The Felonious PhD.

White Collar Female PhD. Felon, Prison Camp, Re-Entry, Criminal Justice Reform. Women, Lesbian

As the Sun Comes Up, Continued…

on November 15, 2013

Next to LittleJ is a newbie.  She is a young twenty-something, mixed-race woman.  She is very nice and still very quiet.

In the next bunk is Ms. J who is an Asian woman in her 40’s who is trying very hard to understand what she has done wrong and why the judge wants her in jail.  Ms. J spends much of her time in the library.  I go there for peace, she goes there for the Asian newspaper.  She reads the English one as well, as best she can, so that, according to her, she doesn’t have to ask so many questions/

On the farthest wall to my left there are three bunk beds.  The first bunk has a 30-year-old African-American woman who cried inconsolably when she received a picture of her beautiful 5-year-old son.  Her bottom bunkee is another Hispanic woman in her 40’s who always smiles when anyone walks by her bunk.  She talked to me yesterday about child welfare issues since she heard through our high-tech communication system, inmate.com, that I am a social worker.

The second of those three bunks is home to a 20-something Hispanic female who is excited about my creative writing class.  She said, “Little.  Are you going to make me talk about my private, personal business in front of people?”  I replied, “No, I am not going to make you do anything.  But, I will provide a forum and safe environment for you to speak your truth.”  She seemed more than satisfied with my response.    Her bottom bunkee is a 50ish caucasian woman who moved from the south side unit because she was being bullied.  She sits quietly in her corner looking around at everyone.  One day at count time, I stood next to her and asked her how she was doing.  Her response was, “The only thing that matters is that God would fix this.  God has to fix this. He sees all.”  Okay!

In the last bunk in that row of three , there are two older caucasian women who are very quiet, yet friendly.  They don’t talk much.  They just seem to be in shock or highly medicated.  I suppose the effect would be the same either way, so maybe a little more time will reveal which it is. Or maybe not.

Now to the far back wall.  On the left there is a young mixed-race woman who has been here for a while.  She bounces around listening to her music, like there’s not a care in the world.  Her bottom bunkee is a 50ish African-American substance abuse counselor, who is new like me, and  still trying to figure out why the system has given her jail time and what purpose it serves to have her here.  Next to them, on the right, are two caucasian women. On the bottom bunk is Ms. V (aka Big Country), who is often reading a romance novel to escape the reality of a 7 year sentence. Next to them are two caucasian women.  The 20 something on the top bunk seems to be a hard worker and has learned very well how to survive in this environment.  I hear she has been here for quite a while and some to not speak well of her because of her abrasive demeanor.  From what i have seen, she is just adapting to an environment where YOU are your only worry!  Her bunkee, who is 50ish, speaks very knowingly about the prison system.  I don’t know her story, but she is friendly, knowledgeable and shares whatever she has.

The next bunk is home to two of my favorite people.  Ms. R, a caucasian woman, resides on the top bunk and is in her 40s.  She is always good for a laugh and has generously been teaching LittleJ and me how to perfect a jail house spread.  Being my uppity self, at least in the food department, I have been a bit, shall we say, resistant to the chow line, but when she cooks, I eat!  She jokes that she has been incarcerated too long because she knows too many jailhouse recipes.  Ms. M is her bottom bunkee.  She is an African-American woman in her 40’s.  We often talk about how this process has devastated our careers and those who are close to us.  We also laugh out loud a lot about the prison camp culture.  Things like, count, recreation, the food, and the toilet paper.  You have to be “inside” to really appreciate that last one!  I will give some insight on that when I am free!!  Ms. M can often be found playing card games such as spades and golf.  She will be leaving soon and as a result, she is experience some “short-timer’s feelings.” Whew! That’s quite a mix of emotions that one would never expect!

In the last bunk is my ex-neighbor, Ms.E, who taught me my first lesson here.  “This is Jail.  Get used to it!”  She is Asian, 26 years old, and has too much experience with the system.  I enjoy joking with her and making her laugh.  Her bunkee is a 40ish woman from Africa.  She has begun to laugh and joke with Little J and I.  Initially, I think we disturbed her groove with our joke telling and laughter.  Now, she will just lets us be us and goes her own way or joins in if the mood strikes her.

That is the multipurpose room crew….for the moment.  For the past three weeks, I have seen plenty of people come and go.  It is a proverbial revolving door where true relationships are a risk.  For women, I can see how this system tears at the very fabric of who we are as mothers, aunts, sisters, and friends.  That is why it is important that society understand the consequences of throwing away and destroying non-violent, albeit law-offending women.  this is not a race, age, or income issue.  This is a gender issue.  This is a women’s issue which makes it a major issue for our country.

Listen up people!!

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