Journey of Faith

The Panic Attacks started again

Years ago, I suffered terribly from panic attacks. If you never had a panic attack, you’re lucky! You feel like your chest is tightening, you get this numbing, tingling sensation everywhere. Your mouth is dry, you sweat but yet can shiver. You feel like you can’t breathe. Sometimes to the point you feel like hyperventilating. I finally sought help and take Zoloft to control the episodes. I’ve also learned techniques to lessen the symptoms when I feel them start. They honestly can be debilitating. On December 23rd, 2019, I was notified to pack my stuff and head to property to pack out. I was being transferred to Cambridge Springs. When you pack out, you must bring everything with you. Staff then inventories everything, packs it and gives you a property sheet. You’re allowed 2 record boxes and a tv box, or a trunk and a tv box. You don’t get totes or TV’s until general population. if you have more than that, you need to mail it at your own expense. I packed out with several other people and came back with my overnight bag. This consists of one set of clothing, toiletries and that’s it. I was ok, until lights out. I started with the cold sweats, tingling, weird breathing. I was up, I was down. I sat at the desk, I laid on my bed. One of the ways I try to cope is by distracting myself. Well, they took everything I had to entertain myself, so that wasn’t going to work. Thank goodness, I had a patient cellie who even sat up and talked to me for a while. I prayed, asking God to stop the enemy’s attack. I prayed for him to watch over all of us traveling that next day. Somehow, by God’s grace I eventually fell asleep. They woke us at about 4am to get ready to leave. We were walked down to medical to get our meds since they took all that the day before. We received a bag breakfast to eat before we left, but I don’t know that I even ate anything. I didn’t want to have to think about having to go to the bathroom or getting sick. Plus, I knew from my talks in county that we’d stop halfway for a bathroom break. One by one they then took each of us and changed us from our other outfits into yellow jumpsuits. I guess that way you stand out if you decided to run. You are then strip searched, dressed in these ill-fitting jumpsuits, shackled but then something new was added. They added what’s called “a handcuff cover”. (You can read about them here in Wikipedia: Personally, I think they are barbaric and should be illegal. That’s another conversation. Once you are all ready, then you’re loaded onto a van, your belongings were already packed the night before or when you were getting dressed/shackled. The bus we went on was like a small bus you might see daycares use or paratransit operations. It wasn’t a van. There were grates on the windows, normal seats with seatbelts. One wrong or abrupt turn, you can fly out of your seat. It’s tough to hold on with your arms and hands restrained. I believe the bus can fit up to 13-14 approximately. Then you just hope to fall asleep until your halfway point. Ours was about an hour and half away. Then you get out, repeat the process in reverse. You’re unshackled to be able to eat and go to the restroom. They gave us a HUGE peanut butter and jelly sandwich, veggies, and a bottle of water. (Again, I knew this going in because of my county talks with girls who went through this process before). You’re given ample time to eat and stretch, then you are shackled by your new officers who will take you to your final destination. See, your first officers are from your starting point and then when you get halfway officers from your ending point are there with inmates going to where you came from. So, it’s a transfer hub in a sense. You are then loaded into a new van and sitting for another 2 hours or so. Your journey started at 4am and we finally arrived at about 3:00 pm give or take. Exhausted doesn’t even begin to state how we were feeling. We were unloaded, sent through a body scanner then taken to the medical area for processing. Our property was then brought in to be distributed to us. We would have to go through property there to have it inventoried again. We’d go through medical and then given our bedding, and one set of browns (clothing) until we could go to laundry the following day. It was not until almost 9:30 until we were sent to our dorms. Then a whole other set of fun (not!) started…
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Journey of Faith

Day in the life of an inmate

So, I’m guessing you were wondering when I would get back to my story. Well, after my crazy cellie was relocated I ended up with 2 more after her prior to my transfer to Cambridge Springs. The funny thing is, the next one was transferred to my cell because her cellie was acting crazy too. This girl, whom folks dubbed “penguin” because she actually resembled The Penguin in the Batman movies. (When you’re in jail/prison, you tend to end up with some sort of nickname). This girl actually tried to go after a Sargent and an officer with her razor. They unloaded a can of pepper spray when she wouldn’t comply to their requests to back down. So, my cellie was more than happy to have someone sane to live with. The insanity just continued throughout my time in classification. There was one girl whose name was Angel that was anything but one. Not only did she grab an unsuspecting girl by the back of her head and drag her down 4 steps and going to the hole, but she also came back and started hitting a friend of mine with the phone receiver for no reason. They eventually took her, and she didn’t come back. That’s what happens when you can’t play well with others. The one day we heard all this commotion out on the block. It was shower time, so we didn’t know what was going on. When you would go for a shower, you could wear either your nightgown or your clothes. You changed in the shower area or if you wore your nightgown you then changed back on your cell. You took all of your toiletries with you along with your towel, etc. Well, this crazy girl comes walking out with only her towel wrapped around herself. In front of EVERYONE. I hear the male guard come over the speaker, “I know I’m not seeing what I think I’m seeing!”. She claimed to have put all her clothing in the laundry. We are issued 3 pants, 3 t-shirts, 3 tops, and a night outfit, along with under clothes. You need to plan accordingly, or hand wash a lot of your items. For some, this was their first lesson in “adulting”. Aside from the once in a while crazy antics of those living around you, life is like “Ground Hogs Day” on the inside. Each morning starts at 6am with count. You must stand up, feet on the floor, lights on and be counted. After you are counted you can go back to sleep unless you have an appointment or other obligation. If you take meds that you aren’t allowed to keep with you in your cell (psych meds for example) then you need to get ready for medline. The call for breakfast is usually next, you can choose to go or not. There are 4 counts throughout the day, with the final one being before bedtime. Your life seems to revolve around those counts, and mealtimes. It’s your choice if you go to any of the meals. A lot of people don’t, because they chose to make something for themselves off of items, they bought off commissary. If they do go, sometimes it’s to get items needed to add to those recipes they are going to make. (This happens more in general population than in classification) You can go to the dayroom during specific times. There, you can talk to your friends, play cards, color, play games, etc. There are also specific yard times, where you can go to the yard to get some fresh air. In classification there isn’t much to do as far as activities outside of the block. You either went to dayroom, yard, or church. Otherwise, you were in your cell entertaining yourself with no tv, crappy books from the shelf (unless family sends you some) and talking to your cellie. You can buy a cheap transistor radio for $13. It’s worth it so you have something to listen to and pass the time. I also, did a lot of coloring, which was nice to then write letters home to on the back of them. I was in classification from August 31, 2019-December 24, 2019. It wasn’t the Christmas I was expecting that was for sure!

