The Felonious PhD.

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

I am the New Librarian……LOL!!

Today, once again, I have changed my work detail.  The detail I am supposed to be excited to have and feel pride in acquiring, pays an incredible rate of 16 cents, $.16, YES….16 CENTS an hour!  Every day I ask, ” IS THIS LEGAL?” Then I swiftly remind my felonious self that I am less than human as I sit in this library wearing a  green used men’s uniform and men’s boots! And the prideful, hard-working, middle-aged PhD wielding woman is just fuming over the realization that I have been rendered a SLAVE.  I am a legal slave for the Prison Industrial Complex.  Unbelievable!

I think back to when I was trapped in jobs that paid way more than 16 cents an hour which made me feel the same angst and frustration that I am currently experiencing.  The feelings are the same.  I find that interesting.  So, it is not simply about being a slave in the prison camp. Philosophically, I have always enjoyed the freedom and experience of being an entrepreneur.  It allowed me to utilize all of my creativity and my loving, caring, self.  

My goal is to return to my community and create an environment that will empower, assist, and inspire others to continue to dream-to dream beyond their reality.  I am thankful for my librarian detail.  I am thankful for my entrepreneurial spirit. And I am thankful to be around my favorites–words and books.  

Life is worth living!  

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Other People Matter…..Thanks Coach!

It’s not too often that I am caught emotionally off guard.  But as I was sitting in the visiting room listening to my college basketball coach, Coach King, update me on what has been going on with him over the past month, it hit me!  This man has been part of my life for about 30 years!  Oh My Gosh!!

Being my ornery, prideful self, I have not stopped to think that people are going to feel differently about me since I am now a “felon.”  I am quick to write others off and I do it in a loving manner, but just as i was talking to Coach about my visit with my son, mother, and Deb, I realized that I may not have had my parents in my life as I was growing up, but I have been surrounded by some incredible loving and kind people.  Immediately, I felt a sense of relief about Aaron not having me in his life for about 23 months.  He has some incredible people surrounding him as well.  

I would never with this experience on anyone.  I do, however, want to tell people who are unfortunate enough to be involved in the criminal justice system that our children will be fine.  As long as they have the love and support of others, and know that we are okay, they can and will excel.  

Coach King has played many roles in my life….. well shoot, for many of the young women he has raised on and off the court.  I am not happy about him having to visit me in this environment.  It is far from ideal!  But, no matter how tough I am, and how grown I become, I still love the fact that he takes time out of his day to come and simply say Hello!  Thanks Coach!  I hope you realize that WE all love you!  

I am forever thankful for the wonderful people I have in my life.  Not just those that visit, but also those that pray, those that write, those that help with my son and everyone that loves and respects me.  Thank you!!

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A Mother’s Tears…..Incontrovertible Love

This process requires a tremendous amount of courage and an intense sense of self-worth, self-dignity, self-determination and self-love.  I know that over the last 9 months I have developed a sense of love for myself that I will never ever be able to clearly explain for others, so I won’t try.  I will provide a visual model for how we mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and friends can and should participate in activities that increase our own financial, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  That I am promising!

Today, as I sit in this desolate, windy, barren, dirt and ant-infested Federal Prison Camp, I am admittedly having some of the most profound experiences and interactions with women who are, for a lack of a better term, at their most vulnerable.  That, in itself, is inescapably a unique and very sticky position for me to be in as I am determined to focus on myself, not get involved in any of the surrounding drama, and refusing to be a free clinician for this oppressive, ill-equipped system.

There is one woman here that I have allowed myself to become close to.  She received a 10 year sentence (120 months).  That is an inexplicably arduous task for a woman who was a hard-working, single mother of two (now adult) sons.

For the past few months, Ms. W. and i have discussed our cases, our resilience and drive to work hard and strive for the “American Dream.”  My path to the dream was through education and child welfare, while hers was through real estate investment.  She opened her own company and named her eldest son as the CEO.  ms. W. is an energetic New Yorker who  has the capacity for dreaming but the ability to attack that dream with fervor and tenacity.  She does not say how incredible was, but if she is here, that means she earned a good living by WORKING  HARD.  When she does talk about her company she speaks about how loved closing deals and seeing people get excited once a deal was closed.

The other day, during our discussion, it just came out.  I said to her, without and hesitation, “Well, when this is over you have to find a way to forgive yourself.”  I have thought it over and over again during previous conversations, but this day it just came out from behind my whispers.  Immediately her eyes began to tear up.  You must know that she and I are similar in that we try to refuse to cry in here.  but, just as i impulsively spoke those words to her, she began tearing up and said, “That is going to be hard.”  You see, because of one bad real estate deal which was negotiated by/with another broker, Ms. W. and her eldest son, whom she proudly made CEO, were indicted.

This story is truly heartbreaking and life changing in so many ways.  This single mother has always prided herself in raising intelligent, capable, wonderfully law-abiding, loving men.  Now, because of an obscure real estate laws, government power, over-reach, and coercion, her CEO-son whom she appointed was sentenced to 18 months in Federal Prison.  As a mother, I could not imagine, I don’t want to image.  But for Ms. W., I made myself sit in her shoes.  There are not many scenarios that leave me without words, but, at the end of our conversation, I did manage to say to her that she has to remember that her pain is her story, not his.  She corresponds with her son and he assures her that he is fine.  He is due to be released this month and for that, she is thankful.

