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Introduction to Prison


nine
years
clean
Introduction to Prison: Chapter 1
I've been wanting to tell you all what prison was like. It's not an easy subject for me to talk about. But maybe if I share a little bit about it, someone will learn from one of the most devastating things brought on by my addiction to methamphetamine.

 My 13 year addiction......led me to Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, California, at the age of 40. I had spent 7 days in county jail, waiting for the California Department of Corrections van to pick me up and transport me to prison. I had never been in jail in my life. I had never been in trouble with the law at all. Ever. I was indicted on 11 felony counts after turning myself in, in order to make amends for a crime I committed while spun. I don't blame the drug, because I knew that what I was doing was wrong, even as I was doing it. I do, however, blame myself for my addiction. I got myself into that mess. And now, it was time to pay the price. To clean the slate, if you will.

Anyway, like I said, they couldn't even find a parking ticket on me. I had, for 15 years prior, been a wife, and a mom, and a paralegal in federal court, a professional, so to speak, and a member of my community in a well respected family known throughout the expansive area. I had never been in trouble before. But they decided to throw the book at me, basically because I wouldn't name names, never mind that I turned myself in and was trying to do the right thing, so they gave me three 16 month sentences in the state penitentiary, four years total, to be served concurrently (whew!).
I arrived at VSP on February 19, 1997, with two black eyes. I had broken all of the blood vessels surrounding both eyes from crying for 7 days while in the county jail. I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I had already been strip searched 5 or 6 times, stripped naked of any possessions, save for my eyeglasses, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. For the 6 o 7 hour drive, during which we had to stop at other prisons to drop off or pick up prisoners, we were shackled like animals. Irons on the ankles, handcuffed in the front, then the handcuffs attached to the chains around the waist. I was so thin then that they had to go two times around my waist with the chains, which made it too tight, and sometime during the long drive, my feet began to go numb. They didn't care. They didn't feed us at 4 am when the van arrived at the jail, and they didn't feed us on the long journey, nor would they stop for us to go potty.

We finally get to VSP, they offload us, take the leg irons and chains off, uncuff us, then CDC officers recuff us, we are lead into a large room, with a long counter on the left and desks and staff behind it, and cells to the right, large cells with only bars across the front, a metal toilet in the back sticking out of the wall, and long benches on either side. We are led into a cell, uncuffed, and told to strip naked and sit down. There we wait, naked and exposed to all who walk by or are working behind the counter.

Next, 5 officers, male and female, come into the cell and the two with hand mirrors each take a side where we are sitting on the benches, starting with the first woman, make her stand, be poked and prodded and pawed and basically, molested, squat and cough, stay squatted and stick this mirror to your crotch, then cough again, then move everything around with your fingers, opening everything wide enough for the guard to see. I can't tell you what it felt like, being about the 8th person down the line. I can tell you that that feeling aged me greatly. And this was only the beginning. I hadn't even spent one hour in the state penitentiary for the very first offense of my life. The only offense so far, and trust me, that's not going to change.

Next, they gave us mumu's and shower shoes and a plastic bag with "hygiene's" (small shampoo, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush). Gave us our new name....our CDC#.....took mug shots, made us prove we memorized our new name (to this day that number is seared onto my brain), had a shrink ask us how we were, hah!, then off to Unit A in the Reception Yard: 23/7 lockdown unit. Signs that say "we fire no warning shots". Guys up in the "bubble" in the middle of the unit with guns, watching us shower, watching us sleep, watching us, watching us, watching us.

Once I got in my 8x5 or so cell, and the automatic cell doors slammed shut, the crying began again, and wouldn't let up.

I think I'll make this Chapter One....I've got to get off of this topic for now. It's hard to relive. I hope it will be important for someone to read this, because if it helps one, it will be worth it.

     Replies...

chod
britt

Re: Introduction to Prison
that is so interesting.  i want to read more!!
you're a strong person

Hemet
chik
Re: Introduction to Prison
making me remember just doing county time, shyt prison. Good in-depth story 9, keep it up.