The state-of-the-art radio we could purchase
Journey of Faith

Letter inspired by the Lord

The Lord put this on my heart to write on 4/8/22. As I wrote this, the words just flowed like “someone else?“ wrote them and I can truly understand how the Apostle’s and others in the Bible were inspired by the Lord to write “his words”. I believe with all my heart that these are his words, through me, intended for all of you. He put it on my heart to write these words while still incarcerated. While it will appear they are mostly Bible verses put together, it will make complete sense to a mature Christian that this is how the Lord would speak to us-through his word.

It’s human nature that we want to know why. Why did this happen? Almost 7 years ago, Pastor Kevin told us “God has a plan, we just don’t know what it is yet”. All I could do was keep praying and asking him why. I could only pray for his protection and provision over me, my family and friends. When I entered the dorm at ycp the 1st night and saw a cross under the bunk above me-I knew I was going to be ok. Later God revealed his 1st verse to me on “why I was there”. Gen. 50:20 is Joseph speaking to his brothers after they sold him into slavery, lied about him being killed, and landed him in a prison. Later, he was put incharge of the Pharaoh. He says, “you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” It wasn’t until I was working on this to read to you, I noticed v21 says, “So then, don’t be afraid, I will provide for you & your children.” We serve an awesome God! If you all can give me a few more minutes, my story doesn’t end right there. At the time, II wasn’t sure what he meant, but over the next 3 years in captivity, his plan became crystal clear. Paul, who wrote a large part of the New Testament-while in prison helped bring my purpose into focus. There were things I needed to do first before I could fulfill his purpose on the outside. Changes he needed me to make. Romans 2:1, 4,5 & 6, Paul tells us we need to not be judgmental of others, and not be so stubborn as to not be so stubborn with an unrepentant heart. I had to stop thinking I was above being where I was. I’m not entitled, and pride can keep us from God’s intended purpose for us. “We’ve all sinned and come short of the glory of God”. Our sufferings produce perseverance, perseverance, character, and character hope. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, Who has been called according to his purpose. My purpose was to witness, evangelize and lead others to salvation. To be an example and a light in darkness. Never once was I afraid, never had a bad roommate (well once), never did I need to fear. “If God is for us, who can be against us? A verse I’d repeat often. So why me? I’m nice, kind, not violent, Romans 9:19-21 tell us that God anoints some of us for special purposes and some for common use. That’s ok, he’s the potter and we’re his clay. I’ve learned forgiveness & without it your heart grows bitter. Love is patient, kind and not proud. It’s not self-seeking, it doesn’t dishonor others, it doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. So, forgive even if others don’t forgive you. I have forgiven for Christ’s sake as he has forgiven me. I’ve learned I’m not a people pleaser, but a servant to Christ. I was a people pleaser which led to my demise. God has a plan for all of us, Eph. 1:11-12 tells us this ‘that in him we were chosen having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything with the purpose of his will, in order that we who put our hope in Christ might be for the praise of his glory. Like Paul, I was a prisoner for the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received from our Lord. Be completely humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love. Don’t let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful to build each other up. Be kind, compassionate and forgiving, just as Christ forgave you. So, I come back again to why? I want you to know that what happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. It became clear throughout the prison, I was in chains for Christ, just like Paul and Silas. Because of chains, I led many to know the Lord. Because of the foundation my parents and grandparents gave me, I have now grown my faith to teach others. Not everyone came to my defense or to support me. May it not be held against them, so that but the Lord stood by my side so that through me the message might be freely proclaimed. (2 Tim. 4:16-17). Continue to remember those in prison, as if you too gather with them and those mistreated as if you yourself are suffering. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace to those trained by it. Phi. 3:12, Not that I’ve already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Jesus took hold of me. I don’t consider myself yet taken hold us, but one thing I do, forget what’s behind and strive on what’s ahead. I press on toward the goal of the prize for which God’s called me. (2Tim 1:8). So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me as his prisoner. Rather join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. (2Tim 4:7) I have fought the good fight, I’ve finished the race, I’ve kept the faith, and may God of hope fill you all with joy, peace as your trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Journey of Faith

