The Felonious PhD.

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

To My Baby Kamillo Little Langi…

I have never felt trapped!  Like a butterfly snuggled tightly in its cocoon, fighting diligently to stay alive and purposeful – for others!

When I received the news that my grandbaby, Kamillo Little Langi, was sick, very sick, I immediately got a huge knot in the pit of my stomach.  The angst was not for myself, I could rationalize and talk myself through this process.  But unlike the me of the past, I am unable to assist my son, Josh, and Stevie, Kamillo’s mama.  Selfishly, I feel cheated by this incarceration of self.  The incarceration of my whole purpose; to provide unconditional love to all who need me, especially my family.

I have not seen baby boy Kamilly Little Langi, but I love him.  I want him to feel my love, and know that his grandma, Cassandra, is thinking about him and loves him eternally.  There is nothing more pure and loving than a baby.  There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching helplessly as a parent of a parent as their child is ill….very ill.  I have seen and endured it before.  I have also seen how something so traumatic and hard forces one to accept life on its terms.

We cannot control how long sweet baby boy Kamillo Little Langi is here on Earth.  We can, and I know I will, love him like I do all of my grand kids here and in the hereafter…eternally.

I am thankful for my grandson, baby boy Kamillo Little Langi, for teaching me that I am not trapped.  Love of another exists outside of these walls and resonates inside of me, which gives me the FREEDOM to love him regardless.

Love you Kamillo!

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Half-Way Home…

Nonna Y is half-way home…..

Today, one of the women who I enjoyed talking to was released to go to a halfway house near her home.  It was my first experience of witnessing and experiencing how it feels to see someone leave.  Several of her friends in here were crying, tears of happiness, I’m sure, but also crying because while we may want to stay in touch with someone with whom a friendship was built, it is not legally allowed while you are incarcerated and/or on probation.

Like I have told several people, enjoy each other’s company while in here because nothing is worth being in violation of the rules that would force a return to this madness.  I know many people would say that will not happen, but I have talked to several people who are here on single violations.  I say nothing is worth losing your freedom over, especially if the rules are clear and spelled out.

So, I had the privilege of saying goodbye to Nonna Y.  I will miss her daily smile and her saying, “Hello, Ms. Little.” I am extremely happy she is half-way home to her family.  I know they are happy to have her closer in proximity and closer to going home for good.

Like anything in this cyclical life, and in our crazy justice system, as Nonny Y walked out the door, today three new women walked in!  When will this end?  When and how will the war against women be changed?  Does the Obama administration understand how convoluted laws and inconsistent, corrupt, and the prejudiced justice system has hit the slippery slope toward mass destruction of the family unit?  Well, he should speak to Nonna Y and find alternative methods and dole out consequences to individuals who are non-violent, first time, low-level offenders.  Maybe people like Nonna Y and I can be given the privilege of having the same breaks as the politicians, bankers, police, and other officials who have unintentionally broken the law.  I’m just saying!

Good luck Nonna Y!  I am so glad you are half-way free!

 

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Merry Christmas….

Merry Christmas to all of my friends and family!  I love you and miss you all!

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Another Month Gone….

I would like to report to all that I am adapting well and feeling great!  Well, this place has given me an opportunity to develop a new and improved ability to adapt. I have always been able to strategize myself through troubled waters and come out on the other end smiling so don’t think that I don’t still smile a lot, even here! I’m able to smile because this is what I know…this process is temporary and will be tucked so far away into my psyche, in the do not resuscitate file, that I will move on afterwards.

As I walk around the camp observing, engaging, participating, and existing, I can’t help but think about who created this monster.  I want to have a discussion with someone in the D.O.J. (Department of Justice) and ask what the purpose was because if anyone came and spent 2 weeks here, they would leave rubbing, and scratching their head.  Being a program developer, I am sure that, initially, there was a clear purpose and at some point it met the needs of those involved.  I just have to think that way, otherwise, our system is a complete farce.  I am stuck in a system that is about to implode.

The over-crowding here at the camp (the FEMALE, forget the men for a minute) is bursting at the seams!  So much so that it is literally impossible for a competent employee to do their job effectively.  Case loads are high, inmates are not leaving on their correct dates, we are housed in television rooms, I could go on and on.  Like Marvin Gaye, I want to scream, “What’s going on?”

I only have a 33 month sentence, I am saying only not because I think that is a cake walk, because-whew!-it isn’t, but because some of the NON-VIOLENT women here have sentences such as 120 months or 135 months.  I had to sit back and put that into perspective.