Penelope Re: Introduction to Prison
I sat in our baby country county jail for 8 hours once, and spent a week in Juvie once. I thought I was gonna lose my mind!

you're one tough cookie

Mary
Mary

Re: Introduction to Prison
Why did you go to prison?

ian Re: Introduction to Prison
Wow that sounds very hard, I've committed a lot of crimes but have never spent more than a month or two there. I know it can be humiliating sometimes to be treated like that..

Do you think it made a difference for you in terms of you not wanting to do drugs to get back there again? At first I thought it did for me but I relapsed the day I got out of jail every time.

loveman
hate
meth1
Re: Introduction to Prison
This is so heart wrenching to read because my beloved addict very well could be on his way there soon. I need and want to hear every word of what you went through. Again, it is me seeking every speck of information i can get my hands on. Your story is very timely for my situation. Thank you

Guene Re: Introduction to Prison
God I'm so sorry about what you had to go through, I had tears come to my eyes, I could feel your pain and I thank god that you are here now. I hope with time that all those sad days will fade away. Hugs and Love
nine
years
clean
Re: Introduction to Prison

Quote:


you're one tough cookie,
NO, I'm not. I'm really, really not. I made it through what I made it through by the Grace of God. I was a mom/wife/professional/member of my community.....I wasn't from the streets....I was scared shitless....I could not have done what I had to do without my faith. Period.

Quote:


Why did you go to prison?
Suffice it to say that there were no drug charges against me, nor any violence involved....It was a paper crime...a money crime...and I paid every cent back at the same time I turned myself in....I tried to do the right thing....charges hadn't been filed against me even....I turned myself in, cooperated fully, except for providing evidence to indict others and paid every cent back.....that's the God's honest truth...

Quote:


Do you think it made a difference for you in terms of you not wanting to do drugs to get back there again?
Nope. I was 6 or so months clean when I went down. I was over it. I had bigger things to concentrate on....like surviving around all those criminals. Seriously....when they first booked me into county jail, one of the questions they ask you is related to gang activity....even in a little county like the one I was from....anyway, they ask you if you fear for your life because of anyone currently in their jail, and I, of course, said YES!!! The officer jostled with his pen, preparing to write down names, and asked me Who? ALL OF THEM, I cried. No, prison didn't cure me....realizing the sheer and utter destruction of a life full of potential, a good person diminished to a soul-less, wretch of a woman, that kind of did it for me....everything else was damage control.

Quote:


. Your story is very timely for my situation

I hope it has helped you. I'll try to answer any specific questions you might have about it. I wrote that prison post a while back, and there are those who have told me they want to hear more, but it's hard to write about, and remember, and re-live.  But if you have questions, I'll do my very best to help you.      

Guene Re: Introduction to Prison
Hey you have been a good cyber friend to me and have always made me feel better, you give me hope that maybe Jamie will be ok, and You are one of the best people I know who has done such a change in your life. I Thank you for being upfront and honest about your life, that shows us what a good person you are.

DSAL
O1
Re: Introduction to Prison
It's amazing the things we go thru and still live to tell the story. That would be very scary and much more. Just knowing you survived it and came out on the right side, and stayed on the right side, is truly an inspiration. You are living proof.

chod
britt
Re: Introduction to Prison
i want to hear more, please.  i find this stuff so inspiring and interesting!

nine
years
clean
Re: Introduction to Prison

Britt:

Quote:
i want to hear more, please.

Okay, but not now. I started to write the next chapter a couple of weeks ago. I'll try to finish it.

But tell me, are you inspired, or interested, or more than that?? Are you intrigued??

It's a living nightmare, in case you are intrigued. No person who hasn't committed a violent crime should have to endure what I had to endure.

Prisons are not where drug addicts belong....prison is not where I should have gone for the first offense of my life, and not just a first offense, but a money crime. I am an ant compared to those Enron guys! And I paid every penney back before they even charged me. I should never have been sent to a place where violent criminals slept in the same room with me. I'm sorry, and I know God was with me, and got me through it, but I'm still, after over 8 years, traumatized by it.

