Mega-Million Jackpot

(Note: this post was sent to me in the form of a letter and I wasn’t sure Russ wanted me to post it. I waited until I confirmed he wanted it posted before writing it up, so it’s a few weeks old.)

I was woken up today after only two hours of sleep. A guard was standing directly outside my cell.

“A Miss called for you,” he said.

That’s not some prison-term. I think he was trying to tell me that a woman called for me, but the fact that he was making me decipher this message and its lack of real information annoyed me. I was exhausted from working the night before, but I knew that I wasn’t on the pass roster and I didn’t have any scheduled appointments. I pushed the button on the intercom in my cell so I could speak to the sergeant in the booth. He said someone had called, but the line had cut out before he got any details. I told him I was tired, I was going to bed, but if they called back to wake me up. About 15 minutes later, another knock on my door.

“The CJA office wants to speak to you.”

The CJA office is where you go for attorney phone calls and powers of attorney and I hadn’t made an appointment with them. So I was confused, but figured maybe my attorney was calling.

I came out of my cell and started for the CJA office. Halfway down the hall I stopped to chat with another inmate and he told me he’d heard the parole analyst requesting me. That made much more sense. So off I went, now at least semi-confident that this wasn’t going to be a wild goose chase, also very nervous that I was going to be told that my appeal to the parole board had been denied. It was too soon for that, though – they shouldn’t be getting back to me until mid-January.

In the analyst’s office, I groggily took a seat in front of the desk.

“I’m sorry to call you in so early, but I’m about to be out of the office for a few days. I wanted to give you the results of your appeal to the denial of your parole before I left,” she said.

I wasn’t prepared for this. I’d had hours to prepare myself emotionally for the results of my initial parole board and it still hit me like three tons of bricks. This was out of the blue … a full month early. Nothing happens before schedule in here. Nothing. I wasn’t sleep-blurry anymore. I took the sheet of paper she handed me across her desk and scanned it feverishly.

Reversed. It said ‘reversed.’

Suddenly I was tingling all over … I was nearing a cliff, but I couldn’t let myself jump just yet. I might not have a parachute. Did that mean what I thought it meant?

“You were granted parole on your appeal. Your release is about seven months from now in July,” said the parole analyst.lottery jump

Typically, they give you 90 days notice, not seven months notice, but I’m not complaining. I signed the notification and walked back to my housing unit on a cloud. I didn’t realize how thoroughly I’d abandoned hope of parole, but you can’t imagine the change in perspective I felt. It felt like winning the lottery.

Immediately I wanted to call everyone and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, I only had $3 on my phone account and calls are 32 cents/minute. Ahhhh!!!

Sprout of Hope

My appellate attorney tells me I have solid grounds for an appeal. Not a slam-dunk, but it’s something!

He said he can’t promise me anything and my kind of case is one of the hardest to get over-turned. That dampened my spirits a bit, but I’m not surprised. He also told me that he would have never waived the jury panel (as my lawyer suggested I do – so I did) because the judge who heard my case has a track record of being extremely prosecution biased. Great news…about a year and a half late.

Bottom line: I have two long shots at parole and almost three years in confinement before I’m through my appeals process.

Big sigh.

Every day that goes by makes it more difficult to maintain a positive outlook. I’ve been incarcerated for almost two years now. Worst case scenario, I’m in here another two years. There comes a point when my guilt or innocence is completely irrelevant…I don’t know if I’m at that point yet, but I feel it looming. The fact is, I’m a convict now. My life is irreversibly changed. Even if my case is overturned in appeals, I don’t think I could return to the military and rejoin the ranks of the soldiers I used to care so deeply for. I’ve built up so much animosity that I don’t think I’d be able to function in the job I loved that I was ripped out of. I don’t know what my future will hold, but I’m thankful for the friends and family who are still standing beside me.