|Posted on July 5, 2019 at 6:55 PM||comments (1)|
REALLY REACH SOMEONE
Well hello my forward facers. Yep, as usual, I’m very very excited! I always love a chance to share with you on my podcast. Now, with today’s topic I want to make a quick distinction; the word, “kite” can mean one of three very different things. One definition is an anonymous note turned in by an inmate which usually either snitches on criminal activity by another inmate (sometimes truthfully, sometimes falsely) or complains about a prison staff member, a second one could be a letter to another inmate in which you put her name & prison address as the return address, then put a fictitious address as the mailing address, thus, the post office can’t deliver it and sends it back to its return address where it (hopefully) arrives safe & sound at the fellow inmate’s dorm. You would do this because inmates are not allowed to write letters to each other. Pretty slick, huh? Never underestimate the ingenuity of prison inmates! Lastly, the third definition, which is the one I will be referring to here; it means any note passed between an inmate in one cell to an inmate in another cell while in his/her own cell, either by “fishing” (adding a string and slinging it over) or via a “run-around” (a trustee, an inmate worker), or between an inmate in the Box(cell) and an inmate out on the compound.
So, here’s what we’re going to talk about in reference to our third definition. In jail or prison, it quickly becomes very apparent of the need to communicate. It truly is a luxury we take for granted on the outside. We pass individuals day in and day out without even thinking of communicating with them, even if just to offer a simple hello. Once that freedom is taken from you, and you are placed in a situation where you may not know what’s going on or what to do, you instinctively want and realize you need someone to communicate with; even if it is to just reach someone to ask a simple question. Next, as time goes on you have a need to reach someone who understands you for comradery, fellowship, or a friendship. Then, what happens is lastly, you’ve been there long enough to want to reach someone to do one of two things: either drag them down with you, or teach them what you’ve learned to stay lifted. The four forces of flight (i.e. Lift, Weight, Drag, and Thrust) affect kites in the same way they affect airplanes, and anything else that flies. Lift is the upward force that pushes a kite into the air. Today I’m going to tell you how to use those four forces and REALLY REACH SOMEONE.
So, lets fly right into it. So, as I mentioned, let’s talk about kite/fishing as we use it to reach someone during our sentence. As with most things when you’re locked up, it doesn’t matter how, where, or who you learn it from, just that you learn it. So now that you know a means of communicating, you begin to focus on the reason why you want to. Initially, we just need answers to basic survival questions: when to eat and who to eat with, when and what programming should you do, and paperwork and counselor questions. So this basic level of kiting can be done with that fishing technique of simply writing a note, and the funny thing about that note is it does somehow end up being folded into that diamond shape of a kite, you tie some type of a string (shoelace, piece of a torn towel, etc..) to the end of the note, you get down on the ground, push it through the last bar nearest to the next cell and with a little lift, sling it over; and there you have it, communication at a basic level for basic things. If you keep your questions at this level of simplicity, then it’s very likely you will get a response.
Next, I mentioned the basic human need for friendship. As time passes while doing time, you find at least one or two people you consider to be your friend. You either eat with them, work or program with them, go to church with them, or spend your dayroom or free time with them. This relationship becomes very important to you, and so does communicating with them regularly. So now you’ve progressed to a higher level of kiting. You find someone who can get a kite to this person directly, even if it’s going to take a little while for them to run around. So maybe you offer a trustee something in exchange for them getting your note to your friend when they go to clean their unit, or when they take the clean laundry to that yard. They carry a little more weight than you when it comes to being able to move around the facility. As a result, through barter and trade you’re actually able to create a schedule with your friend (when and where to meet), and you’re able to build on the friendship when together and even when separated throughout the day.
I also mentioned communicating for the purpose of dragging others down with you. Now this is not as easy to do as it sounds. Even more important to note is often It’s done unintendedly. It’s not in a woman’s initial makeup to do this as we are by design-- nurturers, comforters, social, and caring. Unfortunately, being institutionalized rips away much of this and creates the opposite. You become a look out for self, dog eat dog or perish type of being. So, when things don’t seem to be going your way or in your favor when it comes to your time and sentence, you form a need of communicating with someone who can get “stuff” done; and by “stuff”, I mean fights that lead to longer sentences for others, room shake downs that lead to emotional setbacks, cheating and sex that lead to relationship breakups and confusion. As I mentioned before, through barter and exchange you can get a kite to someone on the yard or even sometimes a deputy, who can make another woman’s life miserable behind bars, and this as we know, begins the cycle of where hurt people, hurt people. However, not all hope is lost in this type of kiting. The same level of people--those who can move freely or very easy throughout the facility have the means to thrust you out of lockup and into freedom. Remember, they can make “stuff” happen, and by “stuff”, I mean get your kites to your counselor faster so you can work and earn a higher pay slot, get your kite to the kitchen and help you with food allergies, even get paperwork looked over, which eventually leads to you being thrusted forward and released.
