Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas-Mom

Sadie works Visitation Canteen and when she came back to the dorm after a few of the women put together a "Christmas party".  They put some little decorations up and made a Christmas Bingo game.  They played Bingo, Christmas Trivia and a woman had made a reindeer and a red nose and they played "Pin the Nose on Rudolph".  They gave each other little "gifts". 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bunkies

OMG I'm eating white cheddar cheese crackers from one of my packages mom got me-so so good.  I am probably annoying my bunky by crunching them-but she is not asleep yet-definitely have to be conscious of your bunky's likes and dislikes if you are going to live cohesively.  In a lock-down dorm you are shut in your cell during count and all night.  The last thing you want is to not get along with your bunky.  I have seen blood baths-literally-from two bunkies not getting along.  They cut each other, throw pee at each other, dump their belongings everywhere.  It can be insane if the bunkies are crazy and on edge.  Most are heavily medicated and sometimes the ones who are the scariest are the ones who really need it (not just to get high).  They need it!  There have been nights where some do not get their pills and I guarantee you they end up naked running around, attacking people, banging on the windows to get out or attack an officer.  Please give them their meds!  The inmates with mental health problems live in the general population because there is no psych ward or housing for them.  They can make life unbearable for everyone else.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

"Baizing" - (showers)

We are in count right now.  It is 7:45 PM and they are recounting which means someone counted wrong on the compound.  At night most inmates are in their dorms.  The highlight of the week is packages.  We can get packages ordered for us from the outside if we are fortunate enough to have family or friends who care to order one for us.  We can do it twice a year.  My mom and my sister bought 3 100.00 packages for 3 indigent inmates (see www.inmateslivesmatter.net for info on packages).  You have no idea what that means to them.  It is awesome to receive packages because it is stuff that we don't get on canteen and will never get if we don't get packages.  These packages have shampoo that smells sooo good-cheap but way better than anything we ever get.  Our shampoo is 1.12 on canteen but it is cheap and watered down called Prescription Care-ever heard of it?  Sounds a little suspicious.  Our bars of soap are now SILK.  Most girls probably use about one a day between bathing (2 to 3x daily) and washing their clothes by hand.

Bathing or as some women here call it "baizing" is a whole job in itself.  It's a pet peeve of mine I will probably not get over until I leave here because I have to get a shower before I start my day.  Our showers are usually locked during the day.  Most girls put their towels up on the bars (cell barred doors on shower) of the shower.  Sometimes you can get in from your day and their are 3 or 4 towels hung up already.  If you have people who care, they will put your towel up in line while you are gone.  It sounds orderly-but it is not.  A girl will put her towel up in the early afternoon knowing she is not going to try to get in the shower until after 8pm count.  So, when she wants to get into the shower and someone is in the shower she is going to yell at that person.  Showers are serious business.  I don't know how many fights I have seen over showers.  This happens every day-crazy right?  So once you find a shower you have to gather all your shower stuff into a bag and grab your clean clothes. You always wash your underwear in the shower and if you do your own laundry, you wash that also.  I hate the shower ritual.  The showers are nasty-full of mold and rarely cleaned by the dorm workers who sit around and sleep all day.  So, god forbid you drop something on the floor of the shower.  I have almost thrown up dropping my soap on the floor and picking it up with a clump of who knows what on it.  I could throw up thinking about it.  I am a very neat person so it is really disgusting.  We do shower in shower shoes so that's good. 

The showers only have one button that has a timer on it.  The temperature is either too hot or too cold.  You would die if you saw what squirts out of these showers-it is literally the width of a water fountain stream.  No joke.  And if you don't shower at least once a day then you are a "dirty b---h".  And don't forget to cover your neck with baby powder to let everyone know you "baized" so no one talks about you-and they will.  Then you trudge back to your cell, hang your towel and wet clothes.  I cannot wait for the day I can step into a nice hot shower with my shoes, all my fragrant body washes and a poof ball already there and no underwear to wash.  Now that's living!  And don't even talk about a bath-do they still exist anymore?  Next time you all take a nice hot shower, remember how lucky you are.  We take a lot of things for granted on the outside.

So, that is my shower rant.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Your Story

If you have a story of a loved one about their incarceration and want to speak out, I can post it as anonymous.  I feel it is important that the general public know what the truth is and how families are coping and what we go through.

Had to share this-a Christmas card from Sadie


Merry Christmas Everyone!

We hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas and New Year.  We will continue posting after Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A FB Post from a Guard in an Ohio Prison

People who have been treated less then human will come home dehumanized. We can not expect a person who has been subjected to never being called by their name, never being shown respect for themselves or their things, being told day in and day what a piece of shit they are to come home and act appropriate, to think everything is flowers and rainbows. To come home and not be able to get a job and then not revert to old habits . The same companies that will use Prison labor (at a very minimum cost) to produce their product will not hire the same people once released who were working for slave wages on the inside. Why won't they? They wont because they are Felons, the same man or woman , the same Felon on the inside working for pennies on the dollar to big name companies are not employable by said companies when they return home with families to help support and society to prove wrong because they are Felons, there debt is never paid off and neither is their families. Their families will suffer monetarily because if the offender is able to secure employment it will probably be low paying, the family will also suffer because with society's stigma of felons the individual is more likely to reoffend to be able to support the family and even themselves. We have to better as a society for all our people. We are not allowed to disregard a person because of race, sexual orientation, male or female citizen, non citizen but yet we discriminate because of a felony . When a person goes to prison their debt to society is being paid, no it doesn’t make the crime go away but they are punished for it. When they are released supposedly their debt is paid , this is not true. Society continues to make them pay , makes finding a place to live, a job nearly impossible. If they do not have a strong family background more then likely they will become homeless , and even more likely to reoffend. I used to think like the majority of society and thought "screw them, their fault" , then I went to work in a Prison . My eyes were opened I was stuck their most of the time 16 hours a day and I watched the men be disrespected by CO's White Shirts, Doctors, Mental Health Professionals. It sickened me. And people wonder why these men and women come out and act the way they do. They wonder why in prison the offenders treat each other like crap. Shit rolls down hill. It is a constant rotation of degrading human beings and regardless of their crime that is the bottom line, they are humans! When I was a CO I addressed every man by Sir or Mr. why, because I want a human walking out of those doors not an animal not someone who has NO regard for the next person, I want someone who has respect for the next human being living next door to me not someone who has no regard for human life or respect for anyone else let alone themselves. Yet this is what we make these men and women into. We make them into these people by disregarding them as humans, not addressing their mental health issues (mental illness runs rampart in the prison system, it is not addressed or helped by handing them a crossword puzzle or word search game or solitary confinement). We do not rehabilitate the incarcerated at all, we don’t allow enough if any family time, a few visits a year. People in business suits telling the people who can visit , who is important to the incarcerated. Moving the incarcerated far from their families sometimes making visits almost impossible. Prisons make money off of keeping the beds filled, each year a new budget is made off beds filled , the people waiting to fill these beds, the so called programs they have, overtime because the CO's are over worked and management and the DOC do not care because the money (your tax dollars) is there to make payroll, to house your family members your neighbors, and the people you don’t know every day for the rest of your tax paying life and their life. So when reading this and you do not think that because you don’t have loved one incarcerated this doesn’t affect you , think again!!

