I blogged earlier about the unimaginable power the Nevada Department of Corrections has to increase prison time, to punish inmates beyond a judge’s sentence, and I wanted to give a bit more detail.
First, let me start by saying that I never thought I would be in the position to be writing such a blog, or about any such subject matter – because I simply had no idea that things like this went on. All three of my siblings have been incarcerated at one time or another, mainly for drug-related crimes, but I had no idea how serious and severe the miscarriage of justice is – and it is ongoing.
Tonight, I talked to my sweetheart. He has been under an extreme amount of stress lately because of a turn of events at the prison. If you’ll recall from my earlier blog, he and several other inmates are being punished for having graduated high school; inmates cannot attend Vocational Education if they have a high school diploma. Therefore, those who were enrolled in the program (including my man) and who had already earned meritorious credit for such, which would have decreased their time in prison – but only if they complete the program, have LOST that time.
To exacerbate this problem is the additional bombshell for my babe that if he does not get a job IMMEDIATELY, he will be dropped to Level 2. That is a tremendous punishment, in that it means being locked in his cell for more than half the day, having extremely limited phone time, and time ADDED to his sentence. Yes, that’s what they will do.
Now, if this next bit wasn’t so horrific, it would be funny: my man cannot have a job (he has repeatedly tried and been denied) because he has a leg injury – WHICH THE PRISON WILL NOT TREAT HIM FOR, as well as high blood pressure – WHICH THE PRISON WITHHELD HIS PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION FOR UNTIL I CALLED THE NDOC AND COMPLAINED. That same evening, after 7 weeks of going without it, he was finally given his medication – but only part of it; he needs two prescriptions, but was given only one.
This is the same bullshit that the Parole Board did to him when he went before them in June. He was punished for not having attended any “programming,” yet “programming” is not offered to him because he is in Medium Security. He asked for an in-cell study program, but was refused. He asked for a “classification reduction” but was again refused. He challenged his classification but was told by his caseworker that he cannot challenge unless his sentence gets reduced, or some other bullshit.
On top of all of this, the PSI report (Pre-Sentence Investigation report) that was used when he was sentenced is INCORRECT; this is not something you, dear reader, will be unfamiliar with, if you have spent any time reading blogs regarding PSI reports. They are notoriously full of errors, yet prisoners are essentially powerless to do anything about them or to have them changed. Even getting your hands on a copy of one seems to be an insurmountable obstacle.
What causes so much grief for me about this whole situation, aside from the obvious, is that people know this stuff is going on. The Governer knows, the ACLU knows, the media have published reports and articles about it – there are huge groups of people who are fully aware of the serious and ongoing human rights violations, Constitutional violations, etc., yet nothing changes. NOTHING. How can so many people know and be able to do nothing? Meanwhile, so many people are suffering intensely behind bars in Nevada. What can I do? What can anyone do?
I cannot fathom the grotesque carnival of horror that the man I love is being subjected to on a daily basis. Not only the emotional and mental strain of it, but the physical pain, too: he is not ablet to sleep because of the pain in his injured knee, and he cannot eat because the “food” makes him sick and is notoriously “not fit for human consumption.” And now the prison has the power to add time to his sentence to force him to stay there even longer, simply because he cannot get a job – because they will not allow him to have one? It’s a Catch-22 of the worst and most horrific magnitude.
There is so much more to this story, and I will write more later. For now, I need to try to un-kink my brain and try to wrap it around this nightmare so I can figure out what to do next to effect some sort of change – something far greater people than I have tried and failed to do so far. But that doesn’t mean that I am going to give up. Because I’m not. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, but I AM going to do this. I hope you’ll help me; there’s power in numbers…
Tonight, Tracy told me that 38 other prisoners are appealing their parole denials, since the parole board is OUT OF CONTROL. They are basing their decisions on erroneous PSI (Pre-Sentencing Investigation) reports, redacted court documents, assessments for which there are NO standard guidelines as to how to score them – the entire thing is a fiasco. A FARCE. I am sick to my stomach.
To complicate matters for US, the prison – for some reason – has fucked around with Tracy’s mail. TWICE now, he has mailed the paperwork he was given with the parole denial, including the reasons the board denied him, and TWICE the mail never got to me. TWICE. Now, this is particularly troubling, because a letter I mailed to him yesterday morning is already there and in his hands; he told me that tonight.