I know, it’s pretty interesting when you think of and understand that the basis of an actual kite is the same as a prison kite, don’t you think? A kite in jail or prison is meant to in one way or another, fly to someone in order to communicate something. But even though they use the same forces, a kite on the outside is usually meant to be flown for recreation, art displays, and other practical uses like videos and photography. Some kites have even been used for human flight, military applications, science, and meteorology. Kites have long been a part of history. The exact date and origin of the kite is not known but it is believed that they were flown in China more than two thousand years ago. I suspect the same with jail kites, its origin and time span is unknown, but I bet it expands back to the 1870 if not further, when incarceration of women began in the United States because as humans, we were created to communicate.
So now I want to tell you how to Fly and soar your kite of life and REALLY REACH SOMEONE. So, lift is the upward force that pushes a kite into the air. So first you need to want to go higher, you have to want to move upward. In your thinking, I want you to shift your mindset from staying average, hovering around at a low level being equal to everyone else around you. That’s institutionalized thinking. Kites are shaped and angled so that the air moving over the top moves faster that the air at the bottom. Reshape your thinking to upward goals. Set goals in a manner that when looked back on over the course of the year, it can clearly be seen by anyone that you are moving higher. Make them reachable like a 12 lb. weight loss, a certificate, a new good friend, a church membership, a savings account with $500 by Christmas time. Ladies, did you know that a mathematician discovered that air pressure decreases as it speeds up. So as with a kite, there is less pressure above it than below it, the same is for us. You just need to rise in order to experience it.
Next there’s the weight. It’s the force that’s generated by the gravity attraction of the earth that pulls on the kite back toward earth. So, don’t let gravity pull you down. When things seem to all come at once, it feels overwhelming like gravity is pulling you down. When this happens, stop and recognize that it’s your thinking causing that overwhelming feeling, because when good stuff is happening all at once, you don’t say ohh I’m to overwhelmed; rather, you smile, shout, and call it favor and blessings. So, understand that weight is what makes you stronger. The more you can bench, or press, or lift, the stronger you will become.
Now thrust is the forward force that propels a kite in the direction of motion. Just as you’ve seen a kite get the lift, have the weight under it to go higher, then all of a sudden it starts spinning out of control; yep, same with us. We must understand the motion we need to go in is forward. So, if you achieve something, don’t just stay there, move forward. If you fail at something, don’t just quit, try again, and even again and again if needed. The forward thrust of a kite is achieved by relying on the tension that’s put on the string and the air created by the wind to achieve a forward motion. Same with you. Notice when you feel tension. If its too much, back off a little, if its not enough and you’re breezing through life but not thrusting forward, apply a little more tension to your life, and push yourself beyond comfort.
Lastly is the drag. With a kite, the drag is pulling against the wind. It's the same principal as if you were to stick your hand out the window of a moving vehicle. With your hand tilted clockwise, the wind force will push your hand up (due to lift) and back (due to drag). Both lift and drag are unavoidable consequences of kite flying. You cannot have one without the other. The same is true in life. There will be times in life, such as incarceration, in which life feels like a constant drag backwards. But over time you’re able to find the lifts of life that could have only been recognized because of the drag. Take me and this podcast for instance. So, learn to understand that direction changes like the wind, and it is up to you to fight the drag, let it get you and keep you moving backwards, or use it to your advantage.
So, lets just briefly recap. We talked about how there are basically three kinds of jail or prison kites, and we focused on the third one, kite/fishing--getting a note from one inmate to reach another inmate. Next, we discussed the reasons why and how to go about doing it. Then, we broke down the four forces of flight and compared them with kites on the inside and kites on the outside. Lastly, I shared how to reach someone using the dynamics of kite flying. Reason that the facility is counting you, which is to account for all inmates being there in the facility. So kites allow you to be where you’re suppose to be, while reaching out to others.
