The Body Alarm Experience
I talked to a teacher today who said,
“Nothing exciting ever happens at Dublin. It’s not like anyone ever tries to escape. All we have to do is draw a yellow line on the ground, and the women won’t cross it.”
It’s true, the women do what they are told, even if they don’t know why they are doing it:).
A little later this afternoon I was asked to take a picture of a few staff members in the education department. It was after the yard was closed and we were the only people left on the compound. While I was setting up the photograph, one of the teachers accidentally activated her alarm.
The way the prison deals with the problem of having about 1,000 inmates and around 50 staff members at any given time is by having each of the staff members carry a body alarm. When a staff member activates their body alarm, all the other staff members come to the rescue. All of the sudden about 50 staff members came running across the compound at full speed. There I stood, the lone inmate armed with a digital camera and a smile. One of the teachers said, “Don’t move Louder, you might get tackled.”
It was certainly something exciting for me to experience:) I stood there stationary with a camera in my hands, not exactly armed and dangerous:)
A while back a previous roommate, Antone, told me that she heard someone had died in another unit and she was really worried about it. She said, “Portia, can you please find out what’s going on? You seem to know everyone and I’m really scared.”
I hadn’t heard anything so I told her it was probably just a rumor from inmate.com. Finally one day she told me she was losing sleep over it and I said, “Antone, if you really think about it we have about 1,000 inmates here at any one time, and there are always new one’s cycling in and out. Who knows how many we have walking these halls each month?” I told her,” We are really lucky to be here. I’ve decided it’s much safer here than in the free world. You can’t get hit by a car or a bus here, for the most part people don’t have weapons, and you can’t use drugs (mostly).
We are much safer here per capita than outside, If someone did die here we are still way below the national average, so be at peace good friend.” She told me she felt much better after our little talk:)
Mowing Lawns 3am – $1 hr … Good Money
I went to a meeting tonight where a women shared that she grew up in a neighborhood where people mowed their lawns at 3:00 am. Meaning, everyone did drugs and couldn’t sleep.
She said, ” One of my neighbors got so sick of the cops raiding his house that he moved outside on the front lawn. He moved his bed, his TV, and everything!” She told us that his reasoning was, that he wanted to know when the law was coming. He wanted them to know exactly where he was so they wouldn’t come knocking the door down and tearing the house apart.
I thought it was funny to think that way but everybody nodded as if it made perfect sense. Then she added that on the outside I was just a drug addict who finally lost my car. I was a functional addict who went to work and everything but when I lost my car I started riding a bike to work so I wouldn’t lose my job.
Then one day she got the bright idea that if she did just one run to Mexico to pick up drugs for the dealer she could buy a new car. She told us that one mistake landed me in here for 10 years. Now I work at Unicor making a dollar an hour (Which BTW is really good money for prison).
She told us that she had done the math and I can save exactly the same amount of money that I would have made on that drug run in the 7 years that I will be here. I won’t give up, I’m going to leave here and buy me that car. I guess there’s a lesson here, short cuts never work. She did acknowledge that prison probably saved her life, but a 10 year sentence is a little stiff for your first charge:)
Yesterday “B” and I were eating lunch and she said, “You know Portia, this is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. My whole life I have worked my butt off. I have 8 kids and run a pretty tight ship at home. This is not punishment for me it’s punishment for my family.” “B”s sweet husband is working full time and caring for their brood of kids including their six month old baby back in Georgia.
“B” said, “I could have learned my lesson without the judge punishing my children.” She actually went to her former boss and confessed that she had been using his credit card for personal use because she felt so bad about it and wanted to make it right. I’m not sure our current system allows for people who make mistakes and try to make it right?
Moment of Majestic America
This morning as I walked around our dirt track I was listening to, “God Bless America,” by Celine Dion. It made me think, “I love this country! It is beautiful!”
The sun was coming up and the colors were simply amazing! The razor wire disappeared and the moment was majestic. We can’t forget what makes this country great! It is our God that blessed America, it is His power that sustains us and as we seek after righteousness, we are a blessed people!
I think the most tragic thing I have seen in prison is the destruction of the family. Many of the women here come from homes where parents were terrible drug addicts. In many cases so were the grandparents. We need to make a change.
In my opinion we need to fight as a people, to restore and protect the family. I love many of these women and I think treatment and support would go a long way. They need hope, and kindness!
We are America, we are the best of the best!
We need to strengthen our own and be careful not to bully others. I am grateful today to call myself an American. I am grateful to see the beauty in others who are less fortunate. Real strength comes when we are treating others right, especially when we are in a position of power.
I am so grateful for the support I get from you who read my blog. It keeps me in a good place to have somewhere to go to share my feelings and experiences. I guess in a way it keeps me accountable to all of you. There is strength in numbers, thank you for sharing my story and thank you for blessing our lives.
We love you.