Posts Tagged ‘Frog Gravy’

I found this in my notes this morning. This is a letter that I wrote to Governor Beshear in March, 2008, regarding McCracken County Jail conditions. I sent copies to various agencies in Frankfort and Washington DC.

Note what I say about the pregnancy-disaster-in-jail baby’s early brain scan. I initially reported that the baby suffered no detectable oxygen deprivation following his traumatic birth. The subsequent scan, however, revealed some sort of potential deficit (ischemia or otherwise) according to the mother’s report.

At some point after this letter, I did receive an antidepressant in the jail.

I was removed from McCracken County Jail for my letters.

This may fix the prevailing fantasy that warehoused nonviolent inmates spend 23 hours a day in the cement cell. It is 24/7 for months on end.

March 22,2008

To: Governor Steve Beshear
700 Capitol Avenue
Frankfort, KY 40601

Dear Governor Beshear:

On 3-19-2008, I was sentenced to eight years in prison for DUI, possession of 0.144 grams of crack cocaine and tampering with evidence. I had no drugs or alcohol in my blood, nothing illegal on me or in my car, and exhibited no bad driving. Yet, I was convicted of all three. Inmates have subsequently told me never to take anything to trial in McCracken County, because everyone is convicted, but I did not know this, because I am not from here.

-snip-

1. Since January 23, 2008, we have been outside our cell for recreation exactly one time. We have been to the filthy gym for recreation, exactly twice. We wait up most of the nights, hoping to get outside the cell for rec, at night. The only two times we went to the indoor gym were between 1:30 and 2:30 AM. In the night, guards go up and down the hall, banging on the hallway windows and doors yelling, “Rec, rec!”
Each night, they do this. We say we want real recreation, not recreation in a tiny chapel. The guards mark this in a book as a “refusal.” They submit the book to Frankfort, so it looks like the inmates all refuse rec every day. We get maybe one hour of rec per month if we are lucky.

2. The jails such as this one are overcrowded defacto prisons. I may be here until I meet the parole board in 19 months, because I am a nonviolent State inmate.

3. The only reading material allowed is certain types of religious materials. My family sent letters and literature that were returned because they were Catholic in nature. Only after my sister called the jail chaplain and said, “Are you all anti-Catholic? Because if you are, I am calling the Governor,” did I receive a Catholic bible that the guards make fun of.

4. No educational materials are allowed.

5. No AA or NA meetings are allowed.

6. There is no dental care.

7. I was not allowed to continue my anti-depressant medication, even though the conditions are extremely depressing.

8. A social worker tells the NPs what psych meds to prescribe. She is not licensed to prescribe anything, yet they defer to her on dosage and type.

9. The lights are on from 5 AM to 11 PM.

10. First, they said that family could send in paperbacks, news magazines, and newspapers. Then, they refused to give these items to us.

11. First, they said that family could send in self-addressed, stamped envelopes. Then, they refused to give these items to us. Then, they threatened to reseal the empty envelopes, and mail them back to family, instead of placing them in property.

12. The woman next door, six months pregnant, started bleeding. The guards ignored her. All three back cells pounded and shouted. They told us to shut-up and get to bed. They did nothing for more than one hour, then walked the pregnant woman, cuffed, out of the jail. Her placenta was 75% abrupt, she nearly lost her uterus. The baby was breached; his foot was through her cervix, she required an emergency C-section, and the baby was flown out of state. His brain scan does show potential future deficits.

13. The same woman has an incision that is infected now. The jail won’t giver her gauze. They make her use maxi-pads. But, she is on pad watch now. She is allowed three pads per day, including the pus pad.

14. They would not allow us to attend church service on Thursday night, saying that it was 12-step. When we said we were here on drug offenses, they would not let us go to the service.

15. The cells are always cold.

16. In addition to maxi-pad rationing, they now ration toilet paper. Several times, we have had to use our washcloths, or the shower, after toileting, because we have no toilet paper.