The bus that hit me

I decided to answer a few possible questions some of you might have. What happened to my husband in all this mess? Well, he didn’t end up going to prison, I’ll start there. I’ll try in this post to explain some things but excuse me if I come across as vague. There’s an area here that I want to expand upon and I feel that I can’t without crossing that line. I messed up. I’m not going to get into things beyond this right now. I’m going to skip to how I ended up going to prison and my husband didn’t. We were both charged with the exact same charges. When our case was pushed from the preliminary hearing to court we had to them hire separate lawyers. A shock to us because we’d never been through this before. A lawyer can’t represent codependents in a case. It could cause a conflict of interest. I was given a choice to stay with the attorney we had or go for the new one. I chose to stay. My husband let the choice up to me. Right before the trial started a bunch of motions were filed. It’s part of the process. My husbands lawyer addressed the court regarding evidence they had for me va him. He was also going to testify on my behalf. Again that could’ve been a blow to the DAs case. So again anything that I could use or needed in my defense was blocked or shut down. An offer was made to him that the two major charges would be dropped, he would receive 3 years probation but couldn’t testify. The alternative was he refused and took the gamble. He would go on trial too and if found guilty serve a sentence in prison. Therefore what would also happen to our sons? At least with this deal for him, he could be there for them, keep our home and help me while I served my time. If he could’ve switched roles he would’ve but that’s wasn’t the choice we were given. I was never offered a deal. Unlike TV it’s not something that has to happen. Many have questioned why I went to prison and my husband didn’t. I wasn’t thrown under the bus by him. I was thrown under the bus and run over by the court system.

Journey of Faith

The call I never expected to get

When you are in jail/prison you have to try to disconnect yourself somewhat from what’s going on at home. You get to a place in your mind that “this is my temporary home” for now. This doesn’t mean that you forget about loved ones, or you don’t care. There are just certain things you can’t involve yourself in, otherwise you’ll go crazy. The only thing that I could do each day and each night was pray to God to ask him to protect me, my family, my friends, and everyone around me. I would ask for him to keep them safe and provide for them as much as possible. His mercy never failed to amaze me. I would call home often. They had a sign-up schedule that rotated on the block. That way, everyone had a chance to get different call times and for the most part you could get a second phone sign up. My priority was to call home to my husband and kids, then my parents. After that I would switch off to call my sisters, and my friends. I knew going into prison that my mom wasn’t doing well, but she was stable. She had been diagnosed with end stage COPD and was doing as well as she could. I just prayed that she wouldn’t catch a bad cold or a lung infection. Then, I called home and my husband says, “I have something to tell you. I don’t keep secrets from you, and I think you need to know.” He proceeds to then tell me, “Your mom is in the hospital and she’s not doing very well. He said it’s bad Jodie and she didn’t want you to know. ” Now, you all need to understand that my mom and I are close. She was trying to prevent me from having to deal with this somewhere that I couldn’t really deal it. Especially until she knew more. She didn’t blame my husband for telling me and understood why he did. I then called her to find out exactly what we were looking at and the other possibilities. I’m standing, at a phone, along a wall with 3 other people and a block full of people staring out their doors with thousands of eyes on me and I’m trying to hold it together. You know how when you want to cry so bad, but you’re shaking, and you can’t breathe. -it was that sort of cry. I am a lot different than many people I know. My only way to then take this all in was to go into prepare mod. I first messaged my counselor to find out if it was possible to get a furlough to go to a funeral. Well short of the long of it is, it would have cost over $2,000+ just an estimate I would have also needed to get a judge to approve it. I knew my mom would not want me or anyone else to spend that kind of money. To top it off, when you do go you can’t stay for the service. You’re handcuffed and shackled with the officers along with you. So, you don’t even get to properly grieve. The other option was through the chaplain’s office to either do a final goodbye video visit or have the funeral taped and I could watch it. I talked to my mom and sisters, and we came up with a plan that IF this would occur, they would come to visit with me. We would then have mom cremated per her wishes then we would have a celebration of life after I came home. It was the only thing at the time we could come up with that set well with everyone. Well, I’m happy to report that none of this mattered, because she is absolutely fine. God is good all the time! Here, they now think that she might have had covid before covid was known. Remember when they were saying that they think there were people really sick that prior December before in March we all knew about it? Well, they think she might have been one of those cases. Whatever it was, God had a different plan and knew she wasn’t ready for him yet. She celebrated her 70th birthday not long ago. To this day, her and I both pray Psalms 91. Here is a copy for you to enjoy!

