Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Medical, 8th Amendment, Yoga and Service

Well, I have been on the new compound now for awhile and I like it.  No gates-more relaxed and my job is less stressful.  The canteen set-up is different and I am appreciated more.  Inmates are more polite. 

I had put in a transfer for another prison-smaller with a dog program but I cancelled it because they told me I can't transfer to a faith-based prison.  So, I am going to stick it out on this compound for a year or two and then attempt another transfer.

I finally made it to the outside cardiologist (thank you mom).  Outside medical trips are no fun!  We have to be black-boxed-our feet are shackled and we have cuffs.  Then a black box gets attached between the cuffs and the runs a long chain thru it that wraps around your waist so your hands can only move about 5 inches.  Good luck if your nose starts to itch.  It hurts after awhile and the cuffs make deep indentations on your wrists so you spend your ride either waiting for your hands to go numb or you continually adjust your hands the entire ride.  It is approximately a 1 1/2 hour ride.  It is a men's facility but it is also where speciality medical doctors are for the incarcerated.  They do surgeries and house men and women who are recovering.  When we walk through the facility the men inmates act like animals.  They make sexual gestures and kissy-faces.  They stare and gawk.  It is very annoying and very uncomfortable.  It took about 4 hours before I was seen by the doctor.  He set me up with a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours and then said we'll schedule you for a stress test.  We got back to the compound at 3:30 pm and had left at 3:30 am.  Medical said I had to spend the night in the infirmary when the doctor had said that he wanted me to resume my normal duties so he could get an accurate reading.  Can't argue with medical or you get put in jail.  So I laid in bed the whole time until the next morning when a nurse called the doctor and he told them I needed to be doing activities (like I told them).  You would think the medical staff would have an understanding of heart monitors!  So me and the other girls in the infirmary stayed up all night watching TV in a comfortable bed.  I could live in the infirmary-no noise, TV, cordless phone, comfortable bed, good shower and great sink for washing clothes!  It is sad that people are dying in there.  They just rushed a girl to the hospital.  They said she had scarlet fever.  She had strep throat that went untreated and her face swelled up beyond recognition.  They couldn't get it under control.  Anyway, so I actually slept in until 8am which I hadn't done in years.  So, after the doctor confirmed that I needed to be doing my regular activities I only had 2 hours left on my monitor. 

The good part of it was the sweet ladies in the infirmary.  One just had a breast removed and one was having respiratory problems-but they were a delight.  I hope the girl with untreated strep throat makes it.

My mom recently read me a response from my blog.  It made me cry.  She wrote so beautifully.  I never have any idea how people feel about our blog.  Whoever you are in Canada, thank you for your compassion and kind words-it keeps me motivated and inspired.

I have been sharing my story a lot lately.  Other inmates think I have been down for years and years and always ask me when I am getting out.  I am going on 6 years.  Then they ask why I am in prison.  So, have been sharing a lot.  Drug addiction causes a lot of bad choices.  I wish I had known then what I know now.

My post-conviction appeal is floating out there.  I want to go back to court so bad.  I want to get out there and start my activism for the women left behind.  I want to make a difference.  Maybe you will see me on TV someday advocating for prison reform.  I want to share these women's stories and get them the attention they deserve-to at least be seen as a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister: not just a number.  It has already been proven that when you calla person Inmate and dehumanize them, it is much easier for guards to abuse them.  Plus it is so demeaning.  My name is Sadie- a name my mom gave me after watching a Barbara Streisand movie. 

Most of the women have battle scars from being incarcerated-most came in with their own scars from life.  You all need to stand up and hold out open arms with love and help make a change to the system.  What needs to be changed first?  The point system.  It is ridiculous.  What is considered a violent crime?  They need to have a committee that goes through the case of every woman incarcerated for 10 years or more and see if any revisement is necessary.  Women who are poor have no access to lawyers to help with their cases.  I think anyone planning a career in criminal justice should spend 30 days in prison so they get a clear idea of where they are really sending these women and men.  What happened to the 8th amendment-no cruel and unusual punishment.  Being demeaned, yelled at, humiliated, eating non-nutritious food, lack of proper medical care, no hope for parole for lifers, no substantial rehab programs for preparation to return to the outside and on and on.  I would consider that cruel and unusual punishment.  The system is broken and a broken system produces broken individuals.  Not to mention returning to a broken society and a broken government.  All I ask is that you add love and light to the world by being of service to your fellow human being. 

