For This Ex-Con, Freedom Hinges on Control of ‘Criminal Thinking’


Susan Brink of the Los Angeles Times profiles the post-prison life of ex-con “Folsom Kenny” Layton, 64. She writes that Layton, like many former criminals, “struggles with a twisted moral code that he wrote in childhood, refined over decades behind bars and enforced throughout early adulthood, no matter who got hurt.” They often have breaking-point moments, perhaps during public confrontations over perceived slights, that can lead them back to prison.

Brink writes, “Layton knows why: prison thinking, convict thinking, criminal thinking. In his case, it was still there, decades after his last crime…Layton’s ability to defuse his anger is a rare skill for an ex-con, but it doesn’t have to be. Experts think helping criminals understand how their thought processes are connected to the crimes they commit is more than just a touchy-feely exercise. It can reduce recidivism. Layton’s struggle, chronicled in his own contemporaneous writings and later recollections, is a case study in how the criminal mind works — and how with guidance, practice and will it can change.”


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