Journey of Faith

When Satan shows up


When I first came to S unit and was put into medlocks, I was actually by myself, it was kind of boring, yet I enjoyed the quiet after being in a gym makeshift dorm with 48 bunks and no buffer for noise. I used most of that time to read my Bible, pray, and catch up on letters I needed to write. We ate, slept, and had yard right in the area of S unit. We never left that area, unless it was to go to the Dr’s, commissary, church, or another appointment. We couldn’t go to activities like church until we were out of medlocks. Once we were able to go to church, we then went with only people in classification aka “blues”. BTW, the clothing they gave to us in blues was extremely ill fitting. It was definitely meant to be humbling and disgraceful. The pants were torn at the bottoms from being walked on over and over again. The shirts weren’t meant to be tucked in because the sides were cut to be left out; however, we were required to KEEP THEM TUCKED IN. You had to wear undergarments at all times, and a brown t-shirt under your blue button up. The blue shirt had to be buttoned all way to the top except the button by your throat. You didn’t have to wear your state shoes unless you were going to a visit or leaving the facility for an appointment. Therefore, most people buy sneakers. I’m including some photos below that I want you to use as a reference to put into context some of the things I’m going to tell you next. When I was moved out of medlocks, my first cell was at the top of the steps. I was with the original roommate maybe a month until she was classified and moved to general population aka “browns”. The next roommate or cellie we called them was Nini. She was a sweet girl from WV originally. I saw this girl coming across the block with a khimar (pronounced key-mar) on her head. She’s all bubbly and smiling. She was Muslim after marrying her husband. Her and I had the best times together. We were silly, we laughed, we made food together. We even took paper and made them into long cones and taped my ear buds to the pointy end of the cone. Well, they just made decent speakers lol, for jail anyway. She kept having problems with her head covering coming undone. I said couldn’t we take a hook off a bra and sew it on each side so that you can hook it? Now, let me say, I CAN NOT SEW. Well, you learn to do a lot of things in jail, even if it’s coming up with a solution like this one. It sort of worked, but the cloth was too silky. We ended up getting separated because Nini kept putting orange rinds down the toilet. I told her, stop putting stuff in there. It’s going to clog like everyone else’s and then we’ll get separated. Well, it clogged, and we got separated. She put her head down and said, I’m sorry Miss Jodie I should’ve listened to you. She became my neighbor. My next cellie, was Fallon. Fallon and I know each other from talking around the block, in dayroom, or yard. She was happy to see I was her new cellie. Once, she was classified and was transferred to Cambridge springs, my prior cellie Nini left shortly after too. A few days later, the Sargent buzzes my room and pops the door to my cell. He says, “Tierney you’re getting a new cellie.” I get up and see her coming. She looks decent enough. She comes in and I say hi and introduce myself. She makes her bed, and then starts pacing around the room. As you can see from the photos below, the room is not that big and pacing works on my nerves. It makes me feel like I need to do something and amps up my anxiety. Well, she won’t sit down either. She wants to keep standing at the lockers that you can see in the one photo. The lockers are between the table and sink/toilet. There’s not enough room to just stand there and not move. I hear her starting to laugh. I said, “what’s so funny?” She says, “oh nothing I’m laughing at my friends”. (note: I’m thinking she’s kidding or she’s recalling something funny her and her friends did). She keeps asking me when they will call meds. I said, we get meds right after breakfast and in the evening after dinner. Unless you’re diabetic or take something requiring it at an off time. She tells me no, that she gets her meds then. One of the rules is you don’t hit the call button unless it’s for certain reasons. Well, she keeps hitting the button. The one officer said, ask Tierney and she will explain it to you. I said I tried sir. Finally, I talked to the Sargent on the side and told him she’s not taking her meds and she’s arguing with me when I try to explain when it’s time to take them. They obviously felt it was my job to help her, so I needed them to know I wasn’t the asshole here. Next, when you’re in classification part of the process is having school testing done to see what level of education you have. Also, they have you take some psychology tests. One test is about 300 questions, many are the same but asked differently to see how you’ll respond. I’m sure you’ve all seen variations of these tests when you go for job interviews, etc. They give you quite a bit of time to complete the questions. If you don’t, the Psych lady will bring your packet to you, w/ a pencil even for you to finish in your cell. Well, she must have stuck that thing under the door 2-3 times for my cellie to complete it. Finally, one day on the 3rd try, I stopped her and said, “she’s not going to finish that for you. I tried to explain to her what it was for, and it’s needed for her to be classified.” She then asked me why she wouldn’t complete it. I told her, “Because she told me you aren’t giving her enough time to study.”. The poor lady just looked at me dumbfounded. I had to then explain to her that I’ve seen this girl talking to herself, talking to and answering friends that aren’t there. She even answered the phone one day. (We don’t have phones). She thanked me for the info, and I never saw the packet of info again. A few days later, she was standing by the locker, talking to a “friend” when I heard her discussing taking a girl to an alley to beat and rape her. I’m like, “Are you ok?” She says, “yeah I’m just talking to my friends, I don’t know you very well, so I talk to them”. I then ask her if she’d mind sitting in her bunk. 99% of the time, we sit or lay in our bunks. It’s the most comfortable spot. Also, that way you aren’t standing in the way when someone has to get past or go to the bathroom. Not to mention, I can’t get in my locker without asking her to move. A few days, later after listening to her complain about a sore on her foot from her state boot, she finally went to see medical. She got back to the cell and so I asked her how did it go? While it’s not my business I asked because she involved me in the entire process from the time it started hurting including how to write the sick call. So, didn’t I earn the write the ask if she was ok? She climbs up in her bunk (finally!) and she starts talking. I hear her saying things about blind folding “her” and putting a pillow over “her” face. I start praying. I mean praying and putting on the full armor of God praying. I reach up and start to draw a cross under her bunk. As sure as I sit here typing this to you today, when I drew that first line then the second to make the cross, I saw a spark come out of my finger. I pulled my finger away and knew I was dealing with something sinister. I sat on the desk stool (see pic below for reference on how close they are to the bunks). and I calmly said to her (continuously using her name) asking if she was ok. I asked if she needed to talk to someone. I explained to her that she was worrying me and that I understand. WARNING!!!!!! She sat up and learned down towards me. Her eyes were completely black, and I knew this was NOT normal. As a Christian, I knew it was Satan. She then looks at me and says in the most demonic voice I ever heard in person, “YOU NEED TO STOP STICKING KNIVES IN MY PUSSY”. I don’t know what the distance was from that stool to the door where the call button is, but I hit the call button. The Sargent clicks on and says, “I’m busy” and clicks off. I say, ” not today, Satan, not today”. I push the call button again and explain to him that I am in fear for my life, and he needs to open the door NOW. She’s hollering in the background, and I know they can hear her. He pops the door and I rush down the steps. I’m shaking so bad that I can hardly stand still. The officer comes out to meet me and by the grace of God the psych lady comes out at the same time. I tell him everything and the psych lady tells him some things and he tells me to please go back up to my cell and he’ll have her moved. I look at him and don’t ask but state-I’m going back up but I’m NOT closing the door. He chuckles and says that’s fine. She was gone a few minutes later. Thank you, Lord, for being my Rock, my Fortress and my protector. You are my shield and buckler Psalms 91.#Prison, #Gods Grace, #Gods Protection, #inmate, #DOC