Update on Sadie's Health

 So, I emailed the warden back and asked if she had talked to my daughter and gotten her version and she said she would be talking to her the next morning with a very accusatory tone. I could not sleep all night because I thought this is not good and they are probably going to put her in confinement. I was a wreck all day until Sadie called. She said the warden and assistant warden called her down and at first were very accusatory. My daughter is very intelligent, presents herself well and explained the situation to them. One of their arguments is you should not be upsetting your mother and getting her involved and Sadie told them that I am her only advocate and my feelings about the prison system. As the conversation went on, the warden became more and more open and friendly and realized also that the doctor had lied and that Sadie was not getting the treatment for the symptoms she had. During the interview she asked Sadie, "why are you even here". So Sadie told her her story and told her I am here for spiritual reasons to learn about myself. The warden said she would make sure that Sadie would get the tests she needed and if she had anymore problems with the doctor to come directly to her. The reason the warden even met with her because I have a reputation with the higher-ups as the "mother from hell" and they know that I won't let up until somebody listens. So, that is why it is so important to advocate. Unfortunately, many families are not savvy enough, don't care enough or are afraid of the system and of their loved one getting targeted. So, that is the end of that for now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Revolution of Love-I wrote this after my daughter's sentencing


 
The United States officially has the highest incarceration rate in the world, according to data from the International Center for Prison Studies: For every 100,000 people who lived in the U.S. in 2011, 716 were in jail. With only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has 25% of the world’s prison population.

In comparison, Russia, with the world’s eighth highest incarceration rate, imprisons 479 people per every 100,000 residents. And China, 127th on the list, incarcerates only 121 people per 100,000. Most European countries, like France, Germany and the U.K., have between 50 and 150 prisoners per 100,000 residents. INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES, August 2013

This country (and the world) needs a revolution of LOVE. It is not politics, economics or anything on the outside that is going to change things or save us. We ARE the change we are looking for and we need to raise the vibration of the earth from one of violence, greed, indifference and hate to one of love, compassion, empathy and forgiveness if we are to survive as human beings. We are all on this ship together and this ship is sinking from the weight of negativity. It only takes a small effort to make a huge difference. Address the divine in each person, give a comforting word, help a friend in need, abhor violence, smile at a stranger, have compassion and most of all forgive. We need to reclaim our moral integrity. Judges, prosecutors and prison guards should be agents of compassion and healing because they have a huge impact on people’s lives. Public defenders should care passionately about each person they represent because they also can have a huge impact on someone’s life.

When I went to my daughter’s trial, there were so many people crying in the halls (me being one of them). One woman was on the ground wailing and could not be consoled. I thought, this is a House of Tears. I can only pray that courthouses will someday become Houses of Healing.

In a sane world; in a just world; the judge, prosecutor, and public defender would work together to come up with a plan to help that person heal and again become a healthy and productive person.

Most people who are incarcerated have self-worth issues, childhood issues, sexual abuse issues, economic issues, mental health issues and drug issues. These are people who are already beat down and the prison system beats them down some more by treating them as sub-human and then expects them to leave the system as productive members of society. From the most recent studies of the PEW center the recidivism rate is about 43%. So, obviously, something is not working.

If God is the Father and we are His children, then we are also ALL brothers and sisters and we need to nurture, have compassion, empathy and understanding for the broken in our society-whether incarcerated or not. It is easy to judge another-that’s easy, but to have compassion, empathy, understanding and forgiveness; that’s the hard part. I have always said and I say now that Love is the only answer-love for ourselves and for each other as human beings. A love that comes from our Creator and a higher understanding.

None of us are perfect. We all have a lot of growing and learning to do. Our creator loves us unconditionally and because He resides in our heart, we also have that ability. We have all of the qualities that He possesses-kindness, compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love and empathy. And EVERY human being has the spark of the divine within them. And if we could touch that spark, nurture that spark within them, miracles can and do happen.

Monday, December 19, 2016

My Email to the Higher Ups

I am so upset. This is an email I just sent.
My daughter's heart problem
People

Kathleen Carlin <kjcarlin50@yahoo.com>
To
Brian Riedl, Hope Gartman, Julie Jones, fernandez.lester@mail.dc.state.fl.usr
Today at 6:31 PM
To Whom It May Concern,
I am so tired of the medical staff-specifically Dr. Benoit not doing their job. My daughter has the symptoms of a serious heart problem-shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, almost fainting, etc. and my daughter is not a complainer. She had an EKG a few months ago and it showed an abnormality and the nurse showed it to Dr. Doesn't Know His Job in his office. He did not come out and examine my daughter. She left in tears then saw him outside and asked him why he did not examine her. He asked her how much water she was drinking (a normal amount) and told her she was drinking too much water. So, her symptoms are getting worse and have been for awhile. My daughter is not a complainer. She has no faith in medical and feels like they won't do anything anyway, but the symptoms are getting worse and she filled out a sick call form with all her symptoms and the nurse thought it was serious enough to see the doctor. Well Doctor Doesn't Know His Job did not examine her-did not take out his stethoscope and listen to her heart. Did not ask her pertinent questions. He asked her how much coffee she drinks and she told him 2 cups a day and he told her she is drinking too much coffee-and where did he get his degree? I have heart problems and have been to heart doctors and they order all kinds of tests with those symptoms. This is serious and this so-called Doctor just dismisses her and does absolutely nothing. The nurse had told her that the protocol is to have her wear a heart monitor for 48 hours. Like most heart problems, the symptoms happen every day but not every minute. I have been thru that with atrial fib. My daughter could have a heart attack or a stroke.
And the other part of this is, I am a mom. I love my daughter. I lose sleep over this kind of thing which I should not have to if everyone was doing their job. Would you want your daughter treated like that? I don't think so.
I have talked to so many moms about the blatant abuse by the prison system that it is just overwhelming that human beings would treat other human beings with such disregard. Is this a 3rd world country? Where is the compassion and empathy?
The prison industrial complex needs to change. More and more people are becoming aware of the oppression and lack of rehabilitation.
The New York Times did an article on German prisons, What We Learned From German Prisons We need to learn from them. There are many progressive countries who do not warehouse human beings the way we do in this country but give them rehabilitation, counseling and most of all hope.
I am having surgery in a month and I don't need this kind of stress. My daughter is upset. I am upset. All because of a doctor who isn't doing is job.
Best Regards,
Kathleen Carlin

Update on Yoga Mats

So I emailed the warden, the Regional Director and Julie Jones about why they took the yoga mats.  I don't think the Regional Director or Julie Jones know that they had done that.  The Regional Director said no they did not remove the yoga mats from the compound.  He said they were some missing so they are just trying to figure out where they went.  He eventually said, "we would love to have your yoga mats, we will keep them in storage."  I am not bringing them until they bring the yoga classes, pilates classes and the yoga mats back.  So stupid.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Christmas Poem for Prisoners

Prisoners
 
This Christmas, and every day,
Let us pray,
For those largely forgotten and locked away,
“They’re just criminals” some folks say,
But many of us know better than that,
We know that all have potential, every last “cat”,
We know too that thousands are actually innocent, don't belong there at all,
Yet there they sit, behind those horrid cement walls,
“Cat”; that’s a slang term from the ‘60s, when the criminal justice system worked well,
But today it is a train wreck, and our prisons are a living hell,
Pray that God’s grace touches every forgotten soul behind bars,
For they are someone’s son, daughter, etc. … and some are ours.
Christmas reminds us that this is what we should do,
True today, true tomorrow, always this will be true!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Prison Hustles

There are many women who have family that is poor or no family so they never get money put on their commissary so they have to figure out a hustle.  For them, it is the only way to survive.  If DOC doesn't designate shampoo-deodorant-lotion then the only place to get it is canteen.  I have been a canteen worker for 3 years-in a dorm and now at Visitation.  I get paid 50.00 a month.  I think my job is the only paid one-not sure.  I love working the visitation canteen as I get to see "normal" people and kids.  The kids color for me and I tape their pictures to the wall outside my canteen.

Any type of hustle can land you in confinement (like jail).  Prison rules are that you cannot give another inmate anything as it is considered a gift and a gift is considered money.  When you are forced to find a hustle because you need soap that rule goes out the window.  Women need shampoo, sanitary pads, extra toilet paper so they need to have a hustle. 