Appeals must be filed within a certain amount of time, and the hold up with the mail just complicates things, obviously. So, it’s a nightmare. But what is exciting is that so many others are going to appeal. As soon as the NDOC and the state realize that they’re going to have many, MANY lawsuits on their hands, they might start doing the right thing. But probably not. No one wants to do ANYTHING without being forced to by law.
I’m sick of the fact that there is no oversight. There are no rules. Cops on the street murder black people and get away with it, and guards inside this particular prison shoot, injure and murder inmates – not to mention the race baiting that goes on, as well as the general horrific mistreatment of the inmates by the guards – and answer to NO ONE. Well, they can start answering to ME, because I’m not going to sit down and shut up. I have a big mouth, a cause, and a man I love – and I will fight. I am a KNIGHT.
THIS KNIGHT WILL FIGHT.
I love my man so much, and he is worth it – as are all the other unjustly and unfairly incarcerated individuals sitting behind bars right now. Their lives mean something, too — their lives matter.
The battles wages on. Tracy, I love you. I am fighting for you, and I always will. ❤
Just now, I was reading my last blog post – the one where I detailed yesterday’s visit to the prison to visit Tracy. As I got to the part about the search, and I remembered walking into that room where all of the inmates are waiting for their loved ones, I was struck by something I already know well: each of those men who received a visit are being shown that they are loved.
How can I stop my tears?
Yesterday, there was a grandma in a wheelchair who was brought there by her daughter and granddaughter (I assume), and for some reason, I remember a particular Hispanic family – a mom, a dad and a young (maybe 10 years old-ish) little girl; I assume they were there to visit their son and brother/dad. And of course, the mother and father who where there to visit their son.
And there I was, walking into that room to visit the man I love. To let him know that I love him, and that I am with him. At some point after the visit had started, he pointed out to me that three inmates had left the room; they had been expecting visits, but their visitors had not shown up for some reason – maybe something came up and they couldn’t make it, or whatever the reason was. I was mortified by that thought; I could not imagine telling Tracy I would be there and then not showing up. I just could not fathom that, and even thinking about it now makes me sick to my stomach.
I remember the love the Hispanic family seemed to exude, and I saw them embrace their son before they left; they exited the room just before me, and we were the stragglers, staying as long as possible with our men. I think about how lucky they all were to have visiting privileges and to be able to see their son every week. I truly do hope that my visitation form has been approved, as Sergeant Porter told me and showed me yesterday, so that I can start visiting every week, too.
I do not feel whole while my heart is in prison. I need to see him every day. I need him to come home. I need to know that he is not suffering, or hungry, or sick and not receiving the medical care he needs. I need to know that he knows that he is loved. I want to do all of the sappy, simple things a woman wants to do for the man she loves.
One of the most important things I want is for him to be able to heal from this experience. Being in prison (or jail) has a catastrophic effect on those who experience it, and it changes their psyche in ways that almost can’t be described but which are extremely noticeable to loved ones. I saw it in my baby brother, and recognized a huge change in his personality after he spent many years in and out of jail, and a visit to state prison. In fact, it changed him so much that he truly was not at all the same person I used to know and be so close to. I had to accept that loss, but I grieved it just as I would a death. It was a death, in effect; gone was my sweet brother, so full of possibilities and hopes for a joyous future and in his place was a hardened, calloused, nervous, suspicious, brooding, blistered, warped man.
Just now, writing about my brother and remembering the changes in him, I see an incredible similarity in how I felt when I was with him to how I felt when I was with Tracy. I would talk to my brother, and though I know he heard me, I sometimes felt like he wasn’t truly there – like he wasn’t connected, and his mind was somewhere else. If I keep that in mind, it will help me to not feel like Tracy isn’t engaged in the conversation or that he isn’t interested in what I’m trying to tell him. And even more so, I will remember that my brother was not incarcerated during the times I was with him; he was free, we were out in public, and yet there was still a vacancy in his eyes and demeanor. He would respond appropriately to me, like for example, we both really laughed about some stupid shit I told him I was thinking about doing to a boyfriend of mine at the time, and he told me about conversations he had with our dad about our brother, Spencer, who died of a drug overdose only the year before. So I know he was at least partly present, mentally.