Journey of Faith

Preparing to go Upstate

As the months in 2019, quickly ticked by I wanted to prepare myself for what was ahead when I arrived at SCI Muncy. Pennsylvania only has 2 female prisons. SCI Muncy and SCI Cambridge Springs. All females must first go to SCI Muncy for classification. A few of the ladies in county with me had been upstate previously and were willing to sit myself, Kim and Pat down to have a mini “lesson” of what to expect. I feel that being prepared and having some information going into a scary situation helps. My friend Brandi was one of those that shared what our first couple of months would be like, and it went exactly as she described. On, August 31, 2019, we were awakened by the officer that day telling us we were packing out to leave. In jail/prison it is customary to leave your stuff to your friends that are left behind. (Unless you are going to a center where you may possibly need some of your things). I gave my leftover commissary to my friends Brandi and Angie. I also left my Nike slides to Brandi. She didn’t have anything, and I knew she really needed them even when she left. I was allowed to bring my Bible, a pen, tablet and some photos. I believe that was it. The clothing we wore to court the day we were brought into jail are the same clothes we were given to wear for our trip to Muncy. We were stripped searched, then got dressed, and given a snack pack to eat. (Cereal, milk, graham crackers). We also received our meds. Last, you are handcuffed and shackled. Handcuffs on your wrists and feet, then a chain goes around your waist through a loop and locked with a pad lock. Off to the car you go. They put us in a regular SUV type car. (It was frustrating because they stopped to get Starbucks on the way for themselves which we all though was high inappropriate since they were carrying inmates). It takes about 2-2.5 hours to get to Muncy from our jail. Once you arrive, the vehicle itself has to go through a check, the county officers hand us off to the state through signing paperwork, and they wish us luck and leave. We then are seated inside the processing area to await instructions. You are basically asked a bunch of questions, get a state ID photo taken that is to be kept with you at all times, you pee in a cup, get strip searched and then issued your “blues”. You have to wear these ugly slip-on sneakers until you to get your state shoes. You have to walk from the processing building down to medical which isn’t terribly far, but when you’re out of shape and haven’t exercised, plus have asthma-it was tough. Meanwhile, a group was waiting in the chow line and started yelling “fresh meat” at us. Just like you see on tv. I kid you not! The 3 of us wanted to die right there. We were walking with a guard, and she yelled at them to shut it up. We were then processed through medical, given a lunch bag, then instructed to walk back up towards the processing building to another building to get our shoes and coat. You’re given a heavy winter coat that’s like burgundy corduroy. We called them Muncy Minks. You get a choice of 2 different shoes, either work boots or brown shoes that we called sweet potatoes. They were the color of sweet potatoes, and even kind of oddly shaped like them too. I tried the boots, and they rubbed my ankles raw, so I had to switch to the sweet potatoes. They weren’t too bad honestly. Once you get to order commissary, you are allowed to order sneakers from a selection on the list. They range from $50-$70 (Nike, New Balance, Sketchers, Reebok, Under Armor). Once we received all of our clothing, shoes, and were seen by medical, we were then sent to our housing unit. All new commits go to S unit, and you have to stay in medlocks. Basically, you are quarantined for about 5 days (pre covid) to make sure you didn’t have anything contagious. Once you’re TB test and everything cleared, they then moved you into the same unit but now you got to move around more. You officially would receive a roommate. Having a good roommate was half the battle in there. If you had someone who was good, and you got along then things were generally pretty decent. I thank the Lord that 98% of the time I loved my roommates and we got along. Until the devil himself showed up….