There are many kitchen hustles like selling condiments, fresh lettuce and things like that. The worst job on the compound is the kitchen or "chow hall".  The kitchen has no air-conditioning, and poor food keeping and prep habits.  I only eat there when they have real chicken for dinner and even that is suspect.  Nothing is clean from the half-washed trays to the smelly cups to the "what is that?" food on the tray.  All the boxes that come off of the culinary truck say, "for institutional use only".  That seems like a very scary and dire warning to me.  It is probably something we don't even want to know.  I am blessed because I don't have to eat at the chow hall because my mom and sister put money on my commissary account and I make my own concoctions.  It is amazing what you can make in prison out of food items that you would never think go together.  They just started giving us fruit 3 x a week again, otherwise the food is unidentifiable except for the cabbage which they use for everything.

As I said I now get the "religious diet" called RDP which comes in a bag and it has sardines, cabbage, bread, cooked beans, a couple of saltines and a fruit and sometimes we get fresh cherry tomatoes.  Small portions of course.  When I eat RDP, it is like a gourmet meal on the outside.
 
There are many hustles but I will refrain, except the biggest hustle is cigarettes.  You cannot smoke on the compound, but guards and inmates do smoke.  The cigarettes come onto the compound through visitation or officers.  One cigarette is 10.00.  One cigarette can be broken down into 6 good compound cigarettes. A compound cigarette is he width of 2 lollipop sticks put together and the length of your ring finger.  The filter is a piece of rolled up cardboard.  The rolling paper is the paper that our TP comes wrapped in that we get once a week.  Most women smoke on the compound (I don't-am into being healthy).  The dorm I lived in smelled like a bar and the officers just got used to it.  No one says anything unless we get an officer who complains he can't breathe.  As long as they don't physically see you with a cigarette in your hand nothing happens.

There are worse things-drugs- brought in by who knows?  They just put an airport scanner in where you put your belongings onto a conveyer that goes through x-ray for the guards because so much contraband was coming in.

When I worked compound canteen, it was the most stressful job ever because the only thing the inmates have to look forward to is shopping.  People are agitated, threaten to get canteen shut down if they are not first, fighting, threatening the canteen worker.  For the inmates canteen is everything.  The only thing to look forward to.

There are many women who are too old to hustle or mentally slow who are indigent but cannot hustle and those women rely on a hopeful hand-out every now and then.  It is very sad.  Read Ms. Kat's story on my mom's website www.inmateslivesmatter.com

Waking Up in Prison

There are days I "wake up in prison".  Today is one.  I was reminded first thing when the showers were locked.  See, I live in a lock-down dorm.  It houses HO4's and HO5's.  Each inmate has a custody level and a housing level.  We are categorized from 1-5.  A 1 is like work release level, a 5 is like the worst; they have to be behind 3 secure doors.  5's are usually pedophiles and ex-cons.  I am a 4 custody plus a 4 housing.  4 & 5's are housed together.  It is still unsettling that I am a 4-4 given my actual story, but I have to accept it.  Anyway, lock-down dorms have 4 quads.  Each quad has approximately 64 inmates.  It has 2 tiers-with cells that hold 2 inmates each (16 rooms up, 16 rooms down).  We have metal doors that lock us in our cells during count time (counting inmates) which happens 5 times a day and at night.  We get up at 4:45 in the morning.  Each quad had a "dayroom".  It is not an actual individual room-you walk out of your cell and your in the dayroom.  It contains 5 metal tables bolted to the floor-I metal bench and a TV with 2 payphones on the wall and a water fountain with cold and hot water.  Each tier has 4 showers.  They are like a stand-up shower with a jail-barred door.  You can see right into them so people put "shower sheets" over them.  The metal barred doors lock only by an officer.  They lock them at night and open them at 5AM.  By policy, they are locked all day until 5PM, but you learn quickly that EVERY SHIFT and EVERY SERGEANT does things differently.  DOC is the last place in the world that will ever have consistency.  So, it is up to us to learn each officer, SGT, LT, CAPT, COL and warden.  And we learn them well.  We know which ones don't like clothes hanging, wraps on your head, not to do each other's hair, which ones actually do their rounds and walk the quads, who is going to follow every policy and be petty but not one of them says anything about smoking (lot of ladies smoke which is against policy). 
This morning it was the petty policy shift and they will deny showers.  Our officer decided that since the SGT wasn't around, he was going to be in control and not open the showers until he was good and ready. 

The officers station is called "the bubble".  We have big metal and glass sliding doors (controlled by the bubble) that have to open to leave the quad.  Outside the bubble is a "flap" to talk to them through.  Everything is glass so they can see us from the bubble and we can see them sitting in the bubble.  There is a PA system so they never have to really get up except to do rounds.  I woke up and the showers were locked and not opening anytime soon because the officer was sleeping and didn't care.  So, I grab a cup of instant coffee, with with my shower bag patiently waiting.  I have the same routine every day.

I am on the "religious diet" called RDP.  It is served at 4AM and so I get up at 3AM.  It is in a bag that we pick up from "chow".  It is P/J and cereal, but it is better than any food that you will get in the chow hall.  In the chow hall, they never give you enough time to eat, and officers can be yelling at you. 




Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Thoughts on Incarceration-mom

I will do a post on Sadie's trial-which was a joke-but first I want people to realize that when you read someone's charges, that is not necessarily what really happened.  The prosecutors stack charges on charges and you are basically coerced into a plea bargain that you may not agree with because they scare you out of going to trial.  They tell you if you go to trial and you lose you will get the maximum penalty.  Trials cost the state time and money.  They would rather run everyone through the system.  My daughter was not going to plea to something she did not do, so she went to trial and was punished for it.  Her charges show Attempted Kidnapping with a Deadly Weapon.  It doesn't say the "deadly weapon" was her crack pipe pusher she happened to have on her that was proven to have no sharp edges.  If you don't know the back story to someone's charges, it is easy to conclude the worst. It is not about justice.  It is about who can tell the better story or the most believable story which may or may not be the truth.  There are many many innocent people in prison and many who are over-sentenced.

It is always so sad for me when I go visit to see these young, beautiful women who made mistakes-usually caused by drug addiction-spending life in prison.  There are some people who are criminally insane and should never be let out-but that is rare.  Most all of these women deserve another chance.  They deserve redemption. 

Pat is a woman who is now in her 60's who has spent most of her adult life in prison for murder.  She is a wonderful, caring human being and I know that what she did weighs on her and it is a burden she will carry her entire life.  Her parole came up and I wrote a letter for her.  She has been a model prisoner, a trusted canteen worker and is not the same person she was when she was a young adult.  Does she deserve another chance? 

There is a young woman in there in her 20's who was a drug addict and she and her boyfriend stole a woman's purse and were driving off.  The woman hung onto the car door and fell off and died.  She got life.

It is difficult because I always try and put myself in the position of the loved one who had someone they love murdered.  Would I be able to forgive that person?  Would I feel that person deserved another chance when my loved one will never have a chance for anything. 
And I find that it all depends on the circumstances.  Child murderers and pedophiles I would have a very difficult time forgiving.  Rapists I have a hard time with.  But if I look at it spiritually, I would not want to carry the burden of hate, or bitterness or being unforgiving.  After all, all of our "sins" are forgiven by the Creator so what gives us the right to judge and condemn. We do not have to condone the action, but we can forgive the person.  It gets complicated doesn't it.  In Germany, no one is incarcerated for more than 20 years except the criminally insane but they also offer tons of rehabilitation. 

I think Pat deserved another chance because I know her.  I think the young woman deserves another chance because she is so young.

I also think that anytime we physically hurt another person either in a rash moment or planned, we are mentally ill because doing those things goes against our divine nature.  To me it means that we have completely lost touch with our humanness, with our heart.  And a lot of these women in the prison grew up in drug addicted households, were sexually and/or physically, mentally and emotionally abused.  They had no guidance.  Not everyone is a strong individual but with the right tools and help, they can change and become healthy again.  But, we would rather throw them away and throw away the key. 