So, ladies, my question is, who do I want you to reach? Yes, eventually I want you to reach out to others, but as you can tell, the person I most want you to reach, REALLY REACH, IS YOU! The part I didn’t talk about on a kite is the tail. A tail is often added to the back of a kite for further stability. You see, you must first learn to soar, then others will be added to your life for stability. The tail helps the kite line up with the wind. So, like a kite, for now I pledge to run while pulling you, to create an “apparent wind” which will create lift and allow me to push you up. Once you reach a high enough altitude where the wind becomes strong enough, I can stop running and you, the kite, will remain aloft. And my friends, that’s how you REALLY SOAR HIGH AND LONG! That’s exactly what I did, I allowed others to pull me behind them until I could fly alone. Until next time, thanks for joining me here, where we “Face Forward, and Move Forward”
|Posted on March 19, 2019 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
TIME TO CLEAR THE AIR
Well, hellooo, my forward facers! How are ya? So once again, here we are dealing with another recognizable phrase--- Smoke Break! So today I’m going to talk about it. Smoke breaks: what it means when you’re behind bars, how it works, and why they wanted it gone. Then, I’m going to talk about my definition of “Smoke Break”, how I took time to clear the air and think, as well as discuss how you can too. Then we'll finish up by discussing how you should really break... to move forward.
So, let’s break it down! In jail or prison, when you hear the term “smoke break” this technically means that inmates who smoke have been given a chance to take some sort of a break to have a cigarette. For inmates it means a time to step away to either relieve stress, satisfy a nicotine addiction, or perhaps make an illegal transaction without deputies on your back for a moment. Now the funny thing is, most people picture a nice pack of cigarettes, that you tap from the bottom and a nice cigarette will pop up for you to pull out; however, this is not the case when you’re locked up. How it works is an inmate will either pull out some tobacco, pull out some rolling papers, and roll their own cigarettes, topping them off with a nice long lick to have it stay closed. Another alternative is that you’ve already rolled it, and, in this case, you simply pull it out of your pocket and start smoking it. This usually only takes place on the yard, or designated areas of an inmates work duty assignment. It used to be that correctional facilities would allow inmates to legally purchase cigarettes from prison canteens and then smoke in designated areas at prisons. When you’re incarcerated, one of the main things you focus on is having money on your books to buy stuff for yourself or to sell. There are three ways an inmate can get money into their commissary account. The first way an inmate can get money for their commissary account is by working a job within the institution, usually for a menial pay. The second way is if the inmate had some sort of money on them when he/she went to jail or prison, he/she has a trust fund, inheritance, or he/she has a legal settlement. Another alternative is simply having someone send the inmate some money. EZ and is one of several services that allow inmates to receive money while in jail or prison. Now let’s keep in mind, this is just to draw a picture of what it means, and how it worked. Very few institutions, if any, still allow smoking.
So now, let me tell you a little bit about the "why's and how’s" of it being banned. As usual I like to give you a little look into the political realm behind the scenes of inmates through legislation. Why they did it: Smoking is the leading preventable risk factor of mortality in the United States. The threat of smoking is more severe in prisons in comparison to the general population. Prisoners have a higher prevalence or commonness of smoking, which leads to a higher smoking-related mortality rate. Nowadays, smoking bans have been enacted in 49 states’ federal correctional facilities, including 100% smoke-free and tobacco-free indoors and outdoors on all grounds (20 states), 100% smoke-free indoors and outdoors on all grounds (1 state), 100% smoke-free and tobacco-free indoors (16 states), and 100% smoke-free indoors (12 states). After implementation of the smoking ban, a mortality reduction has been achieved. There has been a significant decline in for cancer diagnosis and respiratory diseases. However, some obstacles should not be ignored, such as the high relapse rate of smoking after release, existence of smoking in smoking-free prisons, nicotine dependence and nicotine withdrawal symptoms that followed the bans, potentially high prevalence of mental illnesses among prisoners who also smoke, etc. Given the impact and obstacles of the current smoking bans, the author recommends that: (I) smoking bans should be kept enacting according to the mortality reduction after implementation; (II) more restrictive bans should be considered across the U.S. States, such as smoking-free indoors and outdoors on the ground; (III) further efforts should be made for reducing the high relapse rate of smoking after release; and (IV) other implementations combining with smoking bans should be considered for smoking inmates with mental illnesses.
How they did it: Through rational and evidence basis. It was rationalized that smoking bans are enacted in an attempt to protect people from the effects of second-hand smoke, which include an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, emphysema, and other diseases. Laws implementing bans on indoor smoking have been introduced by many countries in various forms over the years, with some legislators citing scientific evidence that shows tobacco smoking is harmful to the smokers themselves and to those inhaling second-hand smoke. Additional rationales for smoking restrictions include reduced risk of fire in areas with explosive hazards; cleanliness in places where food, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, or precision instruments and machinery are produced and used. The World Health Organization considers smoking bans to have an influence to reduce demand for tobacco by creating an environment where smoking becomes increasingly more difficult and to help shift social norms away from the acceptance of smoking in everyday life. Along with tax measures, cessation measures, and education, smoking bans are viewed by public health experts as an important element in reducing smoking rates and promoting positive health outcomes. When effectively implemented, they are seen as a significant element of policy to support behavior change in favor of a healthy lifestyle.
