Tag: prison life

Ma, you did the time too

I was reflecting on some of the site regulars, and how in general they were mothers, wives and girlfriends. There are some fathers, and siblings, and a few children of those incarcerated. And there are comments from those who have done time, or worked in corrections, and folks with addiction problems. But most of who visits here are the women left behind – the mothers, wives and girlfriends.

When I got locked up I had a lot of emotions to deal with. I was angry, first and foremost. And I had some fear, naturally. I also had a lot of guilt and shame, especially at that first visit when my mother came to see me in County. I felt so shitty. Like a real turd, that is all there is to it. And I was also very damn glad to see her. A lifeline! Thrown to me in the very dark hole I was residing in.

I think I can speak for the majority of the incarcerated when I say having your mother, your wife, or your girlfriend stick by you while you do time is very appreciated. And probably not acknowledged as much as it should be. When you go down you find out pretty fast that most of your so-called friends are nowhere to be found. Even a lot of family becomes scarce. Face it, it’s not that fun to visit someone in prison, the whole experience is crappy. And writing letters to someone who basically has NO news to share with you and nothing going on is not very gratifying either. Sending funds to someone because they are a dumbass and got locked up doesn’t usually feel like a good use of money but boy is it appreciated.

I am pretty sure when I went to prison my mother was about as nervous and scared about what I was going to face there as I was. In fact, I guess she might have been more scared and nervous. Yeah, I think she was. I knew I could handle it, one way or the other, but for her it was probably agony. I was lucky that some guys told me the real rundown of what to expect and I was sure to tell her as much as I knew, so she kind of knew what was going to happen. And, I had one of my cell mates all set to call her when they picked me up so she would know I was on my way without waiting for her to find out randomly.

The main question we receive here is “my son/husband/boyfriend just transferred from County to TDC. How do I know he’s OK? How do I find him?” I hear the fear in those questions every time I read them. I know they are looking into the unknown and expecting it to be pretty bad, all the way around.

Here’s another thing that doesn’t get said much. Your parent is left on the outside to explain to family, friends, and everyone else where you are. Why you are there. They can choose to cover it up or just own it, but either way folks judge. My mother told me that right when I went away, a lot of her coworkers in her age-group had children who were graduating college and starting their careers, and how she chose to just stay quiet because bragging on your son’s newest prison tattoo just isn’t so cool.

I’ve noticed that some of the mothers who are regulars here have gotten the prison lingo down pretty well. Catching chain, making commissary, short way – these are all terms that a mother shouldn’t need to be knowing. That’s just messed up. But it is a fact.

I’m sorry Ma, i wish I could undo that part of things. I don’t regret much in life, definitely don’t regret that I did time. It’s part of who I am. But I wish I hadn’t had to take you down with me. And I appreciate that you went through that went me. I really do. Thanks for doing the time with me. It made it a little easier to know you were there.

Christmas in prison – a time for reflection

The holidays can be some of the toughest time for prison inmates and their families and loved ones. An inmate can feel incredibly alone and sad being in prison during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and New Years. It’s a time we associate with family and the reality of being locked up can hit hard. It’s a time when mothers and fathers cry for their sons and daughters, and wives and husbands yearn for the touch of their mate.
As a former inmate, I can tell you there were bright spots to the holidays. For one, the inmates tend to have an attitude of “we are in this together” and while I was incarcerated, it was typical to plan a party where we would pool all our stashes from commissary and make the best spread we could. Sure, it could be a little random – raman noodles, peanut butter and tuna fish, for example. But we did share, and have some fun together for a couple hours at least. And, even our holiday meals were a bit above average. A little more served, maybe even something special on the plate. Hey, better than usual at least!
And, here is another thought that offers a new perspective for many of us who are dealing with incarceration during the holidays. Today I got my newsletter from the Human Kindness Foundation. For a little back history, Bo and Sita Lazoff started the Human Kindness Foundation many years ago, as an outreach to inmates. Bo wrote a book named “We’re all doing time” that is really well known amongst inmates and is a great book for anyone. I highly recommend it for those who are religious or not, it offers a lot of wisdom and comfort. I found it VERY helpful during my incarceration.
Anyway, Bo Lazoff passed away 2 years ago, a great man lost too young, but his writings and lessons live on. For this quarter’s newsletter, The Human Kindness Foundation reprinted some of Bo’s articles and letters from 1998. He made a really great point about being incarcerated during the holidays. To paraphrase Bo’s thoughts about this, think about Jesus, and the way he lived. Where do you think you would have found him on Christmas? In someone’s cheerful living room tearing gift wrap off of presents? Or would he be at the side of those with struggles, those that are a bit lost or afraid and needing to find their belief in themselves, and their ability to love their fellow man? I think it’s easy to imagine that the place Jesus would very likely to be found was in a prison.
Maybe you can find some comfort in the thought that our incarcerated loved ones are perhaps in a position to not be “Merry”, or “Happy” but perhaps thoughtful and reflective, and therefore much closer to the true spirit of Jesus’ love than many of us out in the world. And if you or your loved ones are not particularly religious or Christian, that is OK. Let’s hope that our incarcerated loved ones find some peace and comfort during this Christmas, regardless of their beliefs.
Merry Christmas everyone, and peace to y’all. ~ Magnum

Change is good – catching chain is not good

Well I now can say what is my least-favorite part of prison life. Catching chain for transport to another unit – God, seriously, it sucks. I left my old unit on Friday night and got here on Wednesday. In that time I stopped over at three different units. One is well known for being one of the oldest and worse units in the state of Texas. As you can imagine, that is a bold statement considering the size of Texas and the conditions of many of the TDCJ prison units. But, from my short stay there, I would say it is a true fact. It was insanely HOT. It was also VERY old, VERY dirty, VERY loud, and smells VERY bad. Rusty, creaky, disgusting – right out of a movie. It was gross. It is the old-school style of prison with three tiers and small 6’x8′ 2-man cells. Racial tensions ran high and everybody YELLS for everything. Just crazy feeling being in there.

