Life In Prison

Off The Grid FBI

FBI Digging Through Our Trash

I was sitting in the day room yesterday when an officer came up to me and asked why I was here. I said, “I’m Just working on a lesson plan.” He said, “No, I mean why are you in prison?” I said, “Oh, I just needed some down time and decided to take a break.  I needed to get off the grid for a while. I couldn’t get the FBI to quit digging through my trash so I thought it might be a good idea to hang out here and let the dust settle.”

He laughed and said, “I suppose you are on a first name basis with the FBI?” I smiled and told him, “As a matter of fact I am. It isn’t something I recommend though.” Then he said, “How long are you going to be here? ” I told him, “I will be here until my Father in Heaven decides it’s time for me to go home and I have a lot to get done before I go so I try to use my time wisely.” he said, “That’s a good attitude to have.” (btw The FBI did dig through our trash on more than one occasion)

Daily Challenges

There are challenges in prison that may seem small, but would drive the average person crazy dealing with them every day. For example, having three women in a very small space at the same time can be challenging. Of course there is no privacy, which in and of itself is very degrading!  The logistical issues have to be worked out. Both of my roommates get up early in the morning, so we have a wake up schedule to make our situation work for us.

I like to get up by 5:00 am, but that doesn’t work in our room because my Bunkie gets up at 5:00 and there isn’t enough room in the cell for two of us to stand up and get dressed at the same time. This is how we worked it out, Angel gets up at 5:00 and gets dressed and out of the room by 5:10am. I get up and grab my stuff and head to the shower at 5:12. Kera gets up at 5:15 and out of the room by 5:30 that way I can come back from the shower at 5:30 and get dressed and head to the chow hall for breakfast. It works for us, but we all go to bed early and none of us have girlfriend issues.

Thank goodness!

I work hard to be objective in prison, it would be easy to focus on certain injustices. For example, the sentences in Federal prison are so excessive and I have to catch myself to keep from getting bitter.  I’ve written previously about my friend Pam that was sentenced 10 years for her limited involvement with a bank robbery.

At the age of 25 and with no criminal history a judge made the decision to take ten years of Pam’s life even though it was highly unlikely that she would reoffend. There are so many cases involving violent criminals and even murderers that receive less time in prison than Pam got. Putting someone like her in prison for ten years would ruin a weaker person! But she is amazing and she’s rising above her situation.

Surely the judge that sentenced Pam should have recognized what 10 years in prison could do to a young girl? I think I got seven years because I wanted to go to trial and made everyone mad. I wasn’t licensed and could have helped the government if they really wanted to get to the bottom of mortgage fraud problems. The government was not only uninterested in prosecuting any of the licensed bankers involved, they went to Judge Shelby while I was locked up for a mental evaluation and asked him to exclude any evidence in my trial that bankers were aware of exactly what was going on.  And there was evidence that lenders knew every step of the process but if those details were revealed it couldn’t be proved that here was fraud involved. I guess my prosecution was not about getting to the truth only to find a way to put me in jail?

Fear Losing The Good

I told one of my former lawyers, Liz that I was scared that if I went to prison I would lose the good inside of me. I said, “Liz, I fear the environment in prison will ruin me.” She told me that she recognized that does happen sometimes and it’s a big problem with incarceration.

She said, “Portia, I represented a young kid once that I knew would be ruined by incarceration. He was a good kid that got caught up in some trouble but needed a second chance. Fortunately, I was able to reason with the prosecutor and they were willing to consider what was best for society and this young man instead of what made them look good as prosecutors.”  She said, “Sadly, your prosecutors have a serious grudge against you and I can’t reason with them.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the Judges and prosecutors were righteous and used the power we gave them to make this country a better place? Liz even went so far as to say it would be a better system if all the lawyers and judges involved in the criminal justice system spent a month in jail to understand the consequences of their actions. Not a bad idea?

The other side of incarceration is that it literally saves lives. Especially if the person being incarcerated has a serious drug addiction. Some of the women here are safe for the first time in their lives!

A teacher I really like told me once that there are times she worries about some of the women going home. She said, “I know we are sending them back to a really tough environment and I think many of them have felt happiness in here for the first time.” It’s true that there are times a longer sentence is warranted. I just think the people making those decisions should be our most trusted civil servants.

Email From Shelby

I got an email from my daughter Shelby yesterday that made me cry and I wanted to share it. I am truly a blessed woman to have so many amazing people on my side!

Hey Mom,
I was just reading my scriptures tonight and wanted to share this with you. I love you and hope you have a good week.
Isaiah 41:10-13

  • 10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yes, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
  • 11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
  • 12 Thou shalt seek them, and shall not find them, even them that contend with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of naught. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

I loved this scripture and take great comfort in the knowledge that our all powerful God loves his children and has a plan for me:)

Ignored Truth


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