Monday, May 14, 2007

some brief thoughts

These are some excerpts from a letter Tina wrote to a friend..she wants everyone to know as much as possible about the conditions of a prison, so I will copy some of it here.

"I want to tell you all that has happened in this long (it feels as if I have been here months already) and yet short (I have met so many marvelous, wonderful women) week.

On Sunday night, I went to the Protestant service at the invitation of my unit friends. These people came with the minister from the outside. As they came around greeting us inmates, I thought to myself, "I wonder if they know that the y are shaking the hands of saints." You see I realized "saints" are not perfect people, just people whose faith in God is really all they have and that faith "moves mountains." Mountains of despair, mountains of pain and sorrow.

When I see some sisters I share this compound with who are looking at 3, 5, 10 years, life sentences, my heart breaks...How can they do it? It is so unjust. Mandatory minimums, conspiracy laws, lack of federal probation...I could not understand the MAGNITUDE of suffering until I see it, live it with my own eyes and life. The US prison system is the dirty little secret of the United States.

There is no messing around here. I am officially working in the dining room. I wipe tables from 4:40 to 12:30 for 12 cents an hour. I told the officer I did not care about the money, I was working for my sisters here. And you know what, God is leading here. I sang to myself a little song of peace...smiled and greeted people as I wiped up after them, took the trays of the elderly and got food for them. In a word, I wanted to just spread Love!! I told people to take their time when they ate and tried to just make their meal pleasant. Usually officers walk around bellowing "Hurry up" "eat, don't talk" and you RACE through a meal like there is no tomorrow because you don't want to get locked in.

I cut up the sandwiches of two elderly women in wheelchairs. One just got here yesterday. She told me, "I have to get used to this place. I'll be here 12 years." She will die here in 12 years. I cried but hid my tears because I don't want to be put on psych.

I noticed something else while I worked. At the noon meal they have Mon-Fri what is called Main Line. Key captains, Lieutenants, Officers, Doctors, etc. line up and if tyou have a complaint, you can bring it up to them as you get your food. i noticed that they RARELY smile. In face, the staff in general doesn't smile often. Now this is not everyone. Some are decent and seem to care or have some respect. But I would say the majority have a look of contempt as if you are trying to get someting over on them. So overall there is an atmosphere of DEEP mistrust and lack of respect. DEEP, very deep.

And I continue to listen to stories of women...I listened as a woman told me how she had a tubal pregnancy and they would not believe she was pregnant. She sat doubled over in pain at 2 am. Finally they took her to the hospital and she sat there until 9 am, not believing she was pregnant until her doctor here got in at 9 am. Then they did tests and found her fallopean tube had ruptured. They removed one tube and an hour AFTER surgery, they dressed her and sent her back here. 1 HOUR!! They did not want her to stay in the hospital outside b/c they would have to pay."

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