It was not a good place to be at all and it makes me appreciate the small, boring yet better conditions unit that I have spent the last 7 months in and complaining about. I can see how trouble between inmates would run much higher in these sorts of units, because the conditions would just make you feel like a caged animal, and an animal that is being treated inhumanely too. When you are treated like an animal, chances are you are going to be more likely to act like an animal.

Having said that, I am really not going to miss my old unit a bit. I was done with that place and the people there too. When you are in such close quarters with a bunch of men, their bad points start to really glare after awhile.

But anyway, my two other stops were also in places I am glad I have not been assigned. A lot of the transfer units are pretty large operations, and the more inmates and CO’s you have crammed into a space, well, the worse things get. It’s just natural, I am sure. Also, I should mention being chained to the person next to you and going on god-awful long bus rides in old, crappy buses in the middle of July in Texas in the middle of a heat wave and a drought is not an advisable thing to do. In my last unit, they had me in some classes but about a week before I was transferred the classes were stopped for awhile for “summer break”. That made me laugh at the time because it wasn’t like I was going to the beach to look at the girls or anything. But if that was summer break then I guess this bus tour was my summer road trip. What a bad one it was!

I really want those of you who think prison is NOT THAT BAD to consider how uncomfortable you get when you are forced into a position for maybe just one hour. Think about that for many, many hours, and being hot, and feeling like you are going to puke as well. Not being able to stretch out your legs or bend them in a new position or stretch out your arms and shoulders. I have always been prone to get car sick and this was not a good ride for me. The heat was pretty bad, and we are all kind of nervous about where we are going, whether anybody admits it or not. So, sweat was happening. Lots of sweat. Yeah, this was a challenging couple of days. First the bus ride and at the end of the day you THINK you are so glad to be at your destination, but once you get in your destination it’s SO BAD and SO HOT you start to think, OK, maybe the bus was better, so you make it through the night and are told to get on another bus and find yourself thinking, thank god I am out of that hell hole, and feeling you are lucky to be on the bus, but then the long, horrible bus ride starts up again and you start to feel like you need to take a piss or throw up but you can’t do either, so you start to hope and pray you will get to your new destination soon, and yep, sure enough, you finally do and get off the bus so thankful just to find you are being thrown into an even more hellish hole than the last place… and so it goes on…

I am here now though, and the new unit does seem OK. And the funny thing is, that bad part is fading already. I just don’t advise it to anyone who has a choice in the matter, but as crappy as it seems at the time, it won’t kill you.

I think I will like my new unit. It’s a good change of pace. Right away they gave me a full time job in the kitchen, washing pots and pans. I like it a lot because the hours fly by. Time goes so much faster when you are busy. I lost a lot of my things in transport, including my good work boots because I couldn’t produce a receipt for them. They threw a lot of my things away for no apparent reason, just cause they can, I guess. I am hoping that since I am working in the kitchen they will issue me a new pair without me needing to buy them.

Well – here’s hoping that anyone reading this blog is having way better summer vacations and way cooler road trips than me. When I was 19 I went on an awesome road trip, camping along the way, up to the Smoky Mountains. I have such good memories of that trip, the mountains were awesome and Asheville, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee were both bad-ass cities I stayed in over night. That part of the country isn’t Texas, and Texas is where my heart is at, but it’s some fine country too.

Peace everyone, stay cool. ~ Magnum

I am convicted and going to Texas Prison – a very real feeling sets in

Today is Nov 8th, I just got through washing clothes. For those who do not know, when you are in jail, you can either send your whites off to be washed by the jail laundry or wash your things by hand. I prefer to wash by hand. I never thought I would be washing my underwear by hand, but it’s actually pretty relaxing to just get lost in daydreams while scrubbing away, thinking of every thing I miss so much. Some-time, I even sing one of my favorite tunes to myself while I scrub.

To wash my clothes, I crush up one of the bars of soap that the jail supplies. I add a small tube of toothpaste that is also supplied by the jail, and a little shampoo so it will suds nicely. The toothpaste is the secret to getting the clothes extra white. I add all these items together and whip them up until the soap is dissolved. It’s amazing how white my washing comes out this way, without using any bleach!

Anyway, this last Friday I received my papers telling me I am ready to go to TDCJ. When I received the document stating my readiness a very real feeling set in. The feeling that I AM GOING TO PRISON.
The truth is, I am scared. Not for my well being but for the unknown. This is a new, unknown experience for me, and new experiences have always made me anxious. I just really want to get there and get the initial introduction to prison life over with and behind me.

I won’t be able to write anyone for a coupe of weeks while I am going through the intake process, but I want you to know I will be thinking of you all.  I would like to say I love every one of you that has taken the time to read my blog and support me. Don’t worry about me, I will be OK. I can hold my own.

I want to add a special hello to Kasey, I miss you every single day. You are beautiful, in every way, shape and form, inside and out. Also, hello to my mom and to my sister, I love y’all. And, thanks to those that help me with this blog, it means a lot to me and is helping me feel connected to all the people I care about.

Peace ~ Magnum