Now with the details I've just listed, let me say that I do get it. However, from the eyes of an inmate, it’s just one more thing being taken in order to break you, make you either act out and get more time added to your sentence, or to make you suffer in cruel and unusual ways, clearly causing physical pain, just as one may experience when withdrawing from any other drug or form of alcohol. It is very difficult to stop. Especially, when one is expected to be forced to do so by "going cold turkey". Therefore, I’m all about getting to the root of an issue, facing it head on, and moving forward; which leads me to how I took “Smoke Breaks” in jail and prison, and I am not and have never been a smoker of anything. I have never even had one cigarette, or anything else. However, I knew how to clear the air in prison, just as I also know how to clear it on the outside as well. So, inside those prison walls, I understood that I needed to take advantage of any break that was given to me; whether it was for a shift change, a count time, and yes even a smoke break. The difference between my "smoke breaks" and those that others took was that I recognized that it was an opportunity to not SMOKE, but rather clear the SMOKE, and therein my friends lies the key. So yes, when I heard them yell “SMOKE BREAK,” I jumped up with my fellow smokers and headed out with them. The only difference was, they physically headed outside, and I headed outside mentally, meaning outside of my current thoughts. They took time to gather together and share a light. I took time to gather my thoughts and share Gods light. That’s when I realized, it was no different anywhere. If I could do on the inside, and I mean inside prison walls, then I could do it on the inside. But this time I mean inside of myself. In my mind, in my thoughts, and in my heart is where I experienced my "smoke breaks". That’s the great news! This is the reason why I’m here, which is the reason why I love doing this podcast. I want you to know, it’s not about the smoking or any other habit for that matter, it’s about whether you can clear the air despite where you are and no matter where the smoke is coming from.
So, when I say, “SMOKE BREAK,” I mean it’s time to clear the air and clear the smoke from your life. So, while incarcerated I learned to recognize when it was getting smoky real fast. I learned how to maneuver through the smoke and help those around me in the process. I knew to leave the cell before the smoke started, meaning a fight was about to erupt. SMOKE BREAK, I knew when to stay in the middle of places and just fan the smoke, like while on my work program and when I couldn’t leave, so I just chose to be a peace maker. I listened to others and helped to become a solution rather than an instigator who would agree with one side or the other. I would state the literal consequences per the title 15, which I had read in full or I would simply pray for or with them. I also understood what happens when the smoke clears. There was usually a lot of ashes and butts left behind, meaning someone usually felt like they were just flicked away from someone’s life, or they felt used all the way down until there was nothing left. So, I knew how and when to sweep up after someone and explain what perhaps the other person really meant or was trying to say during an altercation. I had also observed that there were times to leave people just lying there and allow them to come around; sometimes even another person at another time would come around and pick them up. SMOKE BREAK.
