Well I’m in Waseca, MN now. So much has happened in the last month and it’s hard to know where to begin. Shortly after my family came to visit me in Dublin for Mothers Day I was called to the Lieutenant’s office and told that I was going to be shipped to another prison and that they were putting me in the SHU until I was shipped. I had been interviewed several times by different investigators about my blog and told that if the BOP could legally stop me from writing they would. One of the investigators told me, “We can’t stop you from writing but we could put you in the hole (meaning the SHU) and that would slow you down.” I told the Lieutenant that was walking me to the SHU that I was scared that I might melt down in there. He told me that he would get me off the compound as quickly as he could but things rarely happen quickly in the BOP. When I walked into the small isolation room I panicked. It looked like a dog kennel with dirty cement floors, yellow brick walls, and a yellow fluorescent light running 24 hours a day. My first night in the SHU was tough. A girl in the room next to me screamed and banged on the door the entire night and I got a migraine headache and thought I wasn’t going to make it through another day.
I was given a Book of Mormon and a Bible to read and over the next few weeks I read through the New Testament and read the Book of Mormon 3 times. When the noise was too much for me I would read the Book of Mormon out loud. Being in the SHU was a good opportunity for me to focus on the things I could control. I was able to stay in a place of peace by letting go of everything and trusting my Heavenly Father. Then one day an officer came and cuffed me and told me that I was being transported. Being transported in prison is miserable! I was handcuffed, shackled, and chained to another female. It was the same female that I had spent two weeks listening to scream and bang on the door in the SHU. She was there for fighting and while she was in the SHU she had a breakdown and tried to kill herself. She was crying and upset most of the bus ride to the air base where the plane came to pick us up. Neither of us had any idea where we were going but I did my best to keep her calm. Our first stop was Salt Lake City, Utah and my heart jumped out of my chest when I saw downtown Salt Lake with the Temple in all it’s glory. I hadn’t seen a car or anything outside the prison for over a year and it was beautiful! When I saw that we were landing there it was my hope that I was being transported back for a hearing on my motion but instead we loaded on more inmates and continued to Las Vegas. I spent over a week in a Nevada detention center before the US Marshals came to move us to our next destination.
Next came Oklahoma City. The federal detention center was full so we were taken to a local county jail that was terrifying! When we got inside the dark building the urine smell was so strong that I could hardly breathe. The young girl traveling with me from Dublin was still chained to me and started freaking out! By the time they put us in a holding cell we had been 18 hours without food or water and hadn’t been able to use the bathroom. That’s worth repeating. 18 hours without food, water or a bathroom break. When the girl chained to me started crying and screaming that she couldn’t handle being in there I told her she needed to calm down. I reminded her that we were in a county jail and they don’t mess around at places like this. You need to pull it together. She finally calmed down and they took us to a big isolation cell for the weekend. I won’t go into all the horrors of my trip, those are some of the highlights but I promise someday it will make a very interesting book:) Sunday night a Sergeant came and told me I would be leaving for the airport in a few hours. My sweet new friend was heartbroken that she wouldn’t be going with me. I said my goodbyes and they loaded me on a bus to the airport.
When they transported me to the airport the bus was full of male inmates and that started out all bad! They were loud and disrespectful towards the officers. When I stepped onto the bus the tension escalated with the cat calls. I immediately turned around and told them that if they wanted me to talk to them they would have to quit being disrespectful. A young black kid said, ” I just want to look at you because you’re so beautiful. If we all shut up will you turn around so we can see you?” I told them that if they would talk respectfully that I would like to talk with them and they could look at me while we talked. They all got quiet and we had a really good conversation. The young man’s name was Rashawn and he said that all women are so beautiful and that he really missed just looking at them. The two cops on the bus told me that it was the calmest ride they had ever had with the men:) It might sound weird but I felt such a strong spirit as the men shared what it was like for them to be in prison. Rashawn was from Washington DC and serving a 44 year sentence. One of the guys asked about my sentence and I told him that I was given 7 years for mortgage fraud. He asked if I was angry and said that I didn’t seem like I belonged in prison. I told him that I am at peace and glad that I get to meet so many cool people. A young white kid said, “Don’t you think we’re bad people?” I told him they had all been nice to me so why would I think they were bad. For about an hour they took turns asking me questions about women’s prisons and telling me about themselves. It was almost like teaching an explaining your conviction class:) For a minute on the bus we were all silent as we watched the sun come up and it was a surprisingly sweet moment that I will never forget. Being with God’s children and feeling the tender spirit that was in that bus was a privilege! When I got off the bus the officer said, “You’re a really good person I can tell and I hope that everything goes well for you.” I thanked him and walked up the steps of the plane with the men in handcuffs and shackles.
When we got on the plane I met a women who had served time at a camp in Alderson, West Virginia. She told me how nice it was and I really hoped that I would go there. When they called me for Waseca a bunch of rowdy girls got off the plane with me. I just sat at the front of the bus and and cried while we drove a couple hours to the middle of nowhere. It felt a million miles away from my family! It’s a very nice prison (How often do you hear that), very organized and clean. The grounds are beautiful and I really like the way the staff members treat us. I went to education and applied for a job. I’m also applying to be the compound photographer. I went to religious services and found out that I won’t be able to attend church while I’m here. When the poor woman told me I started to cry. She asked me my name and I just stood there and cried. I think I left half my heart in Dublin. I loved the women there and I didn’t get to say goodbye. I loved being able to go to church and I feel a bit like I’m starting prison all over again but I have high hopes that I will find purpose here.
The government responded to the motion to withdraw my plea and we will be responding to their response. Then the judge can do one of 3 things. He can grant my motion and I would come home. Or, he can set a hearing and I would likely come home for the hearing, or he can rule against the motion which I will have to appeal. I should know something within a month or so and will keep you all posted. In the meantime I am so grateful for your love and support! I will be writing each week unless the BOP decides to ship me to another facility:) I think it will be okay though. Maybe they will just get sick of me and send me home;) Love you all, I will be keeping you all posted on my adventures at Waseca FCI.