People are always asking me what I am going to write about.  I have always wanted to inspire and be uplifting to others, so I do not think that the criminal justice system is the thing I should write about.  Ironically, my bachelors degree is in Criminal Justice.  I once even had aspirations of being an attorney….go figure.  So, I believe in order and rules.  I just do not understand all of the inconsistencies, lies, and the level of erroneous judgments that are upheld in the court of law while the real criminals (those who control the money, wall street, politicians, you get my point) go free.

Anyway, sitting in the camp another day, I can tell you it is not about money on the Government’s end.  Because the way they place non-violent, victim-less “criminals” in the system where it costs on the average $34,000 per year to house a woman with minimal medical needs, it just does not make sense fiscally.  To me, it feels like a system that has run its course and need to be revamped in order to be effective.

Like I have told the women in the unit, that change may not happen when we want it to happen, but change is inevitable.

In the meantime, I smile!

 

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The Traveling Toilet Paper

I have spent weeks trying to formulate this blog!   I want to find a way to give a clear visual of how we, in the camp, live every day.

Every Sunday or Monday, we are given three or four rolls of toilet paper.  Not two-ply or soft toilet paper; I mean this toilet paper is a step below sand paper.  Whew!  Tough on the butt!!  Anyway, we are rationed out toilet paper for our personal use and it must be carried back and forth be each individual as they need to use the restroom.  Now, the question that I’ve yet to have answered is, “Why don’t we just have toilet paper in the bathroom.?”  Nobody has an answer yet!  We all just conform to the norm and proudly accept our weekly rationed rolls!

A few weeks ago, we were all laughing in the unit because one of the women in the unit, “Nae,” said she went to the restroom and as she was walking out, there were three precious rolls of t.p. sitting on top of the trash can and her first instinct was to grab them!  Just then another woman from the unit saw her and said, “You know you really don’t have to do that.”  We laughed, and laughed at how this environment truly makes one feel in survival mode.  Even when it comes to toilet paper, it’s every woman for herself!  It is so crazy to walk out of the unit with a roll of toilet paper in hand and walk towards another person carrying their own roll.  People in here also have TOILET PAPER PURSES….NO lie!  Honestly, If I had not seen the lovely crocheted toilet paper purse, I would never have believed it!

I have often said that I feel like I have lived many different lives in my short time on this Earth, and this one is proving to be pretty interesting to say the least.  Our government can destroy, diminish, demean, and lie about a lot of things, but the true, honest, raw beauty of the human spirit cannot be deterred even when you are incriminated if you are a peaceful, loving, intelligent, powerful woman and surrounded by such.  We are not meant to survive this kind of treatment, but I know we will.  I am thankful for those women who keep me laughing while we are all trapped here in hell!

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The Sun Shines Again at the Camp…

I woke up this morning to a wonderful sight…the sun.  The rain had created such a barrier for me that I found myself walking in circles in the unit.  As soon as I wake up, I jump in my shoes and sweats and hit the track.  I have never been one who loved to exercise, but the track serves several purposes for me these days.  It is the one area where even if you are not alone, you can have the feeling of being alone.  I feel free there, free to sing out loud, free to think, and free to plan for when I am actually….free.  I will not call the track my sanctuary, that would mean I was cheating on my basketball court, and that could never happen!  After I walk on the track, I go inside the recreation area, get a flat basketball, head to the office that is home to the pump, pump up my ball, and head to those concrete courts. Whew!

Today, as the sun was shining and as I was shooting baskets, the sight of the snow-covered mountains validated, once again, that beauty is everywhere;  we just have to be open to seeing it.  Those snow-covered mountains were a sign to behold.   Made me with I was a painter instead of a writer.  (Only today though!)

Now that the sun has set, I am going to go enjoy my evening walk, and hope for another wonderfully sunny day tomorrow.

 

 

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Chapel Time…

It is only 8:15 am and I have already had breakfast, worked out, and cleaned my area.  On a clear day, I would be outside shooting baskets or going in circles on the track.  But, because it is raining and the unit is packed, actually over packed because of overcrowding, I am seeking some peace and quiet in the chapel.

The chapel area encompasses a small worship area and about eight private rooms.  One of the rooms has a video viewing area that has ten small, flat screen  t.v.s where you can check out and view inspirational movies, spiritual movies, or listen to inspirational cd’s.  For me it serves as a space where I can sit alone, watch a movie, write, and breathe.

I am struck by how almost every person I speak to here at the camp seems to focus their topic of conversations on God.  Now, those who know me understand that I am a spiritually aware individual and i am comfortable with where I am and my growth will always be continuous when it comes to spirituality.  To me, spirituality means love; complete and honest love with all.  And I have that…enough said for now.