The other thing I learned was how vital the smoke breaks were for me, when to take them, how frequently, and how to best utilize the time I had. I observed how most other inmates were not really morning people, so on weekends, I would get up extra early and go off to breakfast while most usually slept in. Doing so gave me quiet time while walking to breakfast to gaze around the yard at the flowers. SMOKE BREAK. I noticed the deputies and program staff squeezing in time to eat their lunch, so I began to offer assistance with getting meals or helping out with other allowed tasks. I knew to offer them help when other staff wasn’t present as it seemed they were more likely to accept the help. SMOKE BREAK. I also learned proper time utilization. Just as a person who smokes seems to know how much of the cigarette to save for next time, I knew how fast to eat my meal in order to have more time on the walk, who to talk to and when because some individuals would talk a lot longer than others and use up all my break, had I allowed them to. When I would assist with retrieving staff or inmate meals, I had established rapport with kitchen workers which encouraged them to have my meals ready in exchange for fixing their electronics devices, then this would give me even more time on my walk back. I observed when my cellmates were usually out in the dayroom, and I utilized this time to be alone in the cell. SMOKE BREAK! I also knew a lot and learned a lot more about sports so I could sit in front of the tv and watch sports. I would do a lot of sports talk, and when women couldn’t keep up with the games, they would just leave. This would allow me to have my "alone time" with the TV on Sundays. SMOKE BREAK! So just by learning to take advantage of smoke breaks, I turned a 5-year sentence into what most inmates would call, easy time. But then again that’s another podcast... “How to do TIME”
So, as you can probably see by now, all these breaks transcend outside and after incarceration. So just as one may have taken a smoke break behind bars, one can also do it on the outside. Here’s how I did it when I got out, here’s how I still do it today and here’s how I want you to do it. Don’t wait months and years to realize that you need to clear the air. Make this a part of your life. Always take time for yourself even if you have family and loved ones who demand a lot of you, intentionally or not. Learn to take one day a month as a "Me Day". I have it on my calendar, and I tell my loved ones in advance that I will not be available at all this day. I cleared my mind of any worry and made a bold statement to myself that if anything happens to anyone, it was going to happen regardless and today someone else is capable and will figure out how to handles it. On this day, I turn my phone off, I will have already saved money for that day to do something nice for myself, such as a massage or treating myself to my favorite meal. Sometimes, I may go see a good movie I’ve been wanting to see or read a good book with a cup of coffee at the bookstore in this day but whatever I choose to do that day, I do it by myself, and I only do what I enjoy. I do it guilt free. Another way I enjoy a "smoke break" is by volunteering. You would be surprised at how much clarity one can get regarding big decisions by simply taking his/her mind and time off one's self and helping someone else in need. Even though there are a variety of ways I could list to help you clear the smoke, the last one I will tell you to do for now is to take a vacation. This is a very big world God has given us to abide in. I know that it’s easy, especially for prisoners to make your world feel really small; especially, during or after incarceration. I made a deliberate effort to vacation and travel. Regardless of what you think or may have been told, I am living proof that there is a whole lot of places to go and people to see without a lot of money. In fact, I did, and do most of it on very little money at all. It just takes planning and google to find free and low-cost adventures. And trust me, me and my family have had some adventures.
As I stated before, these are just a few of the ways you can do it. There are many others. Just keep assessing your surroundings and making changes in your life without extremely long periods in between. When it’s time to clear the air and apologize or even just try and understand someone else’s point of view, just do it, and do it as often as you can.
So, I’m saying to you today, “Smoke Break- Time to clear the air” How: Understand when the break is about you, and when it’s about others. What I want you to know: When to wait for smoke to clear, when to just fan the smoke out of your life, and when to pick up the butts and ashes of your life, decide to throw them away, and yep, you guessed it: “Face Forward, and Move Forward”. Until next time... my forward facers.
|Posted on August 3, 2018 at 5:25 PM||comments (1)|
HURRY UP AND EAT
Well, hellooo, my forward facers! How are ya? So once again, here we are dealing with another recognizable phrase--- Chow Time! This is what I’m going to talk about today. Chow time-- what it means behind bars and where the phrase comes from. Secondly, how it works. Next, how fast you’re expected to eat and why. After that, I’m going to talk about my definition of “Chow Time”, how I ate, and you can too. Lastly, we’ll discuss why and what you should really hurry up and eat to move forward.
So, let’s chow down! In jail or prison, when you’re called to “chow time” this means it is time to eat. When you’re incarcerated, one of the main things you focus on is eating. Food in jail is pretty bad. It is usually a sandwich and maybe a piece of fruit or a cookie. The sandwiches are made up of what prisoner’s call “mystery meat”. It is made up of 2 pieces of bread and a mustard packet. Initially, chow was usually referred to as food given to barn yard animals, so this is why it was adopted as a term for jail or prison food because it is like slop. In prison, the food is a little better because of the monitoring of government dollars, and the longer-term inmates are there. I’m not going to talk too much about the particular foods, nutritional part of chow time, or lack there-of. I mainly want to talk about the “hurry up” aspect that is placed on eating on the inside.
Now, let me tell you a little bit about how the whole food thing works. In Georgia, there is the Dept. of Corrections Food and Farm services whose job is to supply the GDC with nutritional meals for offenders at the lowest possible cost to the state’s taxpayers. They have been affiliated with Georgia Correctional Industries since January 2009 and are responsible for feeding 44,000 inmates daily. They produce 41% of the Department’s annual food requirement. They also utilize approximately 14,100 acres of land and approximately 5,000 offenders for labor to produce that 41% of the Department’s annual food requirements. In an era of tight government budgets and little sympathy for the incarcerated, three square meals per day in jail are also giving way to aggressive cost-cutting through outsourcing of food services. In Georgia dozens of jails have moved the responsibility from the hands of government to private companies when it comes to their food service; even small counties save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Some have even cut their costs in half. Institutions pay approx. $1 - $3 per inmate per meal to companies such as Trinity and Aramark. Two meals a day are the minimum requirements by state law, but most serve 3. Any other food, such as snacks, come from the jail commissary or care packages, but that’s only for prisoners who follow the rules or who have money in personal accounts managed by the jail or prison.
