world you no longer recognize.
For Randall Lee Church, 96 days of being back in society was quite enough, so he sent himself right on back to jail. Overwhelmed by his new world, on July 10, Church set an abandoned house on his friend’s property on fire, the San Antonio Express-News reports.
The fire didn’t get going until later that night, and while he easily could have gotten away with the act, Church turned himself in after three days, asking a waitress to call the police after enjoying a last meal of hamburger and fries at a local restaurant. He told police that he missed his job as a janitor at his former prison unit, basically begging to be taken back to the familiar and unchanging life he led for more than two decades.
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Church was put behind bars when he was just 18, convicted of murder after a drunken fight gone wrong. Spending the all-important formative young adult years in prison, Church left his sentence in April 2011 with no idea what was waiting on the other side.
“I didn’t know how to use computers or cell phones, or the Internet,” said Church. His story is a reminder of the long-debated topic of prison reform and the outstanding rate of former inmates that end up back in the pen. According to studies, more than 4 out of 10 of adult offenders return to prison within just three years of release—obviously there’s a problem here. With people trying to get into prison for health care or even just regular daily meals, there’s a serious lack of support for these citizens who are expected to return to society as reformed people.
Considering that 1983 was the year Church was committed, it’s not hard to believe he’d want to go back to a simple existence. The personal computer hadn’t yet swept its way into homes across the nation, let alone iPhones that stream Netflix. Everyday activities like checking out a grocery store had become foreign practices to Church, who said, “It was so overwhelming. I was constantly embarrassed by simple things I just didn’t know.”
Most people can barely keep up with technology between Facebook updates, we couldn’t imagine the shock of being thrust from the early ’80s into today’s iEverything pace of life.