The other issue is if you are going to incarcerate people for a good amount of time, then make incarceration something that is going to better someone.  Make sure the environment is safe and free from abuse-physical and mental.  Make sure there are programs that build self-worth and self esteem.  Teach them job skills so they can make it on the outside.  Most of these women will again be someone's neighbor. 

The recidivism rate in Florida prisons is 33% within the first three years and increases to 65% five years after release.  Why is that.  It costs the state (taxpayer) about 20,000 a year to house an inmate in a Florida prison.

Right now prisons are filled with wasted time, isolation and idleness.  There is a lack of funding for meaningful and beneficial rehabilitation programs.

Because I have met a lot of these women, I have so much compassion and empathy for them.  We are not the worse thing we have ever done.  We are a myriad of things that are also positive. 

For me as a mom with an incarcerated daughter, my everyday stress is that my daughter will be treated inhumanely and without regard, that a guard will be having a bad day and decide to take it out on her, that a mentally unstable inmate will lose it and take it out on her.  All of these things have already happened to her.  When she first went in, an inmate (for no apparent reason) started beating her up and fractured her jaw (which they never fixed).  The officer was out talking to another friend and left a TA (trainee) in charge and she had no pepper spray or way to stop it.  I have had a guard yell and scream at her an inch from her face calling her all sorts of names for no reason-just because he was a bully and could.  She was terrified and in tears.  There is a jail within the prison where they take you if your fighting or have contraband or you just don't look right that day and you are targeted.  That is a constant stress for the inmates because they never know when a guard is going to decide what was fine yesterday is no longer fine today and you go to jail.  For instance, yesterday you could leave your shirt untucked, but today we want it tucked in.  Yesterday all the black women could have dreds, but today they cut them all off.  You put a bunch of macho men in charge of women who are powerless, what do you think is going to happen-nothing good.  I know of one officer that I respect and I feel has integrity and is more interested in doing good than bad, but that is not the norm.

And we have to ask ourselves as human beings-divine beings-if this is acceptable or not.  And if we don't think it is then we need to be the voice for the voiceless, the power for the powerless.  I would not treat an animal like they treat the inmates.  What kind of world do we live in?  What kind of morals do we have where it is ok to treat other human beings so inhumanely.  The families have so much stress related to this.  We are all doing the time also.  If I knew my daughter was safe, that she was valued, that there were rehab programs that improved her life, that she was treated humanely-that would take so much stress off of me.  But no, I have to worry every day.  If she isn't able to call, I think something has happened and I can't sleep that night.  I can never just relax.  The whole thing is a damn shame.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I Am So Upset-Mom

I hate the prison system!!!  A yoga place donated 9 mats that we were going to take up to the prison tomorrow.  I emailed the assistant warden and she said that yoga mats are no longer allowed on the compound and they have removed all of them because they can be used for escape paraphernalia.  Are you kidding me?  When was the last time anyone even escaped from Lowell.  A million years ago-one lady had a helicopter come pick her up.  The one thing that causes calmness and centeredness and they are taking it away.  The new admin took the movies away unless they were religious movies.  Are they going to replace any of this to help the inmates-of course not.  My daughter does yoga every day and was looking forward to doing a yoga class plus they have pilates classes and I guess they took the exercise bands also.  They are focused on the wrong things.  So upsetting.  There are many prisons in the country who have yoga classes with yoga mats.  It is insanity.

More Thoughts

I think a lot about intention-especially my own intention.  What is important in a person with integrity is their intention.  What is your intention when you say things to others; when you believe a certain way.  Intention should always be from love and goodness.  We are left to staff with bad intentions.  And if intentions are bad we will not be valued or rehabilitated.  We will only attempt to survive this time here while every move we make hopefully doesn't make it harder.  Mom ordered a book for me called the Power of Intentions as it is my new focus so if I talk about it a lot-or repeat myself as I am known to do that is why.

We broke the law.  We have been sentenced to prison.  We are doing our time.  The environment in this compound is so negative and hurtful.  We are not helped.  We are harmed.  Everyday.  Even simple things like today-no yard time.  This is Florida and in total we may get 2 1/2 hours a day outside.  Cooped up inside with no way to let energy out in a place that is so negative-so disrespectful to women.  A place where some women have to beg for toilet paper or pads.  Stuck inside a dorm with angry women who need serious help and rehabilitation.  There is no counseling here.  All they do is put you on psychotropic drugs like Seroquel and Trazadone.  There is noise 24/7 in the dorms which is really hard to get used to.  That is why being outside is such a relief.  I practice yoga every day.

Then you have officers who are trigger happy to spray and use force on inmates.  The officers will try and provoke a situation.  The compound creates it's own issues by taking away the little pleasures we do have and then putting people in confinement for reacting to it out of frustration.  It is a vicious cycle. 

The Department of Corrections has it all wrong.  Crime and punishment.  What about crime and rehabilitation because almost all of us will end up back on the outside and many end up back here as they have no money, no support system and a crushed soul from incarceration.  Prison PTSD. 

Send women to prison, over sentenced; with no hope, no self-esteem to only create more of why they are here in the first place.  Where in humanity is it written that when a person commits a crime they lose their right to be treated humanely. Even the women who are here for life-who are few-need to be treated humanely and with regard.

I wish civilians could be allowed to walk through the prison and see what it is really like-how we live.  It is Christmas time but you would never know it here.  There are no decorations.  We are not allowed to decorate or celebrate.  Holiday's come and go but every day is the same for us.  Congress needs to approve a civilian-based team that oversees our treatment.

Before incarceration, I never gave much thought to how women are treated in prison.  For the outside it is out of sight-out of mind.  People make mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  I don't blame you for not caring but now I encourage you to reach out, to take that extra step and begin to question the system.  Investigate women's prisons in your area.  There is a lot of advocacy for men in prison.  There is hardly any for women in prison. 

If God is the Father, then we are all brothers and sisters and we need to care about each other especially the lost and broken (says Mom).

Monday, December 12, 2016

Comments

Please feel free to comment on the blog.  Sadie always asks me about people's thoughts and feelings about it.  They show up when I approve them.

Spiritual Thoughts

5/16/2016  (from my journal) Today went really well.  Something is changing or waking up in me.  It feels like something that was always going to open up is starting to.  My higher self is just waiting for the right time-it is what I am here for-I just don't know what it is yet.

I look around and pray that one day we will all wake up.  We will start seeing the truth of life.

Why are we here?  Why are we here on this earth?  What is your answer to that question.  Maybe you can't answer it.  What are we doing here if we haven't even sought out the answer to this age-old and most important question.

I believe we are here to remember who we are-who I am.  I feel I am an entity that has been created from "All That Is".  I am a creative extension of Himself (or Herself) who is pure love-the purest of love.  If I am an entity created from the pureness of "All That Is" then that means we are infinitely connected.  I was given a choice to bear a soul and experience form.  I chose to experience life on earth.  I came to experience 3rd dimension living.  I wear my human costume and journey through my earthly life.  Funny thing is one of the "root agreements" to experience human life is to agree to forget who we are and where we came from.  We would not get the full gamut of human experience if we knew-if we carried conscious memory of our true self.  I believe our journey is to awaken and remember just that-remember who we truly are.  I am made from love and I choose to walk with love in my heart for all things.  I don't always succeed.  It is a constant re-remembering-a balancing act.  It takes a lot of practice and attention to self and to my intentions. 

What does life mean now that I want to continue my human experience-where before I wanted to end my human experience-what a huge ordeal.  Saying that made me laugh-"a huge ordeal".  Life isn't a huge ordeal, it is simply an experience-a journey.  A trip on earth in a human costume. 

