Tenacious: Art & Writings from Women in Prison
Issue 26, which is now out of print.
TENACIOUS art & writings by women in prison Black Star Publishing PO Box 20388 New York, NY 10009 Issue 26 Fall 2012 #3 40 1 Call for submissions Tenacious is looking for articles, poetry and art form women in prison. We strongly believe that everyone has a story to tell, something to share and are in need of someone who will listen and offer some kind of support and/or understanding. It is important to us that women (both in and out of prison) find the power of their voice. We encourage women to share with us and others in the hopes of educating those in society and empowering other women to take a stand for their rights and the rights of others. Use the power of your voice in a positive way—to educate. Subjects we are looking for include: Prison programs (how they do or don’t work) Mothers educating their children while on the inside Holding prison officials accountable for their actions or inactions Observations and applications on prison life Women prisoners uniting to make a difference Informing society about prison issues Sexual discrimination or sexual preference discrimination in your prison Medical breakthroughs or neglect HIV, Hep C and other diseases common in prison Helping your fellow prisoners Literacy and education Your job (or lack of a job) What is your birthing behind bars story? Call our toll-free, 24/7, storyline: 877-518-0606. Record your answer and we'll post it on our site! Or write to us in care of Black Star Publishing, PO Box 20388, New York, NY 10009 Tell us about your experiences with: ·Pregnancy before prison/learning about pregnancy while in prison ·Medical care in prison ·Miscarriages ·Stillbirths ·The birth experience ·Special needs/medical issues/ ICU after birth ·The prison nursery experience ·Placing child with family members or friends to avoid foster care ·Foster care ·Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) And let your friends and family members on the outside know about our campaign! Ask them to visit our website and sign onto our pledge to end shackling and other reproductive injustices behind bars: birthingbehindbars.org 2 39 Birthing Behind Bars Too often, issues of reproductive justice are separated from issues of incarceration. WORTH (Women on the Rise Telling HerStory) is collecting the stories and experiences of women who have experienced pregnancy while behind bars. Partnering with Thousand Kites, a media justice group, WORTH has created a website to share these video, audio and written accounts and a phone hotline where women can call to share their own stories. In addition, WORTH will also compile these stories into a book. Both the website and the book will tie women's individual experiences to the broader issues reproductive justice (or injustice) behind prison walls. These stories can be used to help push a state-bystate analysis of the intersections of reproductive justice and incarceration. WORTH is an advocacy/consultant group comprised of currently & formerly incarcerated women. We have the expertise and understanding to engage, navigate and challenge policy and perceptions concerning incarcerated women. Many of us have experienced pregnancy and childbirth behind bars. Drawing on our own experiences, stories and strengths, weâ€™ve successfully changed the laws of New York State to prohibit the shackling of incarcerated women during labor and delivery. Now we are moving this campaign to the national level to fight for reproductive justice for all women behind bars. We do not publish individual cases, charges or court experiences. We do not publish religious materials. We also cannot act as liaisons between those in different facilities. Send submissions to: V. Law, PO Box 20388, New York, NY 10009 Tenacious is free to women in prison. Men in prison: please send $1 (made out to V. Law, NOT to Black Star Publishing) or 2 stamps to cover the cost of postage. Those not in prison: your $3 will support sending free issues to incarcerated women across the United States. Deadline: November 30, 2012 Cover illustration by a woman in Washington Correctional Center for Women 38 3 I know myself and I once knew you: inmate They try to cream us into numbers Have to shave off skin and mash up bones to fit us into digits It never works The wounds are another conversation another scramble over concrete stained with a truth closest to our guts The stars glint like they're squinting Yes, it's me inmate #131837 part of a sequence that cannot be erased Is it endless? One day we'll decide. In a song that is my own the moon will see one less speck a subtracted, tagged, numbered me 4 Logo Contest Founded by a formerly incarcerated mother, the Yraida Guanipa Institute is dedicated to re-establishing, protecting and nurturing the parent/child bond after long years of separation caused by incarceration, addiction and/or any other adverse situation affecting the disadvantaged people. The Yraida Guanipa Institute is conducting a research study to recognize what has helped children who have undergone separation from their parents to become successful in their lives. The Institute needs a logo! Something simple, small and colorful (and without chains!) that gives a sense as to its purpose. The winner will receive $150 and be announced in our newsletter. Deadline: October 15, 2012 (postmarked) Send your ideas to: The Yraida Guanipa Institute P.O. Box 442763 Miami, Florida 33144 37 Where the Pain Comes From Most people ask, "Am I doing this time or is it doing me?" To make it day to day, you must live beyond all you hear and see… I got this time for a crime I committed, damn it's been over two years; no one knows how deep the pain is or the reason behind all of the tears… They think they can define it, oh maybe she can't handle the bid; well I guess now is a good time to express the feelins I keep hid… You see, prison isn't anything like you think it may be; come on, look around, you really think the pain inside comes from what you see? After all I've been thru, it isn't this place that could control how I feel; those waiting for me on the outside are who make the feelins really real… The little girl with the beautiful face who loves me more than life; the man who has my heart and by now I should be his wife… Those who still don't understand how I could allow this to go down; even those who after just a lil bit of time were nowhere to be found… Out of sight, out of mind is a statement proved to be true; to those who turned their backs, you will need me before I need you… So to know about the pain, you must look outside this place; you must take the time to finally look reality in the face… To all those who let prison control how you feel; find someone to put you up on life so you can define what is really real. Brandy Aplin P19263, Gadsden Correctional Facility, Quincy, Florida 36 released Still, I will rise to remember the hundreds I have met and millions more will not be missed by my count (Non) numbers remain on a spinning block with razor shock nothing more wounded, we are never as they would have us: fragments to shake from their pages dead dead deadest not yet because even with numbers it is impossible to take away the meaning of flesh. Rachel Galindo Released from prison in Colorado 5 Election Time Sucks! On June 15, 2012, prison life at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility was a truly horrific day. Let me explain: Within the last six month period, there were two prison escapes by male prisoners at New Jersey's minimum security camps. When escapes happen, the public gets upset in fear of their safety while the prison administration gets embarrassed. So do the governor and mayor, especially if it is election time. So then the governor and mayor play extra tough on crime, security, and custody to win back the approval of the voters. When New Jersey custody and administrators of prisons and SOG (Special Operations Group) gets hollered at and feels the heat from highers-up, shit always runs downhill and prisoners are at the bottom of the totem pole. So on June 14, 2012, the night before, sergeants and officers come with a surprise shakedown to make sure SOG will not find anything that will make our administration ashamed. However, they were not allowed to let us know what we were going to soon be in store for. On June 15th, I was not going to get up until 9 am since I was not required to be at work until ten that morning. A lady whose cell is across from mine wakes me at 6:30 am saying "SOG is here on the compound and is coming soon." I reluctantly turned over. I was up by 9 am and at work promptly by ten 6 Tabitha Swords 35 no different from everyone else in society. Not everyone gets caught!! Society fears felons because the felon has been exposed. Society forgets that the felon has had some type of self-help and is learning the consequences of their actions. Felons are labeled. A felon can't fight for their country, vote, work in a government office or have any type of productive job. My life is with limits and limitations. I am not free. When I serve out my sentence, that should be where it ends; instead, I'm living a life of punishment. Honestly, if I had my choice, I'd take the whip. At least when it was done, I would move on and get a halfway decent job. Instead, I've been stripped of opportunity. I once read of a man who had a dream. He spoke for what he believed in and inspired an entire nation. He's my hope for better days. His inspiration inspired me to speak and, even though the situation may not change for the better, I have hope that if people get involved and band together…hold on just a little tighter one day, it will make a difference. This is my dream and, in my opinion, this particular issue has been ignored for far too long but, seeing as I'm a felon, my opinion in this matter isn't even credible. Tabitha Swords 81165 DCI, 4104 Germantown Pike Dayton, OH 45418 (although at first we were told that all movements, such as work, school, appointments, etc., were cancelled). We (the commissary and kitchen workers) were the only one allowed to go out to work. On my way, I could see 35 Men in Black (what I call the SOG because their uniforms are all black), several vans, dogs, the boss chair and the trailer for the dogs. They were over at Randall Cottage first, and then they proceeded to Williamson Cottage. They took approximately three hours on each cottage. Everyone was anxious and nervous, even our cottage officer. When we came back to our cottage (Bravo) after lunch, they still had not come. By 3 pm, work was over and at Bravo Cottage, Officer L was too scared to even make a phone call to see if my Ministry Leadership Meeting was cancelled. He said, "I'm not calling nowhere and nobody is going anywhere and I do not know what is going on!" I knew I had nothing illegal or anything that I wasn't supposed to have in my cell, but I knew they were really going to trash the place. I prayed that they didn't break any property of mine and that all would go well and peaceful. I sat in the TV room with a cup of ice water when in run SOG as if they were running in a major drug bust! They started yelling, "Everyone out of all rooms into the hallway! Line up facing the wall! Hands on top of your heads!" 