Next day:

It's loud!  One room with 86 women. 

I now teach yoga for 2 hours on Mondays at the wellness center.  It is going well.  The girls love it.  We have such a good time.  They seem to be very dedicated.  I wish I could teach it all the time.  Yoga is my life.  It keeps me centered, grounded and spiritually connected-and healthy. 

So big news today.  I think I explained previously that I put in a proposal for Hobby Craft with the warden's permission.  They had knitting, crocheting, drawing and painting 20 years ago.  I have proposed it to every admin that comes here only to get shot down.  My canteen boss told me today that the warden called her for pricing for all the hobby crafts and said the warden is all about pushing it to get it approved by the higher ups.  This is huge!  Trying not to get my hopes up.  The prison has not seen any type of craft or colored pencils for the general population for 2 decades and they wonder why it is all about smoking, fighting and shopping as there is nothing else to do.  Even if we only get colored pencils, I will be happy.  One thing about me, I don't believe in NO.  You just have to keep trying.  My patience is insane now.  I can wait for years for things now having been in prison where nothing happens now. 

While I was sitting here writing, a girl hit another girl in the face.  I am so used to it, it did not even phase me.  That is what prison life does to you.  You become numb to chaos and violence.  Even if you wanted to get involved, you run the risk of violence towards you or getting put in confinement with them.

So, my mom visited this last week-end and was expressing disappointment for her GOFundMe account for summer packages for indigent women.  It is one thing to complain about the treatment of inmates, it is another thing to actually do something.  Ever since I have been incarcerated my family has donated games, puzzles, rec equipment, colored pencils and color books to the wellness center at my old compound because DOC does not fund for recreation.  No one had donated in years-probably because they did not know they could.  Inmates were putting together puzzles that no longer had all of the pictures on them, basketball hoop with no basket balls and so forth.  Then some other families started donating also.  My family has used their own money to fund 3 to 7 inmates each package time.  My mother does the GoFundMe so they can help more people and she is getting short on funds having to pay for my lawyers and supporting me in prison.  She lives on a fixed income but is all about helping the less fortunate.  My sister always gets one package for an indigent woman.  You have no idea what those packages mean to an indigent woman.  It means, someone out there cares about me.  Mom gets the most beautiful thank you cards.

If you feel so inclined her website is www.inmateslivesmatter.net and there is a link to the GOFund and we also have a list of indigent inmates to help directly.

The other thing you can do which my mom and some other women have done is send 10 assorted cards and envelopes (Dollar Tree) and stamps as the indigent inmates can trade them for toiletries.

When these women get their packages that they have never gotten you should see their faces when their name is called.  It is like they won The Price Is Right.  They cry and get confused and are not sure what to do.  Now we ask them what they need so we can be more specific to their needs.  Radios with ear phones are always a big deal.  Music calms the soul.

I feel if I have more than I need, then I need to share.  I give away my old clothes (most inmates sell them), my shoes and an indigent woman does my laundry so she can get some things she needs.  I leave little gifts here and there.  I am not trying to toot my own horn but to share how much it means to be of service when possible.

We are all on the same journey.  Earth is our schoolhouse to learn about being better human beings and most of all to be of service.  One day we will all be 6 feet under and when we go to the others side and have our life review what will it say about our time on earth.  It is not a judgement but a learning process.  I never believed in hell, fire and brimstone.  I believe in Love.  Take care everyone.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

TA's, Wellness Center, We Are All Valuable

The officers do not get paid well.  When you hire anyone who has a GED or HSD, you wouldn't have to pay them well it seems.  When they get here it is a rude awakening and they have no training to deal with it.  They are called T.E.A's or as we call them T.A's which are officers in training. 

So here is how it works with "officers".  Say you are 18 and looking for a job and you want to get out of your parent's house (I have been told that).  Oh look!  Department of Corrections is hiring.  Let me sign up!  DOC says "here guy, put on this uniform that looks just like a real officer's uniform" and we are going to let you work on the prison grounds even though you have zero training.  Work on the compound for 5-6 months, see if you like it.  If you do, we will even put you thru school-called the Academy.  After the Academy we will test you and if you pass your tests, we will attach a can of real pepper spray to your uniform.  Oh, but don't worry if you don't pass the Academy we will let you try again.

So, what we have on the compound are many T.E.A.'s, T.A.'s for short.  Young kids, looking for a job, with no training, running around in an officer's uniform.