17. We get watered down disinfectant to clean the cell.

18. In the morning we get exactly two individual paper towel squares, to clean the entire cell.

19. They have put new restrictions on clergy visits.

20. No textbooks, educational classes, crosswords, number puzzles, logic puzzles, arts or crafts are allowed.

21. In the hole, medical watch, suicide watch, there is no way to wash hands, shower, or brush teeth.

22. The only time we received materials to clean the filthy cell walls and vents was because “the state” is “coming to inspect.”

-snip-

Author’s note: When I mention requests for real recreation, I am referring to requests for recreation in an outdoor cage. When the guards banged on the doors at night to offer rec, their offer was for rec in a tiny chapel that was the size of a medium-sized cell.

There was also an indoor gym in the jail, but this was rarely offered.

Between January and March, we went to the outdoor cage one time, the indoor gym two times, and the tiny chapel several times, although we frequently declined to visit the chapel for rec, because it was little larger than another cell, and it was indoors.

The rest of the letter concerns Judge Craig Clymer’s behavior and actions during sentencing, trial, and on various documents. I will cover this in separate blogs.

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card from prison commissary

Christmas card from prison commissary that I sent to my family for Christmas, 2008.

Blue Jay, Prison art

Partially completed Blue Jay, prison art. I was not able to complete this drawing, because of the poor quality of the made-in-Indonesia colored pencils from prison commissary. The pencils broke, and the colors were not what they were labeled to be.It would not have mattered anyway; the prison stamped the drawing as you can see, to indicate that this was “Inmate mail.”

Prison art

Prison art. This is a poor quality picture- I am sorry. Our parrot, Nikko, did not want his picture taken, and so he knocked the camera out of my hand and broke the lens. I will have to teach myself to use the cell phone from now on.

KCIW PeWee Valley, Christmas, 2008

While families across the country gather to exchange gifts, attend services, and enjoy the lights, food and decorations, we are gathered and silent, in the day room of Ridgeview Dormitory, waiting for our names to be called so that we can receive our Christmas gifts.

The gift is a Christmas card, handed to us each personally by the Ridgeview House Mother, Mary. Everyone receives the same card. For many, this is the only Christmas gift they will receive. We are thankful for this card.

Some women who trick write, will receive financial gifts from sugar daddies.

Christmas in prison is Christmas ruined because the pain of family separation is magnified. Women miss their grandchildren’s first Christmas, or their parent’s last Christmas, as was the case with my friend Sarah, whose father committed suicide two days after Christmas.

We miss our families. But what do we miss, exactly? We miss the innocence and awe of our childhood Christmases, I think. We chase and chase this rose-colored glasses version of happier times, until we stop. Because it will never be that way again.

Many choose to continue the fantasy of family reunion. Of childhood excitement. Of joy. Of sleds and snow and kitchen baking smells, and opening presents early on Christmas Eve. We chase and chase the fantasy until we are too tired to chase it anymore and me must accept that we are unwanted. We must accept that it is possible for family love to stop. Even if we cannot understand, we must accept it.

Others widen the chasm from the outset and extend the geography and psychological valleys of separation because not to do so is too painful. These are the realistic women, I think. They are able to accept the end of love and move on to something else.

How does one accept the unacceptable?

‘You cannot live in here and out there at the same time,’ I am told; ‘Do the time and do not let the time do you.’ The women who tell me these things are wise women, I think. They are wise because they have let go of something I cannot turn loose of: regret.

When I was a child I loved snow globes. I broke one once, but I refused to believe that it was broken. I squeezed my eyes shut tight and prayed for it to magically come back. Each time I opened my eyes, the plastic globe remained broken on the floor, the liquid spreading. That is what Christmas is like in prison. No matter what you do, no matter how much you pray, no matter what you do not do, your life is still in shards.

One time in my adult life I was within a mile of my childhood home. I kept on driving. Because to stop would have broken the fantasy that you can go home again and things will be the same.

When my name is called, I thank Mary for the card.

But I cannot stop longing for my snow globe.