34 7 Immediately we ran out into the hallway and faced the walls. I realized I had a cup of ice water, so I put it on my head and my hands on top of it. I heard a loud bang next to me. As I jumped out of my skin, a SOG woman behind me screamed, "Put that cup on the floor now!" I did, and then put my hands back on my head. Then they marched us, hands on heads, around the halls, facing the wall. When we were consolidated, I was next to a mailbox and pushed into a wall pencil sharpener. I said, "That pencil sharpener hurts!" A SOG woman behind me whispered in my ear, "Shut up! You say another word and I'll feel like you're being aggressive against my team members. You do as you are told immediately! Do you understand?" Nervous and shaken, I just nodded my head and dared not move. I was scared to death! They have a reputation for unnecessary force and body slamming people to the ground. Then we were lined up across from a female officer and strip searched all together, side by side, ten or twelve at a time in a line where men could see us. Scared and humiliated, I took off my shoes, socks, watch, shirt, pants, bra, and panties and dropped them into a pile. I had to stand naked and hand each item, one at a time, backwards to the officer behind me. After examining each piece while I stood naked, the officer said, "Now bend at the waist, squat, and cough while facing the wall. Show the bottoms of your feet, hands and arms. Lift your hair. Turn any has no choice but to settle for less. I didn't realize this until I became a felon. It's like a really bad case of double jeopardy. Every time I try to do right with my life, I carry my prison numbers like heavy burdens on my back having to be constantly judged by people. I'm at their mercy because I need a job and/or housing. So background checks basically seal the deal with big bold letters FELON. I have to laugh because I looked for six straight months and got denied so many times I was forced to stay in a motel and live off college loans. My prison number doesnâ€™t define me. Society fails to be aware of the whole reason of imprisonment. Society is disbelieving that offenders truly change. If they did, opportunities would be available. Felons get released from prison with very little to nothing and are expected to work miracles and come up with housing, money for rent, bills, transportation, furniture, appliances, clothing, food hygiene products, their finesâ€Śand expected to walk the line and get in no trouble. That's a pretty damn tall order if you ask me. NO WONDER felons fall short of society's expectations. Is it really a big surprise that offenders are most likely to reoffend? Without opportunities there's no hope and it's just a matter of time before the person give up and resorts back to old behaviors. At this point, it's not about what's right or wrong anymore. It's about survival and whatever works to get you through. Resorting to desperate measures. It's sad but true. When you're overwhelmed with unreachable demands, it takes a toll on you. The truth of the matter is that a felon is 8 33 Slavery is broader than ever. It's not so much about what race you are anymore, it's whether you're a felon or not. The sad truth about felons is they been segregated from society. The system (government) simply quit beating blacks and threw in uneducated white people, all the while raising the cost of living while lowering the payout of working. Slavery has been revised with the modern times. When your back's against the wall, any sudden move could mean imprisonment. Reassuring the system you will stay in the lower class for the remainder of your years. Spending the rest of your life paying for your mistakes. It's kinda like when a kid receives their first bike, they're trying so hard to learn to ride it. So should the child lose his or her bike over one mistake? Even a couple of mistakes? It's not about how many times the child wrecks his or her bike, it's about learning from their mistakes. Not everyone gets the hang of it their first time. This example is very much similar to felons. It just takes some people longer than others to find out who they really are and their purpose in life. No one is perfect; not everyone is the same! People and situations, whether good or bad, vary, and it's just unfortunate if a person doesn't get it right the first time, or even the second time, and then opportunities are ripped away. This is not liberty! When you are sentenced for a crime, the judge doesn't tell you the fine print that, once convicted, the person will never get ahead in society. What I mean is now the person's opportunities for a good paying, productive job are demolished; the person dentures. Shake your hair. Lift up your breasts, your stomach. Turn to the wall. Get dressed." Hands on head, they marched us out in a line. No