With regards to how it works in the life of an inmate, the process is very systematic from our perception. “Chow time” is called, the doors are popped, and if you snooze-you lose. You line up single file, you go to chow hall, you get your food, you sit where you are directed to, or if you’re taking your food to-go, then, you keep it moving out the door. If you’re eating in the chow hall, you better learn to “hurry up and eat”. Now, lets discuss why you’re expected to eat so fast. The reason I laid that initial ground work was to simplify this part and make it much easier to understand. There are two things that are going on with why you’re expected to eat so fast. One of the explanations for this is that there are personal issues involving deputies; It allows some of them to show authority over the inmates by rushing you and really showing you who’s in control. It also cuts down on socialization time and any aspect that may make you feel a part of a community, group, or in unity; as they may perceive that as a threat to their safety. They may also want to “hurry up” and return to whatever they were doing, or it may even simply be that it is close to time for them to clock out and they have other things to finish up prior to that. Now to you, it’s all part of this “hurry up system of incarceration”. As you know, there’s nothing nutritional or healthy, or even sensible about rushing someone eat a full meal in 7 -10 minutes. The second explanation is what I previously talked about, which is the technical side of how it works. Simply put, cost cutting equals smaller meals, smaller meals equal less time needed to eat, less time needed to eat equals the faster government can get inmates out a controlled environment they have to create requiring more staff and provisions that may cost them more money. SO, HURRY UP AND EAT, INMATE! Unfortunately, either explanation involves you being rushed and expected to eat fast. However, there is good news, which is the reason why I’m here. This is the reason why I love doing this podcast. I want to reassure and encourage you that you don’t have to look back at it all, you don’t have to continue with those enforced bad habits, but you can learn new ones.
When I say “chow time”, it means it is time to learn. Chow time technically means to eat food, immediately and when it is first available. To learn means to gain or acquire the knowledge of a skill in (something) by study, experience, practice, or being taught. All the while I was incarcerated, even from day one, I made it my business to learn. When you first go to jail, they tell you all about what is happening, what you have the right to do, what not to do, and how things are going to go. I learned exactly what to do by listening carefully and asking questions every chance I got. I asked other inmates, I asked staff, and I asked my family to look things up and make phone calls. If I was given a piece of paper, whether it was from an attorney, counselor, chaplain, an inmate, staff member, or volunteer, I read it. I learned what information on the piece of paper was referring to or what it was asking of me. I learned by observing what was going on around me, from the behaviors of others and what treatment they received in return as a result of those behaviors. I always listened to the many sounds, instructions coming from a loud speaker, words between inmates, conversations between guards and inmates, and even logs shared from guard to guard during shift changes. I read any reading materials that were made available, especially the Bible. When I went to prison, everyone was being handed these really big books. I noticed most of the women were using them as pillows while waiting in holding cells. I looked at the cover and it said something in the form of CDCR Policy and Procedures Handbook. There were hundreds of pages, I read every page. During my prison stay, next to my Bible, reading that book proved to be one of the most nutritious things I partook of, as it proved to be exactly what I used to get out prison 2 years early on a 5-year sentence. As a result, I was able to spend the remainder of that time in a program with my son, but that’s a whole other podcast for a later date. I continued to eat the whole time there, through programming, the library, vocations offered, church services, yard time, and anything else that was available to me. I learned so much so fast, and I didn’t stop and spend a lot of time concerning myself with things I couldn’t change; for instance, questioning how I got there or what everyone else’s program or problems were. If I was asked for prayer, teaching, guidance, or help (which was a lot of the time) I gave it freely. My whole time behind bars and in the CPMP (community prisoner mother program,) I chowed down, baby. So, if you’re about to be locked up, or currently locked up, that’s how I want you to eat.