Making a decision to live this is tough.  I don't desire this way of life.  Even in my hardest living-I was.  I still am.  I am here.  It seems less important here on these prison grounds then it did outside.  Maybe it is the constant disregard that seeps into me.  I know that my life has purpose.  I live it that way, now.  I didn't in the beginning.  I need to always focus on my own "knowing".  I choose not to engage in negativity and drama. 

Prison-my divine intervention-has given me the opportunity to find my way back home and I strive everyday to focus on the positive and to continue to grow regardless of the negativity and chaos around me-that is a feat in itself.  I like what Prem Rawat said today (mom sends me his videos to watch at chapel).  He said to live life with sincerity.  He spoke about me today.  Spiritual enrichment and light will be my inward focus-is my inward focus.

I hope I am not here my entire sentence, but I also know that I will not leave until I have learned what I needed to learn.  I hope that is more sooner than later.  My appeal was denied, my ineffective counsel (3850) was denied and that is now on appeal. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Thank You From An Inmate

I just had to share this.  I feel so much for these women.  Other thank you cards and women's stories are posted on my website www.inmateslivesmatter.net.  You can also adopt an indigent inmate to be a support, give them hope and help with toiletries, etc.

Kathy

Thursday, December 8, 2016

How I Got Here

This is really hard to talk about because I don't want to be that person.

So, when mom came to live with me, she saw how bad my addiction to oxy's was.  I was shooting them.  My addicted mind thought I was doing fine.  How dare she confront me and tell me I was going to die.  I am doing fine.  Leave me alone.  I didn't ask you to preach to me about addiction.  What is your problem?  It is none of your business?  Look I am working, taking RN classes.  I am fine, your the one who has the problem. 

Mom threatened to tell everyone about my oxy addiction and that I was shooting.  I got scared and I tried to wean myself off of the oxy's.  The withdrawal from oxy's is like withdrawals from heroin-something you want to avoid at all costs, so I turned again to alcohol and on the way to the liquor store the taxi driver offered me crack and I became immediately addicted and crack became my life.  Again, I drank to the point of being unresponsive and mom had to call the paramedics and she had me Baker Acted and I was in the psych facility for a couple of weeks.  She made me promise I would go to treatment and I said I would but all I wanted to do was get back to crack.

Remember Richard Pryor and his crack addiction?  The feeling of crack is like being cradled in the arms of God physically, mentally and emotionally.  For someone, who never felt peace in their life and rarely happiness or joy, it was like I had died and gone to heaven and I wanted more and more and more.

I stopped getting to work on time.  I stopped doing my studies.  Mom searched for the answer to that and found my crack pipe and paraphernalia.  She, of course, freaked out.  No amount of threats, cajoling, shaming, guilt-tripping had any affect on me.  Crack was my new best friend.  I started hanging out with bad people who were dealers.  At the time, I had my daughter every other week and I put her in harm's way.  Mom was having none of it.

Mom had moved out by then.  To make a long story short, she took one of my crack pipes and called the police and I got arrested for drug paraphernalia but that was enough to lose my job and all hope of ever becoming a nurse.  I lost my daughter again.  My whole life fell apart-again.  I take full responsibility for that.  No one's fault but my own.  At the time, though, I blamed my mom for everything.  It was all her fault.  If she hadn't called the police, if she had gotten me into treatment-if, if, if.

So, I went on my last suicide mission.  I did not care about anything anymore.  I could not see any hope for anything good to ever happen in my life again. 

I started doing every drug-heroin, meth and crack.  I stayed in a motel room.

So, in order to support my addictions and my motel room I sold my car on Craigslist but kept the car and the 2,500.  I then sold my car back to the dealer, then went later that night and stole it back.  For those offenses, I got 5 years.

So, I owed this drug dealer a lot of money and he came knocking at my door and when he left I ran to a near-by gas station and went inside the convenience store.  I put on my sunglasses and bought a slurpy and hung out in there for awhile.  Then I saw him and I ended up jumping in the back seat of this black lady's car and yelled at her to drive and drop me off a couple of blocks down because my "boyfriend" was after me.  I was always in the back seat on the passenger side of her car which she attested to.  I told her I was not going to hurt her as she attested to at trial.  I never asked for her keys or money.  I was very agitated and I wanted her to drive.  I had my slurpy and I was in flip-flops.  I had my crack pipe pusher in my back pocket which was hard to sit on so I took it out and hid it in my hand.  The lady asked what I had in my hand and I was embarrassed and said nothing then showed her my crack pipe pusher.  When she realized I had no weapon, she grabbed me by my hair and started hitting me and I finally got away and out the door and she ran after me.  I am sure that jumping in her car scared the hell out of her and I feel very bad about that.  My intent was not to hurt her.  I am not that bad of a person.  I just wanted to get away from the situation with the dealer.

She was yelling for the police and I knew I was in deep trouble.  I went to my motel room, got my box cutters (used for drugs) went into the bathroom and cut both arms from wrist to elbow.  I was done.  It was over.  When the police came, they tried to open the bathroom door but I was on the floor keeping it pushed shut with my feet.  They finally got in and called an ambulance.  They asked me if I had been in her car and I said yes.  From, the hospital I went to jail.

HER STORY

Her story was the same as mine except that she said that I cut her-she had a "cut" on her face and that I said, "drive or I will cut your fucking throat".  I am telling you I never cut her as I had no weapon and I would never say that.  The "cut" was actually a scratch that never bled, never had to see a doctor.  The one thing my public defender did show in court was that the pusher had no sharp edges nor any of her DNA. She agreed that I never moved from the passenger side of the back seat.  Her husband was a sheriff.  She was a nurse.  She was found guilty of child abuse a few years before.  She had relatives who were incarcerated.  She changed her story 3 times from the police report, to the deposition to the trial which my lawyer never brought up.  That is all I am going to say about that.  So, I got attempted carjacking with a deadly weapon, armed burglary and attempted kidnapping.  They dropped the assault charge because there was no evidence.  They said my crack pipe pusher was a deadly weapon.  I got 20 years.  The trial is a whole other story better told by my mom.

Prison Life (con't)

Before my incarceration, I did not live a life of crime.  I always supported myself and was taking RN classes.  My bouts with alcoholism did cause me to lose some jobs, but I always pulled myself up and got another one.  As the years went by, the alcohol and oxy's became more and more of a problem.  With addiction, you think you have it under control.  You think your doing fine, when in reality you are sinking to the bottom of the pit.  Your brain never catches up with the reality.  The neurons are now wired for addiction and it becomes your life.

Back to prison life.  In prison I walk the straight and narrow, but I can tell you that I have learned more criminal tricks than I would ever want to know.  The officers focus on the petty things, you learn your way around them.  Prison teaches you to always be suspicious, paranoid and to never trust anything.  You may be doing everything right but you never know when an officer is having a bad day and will take it out on you.  Having an officer yell at you in a condescending manner when you have done nothing wrong is very humiliating and demeaning.  It happens all the time, but oh we are supposed to come out of here with our self-esteem intact, our soul intact and be a productive member of society.  Where is the rehabilitation?  Where is the interest in helping us when we transition back into society as most of us will do at some point.  I am a very strong person who has taken full advantage of this time to work on myself, my spirit and my failings.  I have grown and changed.  I have a mom who supports and loves me.  Many woman in here don't have that.  They came in here broken and they leave broken.  When you spend years and years in such a negative environment, only the strong survive. I am and have always been determined to be one who survived this horrible ordeal.  I am not saying I did not do things to get me here because of my addictions, but I did not deserve a 20 year sentence.  There are women in here who have done much worse than I and either have less time or the same time.

So, what did I do.  It is difficult to talk about because it seems like a million years ago and a whole other person.  Who was that person?  How could she have been me?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Prison Life

It is hard to speak on what life in prison is like if you have not experienced it.  Another reason it is difficult to speak on is because we become numb to it.  Behaviors that are abnormal become "normal".  We are slowly conditioned to live in a small world of control, angry voices, put down on a daily basis, confronted by guards and corruption on both sides.