talking. Then they counted us off ten at a time to be escorted to the gym area with our housing officer while they tore up our belongings and cells. One lady was on the verge of an anxiety attack. One handicapped woman had to walk bent over with a cane despite her medical no-walk order which meant nothing now. She was in pain. An elderly 63year-old woman said her arms were so sore from holding them on her heads for way over an hour. We went to dinner and back to the gym at approximately 6 pm. We were told to proceed, hands on head, back to our unit. The place was destroyed. I had to clean, organize and pick up my personal property until 8 pm. I was so tired, emotionally, mentally and physically. I couldn't wait to take a hot shower and go to bed. At 52 years old, my whole body ached. I thanked God it was over and had to rest up for my 6 am wake up for work. Election time sucks! Marianne Brown 420854 Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, Bravo Cottage PO Box 4004 Clinton, NJ 08809 32 9 detention is now on the North wing in South hall, which has 10 cells and can hold 20 women as all 10 cells have bunk beds in them. Since this new ad-seg opened, there have been a lot of lockdowns due to walking ad-seg women to max hospital. There are still residents in South Hall on the East and South wing and they have their own cells. They have no contact with the ad-seg or detention women. The administration is still working out details like where to put a doctor's office, nurse station, etc, so that there are not as many lockdowns. I do not believe that the staff was fully prepared for this new ad-seg. Whenever something happens, like a fight or suicide attempt, officers have to suit up in this heavylooking black riot gear suit with a shield and videotape the transport of the suicidal woman so she cannot sue this place for any wrongdoing. Internal Affairs does the video taping. They only suit up for fights or for a cell extraction, which also gets videotaped. It was crazy the first day. There were four fights in ad-seg when the women came here on July th 16 . Hopefully this new ad-seg will help deter women from getting serious institutional charges as there are no men here and it is worse than being in ad-seg in Trenton. (We Are Not) Yesterday's Trash Rachel Galindo 10 D. Faith Haines 464221 EMCFW/SIS PO Box 4004 Clinton, NJ 08809 31 I am currently in Edna Mahan Correctional Facility and have been residing here for close to nine years. Recently this facility has opened its own administrative segregation unit where women who commit serious offenses, like fighting, assault, rioting, etc., are housed anywhere from 90 to 730 days, depending on the institutional charge. For years, women have been sent to New Jersey State Prison in Trenton to the IFF unit, which was ad-seg for females. The women would first get detention time for a charge and, if it was serious, they would be transported from detention to ad-seg in a DOC van. In NJSP female ad-seg (I have been there twice for assault charges), they would lock us down for 23 hours in our own cells. We would have yard one hour a day. We could smoke in our rooms, have our television once on level 2 (which took about 3- days to get on), and we could listen to our radio and also write and see the men through the windows and at times through the fences where we would talk to them. They sent women there cigarettes, food and stamps through runners there. All this changed on July 16, 2012, when the women who were housed in the female NJSP adseg came to the new female ad-seg here at EMCF in Clinton, NJ. This ad-seg is very different as there is no smoking, there are bunk beds in the room with two little fans to keep cool, no men, and the women do not get paid $1.20 a day for five days a week for cell sanitation like they earned up in Trenton. There are 18 cells in this new ad-seg that can hold 36 women total. They turned the old detention into our ad-seg unit and RUSH Story of an addict Rush Sick to my stomach So much love that I gotta go throw up. Thirteen. All I Wanna do Is another hit. Fiteen, drifting. This shit lifts me up to the ceiling. A few days inside And I find out about another life (part of me) Back in the world (it's not real, not mine) Stupid and wild I'm so sorry, child. Haight Street With a deadbeat I am just a piece of meat. Gotta leave Help me, hurt me, Get me away from here But don't send me home. Put me aside I'm inside again. Relax, sit down for a minute Feel my son inside my belly Watch him grow. See him go. Outside. It's so good until I break it. I'm torn open, apart. Doesn't anybody want my heart? I'll give you all I have, all I am. (No different than before) All I remember, I want to forget I just wanna do another hit. Demean me. I don't mean much to me 30 11 anyway Slang dope, slang ass It's all the same. You pay to play, I play and pay I don't want to be here. Run, walk, wish myself away. From this room My face is broken. This is your love? I'm addicted, can't get enough. Sell myself for you. I'd sell my soul to leave you. I just don't want to be alone again. Benjamins? I'll be your girlfriend for the evening. Take me to see my Mexican. I'll take an hour in the bathroom I gotta get this hit cause I can't stand to be here with you inside me. Sick. Years fly by. So far gone now. Don't ask me how the hell I got here. All I know is I gotta go. Antonio