When I got out, I continued to eat well and eat fast. I learned all about what was expected of me and my parole. I didn’t wait for them to give me their version of how things were going to go. I started asking for immediately what I had read was available to me as a resource. I didn’t wait for them to pop up on me; rather, I called and asked them frequently to come on over and help me out with getting back into society. Needless to say, I hardly ever got a visit. I was taken off parole a lot sooner than I was supposed to. After a couple of appeals, I did an interstate transfer and moved back home to GA from CA to care for my dad. I went to the Dept. of Labor and got bonding for felons and a very good paying job as a reservation agent with a major Hotel chain, which allowed me and my family to stay in 5-star hotels all over the world for little to nothing. I had taken parenting classes that had taught me how to spend time with my kids, and I built personal relationships with my family 100 times stronger than before. I hung out in the library and book-stores; and enhanced my technical skills to a very high level following my vocational training from in prison. These are just some of the ways I did it, and you can do it too. Some people think I’m cheap, frugal, or hustling but I’m actually what some would call a “minimalist”. I actually use the least possible of anything to get the most out of it or exactly what I need. I don’t have a lot of things in my life that I don’t love or enjoy or use often. I don’t spend a bunch of money for things I need; especially learning. To be more specific, here’s a few ways you can chow down:
• Utilize the internet and google as a starting point for most things
• Don’t underestimate your public library and its resources still available to you
• Hang out in bookstores. They have coffee and very comfortable chairs, as well as very helpful staff members.
• Don’t be afraid of government, even though they are the ones who housed you; they have a lot of resources for you to utilize. Go straight into any Dept. of Labor, Welfare, any Legal Aid, any city, county, state or Federal office, and ask for whatever help you need; especially career centers and rehab centers
• Join Facebook groups and meetups online
• Utilize churches and community agencies to become a part of the community and learn from them
• And of course, visit my website, listen to my podcasts and so many others that are truly waiting to help you
These are just a few of the ways you can do it. There are many many others. Just keep looking, keep learning, and keep growing. Lastly, the reason I want you eat fast, is nothing like the reasons jails and prisons want you to. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you; 76% of all inmates end up back in jail within 5 years. American correctional facilities are known for high recidivism rates. The Marshall Project conducted a three-month survey of state corrections departments, finding more than 61,250 technical parole violators in 42 state prison systems as of early 2017. These are the inmates who are currently locked up for breaking a rule of parole, rather than parolees who have been convicted of a new crime. This number does not include those in county and local jails where thousands more are likely held. Time is not on your side. This comes down to how you approach incarceration. The system needs to treat prisoners as individuals who need counseling, resources, and preparation for the outside world — not as bad people who deserve punishment. The inmates need to stop following the crowd or the norm and take more advantage of what you do have at your disposal. If more jails and prisons ran like they should, and if I and others keep doing what we are called to do, continuing to share and teach and learn from each other, I believe we could bring these numbers down. I beat the odds. If it happened for me, it could happen for you.
So, I’m saying to you today, “Chow Time, Hurry up and eat” How: Chow down – eat fast. What I want you to eat: Knowledge. The way: To eat up informally means to like something so much that you want to hear or see more. So, Eat Up my friends, EAT UP! And Until next time, thanks for joining me here. where we “Face Forward, and Move Forward”
|Posted on April 20, 2018 at 9:25 PM||comments (0)|
COUNT TIME COUNT TIME
STAND UP AND BE COUNTED
Well hello my forward facers. I’m suuuuper excited! So welcome to my official very first podcast. Originally, I was going to have this one be where I tell you about me and my business, but then I figured that there would be no need since all that’s on my website. I would much rather just jump right in and give some real-life solutions to some real-life issues. So, here’s what we’re going to talk about. In jail or prison, the term count time is meant for several reasons. One for the facility to count and keep track of all the inmates and make sure no one is missing. Two, the Census Bureau counts prisoners as residing at their place of incarceration to determine the relative populations of the states for congressional reappointment. Three, for local legislative reappointment, and determining funding for federal grants that are based on population or demographics. And lastly the reason we all know--to degrade, harass, and make inmates irritated and uncomfortable. I’m going to tell you how to, from this day forward, stand up, and REALLY be counted.
So, lets jump in. So, during in an official count every prisoner is required to return to their cell or bunk area, stand, and be counted. These counts happen 3 -4 times a day and at various inconvenient times. However, after a while you can get use to it, and you try to just work it into your schedule. Sometimes there are emergency counts that are unplanned.
Next, I mentioned the counts pertaining to the Census. These counts are not stand-up counts, and usually require each prisoner in their housing unit to be noted as in the housing unit and requires you, the inmate, to briefly go to your bunk or cell area and wait for the CO to mark you as being present. The point of the census count is to ensure prisoners who have jobs or are supposed to be in school are where they should be. If the census count is requiring an account of all prisoners, those not in school or job assignments will be locked in their cell while all prisoners are counted. This is known as a “lockdown” but that’s a whole other episode that we’ll get to later.