There is no separation of morality here.  It is only separated by uniforms.  In truth-it is all the same.  There is a series called Beyond Punishment by Julie K. Brown a journalist for the Miami Herald.  She did a series on Lowell women's prison.  On my mom's website, www.inmateslivesmatter.net there is a link to a 5 minute video about the series.  It pretty much says everything.

Our new colonel has instructed staff to no longer call us Ms. or Ma'am but to call us Inmate.  How often do I hear an officer say on a daily basis to several inmates, "what are you stupid, inmate".  It can be screamed from the tower for all of the compound to hear and not one "higher-up" says anything.  With our new administration, the focus has become harsher; taking away the little we had to do-like movies in the chapel and we have less recreational time. 

We live within a compound that have few programs and slim pickings for jobs.  Here is what we have for 1500 inmates:

GED class-state gets paid for only 22 y/o and younger.
Drug Program-It's a joke-where everyone hooks up and is only for 3 years or under left in your sentence.
Religious Program-Christian based and you receive a certificate nobody cares about especially the parole board.
HVAC is the best program-with the intention that you will be a worker on the compound.
Fashion Design Class-only a select few can get in and how is that useful when you are out in the world?
Chapel-the chapel has various activities but you have to be religious.  So, if you don't want to study the bible or listen to preaching, you can't go.  I am spiritual, but not religious.

Any of the programs last anywhere from 1 year to 18 months.  If a long-timer did all of them, they would be done in a few years-then what?  Where is the rehab, counseling, job training?  Why are they not teaching people how to transition back into society by building their self-esteem, teaching them coping skills, healing their spirit.  I know some who have 30 certificates of completion and when their parole came up, it made no difference.

Two days ago a Sgt, slammed a girl who was cuffed behind her back.  Inmates have been getting sent to confinement (jail in the prison) for broken name tags, carrying their RDP lunch bag, not having their shirt tucked in and other minor things.  They intimidate inmates through bullying and using racial slurs and sexually-inappropriate language. 

If you want to get through prison, keep quiet, keep your head down and follow every direction and order no matter now ridiculous.  I have seen officers tell girls to hop on one foot, say foolish things, draw hearts because they throw hearts as punishment (have to clarify that with Sadie-not sure what that means).  We are their entertainment.  What is important within a person with integrity is intention.  What is your intention when you treat people without regard or respect?  Intention should always be from love and goodness.  I have met 2 officers with good intentions in  years.  We are left with a staff who has bad intentions and if intentions are bad from your stewards and caretakers, how are you supposed to feel good about yourself or get rehabilitated.  You only attempt to survive this time here hoping that every move you make doesn't make it harder.

We have broken the law.  We have been sentenced to prison-away from friends, family and society.  We are doing our time.  The environment on the compound is negative and hurtful and no one cares-we deserve this right?  We are not helped, we are harmed.  We are mother's daughter's, sisters, aunt's, nieces and grandmothers.  We could be your loved one.  You could be here.  If you have a loved one addicted to drugs they are always one step away from incarceration.  If your tired one night and your driving and you run a stop sign and hit another car and kill someone, you will end up here.  If you are in a domestic violence situation and you kill your abuser, you will end up here.  There are many ways to end up here.

Yard time is time outdoors.  During the day, the TV is off, showers are turned off, nothing to do so yard time becomes important and the guards seem to allow it or not allow it on a whim.  We may get a total of 2 hours yard time each day and some days no yard time.
And you are stuck indoors with nothing to do and people become agitated and angry  Cooped up like animals.  Women cut themselves, yell, bang on windows, argue and fight with each other our of frustration.  In a dorm 24/7 with nothing to do  The compound creates it's own issues by focusing on the wrong things.  Then you have officers who are trigger happy to spray and use force on inmates.  Indigent people have to beg for toilet paper, shampoo, pads. 

Enough for today.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

A Card From Sadie 2014

Card says:  I can't measure the influence
                   you've had on my life
                   or count the many ways
                   you've made me a stronger,
                   better person

                   All I can do is say
                   how thankful I am
                   for the kindness and wisdom
                   you bring into my world


Mommy, this card says a lot for me.  You are so important to me, to my life.  When I don't have the energy to do this sometimes, I think of your love and support.  I think about our deeper spiritual connection.  And when I do this I know that we were meant to travel this time together for a purpose.  If you look back-from the time I first got incarcerated-we BOTH have gone through a lot of healing-individually and together.  Throughout it all we have continued to be strong; open and understanding.  You have grown immensely.  You have gotten to a place I have always hoped for you.  We are definitely going to get gold stars on the other side.  I believe we have made contact with the majority of our life lessons and we were meant to come out in the end together.  I love you, I enjoy you, I appreciate you and I will continue to travel with you. 

Love and Light,
your daughter Sadie

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pictures

The last time we were all together 13 years ago
Sadie and her sisters at 17
Sadie on the left around 4

Sadie and sister Jenny Day around 2














This Time of Year-Mom

I feel what I am about to say is important.  Maybe it will help someone.  Maybe it will make someone not feel like they are not the only one.  Maybe it will help me heal some of the trauma by speaking publicly.  Also, it speaks to the cycle of family dysfunction and how important it is to break the chain.

This is a particularly hard time of year for me.  I used to do crazy things like move, leave people, hook up with people, quit jobs, go on road trips never really understanding why.  I would become very depressed and emotionally unstable.  It still affects me but now that I know why, I have learned better coping skills and know that this too shall pass.  It's hard though.

My father was a severe alcoholic.  He physically abused my mom and sexually abused me from the ages 3 to 6 or 7-hard to remember exactly when he left.  I loved my father.  He would keep me up after my mom and brother's went to bed and sing songs to me.  I got a little knitting kit for Christmas one year and he taught me how to knit (I was probably 4).  He would take me out on the boat to islands in the vicinity (we lived in a small town in AK).  He would wake me up late at night and take me to the midnight movies.  He would take me to get pie at the local restaurant.  I was like his best friend.  I got so much attention.  When I started kindergarten, he would keep me home from school and teach me to dance.  Those are the things I remembered for most of my adult life-the only things.  When he left, my goal in life was to find my father-then everything would be okay and I would not feel so lost inside.  I did find him when I was 32 and he lived with us for about 3 months-my husband and I.  Then I started having nightmares and falling apart on every level and the memories started.  Bad memories-horrible memories.

My mother, on the other hand, was emotionally unavailable and dealing with her own issues and abuse.  She did not love me.  That is how I felt as a child.  She told me I was stupid and ugly and that no one would ever love me.  That was her mantra to me.  She would be very nice one minute, then push me away the next.  I was always afraid of her.  She always seemed larger than life.  I was afraid of her almost my entire adult life which seems kind of crazy now.  We mended our relationship, for the most part, a couple of years before she passed and I have a lot of compassion and empathy for my mom now.  She had her own difficult crosses to bear which she never shared but which became obvious.  She wanted the best for all of us.

Writing this is harder than I thought it would be.  I have never shared it in a public forum and I am starting to feel a mixture of shame, guilt and sadness.  Weird.

So, my father sexually abused me.  Most of the memories I have blocked out-do I really want that rattling around in my brain to revisit.  I am grateful I don't remember everything.  One night he kept me up late and put me in bed with him and mom to watch Kraft Mystery Theater.  I was between them and he started touching me "down there" and I was so worried that mom would notice.  He would keep me home from school and bring his drunken friends over-men and women and make me do sexual things with them.  We were really poor so I don't know if they paid him in alcohol or money or if anything changed hands at all but something nudges me in that direction.  He had me watch him have sex with women.  He never worked.  Mom was always the one working.