stops serving at seven-thirty. Sometimes I get sick of the low-low. I get to getting' on this go Go fast. Can't slow down Steady thievin', getting' what I need I'm sick, sick, sick (with the best) Got an 8ball and a pregnancy test (crack smoke) Maybe I just need to rest (Need the rest?) Pee on the stick Not enough left of me for this. I don't wanna be sick anymore. View askew. Arrested, rescued. I watch him grow. from Washington Correctional Center for Women 12 29 severe seizure disorder that causes her to have seizures almost every day. Buck's main job will be to get help when she has a seizure by barking at someone until they follow him back to her. I've also taught him a bunch of little tricks and games that Madison can use as icebreakers. I like to imagine her surrounded by kids who think she's the coolest girl ever for having such a smart dog. I'm hoping that Buck will not only be her service dog, but her best friend as well. Easter Seals is a new program and we're just getting things together so our program director isn't looking into expanding into other prisons yet. Both CCI and SCAL have programs all over the country though, so if you can find someone willing to facilitate for you, maybe you can get something started where you're at. Beth Dodd, U15134, Gadsden Correctional Facility, C2-4L, 6044 Greensboro Hwy, Quincy, FL 32351 Canine Companions for Independence: cci.org Second Chance at Life: 4greyhound.org They let him go home with me and we're alright for a while And thenâ€Śyear, I know it's sick. Sick. He's my son, but I had to run. Lost him, lost me, lost my goddamn mind. Back on the black, on the grind. Blowin my brains out with that gunpowder No veins now, I just muscle the shit One stick. Sick, sick, sick. That running, it caught up with me Eventually. This is how my God saved me Lost my freedom, got back my life, My soul, my family. Another chance to watch them grow, To see them go to sleep at night. (Worth the fight?) Thought I was beyond change Possessed an inability to be rearranged. (I'm deranged, strange) But now I see the beginnings of a different girl, a different me. A fire inside. So many possibilities, opportunities. They're all mine I won't run (I put down the gun) It's worth the fight This is my life. It's my life and it's likeâ€Ś A Rush. A.O. formerly incarcerated at Washington Correctional Center for Women 28 13 Five Women, Five Denials This week five women here at CIW were scheduled to appear before the Parole Board seeking parole suitability, seeking that elusive approval to be released from prison and returned to society. It is the job of the Parole Board Commissioners to determine if these women pose any threat to public safety, and if so, then they should remain in prison. At least that's how it's supposed to happen. That is what the regulations that govern parole suitability hearings say. Four of these women, Beverly, Belitta, and Yvonne and Eara are "Golden Girls," that is they are ages 55 and older. Mary Alice is only a few years behind them, although she has been in prison the longestâ€”her stay now spans 27 years. All five came away from the hearings without being granted release back into society. Collectively these five women have spent 116 years behind bars. Collectively they are 63 years past their minimum eligible parole date. And you should know that lifers do not even appear before the Parole Board until they have already done their time. So, of course, your next question would be, "What horrible activities have they engaged in, what callous disregard, what total lack of remorse must they have, that the Parole Board keeps them in prison?" Good question. Beverly, who is 16 years past her minimum release date, has been a model prisoner, no disciplinary write-ups, actively programming, gaining certificates in self-help rehabilitation classes, taking leadership positions in dogs, but there are a few small differences between the teams. CCI focuses on placing dogs with individuals who need help living alone. Easter Seals dogs go to children or veterans with disabilities who live in family settings. CCI dogs leave here, go to advanced training elsewhere, and are then matched with a recipient. The Easter Seals recipients are chosen before the dogs leave and we tailor their training to match their recipient's needs. In the end, all of the dog teams share the same goalâ€”to change people's and animals' lives for the better. I've had my dog, a blonde Labradoodle named Buck Mater, for almost a year and a half. He's my first dog and he's such a happy, goofy dog. Everyone who meets him falls in love. In the morning, as soon as he realizes that I'm awake, he sits up in his kennel and all you can hear is the excited thumping of his tail. I'll open his kennel door and he'll burst out as if he's overjoyed that we both woke upâ€ŚAGAIN! I love that. There really isn't anything about him that I don't love. He's such a good dog. I found out last month that Buck will be leaving soon. He's going to a twelveyear-old girl named Madison. She has a 14 27 There's something wonderful about being housed in a compound that has dog programs. After spending so many years in prison, I tend to forget that anything but prison exists. It's disturbingly easy to get so absorbed in one's "prison life" that memories of "real life" start fading away. At times, I've felt as if I've never really