As i have discussed many times, there are many instances where i can say “I just don’t get it!”  I know many people who hear the testimony or stories about people convicted of white-collar crime are often unsympathetic because the truth is that there ARE people who intentionally lie, cheat, and steal.  I am just amazed at the extent to which our system will go in order to preserve big banks, bankers, and Wall Street while destroying, dehumanizing, and incarcerating the average citizen who made an honest, or ill-advised, mistake.

In this prison camp, I have seen families of these non-violent, first time offender, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend being paralyzed and terrorized by any means necessary by our government.  We are LOW HANGING FRUIT! The easy targets.  All we have once our government declares war on us is our family and our soul. And for some, both of those are fractured and scarred beyond recognition.

The incredible thing about Ms. W. is that she has a wonderful soul.  She is resilient; a true loving mother and she will recover from this experience.  As a mother, I think that there will always be some residue from this torturing experience and yet, even that will become less apparent as time gives some space between this experience and the next.

There is nothing more emotional than a mother’s tears! I just cannot wait for this entire process to be over.  it was a difficult conversation, but i am thankful that those words slipped out of my mouth.

Life is worth living!

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Who Cares?……..I Get It!

Many of the women in the Federal Prison Camp do not care very much about the news.  I seriously get their reluctance to listen to the ills of our communities and society.  For me, I just feel the need to remain connected to the pain of our society.  Although I am acutely aware of the limitations that our televised news has in what is truthful, fully, or accurately reported.

Often, after watching the morning news here in Federal Prison Camp, I feel an intense need to formulate a plan to help those who seem so lost and disenfranchised.  I know that sounds crazy coming from an inmate, felon, ugly green man uniform, woman who is trapped by her government; but it is my truth.  I can’t help it!  My anguish with sitting here is that as I sit and watch while young people are killing or being killed…..I know I can help.  I know I cannot perform miracles but damn it, I know I can make a difference in a few young people’s lives.   I know, because I did, with no scheme or plan for financial gain.

As I listen to “grown folks” discuss the incidents and tragedies that involve young people, I heat the blaming, cruelty, disgust, disdain, and irreverence.  My first thought is, “Well, hell, now I know where they learn it.”

I watch the news every morning for two hours after my daily two-mile walk.  The news is not informative to me.  It is actually a catalyst for validating my next plan!  Even as I sit in this hell, it is clear to me that I have to re-enter my community being more of my loving self.  I have to create an environment that encourages self-love, love for others, humanity, happiness, peace, and mindful freedom for young people.

I understand why many would rather not connect to the pain and sadness that is witnessed daily on the news, especially since we are trapped in a space where it takes every bit of yourself to smile or even wake up and put one foot in front of the other.  I GET IT!  I also get that without people like me, our communities and society will continue to fail at giving our young people hope, dreams, or options for how to operate mindfully in this world.  I believe in the concept of a village, and our village is failing!

I am thankful for the opportunity to plan for my next.  The clarity of purpose, energy, and time to love myself has made this experience worthwhile for me.  I will never own or respect the means by which others have treated me, defamed me, wrongly characterized my village/business, but I will always respect the journey!

 

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A Mother’s Love…..I Got to See my Sonny!!!

I had a wonderful visit this past weekend with my mom, Deb, and most of all my Sonny. Today, as I sit outside here at the Federal Prison Camp, my heart is full. It is full of love and peace. I love being Aaron’s mom, and out of all of my achievements I have to say being his mom is my greatest yet!

During our visit on Saturday and Sunday, all I could think about was how mature he was getting physically as well as emotionally. He is getting so big……or I am shrinking!! lol. As a mother who is incarcerated, the number one stressor is his safety and well-being . Are his basic needs being met? Because of his older brother Daniel and Nicole and the rest of our family I have to say his basic needs are being met and then some. That makes me happy. As a mindful mother, who is also a clinician, I am also concerned about and will remain acutely aware of how this is/will impact him emotionally. Will it make changes to his core self? I have so much experience with young people whose parents were absent, and was a child with absent parents, that I always want to acknowledge and address anything that may arise for him in regards to my incarceration. But thus far, from what I could see and hear during our first visit in nearly nine months, he is truly and consistently himself. For that I am relieved and thankful. Aaron knows he is loved and that I want nothing more than to be home doing whatever he needs done. Including his dirty laundry….which he informs me he will cease doing for himself once I return. lol.

I so desperately want to be home actively being his mother. I did get to rub his head!!!! Yay!!! That is my favorite. Although he was tired of my kisses, he welcomed the head-rubbing. My big young man. I miss him deeply. I never took my role as his parent lightly. It has always been serious business to me. Now being away from him and knowing that I will not be able to get these 22 to 27 months back, it encourages me to continue to move through this process lovingly. I do not want to return home to him angry or vengeful. I will leave this camp as I came… a loving, caring, confident, powerful, passionate, woman and mother. I will make sure I am ready to re-enter his life productively despite this environment and this demeaning process.

This environment does nothing to remind women who have children that they are mothers 110% of the time not just when you have visits or when you return home. The art of Mothering is ongoing and requires us to consciously and actively continue to nurture that part of ourselves. I am thankful for my son. I am very thankful to my Mom and Deb for bringing him to visit.

I miss and love you Sonny! Keep being you, you are WONDERFUL!!!

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