After getting caught with a suitcase of cocaine in November 2011, Karl Thorson was sentenced to 30 months in prison. From a penitentiary in California, he talks about finding fitness behind bars.
“When released offenders feel isolated from the community and blocked from society’s opportunities and freedoms, they are more likely to return to a life of crime,” Rebecca Greenberg wrote in the sociology journal Verstehen.
In Karl Thorson’s case, educating himself behind bars has been his priority. He can’t wait to become a free man again in February 2014. He’s already thinking about eating a good steak and drinking a cold beer, and he’s stoked to finally be able to get his hands on a pair of gymnastics rings and bumper plates.
But more than anything, he’s eager to get involved with CrossFit for youth at risk. He can’t wait to use the knowledge he has gained in prison about strength and conditioning—and CrossFit specifically—to help others avoid the path he chose.
For the most part, Thorson thinks the adjustment will be relatively fast and smooth. He has a supportive family and friends to turn to, and he has an education and employment plan.
That said, Thorson knows there will be challenges. He knows there is a stigma, and he knows people don’t always embrace ex-prisoners. He is expecting people might judge him. Ultimately, Thorson knows some people won’t look past his mistakes.
But he’s hoping some will.