So, maybe this is my test in how I want to and desire to live my life.  I want to always be open to loving all, no matter what.  Does that mean I must love those who worship a system that has hurt me to my core?  To answer my own question, I say, yes.  I have to love people like Landon T., and R. Rachow otherwise I am no better than them.  That is no huge spiritual awakening that is taking place here in this sterile space.  That is just who I am as a person.

As I watch these inspirational movies, I am reminded of how the human spirit innately has the capacity to overcome all forms of adversity.  Whether they need the power of God or the positive energy from believing in the spiritual connection that binds us all together, no matter the situation.

Sitting in the chapel, as they call a meeting for the Jehovah Witnesses, and then announce a movie for the Wickens, I say it is all about love and connection.

That is just me, though!

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U.S. Senate Judiciary Reviewing Federal Sentencing Reform Bills on Thursday

If you visit this blog, appreciate the problem with mandatory sentencing and the U.S. Prison problem, and live in Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah or Vermont, please click here for information on a call-in day to the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee regarding committee hearings on Federal Sentencing Reform Bills. The call-in day only applies to people living in those states. 

U.S. Senate Judiciary Reviewing Federal Sentencing Reform Bills on Thursday.

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Notes from a Nature Daughter…

Those who are familiar with the incredible writer James Baldwin, will recognize the twist on the title of one of his famous essays called, Notes of a Nature Son.  Baldwin wrote extensively about his internal and external struggles with being a black man, writer, humanist, truth-seeker over a time that span from the 1940’s into the 1980’s.

Here I sit, in a federal prison camp, in 2013 faced with similar struggles.  Here at the camp, like in the Jim Crow era, you are made aware of the fact that you are less than…..an inmate!  Well, I don’t claim any of their titles, but I try to grasp how this environment is supposed to enhance one’s chances of becoming a productive participant in society once leaving here when everything about this environment is structured to keep me from feeling any form of connection or sense of belonging to a community or the society I once was actively and lovingly giving my all to.  In the administration building, dining hall, and anywhere outside the unit, the bathrooms are labelled INMATE ONLY (otherwise translated to me, colored, black, nigger, “other”) and the other is labelled STAFF (the chosen one).  Get my point?  When I first saw that, I did a double take.  No one else saw why I was appalled.  Well, I am extremely appalled at the constant insistence by the system to label me as “the other.”  It makes me pose several questions to myself.  For examples, “Why would I want to contribute to such a society that can so easily and callously toss me away and keep it moving?”  The other question I ask is, “Who in the hell do they think they are?”

The humanist in me wants to cry and find a way to show them that this is no way to treat another person or living thing.  The realist in me wants to stand up and scream to let them hear or see the errors in their system.  Then the mother, lover, friend, sister, and aunt in me just says, “Get this period of your life over and write about it.”

James Baldwin’s battles stemmed from racial and moral divides in our country’s past.  My battles stem from our country’s love of money and its persistent goal to allow only a select few to truly enjoy the fruits of their labor. All the while, I am well aware of the fact that the camp, and its staff, are not the real problem.  The problem lies in the structures that are housed in D.C. which are truly motivated by power and money.  With its new Jim Crow mentality, what the powers that be did not count on was how their greedy ways, partisan politics, and selfish ways would affect their own backyards.  There are more white, middle to upper class women in here than there are any other race.  Something has happened, and like I told a woman in the library during a nice discussion, I won’t be leading the battle for change.  The black race has been the scapegoat and soldiers for way too long.  Time for someone else to lead the march.

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On a Rainy, Cloudy, Windy Day

Today has been challenging for several reasons.  The first is that I was unable to go walking this morning because of that rain and wind.   Being my stubborn self, I was determined to do it!  I rationalized that all I had to do was bundle up.  Well! That lasted only two minutes.  So my next option was to see if any of the exercise rooms in the recreation building were available.  Of course, they were all reserved.  I found myself becoming agitated and mad.  I even laughed at myself because I have never cared about working out consistently.  In the past, I could take it or leave it….especially walking.  I found it so boring.

Then the calm, rational voice in my head surfaced and reminded me that it was no the fact that I could not work out that was on my nerves, but the fact that on a rainy, cloudy, windy day, I could not find the solitude that I am used to meeting on that track.  On the track, I can walk with my earphones on and think about tomorrow and what will be next for me.  Along with getting some much-needed exercise, after I have walked that circle to nowhere in the morning and again in the evening, I sleep soundly without the million thoughts that race through my mind.

Now, as I sit in the unit at 3:15 pm on this rainy, cloudy, and windy day, I have to just adjust and adapt to my surroundings and hope for a better day tomorrow.  Or, possibly, I will try to bundle up later tonight and walk in the rain.  Hmmmm……

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