lived anywhere but in prison and that my life would just stay like this forever. Prison for all eternityâ€” a normal life, just a dream. Having dogs around helps me snap out of that mindset. The dogs remind me that there's more to life than this. We have three dog programs here: Second Chance at Life (SCAL), Canine Companions for Independence, and Easter Seals' K9s 4 Kids/K9s 4 Heroes. SCAL saves greyhounds from the racetrack and prepares them for adoption. You wouldn't believe the shape that some of these dogs come here in. It's so sad. The girls give them lots of love, teach them a few basic commands, and they leave here a few months later as entirely different dogs. Theyâ€™re doing so well that they're forming a subgroup called Purple Hearths that trains the calmest ones to be service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Both CCI and Easter Seals primarily train service 26 activities, helping others, obeying all the rules. She was told that the nature of her crime, now 23 years ago, was too heinous to grant her parole. This is the same boiler plate language that the Parole Board repeatedly relied on to deny parole, directly disregarding the language and intent of the regulations. Commissioners utilized this rationale to deny parole in the majority of cases, until the California Supreme Court said they could no longer rely solely on the nature of the crime to deny parole. So, I don't know, maybe these commissioners didn't get the memo. Either way, Beverly must wait another three years before she begins a new attempt at gaining her freedom. Mary Alice was praised for all her programming, her insight, all her self-help, but she was still denied because she received a "counseling chrono" for failing to "getdown" quickly enough last year during an alarm. Now this was not an RVR (a rules violation report), it was just a counseling chrono, a reminder, if you will, but it still kept her from her rightful freedom. Maybe she was a little slow to get down. After all, at age 48, with arthritis and other medical concerns, it is not easy to quickly place your rear end on the ground, whether it's raining, where there is a mud puddle under you, or any other reason. The prison system expects you to respond with your rear end smacking the concrete like a well-trained dog. Mary Alice, who is 20 years past her minimum release date, also will wait another three years for her next attempt at freedom. Eara didn't even stay for her full hearing. The Parole Board told her she should have had a new psychological evaluation prior to the hearing. Eara had actually tried to get a new psychological evaluation, but the Administrative arm of the Parole Board had told her, in 15 writing, that it was not necessary, that the new psych evaluations are only repeated every five years. These commissioners pretty much told her that she would not be found suitable if she were to proceed, so she took her only option at that point, to stipulate her own unsuitability and hope they eventually would give her a new psych evaluation. Yvonne, who is "only" 8 years past her release date, had tons of laudatory chronos in her file, many from the CIW staff who knew her well and applauded her work ethic. Her crime occurred 22 years ago as a consequence of Battered Women's Syndrome, and all of this is wellsubstantiated in her file. The commissioners also told Yvonne she should have a more recent psych evaluation. She stood her ground, producing documentation of her attempts to be provided a new psych evaluation, and the same Administrative letter informing her that psych evaluations are provided every five years. She proceeded with the hearing and was denied parole because of two non-violent rules violations four and five years ago (possession of a cigarette and refusing a medical transport). How does this make Yvonne a threat to public safety? Belitta is 63 years old and has been in prison for 22 years. She must have been given the full gamut of the Parole Board's decision making powers because her denial was based on the heinous nature of the crime, her (supposed) lack of insight, and questions about her psych evaluation…although they praised her for remaining disciplinary free and for her positive changes. I could give you so many more stories, outrageous reasons the commissioners offer as rationale for denying A Rose Called Love Love is a seed that we plant within The potted soils of our hearts To which we weather, tend to and maintain, Through pleasure's sun and pain's rain. Until love blossoms to life like a flower, With our hearts as the foundation. The stem, our sheer determination, will and Incredible strength to withstand, through Whatever life tends to throw our way. With each beautiful petal as a symbol of Each season in our lives, for as each petal Withers and dies within time… So does each season as we journey Through the unknown paths of life… All the while bearing each thorn as a medal, And a reminder of life's many failed attempts, Great achievements and unforgettable lessons Taught and learned…And so if love were a flower It would simply be the Beautiful Rose! Because just like the very Nature of Love "No matter who, what, when, where and why, A rose is still and always will be a rose." No matter where it grows… Anne formerly incarcerated at Washington Correctional Center for Women 16 25 parole, but after a while it gets