I remember one night when I was about 5, I was in bed and I heard them arguing and I just knew he was going to come into my bed.  That seemed to be the pattern.  It was in the fall I think.  I grabbed my blanket and a stuffed animal and I snuck out of the apartment.  I went behind the building and there was a crate there and I put the crate over me and tried to fall asleep.  Then he came out yelling my name, looking for me.  He never knew I was under the crate.  And in the morning I went back into the apartment and no one said anything.  I often wonder why he didn't keep looking, why she didn't look for me-maybe she didn't know.  A 5 year-old out in the cold.  No one came.  No one cared.

So getting to this time of year.  On Christmas Eve day, we were all home and my father wanted me to take a nap with him.  He tried to have anal intercourse with me and I thought he was trying to kill me it hurt so bad.  I ran out and told my mom.  She locked my brother's in the bedroom.  My Dad denied it and went into the bathroom and slit his wrists.  Blood everywhere.  The paramedics came but it must not have been that bad because they wrapped his wrists in bandages and left.  Then we had Christmas.  We opened our presents like nothing had ever happened.  I got a Tiny Tears doll that Christmas with a little playpen and some clothes.  The next day I was out on the bridge that led to a poor part of the native housing and there was a little girl who came on the bridge.  I asked her what she got for Christmas and she said they didn't have Christmas, not even a tree.  I felt so bad for her that I gave her my Tiny Tears doll and all her things.  The most unselfish act I have ever done in my life.  That is when I started to realize there are people who have it worse than you do. 

Now I know why I would get crazy this time of year.  When I was 5, I wanted to get away but I couldn't.  I wanted to run, but I couldn't.  So, in my adult life I would take off, move, road trips-anything to keep my mind occupied.  I hurt a lot of people in doing that.  It was a compulsion.

So, my Dad ended up leaving town and an older neighbor who lived in the same apartment complex named Ernie Eggers befriended my mom.  He used to give us kids money and I would go to his apartment for treats and watch him and his friends play cards and soon the abuse started all over again.  He would babysit us and I used to pretend that I was so small that he could not see me. 

So, I became a very problem child.  First attempted suicide at 12.  I would run away.  I was sexually promiscuous at a young age.  I was sent to boarding school on a train by myself from Seattle to South Dakota at 13.  Can you imagine?  Never having been out of that small town. 

My young adult life was one of depression, drinking, promiscuity, suicidal ideation and the forever feeling of worthlessness and that I was too damaged to deserve anything good in my life.  I never had anyone to help me through any of it.  I was the black sheep of the family-the problem child.  I got married at 16, had a baby at 17 and moved to Washington with my husband-one of 5 husbands to come.

When I was about 25, I had decided to end my life.  I was in a continuous deep, dark depression that I could never seem to overcome for any length of time.  I felt like I was hurting my children, my husband at the time and that life was not worth living anymore.
I did not believe in God.  I had written my good-bye letters and the night before I asked whomever to help me-that I was on my way out and if there was anything-anything at all that I needed to know and that I needed to know now.  The next day that prayer was answered by Prem Rawat and Knowledge and my journey began.

I have tried to be the mother to my children that I never had but because of my own trauma and craziness, I failed miserably.  My son tells me, "we always knew you loved us mom".  I have told them how important it is to break this chain of dysfunction for their children.  My children have suffered because of my own suffering.  It has taken me a long time to become overcome my own trauma-which is always an ongoing process.  The good thing is that I am in a good place with my children.  We love and care for each other deeply and I try to be supportive and helpful.  It is a work in progress.  I have lost my youngest daughter to heroin and meth addiction (she is out there somewhere).  My heart goes out to all mothers who have lost a child to addiction. 

So you see, Sadie comes by her issues honesty.  All of my children have had their own crosses to bear because of their childhoods.  They have been very loving and forgiving towards me which I am so grateful for, but I wish things could have been different for them.


Mom's Perspective

As a mother, it was so painful to see my daughter's addictions.  You feel helpless, you feel scared.  You read about all the deaths from oxy's.  You want to save your daughter.  At the time, she was in so much denial that I could not reason with her.  She thought she had it all under control.  I tried all the usual tactics-shaming, guilt-tripping and all the things we try to tell an addict to get them to stop.  The disease is so insidious; so frightening.  You feel helpless and hopeless. 

There is an epidemic now in all levels of society from the rich to the poor related to oxy addiction which can lead to heroin addiction.  I hold the drug companies accountable for that.  They misled doctors and patients for a time.  Then it became obvious the addiction that oxy's cause.  They are opiates-dangerous opiates.  And now we have a whole segment of the population addicted to oxy's and heroin. 

When I was young, there were no drugs like that, or maybe there were but not in my reality.  Then it was mushrooms, LSD and pot. 

When you are dealing with an alcoholic/addict, you go through so many emotions; anger, fear, guilt and helplessness.  With Sadie, I had to cop to my part in her addictions; after all, I am her mother.  I did not protect her when she was young.  Her father did not protect her.  We failed her.  All of her family that did not protect her or help her are complicit.  The emotional destruction of a child does not happen in a vacuum.

And even after all she has gone through and been through, my daughter is one of the strongest people I know.  She just kept trying in spite of the suicide attempts, in spite of the disease of alcoholism, the pill addiction.  She kept getting up to fight the good fight and she just kept losing.  And I am so proud of her.

My Addiction (con't)

I was in Washington state when I found out that I had a warrant for the Felony DUI which I did not know about.  I went back to Florida to turn myself in and was given 6 months at a Goodwill treatment center.  It was a blessing.  Goodwill changed me on a lot of levels.  I took full advantage of treatment.  I started forgiving myself for losing my daughter over alcohol.  Her father stepped up and is the best father I could have ever hoped he would be.  My daughter was 3 when I was in treatment.  He would bring her to visit.  He and I mended our ways and he got married.  In treatment, I met the love of my life, Jason.  I learned the difference between love and being in love  We graduated from treatment, moved in together and I gained back my parental rights to see my daughter and have her during the week. Life was good and I expected it to continue that way.  We went to AA, worked hard and had a happy life.  Not so fast.  Jason was an addict.  He ended up taking some pills a "friend" gave him at work.  He became a full-blown addict.  I left him.  He died from an overdose of drugs.  My world shattered.  I didn't drink over it though.  During this time, I had a back injury and was prescribed oxycotins.  This was during the time the drug companies were telling doctors that they were not addicting.  What they did do, for some reason, is even out my emotional state and took away my craving for alcohol, so I kept taking them.  In the next few years, I worked, bought a townhome, opened a business with my sister and life was good.  My parental custody was 50/50 and all was well.  As time went by, my addiction to oxy's became more and more and I needed more and more.  I found a "pill doctor" and he supplied me with a monthly prescription.  I became more and more addicted and more dependent.  After a few years of being sober, I started relapsing on and off and the cycle of paramedics and emergency rooms began again.  I was so ashamed of myself because I really thought I had beat it.  Now I was not only an alcoholic, but also a pill addict.  During this time I worked full time as a patient tech at a hospital and was taking RN courses on-line.  I thought I was maintaining.  Then mom moved to Florida and stayed with me.  She saw how addicted I was to oxy's and how they controlled my life.  As an addict, I was in denial about how bad it really was.  After all I was working and going to school.  I felt like the pills kept the alcoholism at bay, even though they were not doing that anymore.  She begged me to get off the oxy's as she thought I was going to die and also how was I going to be a nurse and a pill addict at the same time.  I look back at that time and I was so out of touch with reality, so in denial about my alcoholism and pill addiction.  I did not want those labels.  I did not want to be an alcoholic.  I did not want to be an addict.  I wanted a normal life and even with my addictions, I tried so hard to maintain the look of normalcy.  I wanted to be normal.  I wanted a good life.  I wanted my daughter to have a good life.  But that was not to be. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Addiction

I am sure everyone who reads this is wondering what I did to get here.  That is coming but first you need to understand my addiction and addiction in general.  We can be addicted to all sorts of things.  You can be addicted to food, to sex, to power, to exercise, to cigarettes.  You can become addicted to almost anything.  And that addiction has a life of it's own.  It drives you.  It consumes you.  It takes away your discernment, your common sense, your self-esteem, and changes the wiring in your brain.  That addiction becomes more important than anything else; more important than you, more important than your family; your children.  You lose yourself and the ability to see outside of that addiction.  It makes no sense, it has no sense and it destroys you and everything around you.  Addiction, for me, was about pain-a way to escape.  Alcoholism runs in our family and alcohol was my drug of choice.  People have said I was the worst alcoholic they have ever seen.  I was not a daily drinker but a binge drinker.  I could go for a time without drinking but that demon always caught up with me.  If you have ever tried to quit smoking then you know how powerful addiction is.  For an addict or alcoholic times that by 100 or a 1000.  You cannot reason with an addict.  You cannot shame them into quitting, you cannot guilt them into quitting. 

