For some inmates, being released can be more terrifying than being locked up

(USA TODAY) Terrance Coffie, December 10, 2017 — The day began like so many others.

I was standing in my apartment, drinking coffee and watching the news.

My past — which was filled with horrible decisions that had led to drug use and multiple attempted robberies — was weighing heavily on my mind. I had long since left that lifestyle behind. But, as a former felon, I live in a society that doesn’t let criminal pasts be easily forgiven or forgotten.

It was 8 a.m. — just 25 minutes before I had to catch the train to work.

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Nearly anything can trigger a prison memory. That morning, it was the audible tick-tick-tick of the clock in my kitchen. It reminded me of a moment eight years earlier when I was sitting inside the Miami-Dade County jail watching a similar clock, waiting to hear about my release.

After 19 years in and out of prison, I was no longer afraid of incarceration. But when the guard opened the cell door and told me the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against me had been dropped, I was terrified.