10 Years, 5 Months by Stephen Newman

10 years, 5 months. That’s how long I will have spent in prison once I’m released this November. My life has remained fairly consistent on the inside, but out there, out in the real world, so much has changed.

When people (like you) are out there living life, it’s easy to forget about so many of the changes. In fact, many may not even be cognizant that things have, in fact, changed, since many changes happen so gradually. I, however, got to view the world from a unique vantage point, and detected subtle differences that many free-world people did not.

The jury read the guilty verdict on August 16, 2008. Since then………

Michael Jackson died. So did Prince, Billy Mays, and Paul Newman. (Betty White has outlasted them all!)

Sugary sodas became illegal in New York, then were made legal again. The pound sign turned into a hashtag. The term “selfie” was born. A tweet was no longer simply a sound that a bird makes. Instagram, snapchat, pintrest, smartphones, and iPad were conceived. became just Amazon. AOL Instant Messenger shut down for good.

People started using phrases like: “It is what it is,” “Just Sayin'”, and “I Know, Right?” College students became overly sensitive and entitled. BDSM became socially acceptable, as Fifty Shades owned the best seller lists for years. McDonalds made fancy McCafe coffee. The Boston Marathon tragedy happened, as did the worst school shooting in history (in Connecticut). Televised trials like Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias took over HLN, fascinating millions of viewers. Both Letterman and Leno retired. Conan took over The Tonight Show, then quit shortly thereafter.

My ex-wife fell in love with a college professor. One ex-girlfriend overdosed. Another is losing her battle with depression. My college roommate and former business partner took his company (the one he wanted me to start with him in 2006 and I declined) public, then sold it to Adobe and made $100 million dollars. My favorite “friend with benefits” started a company in San Francisco, now worth $40 million — I saw her last month in Forbes Magazine.

My life stays the same in here. I eat the same food in the chow hall, sleep on the same bunkbed, make the same instant coffee each morning, walk the same track on the rec yard, see the same people day in, day out. I see Barb, the grey-haired commissary lady, every Thursday as she hands me my bag of goodies. I hear, “Attention in the institution, Count time, count time, all inmates on your bunks or in your designated work areas and remain there until count is clear. It is now count time,” five times a day, every day. Nothing seems to change in the little bubble I live in, yet life out there has moved forward at the speed of light, leaving me in the dust, preserved in a surreal time-machine.

There was Google Glass. 3D Printing. People stopped reading books, replacing them with kindles and nooks. Those oversized sunglasses went out of style, then became fashionable again. People began paying $400 for headphones. And let’s not forget Bob Costas’s pink eye at the 2012 Olympics.

Since coming to prison, my Grandpa Don died. My Aunt Diana died. My dad had a brain bleed, then open-heart surgery. My ex-wife had her first child. My ex-girlfriend had her gall bladder removed. My nieces and nephews, who were 7 or 8 the last time I saw them, are now in college.

The liberator pillow became famous. Marijuana became legal. So did gay marriage. Bruce Jenner became a girl, and Chaz Bono became a boy. The stock market nearly tripled. There was a full solar eclipse. The star of The Apprentice became President. Social media has destroyed lives. Internet addiction became an epidemic (and people still don’t comprehend how serious this has become). Almost everyone hooked up with at least one stranger on Tinder, but few admitted to doing so. Greek yogurt became a thing, then a really big thing — so big, in fact that regular yogurt is now marketed as “non-greek.” (This reminds me of the time, when I was applying to colleges, in 1991, that my aunt asked me if I was planning to “go greek.” I knew from Loveline that “greek” meant anal sex, but I didn’t know (stupid, naive me) that it also referred to fraternities and sororoties. I gave her the most horrified look of my life, and answered, red in the face, with a resounding “NO!”)

On that note, I think I’ll go dream about some Baklava and wrap this up for tonight. My parents are coming to visit me this weekend, so I have to wake up tomorrow morning at 6:30. The only downside to visits are the strip searches at the end (for me, not the visitors, though I once convinced my ex-wife that they strip search the visitors, too. I’m surprised she still came to see me!!)

Goodnight everyone!

Stephen Newman
DOC #90843


4 replies »

  1. Stephen,

    I enjoyed your post and as a “formerly incarcerated person” (the nomenclature has changed). I write a weekly prison reform blog – may I have permission to quote sections of your post? Your perspective is a very clever way of telling people not to take freedom for granted, and much more.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Tell Stephen ‘much thanks.’ My blog referencing his work will come out either next Thursday or the next. You can find my blogs by going to I focus on prison reform issues that cut across mental health, humane treatment, and the law. You can sign up to automatically receive each week’s blog. Mark

        Liked by 1 person

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