So if you haven’t heard, the USDB now only accepts inmates who have been handed sentences over ten years. Those with lesser sentences typically go to the JRCF (Joint Regional Correctional Facility), which is also on Ft. Leavenworth. The policy has slowed the inflow of inmates considerably. Reception only has three people in it for the first time since I’ve been here. The pods are still crowded, but it feels like the inflow now roughly matches the outflow of inmates granted parole or released after serving their full sentences.
At 10 p.m. the facility announces night time work call. About 65 inmates, including me, leave our housing units and walk 200 meters to the main building. We crowd together so we can push through “the gauntlet” in the largest possible group.
The gauntlet is a line of guards waiting to conduct random searches. Typically, they pat you down, which used to bother me. But after hundreds of pat downs, I no longer mind it. I don’t care much anymore. Guards might not pat you down – instead they might send you back to shave or to return food items and things that aren’t allowed at work such as books.
Once through the gauntlet we go to our assigned work detail. I’m laundry. We spend the next seven hours working and battling boredom. My detail washes and dries USDB laundry, as well as laundry from the post’s hospital, gym, and chapel. We also tear down and re-assemble body armor that comes in from every Army post world-wide.
The work is easy, but monotonous. The hardest part is finding a way to entertain ourselves without being written up for “horseplay.”
At the end of the work night we all get frisked by the guard in the laundry room and then we go back to our housing units, passing through the gauntlet once again.
Then it’s breakfast chow call and a shower. I lay down to sleep just as the daytime work-call crackles over the PA system.
I thought time entered a weird dimension when I was deployed, but it’s even worse in prison. The days are so long. They’re carbon copy of each other. They’re excruciating. But then I have a conversation and reference something that happened a few days ago, only to realize it actually happened three weeks ago. Time is so relative.
My letter to the parole board is hard to write. In it, I express remorse, but the parole board will know that I’m in the process of appealing my ruling which indicates I don’t agree with the charges on which I was convicted. I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time…but it’s hard to imagine the parole board looking favorably on those contradictory actions, even if they are common.
I also have to include a plan that shows where I intend to live, work, and receive therapy during my parole. I have to collect letters from family & friends (thankfully, that part won’t be too hard), potential employers, and therapists so the parole board knows my plan is feasible. I’ve managed to get a remarkably generous letter from an employer who is willing to hire me immediately. Getting a therapist to take me on, however, is proving difficult.
I’ve sent letters to multiple therapists in a few locations and I get roughly the same response from them all: they’re confused about my situation and reluctant to provide a letter stating they’ll take me on as a patient. My letters are often returned or never answered. A friend of mine has called a few providers directly and explained my situation in detail, but even he has had no luck finding a place willing to write a letter saying treatment is availalbe to me. This is a critical component of my parole package. It’s critical to many parole packages, so I can’t imagine why people aren’t more familiar with the process. Just another example of the crazy rules that govern this twilight zone I now inhabit.
Ok, so my son gets here tomorrow and I’m buzzing with anticipation and not a little bit of anxiety.
The anxiety is due in part to the conversation I know we’ll have to have about why I’m in prison and partly due to the call I received today from Child Protective Service (CPS). It was a ‘courtesy’ call to inform me they’ve opened an investigation into my son’s well-being, but they couldn’t tell me any of the details, they could only tell me that my son was safe. Well, it didn’t seem like much of a ‘courtesy.’
Thank God I get to see him tomorrow (TOMORROW!!) so I can find out what the hell is going on.
If I have any loyal readers, I apologize for the gap since my last entry. The past month has been surprisingly hectic and I’ve slipped on keeping my blogger up to date. But a great day is fast approaching and it must be documented!
My ex-wife is bringing my son to visit me next week. It will be the first time he’s seen me since before my trial – over fourteen months. Waiting is excruciating.
Oddly, my conviction improved my relationship with my ex-wife. In the 4 or so years between our divorce and my trial our relationship soured considerably. Now, we write each other regularly and I call her often to check up on our son. We’re getting along really well, thank God. Being in prison is difficult enough and she could have made it much more heartbreaking if she’d decided to cut off my relationship with my son. I suppose I’m finding out who really cares about me.
The DFAC (dining facility) here at the USDB makes these burritos that the prisoners call “swoles.” You’ve probably never heard of these ingredients, but I encourage you to give it a try.
Combine top ramen (cooked), refried beans, habinero cheese spread, tuna, sausage, crushed tortilla chips and picante sauce in a burrito.
Aside from the obvious health risk, it’s pretty good.