Journey of Faith

If you do the crime, you do the time.

I decided to use the title of this post to bring awareness to those of you who will be fortunate enough to never step foot into a jail/prison. Before I was arrested, I too had the same mentality. First, we are all one mistake away from being in the same position that I put myself in. Let me give you a few scenarios to bring to light the possibility. Did you know that PA’s “self-defense” law has so many facets to it that a good prosecutor will arrest you and will send you to prison? ( I can share some stories with you I heard while incarcerated that even if an ounce of them were true it would make you scratch your head. A lot of folks have a hot head/temper, and you just get sick of it and end up punching someone in the face. Maybe not even the face, but the chest. You end up accidentally killing them or you mess them up pretty badly. Next thing you know you’re arrested for assault or worse involuntary manslaughter because of you got ticked off. Here’s another one, you decide to move or buy a new mattress/sofa. You pick it up and put in in your truck. Oops, the straps come loose, and it flies off the truck and ends up killing the driver in the car behind you. ( You now have an unsecured load violation, but you’re also looking at possible manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges. You get my point, and hopefully understand that I will never say never again. I never had a record, not even as a juvenile. You’re lucky if I had a speeding ticket! (I recall 1 in my entire driving privilege, and 1 warning just to be honest). So now, if you do the crime, should you do the time? Because now I’ve put you or a loved one into this scenario. Still don’t have you convinced. What if I told you that the newspapers don’t always print the truth? I mean, they have papers to sell and in the words of a reporter to my family, “people don’t want to buy or know the truth”. that true? Again, I don’t want to drive too far into personal details, but something occurred during my case. The one family made accusations. A county police officer called the DA’s office and told them that these statements weren’t true, and he had video proof. One of the family members had a friend that was a reporter at the paper who would write EVERYTHING involving my case. Well, when my family called to request the story be updated with the newfound info, they received the statement above. Of course, everyone went to social media demanding, “send them to jail…” That’s frustrating to say the least. The paper publishes these articles, then your “peers” read it and then come to sit on your jury. Next, there’s a cost to housing to inmates and you are paying the bill. Did you know it costs approximately, $41,000/year to house 1 inmate? Your hard-earned tax dollars are footing the bill. (don’t say then kill them either because that’s a whole other debate and you’re still housing them years on end until if/when they’re executed). Now as a former inmate of the SCI, here is what I can tell you as a known fact. You do get 2 ok meals per day (lunch/dinner), and breakfast isn’t even a meal. There are items that we as inmates believed we should have been getting but were denied. We knew other SCI’s were receiving them through families of other inmates, correspondence from prison societies or inmate magazines. Three times during less than a month, announcements were made that special staff appreciations were being hosted. You all work and I remember maybe my employer doing something once a year for appreciation, not including Christmas. This was 3 times in less than a month. You pay the staff’s salaries/pensions (which was assumed). I never understood the pension. None of you receive a pension unless you’re a state/federal worker. Most people have 401K’s, where you and your employer contribute. Not just taxpayers. Part of this money goes to medical costs, of which inmates are still charged a $5 copay per visit unless it’s for a chronic illness (high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.). You as an inmate are charged then for your meds unless they are for chronic illnesses. This is paid with your $.19-.50/hour wage. that’s cents not dollars! When you go to medical, you’re faced with either being called a liar because we, “we’re just inmates and they all lie”, therefore not taken seriously. There is some staff who care, others who are there to put in their shift and go home. Somedays I saw fellow inmates go to the medical annex to pick up meds they requested 5 or more times only to be told to re-request it. Everything in prison/jail is via a request form. Fill it out, drop it in a box and wait. And wait..and wait some more. When given your meds at the annex, you don’t see the actual pill pack they’re dispensed from. You receive your pill in a cup. You should always check what they are giving you and question it if it’s not looking right. In county I received someone’s meds by mistake. I ended up sleeping all afternoon after receiving what they think was Seroquel. I again received something incorrectly in county, only to have the nurse get snippy when it was questioned. I mean, who am I to question a nurse when I’m JUST an inmate. Once when I was upstate I was handed a very very bright pink pill. I said, “oh no, that is not mine! I get nothing pink”. She laughed and said, “oh yeah you’re right, that’s not yours. You’d have been ok but it was just a Benadryl”. Why, because I’m just an inmate? How did she know I’d be ok? So, the staff YOU are paying, aren’t even capable of doing the job they’re hired to do. Again, I’m not saying all, because I trusted a few while i was there and I knew who they were. When I 1st got there, they did a complete physical exam, eye exam, dental exam, etc. In the 3 years I was there I never saw the dentist again until I went to SCI Pheonix. The dentist there was horrified and told me he cussed out the staff in the women’s facility for not taking better care of us. I never got to see him again because of covid and were sent back to Muncy/Cambridge. I never saw another dentist until I needed an emergency extraction. They wouldn’t schedule me for anything else because my min date was approaching. I mean, I’m just an inmate-why do I need good teeth right? I suppose out of that $42K the taxpayers contribute, you’d think we’d get toiletries. Well, sorta…they provide you with an indigent bag upon arrival. It contains hotel sized shampoo, deodorant, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, a black comb and a razor. None of the item’s work. You stink after using it. If you do need another one, they make it that you have to request it and if the counselor is out then you don’t get it. I believe this is part of the bigger picture to then force you to purchase commissary. ( A way for your friends and family to send money so you can at least have the necessary items to survive. If you have a headache, medical says buy it off commissary. if you have an itch, buy it off commissary. You have dandruff, by it off commissary. (Wait, I thought medical was supposed to help us?) They will for $5 copay, plus $5 for aspirin. The $.19/hour you make has 25% taken out automatically to go to your fines/restitution. So out of $25, you keep $18. I was fortunate enough to have family/friends to help me. They put money on my account, sent me books/magazines and access packages. ( They also put money on the phone system. The money alone that they spent while I was there the 3.5 years is well over the thousands. ( The housing is moldy, broken, and run down. Inmates run everything under the supervision of staff. During covid, everything came to a screeching halt because we weren’t allowed out to do the work. I can continue to go on and on. I’ll continue to tell you more of my story as the days unfold. What I can tell you is this, I WAS NOT JUST AN INMATE. I am someone’s wife, mother, daughter, sister, grand-daughter, niece, aunt, cousin and friend. Many state representatives are starting to see that something needs to change. ( So next time, before speaking educate yourself and know that you could be next.