I also mentioned legislative purposes. Briefly this means, by law legislative districts and voting districts must be of equal size. Where the conflict comes in is whether prisoners should be counted, especially if the facility houses lifers or those sentenced to death; thereby, never having an opportunity to vote. These counts are done on paper after the official counts have been tallied to provide detailed counts of prison populations to help states and localities decide on their own whether to exclude inmates in drawing up boundaries of legislative and other voting districts.
I know, pretty interesting huh? To think all this is going on behind the scenes when all you really see is the last reason that I talked about, which is the reason that’s unfortunately the reality of a day in the life of an inmate. Sometimes guards have a lot going on in their personal relationships, such as being powerless or some form of abuser, their partner may be a narcissist, or wields power over them, attempts to exert influence in indirect or passive-aggressive ways, such as withholding. Sometimes guards have financial issues. The average yearly salary for a correctional officer in the state of GA is only $21,000 to $28,000 a year. The physical requirements are something you probably never really considered because of the intimidating body language they walk around with. Did you know they must do 8 push-ups, and 16 sit-ups in a minute, and a 13-minute mile, and they must have good hearing and good vision. No one considers the intellectual stress, as they usually must have obtained an associates degree within 5 years and a bachelor’s degree within 10 years. The only real guidance they have are the pastoral counseling provided to them if asked for by chaplains. So once you really take a look at everything, its really easy to see why some of the guards could easily come to a job where they have what they perceive as superiority over others; they control the movements and freedoms of others; and perhaps it’s a place where they can feel in control, physically strong, at a financial advantage, and at an educational advantage over the you, the inmate. So, the next time you feel yourself getting angry or irritated at the thought of count time, whether you’re incarcerated now, or thinking back, I want you to just consider its probably not about you at all, as much as it is probably about them. I don’t want to miss the group of officers that just come and do this part of their job, simply as, this is part of the job. They do their count and move on.
So now I want to tell you how to put all this behind you and “REALLY” stand up and be counted. And it starts with not worrying about how others count you and start concerning yourself with how you count you. And you have to count yourself as number one. When I first got out of prison I was worried about counting as a mom, would my kids ever see me the same? Would I ever really count as a woman in society or would I just be an ex- felon in their eyes? I was counting the few dollars I had and how was I going to make it on that. My dad was aging fast and dealing with severe health issues and I was counting the days to get back to care for him and my family. And the counting goes on and on and on. Trust me, I know. Then all of the sudden, it hit me! I remembered the greatest commandment. “Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I knew how to love God with all, but guess what? It was that second half-- love myself! Did I really know how to do that? No, not if I was counting all these other things first. So, I started putting myself first. So, if you truly want to stand up and be counted. You stand up and put yourself first. The way you do this is to stop and look at where in your life someone or something is being counted before you and write it down. You need to really take the time to make a list. Write it down! If you have the least amount of time in your schedule, then you’re not first. If it is work first, then write that. If it’s your partner who comes first, then write that, and if it’s the kids schedule, or the television, or Facebook, or sleeping, or whatever it is-- write it down, then look at it. Then one week or one month or whatever time it takes, make the change. Write down what the change could be, and how you can change it.
My Day What I could change How I can change it How It counts me first
12 hrs. to, during, and from work less hours dedicated to work Get a closer job eliminating the drive I’m less stressed. Get stronger emotionally
5 hrs. of sleep get a least 7-8 hours of sleep Turn off the TV and go to bed earlier I’m well rested. I become healthier
3 hrs. of tv watch less tv, maybe read limit tv to two hours I gain knowledge from reading something beneficial
2 hr. with family spend more time with my loved ones used that time I saved from less tv I grow in my relationships and have more happiness
2 hrs. getting ready for work and bed spend less time getting ready for work Lay out my clothes the night before I become more organized and peaceful
So, lets just briefly recap. We talked about the reason the facility is counting you, which is to account for all inmates being there in the facility. The reason for the count is also for census numbers to capture the numbers of individuals in programs and school, so that they can continue to receive funding, for legislation to capture the number of people in a community for voting and political purpose, and unfortunately for some individuals to feel better about themselves at your expense; and of course for some CO’s its just part of the job.
So, ladies, my question is, Who Counts? Yes, you have to do the work. Don’t just think about it, don’t just write it down, but do it. No matter how long it takes. Make the changes little by little. I promise, if you stand up and count yourself first. YOU WILL STAND UP AND BE COUNTED! That’s exactly what I did. Until next time, thanks for joining me here. where we “Face Forward, and Move Forward”