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Inmate Returns Home

What is prison like

Inmate Walter Unbehaun was granted his wish to go home when a federal judge ordered a 31/2 year prison sentence for a 2013 bank robbery. The judge noted that the defendant had numerous convictions since he was a young man and had spent most of his adult life in prison since he was 22. Walter Unbehaun was released from prison at the age of 72 in 2011.

Relatives purchased a trailer home for him. He spent his days watching television. He was bored and lonely. Unbehaun’s third wife died while he was in prison. Unbehaun’s court appointed attorney knew at the initial court hearing that this was not one of his typical court cases when his client wanted to go home and home meant prison. He said that his life was “like living in solitary confinement.” Unbehaun’s attorney told the court that the onset of mild dementia and lack of effective mental health care probably contributed to his plan to rob a bank and go back home to prison.

In February of 2013, Unbehaun entered a bank using his cane. He had no disguise, displayed a gun in his waistband, and stated to the bank teller, “I don’t want to hurt you.” He left with almost $4200 and drove to a nearby motel. He waited for the police. When he saw the police in the parking lot, he dropped his cane and surprised the police with his happiness at being arrested.

The prosecutor posed the issue in one of her case briefs as to whether the system failed Mr. Unbehaun or whether he just could not lead a lawful life. For Unbehaun, the issue did not matter, he was going home.


2 Responses to Inmate Returns Home

  1. PrisonPath April 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Shame on us, shame on society, shame on the system for not having in place a process or support that would have allowed Walter to reintegrate back home where counselors and mentors might be available to him.
    By Bonnie

  2. Robert Borders May 3, 2014 at 2:58 am #

    Hmm. Well, As a former inmate, I can relate. I’ve been in and out of jail/prisons since I was 12 and am now 43. Prison is a world where I know how to fit in. I’m accepted. There I was known and had respect. I know how to live in that society. There I had many positive friendships. Out here, I’m seen as an ex-felon, not ever truly to be trusted, not ever really accepted. I don’t know where I fit. I’ve wanted to go back to prison for those reasons. I last got out in 2008. Today i’m married and I’m writing this from the hospital room where my son has just been born. I’m clean, self employed and successful. My future has never been brighter. But my past continues to haunt me. I’m afraid that even if I keep making all the right choices, I’m destined to fail and die in prison.

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