Journey of Faith

Groundhog’s Day-or not?

Before I continue with my story from the last post, I want to share some other funny stories with you. So, on 06/16/19 my oldest son came to visit with me. In county there’s no contact visits. It’s just like you see on tv, where I’m on one side of the glass and he’s on the other. We talk using a phone. During the visits apparently another girl was scene on the cameras trying to pass something through a hole in the glass. Later that day, one of the officers came to the dorm to get me since I was there at the same time. She wanted to question me and see if I knew/saw anything. We walked to the visiting room together and the door closed behind us. Normally, precautions are taking when an inmate is with a guard, however most of the staff remembered me from before and knew I was of no risk whatsoever. Most in fact thought me being there wasn’t the correct punishment, but there I was. When we went to leave, here the door locked, and she didn’t have her key. So, I’m locked in a room with a guard. She says to me, “now I need to call my supervisor and explain how/why I’m locked in a room with an inmate”. The supervisor shows up to let us out, comes around the corner and is laughing at us. The supervisor says, “you didn’t tell me you were in there with Tierney.” She let us out and after a good chuckle I returned to my dorm. In August before I was transferred upstate, I saw something no one should have to witness. A group of us were waiting to be escorted back from church to our dorm. A girl was in a holding cell and wasn’t being cooperative. A call was made and the extraction team showed up. It was 5 staff members who extracted her. Her screaming was insane. She fought and they ended up placing her in a chair restraint. Had she cooperated, none of this wouldn’t needed to take place. It was heart wrenching to watch. The guards weren’t forceful. I just hoped to never have to see that again! I’m only sharing this because I don’t want you to think every day was a walk in the park. It wasn’t. I learned however that it was what you made it. Cooperate, follow the rules, mind your own business and things should be ok. One of the final pieces of mail that I received before going upstate was from a lady I never met and didn’t know at all. She wrote me a letter explaining that she didn’t personally know me but followed my story though the news. It was honestly sent to me by the Lord, because it was beginning of my healing and forgiveness. (She was actually an author for Children’s books.) She let me know that a lot of people were supportive of me and felt I shouldn’t have been punished so severely. Just to hear that from someone I never met, allowed me to just cry. I sat with Brandi and Angie and just cried my eyes out. A release that was way overdue. I get it, you’re wondering about Brandi and what happened next. Well, a young lady came into the jail that I recognized from before. She remembered me being nice to her and how I read my Bible. She came to me one day and started asking me questions about God. She did this here and there and Brandi kept coming over telling me, “She’s a lost cause, she’ll forgot all this when she leaves here, you’re wasting your time”. I said, “look, the Lord is sending her to me for a reason. I need to at least talk to her and if she doesn’t listen now then later it might save her life”. My job is to be obedient to the Lord. I sat with her and one of things I asked her to do was to read Galatians and Ephesians and come back to talk. I felt that this was where the Lord was leading me to send her. Most of the questions that she was asking me was about getting right with God and some sexual immorality issues. She was concerned that she was so far gone in sin that God wouldn’t take her back. I explained that iwe’re being changed, but we still sin. Paul explains how the Holy Spirit works in us to battle our sinful desires. It’s in Galatians that we find the fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22–23). That doesn’t give us a free ticket to keep sinning recklessly, however. Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We have to shield ourselves from spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:10-11: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I explained that that means staying in God’s word and in his presence at all times. Remember when I talked to you before about being baby Christians? The book of Ephesians pretty much sums up this concept. First, as followers of Christ, we must fully understand who God declares us to be. We must also become grounded in the knowledge of God’s accomplishment for all humanity. Next, our present existence and walk must become exercised and strengthened. This must continue until we no longer totter or stagger back and forth. While my conversation with his young lady wasn’t only based on her readings, the Holy Spirit led me into a conversation with her that it could have only come from the Lord himself. I walked away from that conversation knowing that those words didn’t come to me on their own. I can’t recall the exact words to spoke to her, but I remember taking to her about forgiveness. She had lost her mother fairly young and recently had lost her fiancé. Neither of them she had a chance to say goodbye to. She was living with that guilt and pain for a long time. One thing I learned while spending time with addicts is a lot of their addiction was to self-medicate pain. Emotional or physical pain. I asked her if she could write a letter to each of them. Tell them exactly what it is that she would want to tell them if she had the chance. I said she didn’t have to share it with anyone else. I said then I would read it to them when she was alone. She said she thought she’d like to go to the cemetery to read it. I said that’s up to her. Next, I told her once she reads it, to then burn or tear up the letter. I said once she does this to then give it to God. She can’t keep living in the past, it’s not what they would want for her. It’s not what God wants for her either. This conversation was so profound, it stays with me to this day. It seemed to affect her positively, but whether or not she did what we talked about-only God knows. I never saw her again. I was transferred upstate on 8/30/99.

