- WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian custody after nine months in custody.
- A White House spokesperson said Griner was receiving “mental health care” in Texas.
- A criminal justice expert told Insider it’s impossible to know how long it will take for Griner to rehabilitate.
WNBA star Brittney Griner returned home last week after 10 months in detention in Russia. While the White House said she was receiving treatment to “reintegrate back into American society,” an expert told Insider that Griner’s recovery will most likely be psychological and nutritional.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Sunday that Griner was currently in Texas for “mental health care as well as physical health care just to make sure she was ready. for his reintegration into American society.
“They will determine with doctors and family how long she will need to be there, but our initial reports indicate that she is in very good spirits and in good health,” Kirby said.
Elizabeth Jeglic, a psychology professor at the City University of New York’s John Jay School of Criminal Justice, told Insider that Griner won’t have to deal with many of the “logistical” challenges people normally face when dating. incarceration in the United States, such as finding housing, finding employment, and additional legislation as a result of their crime, such as being put on a sex offender list or being disqualified from voting after a felony conviction.
Most of the challenges Griner will face readjusting to life in America will be psychological and nutritional, Jeglic said.
“I’m not an expert on the Russian criminal justice system, but one thing I’ve heard is that the food, the nutrition, isn’t as good,” Jeglic said.
Griner was moved to a “penal colony” in November, which was meant to be an isolating environment with “slavery-like” conditions. The eight-time WNBA All-Star had been moved to Women’s Penal Colony No. 2 – a facility in Russia’s Mordovia region that traces its roots to a Gulag labor camp nicknamed Temlag – after being held at an airport in Russia in February and accused of having vape cartridges containing THC, the active psychoactive component of marijuana, in her luggage.
Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of the music group ‘Pussy Riot’ who spent two years in a Russian penal colony, said she was ‘terrified that Brittney Griner was transferred to IK-2,’ Meredith Cash of Insider previously reported. . “It’s one of the toughest colonies – it’s literally the toughest colony in the entire Russian prison system.”
Griner was to serve his nine-year sentence in the penal colony until his release last week in a US-Russian swap for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
Jeglic said it’s impossible to know how long it will take for Griner to rehabilitate, but she said her support network will be important to her success going forward. Griner’s wife has expressed her efforts to bring Griner home and recently said she remains “committed to bringing every American home” after Griner’s release.
“It can take a very long time and it’s probably going to stick with her for the rest of her life on some level,” Jeglic said.
Jeglic said Griner likely felt isolated and had a sense of “desperation” in the Russian prison system because “the criminal justice system works very differently there. Different rules apply.”
“Every day you’re in jail there, it’s like waking up with a nightmare,” Trevor Reed, a former Marine who was detained in Russia for nearly three years and released in April, told CNN. .
Reed said Griner may have faced greater hardship in Russian custody than he or fellow American inmate Paul Whelan due to his race and sexual orientation, CNN reported.
“Being a black woman, a gay woman, being in a country with different languages, different customs, and not really having that surveillance from the US government that can be incredibly scary and traumatic,” Jeglic told Insider.
Jeglic said Griner may also find it difficult to spend time in large groups after a long period of isolation.
“It can take a long time to acclimatize and get used to it again,” Jeglic said.
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