During the years, I made several suicide attempts. I have been to psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors and put on every anti-depressant, mood stabilizer, upper-downer and so forth-none of it helped me at all and sometimes made me feel worse. 

During this time, I always had a job.  I lived in Puerto Rico for a time and managed a humane society.  I became a vet tech as my passion is animals.  I could always live but I could never heal my insides.  I always wanted to leave earth.  I just could not get comfortable in my own skin.  I moved to Florida from the West Coast-an alcoholic-worked two jobs successfully as manager of 2 animal hospitals and met a man.  I became pregnant at 28.  We were pretty stable as far as living goes, rented a house, had 2 cars and 2 dogs.  I was so happy to be pregnant.  I was RH- and had 4 miscarriages prior.  I quit drinking all through my pregnancy and breast feeding.  I thought I had kicked alcoholism.  I had not drank in 2 years.  I could probably pick up a drink and be able to control it right?  I was back into full-blown alcoholism.  They say alcoholism is a cunning and baffling disease.  I drove drunk with my daughter in my car when she was a little over a year and I got a Felony DUI.  What I did that day, I feel so ashamed of.  How could I do that?  I never thought I would become a mother like that-ever!  Drove drunk with my child.  That is so F-d up.  I was not aloud to be alone with her on my own for 30 days.   Until the courts decided what to do I started AA, was sober again.  My boyfriend started resenting me going to AA and we argued about it and he ended up finding another woman.  When I found out I drank Nyquil that night and drank liquor the next day.  I drank and OD'd on 200 Tylenol PM.  My sister found me almost 2 days later half hanging off of my bed-naked, vomit everywhere.  I had drank a gallon of liquor.  She thought I was dead.  I was rushed to the hospital-too late to pump my stomach.  My liver was protruding from my body and I began to swell.  My mom flew in from California as she was told I was on my deathbed.  ICU watched me as 200 Tylenol PM processed through my liver.  I had also aspirated my vomit resulting in pneumonia.  I lived (obviously) but there were countless times ahead of that same scenario.  I went to California to live with my mom and her husband to try and get help.  When I relapsed I felt like my world was over.  I had failed worse than anyone could ever fail.  That feeling of doom-of extreme doom.  I lost everything, my life, my child, my job, my child's father-everything.  So much shame.  I hated what I did and became what I hated.  I had nothing left to live for.  My time in California is a blur-an alcohol blur.  I went to bad places, I lived in the woods for a time.  I became dirt-scum.  A true piece of shit.  I was missing for a few days and my mom went looking for me and found me unresponsive and again I was rushed to the hospital and was on my deathbed from alcohol poisoning.  Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink.  I am a disgusting alcoholic.  I drink until death.  I sit in my own vomit and feces for days.  Why I did not die over and over again is beyond me.  The paramedics were called numerous times; I was Baker Acted numerous times (psych ward). 

That is enough for today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Beginning

We have decided to do a daily blog instead of a weekly blog so more tomorrow.

Ok, so let's start this blog. : )  I didn't even know I was going to do a blog.  I offered to write a weekly - whatever - on my mom's site, www.inmateslivesmatter.net and she decided to create a blog which I think is a great idea.  It will give me the inspiration to talk to the world about prison-the good, the bad and the ugly.  When I go back in time, pre-incarceration, I didn't give much thought to women in prison; except watching reality lock-up shows on TV.  Orange is the New Black did not exist then.  I don't know what I would have thought crossing paths via the world-wide web with a prisoner-the lowliest of the low as far as society is concerned.  I might have thought that too.  I don't know.  Would I have cared as much as I'd like to tell myself  I would.  What I can say is that we are "out of sight and therefore out of mind", which society finds much easier to deal with.  So, here I am, a prisoner, crossing your path.  How do you feel about that?  What are your perceptions about incarcerated women?  One of my goals, and I know one of my mother's goals, is to try and change a negative perception-not necessarily to a more positive one, but to a more realistic one.  After all, we are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces and even grandmothers.  In short, we are human beings just like you.  I never ever thought I would be in this situation.  My goal was to exit this world.  Well, the universe or God or whomever, had different plans of which I am grateful for.  Not grateful that I am in prison, but grateful that I was not allowed to follow through with my plans to exit this world.  Being incarcerated has changed everything-the whole game.  And I don't know who that woman was anymore who wanted to leave this world.  Well, I do know why she wanted to leave and I also know that she was a very lost soul who had no idea who she was.  Incarceration has given me the opportunity to find that out; and to continue to find that out.

I had a traumatic childhood like a lot of women in here.  Mom shared a synopsis of it on the website.  My mom had her own trauma that she was dealing with in her life, and still deals with.  I don't think you ever truly heal from childhood trauma but you do learn better coping skills and that you can find happiness-not in a person or a situation, but within you.  I would have to say for the most part, I have found that contentment and happiness within me and it is something I try and connect with everyday.  I don't always succeed, but I always try.  I also always try to come from a place of love-which sounds kind of hokey but I don't know what other term would suffice.  The broken women in here deserve that-some more broken then others.

Anyway, my childhood.  My mother was married 5 times and had 6 children from 4 different fathers.  I was her third child.  During a severe mental breakdown when I was 5, my mother sent her children to their fathers. Before that, unbeknownst to my mom, I had been sexually abused by a family member.  I went to live with my Dad-who always seemed angry and with my step-mother who resented raising me and my sister as she was not able to have children of her own at that point.  It is a long convoluted story about my upbringing with them-not a happy place. Mom basically lost custody of my sister and I and we were not encouraged to see her or to think positively of her.  We were told many untruths about her.  When we did visit her we had to call her Kathy and even though we would always have a good time with her we knew that when we got home, we would have to say how horrible she was.  The main theme of my childhood was that I was unwanted and no one could deal with me.  I ran away from home for the first time when I was 11.  I was mentally, physically and emotionally abused on every level-as was my sister.  I was very sad my entire childhood and attempted suicide for the first time in 5th grade-one of many, many to come. 

I wasn't a bad kid.  I was highly gifted.  Straight A's.  School was the only place I received positive feedback.  I would live with my mom on and off after my dad and step-mom got divorced but I was so damaged that I was always angry, never wanted to follow rules and would end up leaving.  One time when I was in a group home-I was about 12, my mom found out and took me out of it and my father sent the police to take me back to the group home.  I started cutting at 13, to distract me from the emotional pain.  My Dad finally let my sister and I go live with Mom and her husband when I was 15.  Like I said, I was damaged.  I graduated from high school and then went my own way.  I admitted myself to a psychiatric ward when I was 18 because I wanted to commit suicide.  It wasn't that I wanted to die so much, it was that I just wanted the pain to end.  I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder but never really got any help.  Emotional pain that never ends is probably why most people commit suicide.  Depression is a black hole that you can never seem to find your way out of.  So you find ways to numb yourself and that is a whole other story.

I have a sad story, but there are women in here who have sad, sad, sad stories.  Sending love and light.