After 28 years in prison, man emerges into a terrifying alien world of cellphones and computers

Illustration for article titled After 28 years in prison, man emerges into a terrifying alien world of cellphones and computers

Randall Lee Church didn't believe his fellow inmates when they warned him about culture shock after he got out of prison — he thought they were just jealous. But then Church, who'd been locked up since 1983, emerged into a world that made no sense.

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When Church got out of prison, he tells the Houston Chronicle, "I didn't know how to use computers or cell phones or the Internet... It was so overwhelming. I was constantly embarrassed by simple things I didn't know."

As the Chronicle says, "Prices were higher and scanned with bar codes. Video games were more realistic. People were always on their cell phones. Cars had childproof locks."

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If you want to understand just how much the world has changed in the past few decades, imagine being Randall Lee Church, who went to prison at age 18, at a time when almost nobody had a mobile phone and the internet was in its infancy. Of course, it wasn't just culture shock that faced Church — like most newly released prisoners, he also had few job skills and no support system to help him find a job and affordable housing. It's hard to reenter society in any case, but it's much harder during an apocalyptically bad economy.

In the end, faced with a world that made no sense to him, Church burned down an abandoned house, in order to get sent back to prison. [Chron]

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DISCUSSION

The house wasn't abandoned exactly. The relative of someone he served time with let him live there. He didn't just burn down where he lived, but the house of the person nice enough to let him stay there. Killing someone who let him crash at their pad is what put him in jail to begin with.