Anyway, watch a movie, take your intrigue and read a book, don't even think for a moment that you want to experience what I have.

loveman
hate
meth1
Re: Introduction to Prison
Never intrigued. I sob at your pain and the way you have described your ordeal. I also believe that prison is not where my loved one belongs. I believe this could do more damage to his soul than the drug already has. How do I get through to the courts about a better course of action? I have written letters to the DA on his behalf, but this is not his first offense. I will be vigilant in trying to get the right care for him. I'm rambling now. Thanks again for your story. I very well may have specific questions pertaining to prison vs jail. I know nothing about either.

Bubs
Mom
Re: Introduction to Prison
Though you post is painful to read, and I'm sure more painful for YOU to write, I thank you sincerely for sharing it with us. As you know, my son is currently in a California prison on a sixteen month sentence. It's his first time in prison but he has been on honor farms and county jail five or six times over the last several years, never for violence though, but drugs and petty crimes and breaking probation. It's all added up until prison was the logical answer. He's in the lowest security level so not in a cell. He spent 2 1/2 years in a rehab facility a few years back. He is having such a difficult time putting back the pieces, even after staying clean for long periods of time. He had a good life prior to using at age 24.

The stigma attached to prison is incredible, but that's why you are so remarkable. I want so much to have my son hear your story because he needs to see that, even against incredible odds, you have managed to reshape your life and are now sharing to help others.

I doubt there are many on this site, that didn't do crimes while doing drugs (outside of the drug use). From what my son has shared, a lot of people using meth have guns and don't mind putting them in your face. Some don't get caught, maybe that's lucky, or smart, I don't know. I know that meth or heroin always drove my son to do whatever it takes to get the high. Even though the drugs stop, the stigma of a felony is hard to beat. It's a vicious cycle. Unfortunately, you're right that the prison experience is more related to humiliation than it is about treatment. I don't know if people here are aware of what a HUGE industry prisons have become in California and how a clear majority of the inmates need treatment as you say. That's a whole other subject though.

Thanks for your courage. I admire the stark honesty of what you shared. I'm here to take in whatever wisdom you care to impart.
choose
freedom
Re: Introduction to Prison
I'm sorry to hear you were traumatized by your prison experience.

You said that people who haven't committed a violent crime should never have to endure what you had to. I am curious as to what you think should be done with people who steal (without a weapon or confrontation)- whether it's someone's car, house, a company's money... and also, what about drug addicts that commit crimes other than possession when high?
 
macy
stiller

Re: Introduction to Prison
Hey Nineyears. Keep this coming because I think your story can make a big impact. It already did to me in the first chapter. I understand its hard to talk about but I think its important.
imlost
inky
 
Re: Introduction to Prison
Quote:
I should never have been sent to a place where violent criminals slept in the same room with me.

No you should not have been, you sure shouldn't.
{{{HUGS}}} Makes me boil to think of anyone ever treating you that way.

Abbey, I know you didn't ask me but I'll tell you anyway.
For those whose crimes- non violent were committed while in addiction, I feel treatment first-  At least give them a chance- Treatment plain and simple- accountability.
The drug court here is working - and I applaud our county's efforts.
There is jail time- usually a minimum of 30 days, 60 days in some cases - more to prevent access to drugs, to get a clean mind so treatment may have a better chance at working.
Then there is lengthy counseling, meetings, drug testing- they go the whole nine yards- medical, everything.
Probation and community service.
I call that a chance- everyone deserves a chance.

I don't feel just because you don't rat out everyone you should do prison time.
I do it, I admit to it, I take my time. Period.
I am accountable for me- their conscience is their problem.

sdm
sanjose

 
Re: Introduction to Prison
IMO they gave you a raw deal for a first offense. The degradation you suffered was unnecessary and inhumane.
The suffering you endured was terrible but it makes your brave and sweet spirit all the more amazing.
If you can, keep telling us how someone can be so devastated and then become such a helping, caring person.

I agree with imlostinky, YOU ARE MY HERO! We love you!

See also:

Wisdom for a meth addict facing prison


Back to Crystal Meth & Methamphetamine Questions, Answers & Advice


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