Now, we are always understaffed.  ALWAYS.  To fill bodies they allow the T.A.'s to run things.  T.A's are never supposed to be unsupervised.  HA! HA! HA!. That makes me laugh just reading that.  These T.A.'s with no training are running the compound!  They have no clue how to call on their radios, what buttons to push in the bubble, which way the chow hall is or what to do when a fight breaks out.  Who trains them?  WE DO!  The inmates do.  They don't even know what security level they are working.  They don't know how to call count or where to call it into.  And with our admin turn-around no warden stays long, or assistant warden or colonel.  Last admin was here for a year.  I mean really!  And they want to take it all out on us.  No wonder the inmates are harder to control.  Nobody takes these people seriously.  Can you imagine an 18 y/o telling a 65 y/o what to do?  Every new admin comes with a new idea of control and focuses on the wrong things, let's T.A.'s run things. Nobody respects them and inmates do not take them seriously-why?  Because they are all going to leave anyway.  You have got women who have been down for 30, 40 years, staying for life.  They have had everything taken away with nothing left to do but complain and die.

Sound harsh?  Well it is.  Do you know what a difference it would make for women to just be able to pick up a box of colored pencils and a coloring book and go to the metal table and just color.  A simple pleasure-therapeutic.  We are still waiting for an answer on if they will allow colored pencils or Hobby Craft.  At the other compound my family started sending games, puzzles, rec equipment that the inmates had not had in years so they did have Friday night game nights, coloring days at the Wellness Center with colored pencils and coloring books.  It is amazing what can be accomplished if even one person cares.  By the way, we always need those.  The Wellness Center here has not gotten to that point yet as they just opened up and my family donated some yoga mats and exercise equipment.  I teach a 2 hour yoga class on Monday mornings.  When the Wellness Center is more organized and we have an officer in charge all the time, I will let you guys know so you can donate games, puzzles and so forth.  DOC website will tell you about different "programs"-not true.  And no inmate that works gets paid except the canteen workers at 50.00 a month for a 7 day work week.  They expect the women who have lived here longer than anyone will ever work here and have seen DOC change dramatically for the worse-to shut up and be ok.

Not one human should ever live without self-worth or value.

We are all valuable.  You have not a clue about the women here.  You only know what you can look up and believe me that is only part truth.  There is always a back story that you never hear about such as, in my case, they deemed my crack pipe pusher that I happened to have on me a weapon.  An earlier blog explains how and why I got here.  Don't get me wrong there are women who deserve to be here for the rest of their lives because they lack understanding or remorse for what they have done-esp towards children.  But not too many.  The majority that are here for a long time (myself included) have to decide how to do their time.  That is where value comes in.  We get told every day that we are just inmates.  We are treated like meat and are their entertainment.  Being able to control other human beings who cannot defend themselves, tends to bring out the worst in a person.  Look at me, I can degrade this person and there is nothing they can do about it.  Men and women officers alike. 

If you are strong and can overcome the negativity you face yourself and do your best to live a valuable life.  It is the biggest challenge of most of the women here.  And I can tell you a big percentage don't live knowing they are valuable human beings.  A lot fall into the drama of cigarettes, drugs, fighting and money.  Just like the streets but in prison. 

I believe, as I have said before, that prison can be an opportunity to become who you are-a loving and spiritual being.  That is what we all truly are at our core.  We are a spark of the divine.  You can't try and be good and good happens.  No, we are born with love and goodness already within us.  It is just about rediscovering it.  I don't care what anyone says-NO ONE is born bad.  Things happen to cause us to shut down that part of us. 

Humans condition each other.  It's like who decided that some people were ugly?  There wasn't ugly until humans said there was.  Our Creator did not create ugly.  No one is dumber, prettier or better than anyone else.  Humans decided that and look at all the problems it has caused.  We lost our way.  We lost our heart.  We are all equal.

So, being that we are here for something wrong or bad; we need to recondition to ensure those behaviors and thoughts are understood and then retrained to practice better decision making and behavior.  In otherwords, we need to find our way back to our true home inside-back to our heart.  When you come from your heart, you cannot do wrong.  I just wish women here could be mentored and cared about so they can find their way back to themselves.  Instead they are beaten down some more.  Made to feel less than; unworthy of any respect or kindness. 

And by the way we are still doing a GoFundMe (link) for indigent women for summer packages.  Ordering starts May31st.  The info is on my mom's website www.inmateslivesmatter.net.