almost too ludicrous to list anymore. If we look at the financial cost to keep these women behind bars, the numbers quickly become astronomical…Sixty-three years past the minimum eligible parole date, the date the judge who sentenced them, and society who believed the system was fair, assumed they would be released from prison. Four of the five women are "Golden Girls" and so each woman, each year, costs another $138,000. A non-Golden Girl costs $50,000 each year to continue to incarcerate, so: 43 years x $138,000 per year = $5,934,000 20 years x $50,000 per year = $1,000,000 So the total cost to the taxpayer is $6,934,000 to keep these women in prison 63 years beyond their minimum release date. Now of course, you should question, "How can you put a price on safety?" You are right…what price is public safety worth? Does it promote public safety to under fund education, let our youth fail in school and eventually drop out…knowing that 50% of all high school drop-outs end up involved in the criminal justice system? Does it promote public safety to deny a single mother food stamps, or deny subsidized childcare so she can work…knowing that, as a mother, she will do whatever it takes to feed her kids? We know that the state has a finite amount of money to spend. We know therefore that every dollar spent on prisons is a dollar taken from education and social supports. No one wants society to be harmed. The media seems to hysterically report how some parolee got into 24 17 trouble with the law, but you might want to know the real statistics, published by CDCR's own research division. According to CDCR's own 2011 Adult Institutions Outcome Evaluation Report, of 860 convicted murderers who have been released between January 1995 and March 2011, five have been returned to prison for new crimes (2 for second-degree burglary, one petty theft, one robbery, 2 for possession of a weapon). This represents a less than 1% recidivism rate, or less than one one-hundredth of California's overall 70% recidivism rate. So when we talk about public safety, let's talk about the whole picture. Jane Dorotik W90870 California Institution for Women, MB 114L 16756 Chino-Corona Road Corona, CA 92880 Originally published March 2012 in the SURA Advocate 18 23 Coping with After-Birth Blues After giving birth to my daughter, I was basically on my own as far as emotional support or counseling. Many women in my situation had to be on psychotropic drugs. I could not! The thought of it scared me. I saw how the drugs affected them (and not always in a positive way). The drugs made some of them angry and paranoid. It made some into insomniacs. Some were unable to feel or concentrate and some even became physically ill. I wanted to feel, not be numb. "There is a long road to my healing," I said to myself, "but I have no other choice. I could give up and go crazy! Right? Many before me did." I didn't understand a lot. Who could explain it to me? Why does it hurt so badly? I felt so empty, touching my belly and not feeling my baby anymore? I suffered from postpartum depression from my other baby already, so this was almost unbearable. I've been hurt before, but this was unimaginable. No one really cared. We are numbers not people, inside these walls. The warrior in me, even though still silent, didn't allow it. I was fortunate. The chaplain working in the jail took me under her wing. 22 19 I was determined to get better for myself and my family. I talked to the chaplain a lot. She became my spiritual advisor and a friend. A true one (which is hard to find). She allowed me to organize her office, clean up, and help with painting, drawings for the staff as rewards. That's when I discovered my artistic talent. I never knew I had one until then. Art was very therapeutic, so drawing, keeping busy, getting out of the unit, helping others, reading, exercising gave me some sense of my new life, a new purpose, a new beginning. I still had lots of pain, but the healing began. Everyone copes differently. I had to find my place. I also began writing a lot and tutored others who were getting their GED. (That was awesome.) After running the whole day, I had to lie my head down and that's when the pain became enormous. I cried myself to sleep on many occasions. It was comforting to let it all out and, after a while, it became easier to sleep. I felt guilty for not being there for my children. I had to go on though. Meditation was a huge part of my life. (Sitting on a floor, breathing and calming yourself down thinking positive thoughts. My favorites were waterfalls, birds chirping, the wind, children laughing) Mail and visits also helped me with the healing process. I knew I wasn't alone. Phone calls were awesome too. The realization that I was not the only one going through the pain was the breakthrough for me. There was a special unit for pregnant girls at the jail and so, instead of giving in to self-pity, I started a circle of friends who had gone through what I did. We talked, laughed, played games, ate together. We survived. I became a strong advocate for PTSD and post-partum victims (mothers and abused women). Not treated, these can be fatal. We must start new networks to educate others and help them with coping skills to prevent further deaths. Are you willing to be a part? By a survivor and overcomer, Margaret Majos B49682 PO Box 549 Lincoln, IL 62656 20 21