Journey of Faith

That didn’t go as planned

So, if you’re just starting to follow my blog, you’ll want to start out under “My Testimony”. I was granted release on bail pending the results of my appeal. Looking back on this, I don’t believe it was the Lord’s will for me to file for my appeal. Another reason why I started to ask for it to be withdrawn. I need to explain something to all of you first that many of you may not know. I didn’t, so that’s why I’m sharing it with you. As believers we first become baby Christians. We start out by attending church on a regular basis, accept the Lord as our savior, then continue to go to church and have the Pastor or other’s spoon feed us whatever Bible knowledge we need to know. I’m not saying this is wrong or trying to upset anyone. I am stating a fact that 99% of us do this and will continue to do this. God did not intend for us to be spoon fed our faith. If you don’t believe me, I’ll be more than happy to have a Bible study with you. If you aren’t familiar with the Apostle Paul, I suggest you curl up with the good book and get to know him. Paul tells us multiple times “do not be uninformed”. Had I been “informed”, I would have known that by taking matters into my own hands, I was also doubting God. I had already prayed to him and asked for his help, but then I took it back and tried to handle it on my own. Waiting is hard, and patience isn’t a virtue I have. After waiting for a year and a half for the answer, it came the week before Memorial Day weekend in May of 2019. My appeal was denied, and I had to go back to jail. I was with my mom at the time, and I just remember looking at her and saying, “Mom, I just want to get this over with”. I had no fight left and I wasn’t as afraid as I was the first time since I knew what to kind of expect. I appeared at the courthouse with just Steve and my attorney. I was again remanded into custody and sent down to central booking to wait for transport to county jail. I would then need to go back to the courthouse in July of 2019 because as the DA promised, he had my sentence vacated and I was resentenced to 3.5-8 years. As much as that sucked, I took a deep breath and was relieved because it could’ve been a lot worse. He was asking for 5. In Pennsylvania we have sentencing guidelines and there’s a lot of factors that go into them. All those factors considered; the Judge has some discretion but also doesn’t want to go so far outside of them to the point they could be excessive. (According to the guidelines). The 6 months I did prior was credited to my time I had yet to do. I was more informed this time on what to expect once I got to the county jail. I first looked up on the inmate roster to see who was currently incarcerated. I saw there were a few people that were there either still from when I left or had returned. This was unfortunate for them, but good for me. I knew then I would have people who I could ask for coffee or snacks until I was able to put in my commissary order. I put on extra socks, 2 bras knowing that I could wear them in and then eventually use them to trade for items I would need until my commissary order came. I also knew that if I wore in my own slides, I would be allowed to keep them rather than wearing dollar store flip flops that were slippery on wet floors. (When I left to go upstate, I gave them to a friend). The boys thought I was nuts, but I knew what I had to do. Luckily, we didn’t seem to have to wait as long to be transported to the jail. It was me and 2 other ladies this time. One was so high and out of it, I don’t think she knew who she was or where she was. The other lady and I chatted but nothing memorable. The three of us ended up in the same classification dorm that I was in before. I also didn’t stay there as long as I did the first time (I guess they figured I knew what to expect). Honestly, I was more ready to go to G dorm than to stay in classification this time. Once you get to general housing there’s more to do. Remember Jackie that I mentioned before? Well, she was there and kindly offered me coffee, snacks and I was even able to trade my socks for additional items needed. I even had several people offer to pay me $25 for my slides. I declined because I would need those. I had unfortunately found out that quite a few of the ladies who I met during my 1st six months died from drug overdoses. These were people who I remember helping me, being kind, and laughing with every day during that time. I made some new friends, one whom I gave my slides to when I left to go upstate. Her name is Brandi. I also became very close to a few other ladies, Angelina, Pat, and Kim. Pat, Kim and I would all go upstate together one the same day. I’ll tell you about that later. Brandi and I spent every day together. I’ve not seen or heard from her since. I pray she is ok and that she too didn’t succumb to an overdose. Brandi and I would only have one disagreement the entire time and it was because the Lord brought a young lady into the gym that remembered me from before. She knew I was a Christian and started asking me very serious questions about her faith. What happened next still amazes me!