Anyway, I wonder if loving Tracy and showing him that I love him will have any effect on him, or if my visiting is just a distraction or a small break in the monotony of a day in prison. I don’t know if I will ever have an answer to that, but getting an answer is not actually of any importance to me, nor will it have any impact on my continuing to visit. In fact, I want to visit for selfish reasons – because it is important to me to show him that I love him, and to know that I tried in the ways I could to show him that he is so loved, that he is so valued, that he is worth more than I could put a number to – that he is priceless. I have told him many times that his current situation and location does not define him, and does not speak to who and what he is; it simply is a result of a mistake he made – a mistake he has already paid for and continuing to pay for because of an incredibly corrupt and unjust “justice” system, run by apathetic, jaded people.
I assured Tracy, and I hope that each person who visits their loved one in prison assures that person, that visiting him is not an imposition of any kind and that it is something I want to do with all of my heart, more than anything. To be there with him is a selfish act on my part, because I have this intense need to show him love. I don’t know why — I have just always loved that man. Always. Circumstances and situations have kept up apart for a large portion of our lives, but fate has also always spun us back together in the strangest, most inexplicable ways – and that is what has happened on this go-round, too. Isn’t that just what fate does? Can’t make sense of it, can’t explain it, it just is. Like love. We don’t choose who we love, we just love.
And I do. Love him. I will continue to show it.
I don’t think anyone could truly know how incredibly difficult it is, nor how painful, to try to buoy the spirit, heart and mind of someone who is locked up in a cage and who feels hopeless unless that person has also tried to do the same for someone they love.
Every day seems to be a rollercoaster; some days, we’re up, and we’re happy. Other days, like today, everything seems to just fall to shit. Doubts take center stage, the future looks not only out of reach and impossibly far away but also without any prospects for normalcy; just survival. I’m not even talking about joy or prosperity, but just survival.
To worry about not being able to find a job, not having any way to support yourself and no matter where you turn, after your years of incarceration, no one will hire you – so the punishment effectively never ends. Family and friends turn on you, no one has the time or inclination to stand by your side and give you that hope. And if those people won’t, who will?
Loving a man who is incarcerated, and listening to him express his fear, apprehension, doubt, anxiety and all of those other feelings that go along with the uncertainty of his future and NOT to be able to reassure him is tantamount to torture. When he speaks about the things he is going to have to face, and then about the necessary rebuilding of his life once he is free, he speaks in terms of “I” and “me,” not “us” and “we,” and that is painful. I want to rebuild with him, and I want to be there to support him, keep him strong, be by his side and help him get through the struggles and challenges. But I don’t hear myself in his description of the picture of what he knows he has to deal with. And the sad thing is that I know I am there, but his focus has to be 100% on himself; that is what rebuilding his life is going to be all about for him. It won’t matter how much I want to do, or how much I love him, or how much I show him that I am on his side – all that will really matter is, well, I can’t write any more now.
Prison is punishment for not only the person who is convicted of the crime, but probably even more so for the people who love the prisoner. I cannot put my arms around him, I can’t text him stupid silly jokes or dumb things I see on facebook, and I can’t call him when I’m sad or unsure or just need to hear his voice. We can’t just decide to go see a movie, or run out and grab something for dinner on the fly; everything is strictly regimented, and the rules have nothing to do with me or my schedule, or my needs.
I need him to come home, and I need him to be whole. I need him to know that I will always be here, but there is no way I can effectively communicate those things to him on the other end of the telephone. I also have to keep my emotions in check and know that the ebb and flow of emotion through this experience is something I have ridden through before, and I will get through it this time, too. It’s so painful. Even though I am getting better at self-soothing, it would be much easier to be able to work through it with him by being able to talk when we need to talk or better yet, to not have to go through it at all.
But that is the choice I made: I chose him, ergo I chose this. So, I will cling to my life preserver and tread water in this huge expanse of ocean – the ocean of our tears, and hope that I don’t drown before I make my way back to shore to find him there waiting for me, just like in that song, “Beyond the Sea.”
I love him, and I even though I feel so exhausted, I will stay strong so that he can be strong. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I am going to do it.