Journey of Faith

I totally lost it!

After several moves, my friend Jodie and I finally became roommates. Our other roommate Heather, Jodie and I all became pretty close. It was just the 3 of us for quite a while, which didn’t bother us one bit. They made moves on Wednesdays and Fridays for the most part, however one day a new roommate showed up at the door. The poor girl thought we weren’t excited to see her because we sat up and told Heather, “We got a new cellie”. We finally explained to her that it wasn’t that she became our new roommate, but that we weren’t expecting someone until possibly later in the week. I still laugh because here she wasn’t even supposed to be in our room. She got confused and was supposed to go further down the hall to the other section. I find that this wasn’t a mistake at all, but that the Lord intervened and brought us all together. She came in and introduced herself as Kim, (a nod back to the street names I referenced before). Once we finally knew her real name, it took me forever to call her that. I’d go back and forth, in the end we finally combined both. That was our new nickname for her. The time had come for Jodie to go see the parole board. I was just as nervous as she was because I was coming up not long after. She went to her one-on-one meeting, which many say is more important than seeing the actual board. I can understand why they feel that way, since this is technically the only time that you get to talk and sell yourself. This is the most important interview I ever would have in my life! She went to this meeting and felt that things went pretty well. It’s hard to tell because they won’t comment or say one way or another. You go in and answer questions, then come back to your room and wait to show up on the call out sheet to have an appointment with the actual board. Her day finally came, and she was a nervous wreck. You can offer as much support as possible, but this a meeting that holds your freedom in the palm of its hands. If you remember back to Phoenix, they told us that we were pretty much guaranteed parole because we had been part of this stellar program (even though it closed, it was still supposed to look good). Even the counselors at Cambridge gave us the same impression based on this fact and that she had never been in trouble or had any write ups. She completed everything she needed to complete, and this was her first time in prison. Her crime was also considered non-violent. All of these factors were to be positive. I have no way of knowing what she said or didn’t say during her one-on-one meeting. I can only tell you that she came back feeling extremely confident. After she met with the actual board, and she only needed to meet with one person, she felt that meeting went well too. All of the anxiety and stress that these meetings create, the actual time you are in there is about a 1/2 hour or less. I want to say that maybe 2 days later, possibly 3 she was on the call out again to go see the parole agent to give her the determination. She came back and she told us they denied her. She couldn’t go back to see them for another 9 months. I lost it. I cried like it was my decision. It made me even more afraid of what my outcome was going to be. They listed reasons on her paperwork of which none of it made any sense. We were upset because it seemed to us that they shouldn’t have been able to put the reasons they did because everything in her file contradicted it. The counselors told her that her Judge was the one who requested that she serve more time, that the time she had served to that point wasn’t enough. Now this really made no sense! Let me explain a few things to give you context. In Pennsylvania, parole is a privilege and not a right. You receive a minimum sentence date and a maximum date. The minimum date is the earliest that you are eligible to see the board. It doesn’t guarantee parole. The max date is the longest they can keep you. (Sometimes people will “max” out, so they don’t have to leave and be on parole after leaving. This normally doesn’t happen unless you are a parole violator and don’t have much time left). Our question started to then become, “if the Judge felt that she didn’t serve enough time, then why didn’t they sentence her longer to begin with?” The answer to this question is probably a simple one. Also, in PA there are sentencing guidelines. She was probably sentenced according to those guidelines, and if you as a Judge go too far outside of them it could be a reason to file for an appeal of your sentence. When you come up for parole, the Judge, DA, and any victims get to weigh in on how they feel about you being released. I can see both sides of this coin, but from being on this side of it, this isn’t right! This is again why there needs to be a re-evaluation of the justice system. Here is my take on this based on this situation and others similar I saw over and over again while incarcerated.:

You are arrested and charged with a crime. It’s then your decision after speaking with your attorney on whether or not you want to plead guilty or go to trial. Going to trial costs a lot of money. It costs you to pay your lawyer money and it costs the county a lot of money. Many times, people who can’t afford to go to trial will plead guilty-regardless of if they are at fault or not. (The innocent until proven guilty speech isn’t quite true, because once you are charged with something everyone treats you like a criminal). The other thing is that people who are familiar with how the system works, know that if they plead guilty and save the county money a lot of times, they’ll end up with lessor charges. (Regardless of if a plea deal is offered or not). The plea deal is a whole other way that they get you, because they entice you into taking the deal otherwise “you could be facing serious time”. So, you feel pressured into taking a deal knowing what you’ll get rather than rolling the dice. I don’t know about other states, but in PA we have sentencing guidelines. They take into account everything from the charges, your criminal history, and any other mitigating factors. The guide tells the courts that this is the least amount of time or fine you can give, and it tells what the maximum amount that should be given. The Judges are given a lot of discretion, however. So, in my friend’s case, since they probably couldn’t sentence her more, the other way was to then bulk when she came up for parole. The issue however is that once you are sent to the DOC, you are now in their care, custody and control. You have employed them with not only housing and feeding an inmate but evaluating their needs. This evaluation includes your attitude while there, your willingness to participate in classes, your rehabilitation, and your behavior. It’s the staff’s job, which is your housing unit manager, the counselors and your block reports (which are completed by the housing officers) all have a say in your parole process. These are men and women that are again, employed to do a job. A major part of that job is to again, evaluate you because they see you every day and know better than anyone else who you are and if you are ready to be released. These recommendations then go to the Superintendent of the DOC (aka as The Warden). If the staff feels that you are ready (you have to meet with them too as part of your parole process) then you will receive the institutional vote. My friend received this vote. They felt so sure that she was ready, that they sent her (and I) to Phoenix which required major changes in our classifications. They sent our files to Harrisburg to be changed to reflect that we not only should have the privilege to work outside the gates but to live outside them as well. There is then another code that you can receive that says you can do both of these w/o supervisions. Eventually, Jodie also received that code. That’s how serious the staff was in trying to help her be paroled. So, when someone who already had their chance to sentence you comes back and says your time served wasn’t enough-it bites hard! Not only are you saying that you are questioning your own decision, but that now you don’t trust the staff that was hired to do a job. The sad part is, when you see a staff member almost in tears because they too think that this was an overreach. When you serve your time and do nothing but great things while you’re there-what else do you then need to do to be released. I understand them asking the victims or their families. Even then however, will they ever want someone to see the light of day-no! If you are released at your minimum date, that means that you’ll then serve the remainder of your time on supervision. If you mess up and don’t follow the rules, then you end up going back. This is a small glimpse into a greater picture on why people like Van Jones, Kim Kardashian and others are trying to so hard for reform. There has to be a solution to this madness. My prayer is that healthy discussions can come and be productive. I would never have known any of this had I not found myself in this situation that I put myself in. I also hope that you don’t mind that I share these experiences with you, so that maybe you can help shine a light on this mess. Thank you for letting me get on my soapbox!

Journey of Faith

Covid, the election and the news

As difficult as it was for everyone to get adjusted to a new way of life during a pandemic, it wasn’t any easier for those already locked up. We had access to the news and any newspaper that someone may have had a subscription to. Most of the news however came from phone calls, emails and letters from family, friends and also the staff. The only 24/7 type news we had was CNN. The rest came during the segmented times the news would come on regularly. There were times when the DOC would decide to block channels so we couldn’t watch certain things. There was a lot going on it seemed like all at once. We had the news of covid coming in, then we had the election and post-election madness. We also had the insurrection of the capitol building, and then there was the killing of George Floyd and Ahmad Arbury. We saw the trials of the police officer who killed George Floyd, the trial of the father/son who killed Ahmad. The trial of the officer who shot a man instead of using her taser. During the George Floyd incident they blocked the channel for a while not allowing us access to that news. They then, said we weren’t allowed to draw on or decorate our masks. Anyone who amended their face mask would be subject to disciplinary action. Our guess is that people were writing, “I can’t breathe” on them. it was kind of unfortunate because there were a lot of really pretty masks that people created. I could also see the reason behind the new rule, as there could have been some problems stemming from someone being offended. Things remained quiet for the most part during these times. If anyone had an opinion about the events, they were shared respectfully and without incident. The only major incident that actually occurred was from a staff member being suspended after kneeling and making reference to the Floyd situation. He was suspended for quite a while without pay we presumed and then brought back without incident. He was actually a decent officer, and just made a bad choice in poor taste. It seemed to me that most of the inmates respected him and vice versa. As the trials simmered down and the vaccines came out, things started to approach a new normal. We saw several officers being sent to prison for a long time and being held accountable. The election steal rhetoric was over, and now we were being told it was imperative we get vaccinated. As a Christian, all of the things going on just resonated with me as part of the end of times. Everyone was coming to me and other fellow believers asking if the vaccine was the mark of the beast. Constantly, we were pointing to the verses in the Bible that said that the vaccine was not the mark of the beast. We were told that whether you got the vaccine was up to you and that there wouldn’t be any repercussions if you chose not to take it. After being at the DOC for the time that I had been up to this point I knew that probably wasn’t true! There are times when they treated us like kids, only telling us what we wanted to hear at the time to avoid hearing any whining about it. They enticed everyone to get the vaccine by paying us $25 and giving us a goody bag. I decided to get the shot because we were still holding out hope that Phoenix would reopen. Those of us waiting for that to occur figured they’d say that you would have to be vaccinated in order to go. (Again, they never reopened the FTU yet the website says it’s open). After they held the vaccine clinic and evaluated how to move forward, they decided that anyone who didn’t receive the vaccine now had to move behind a door into a cell. You wouldn’t be allowed any contact visits, and you weren’t allowed to interact with other inmates. The staff gave you a final chance to obtain the vaccine, of which some decided to do so rather than move. Others, because of religious, health or personal reasons still didn’t get it. Once everyone was vaccinated, they slowly started to bring back programs, classes, activities and contact visits. They set up a system where you had to go in and make a reservation to be able to visit. They didn’t want people just showing up like it was pre-covid. My sister Pam and her husband were the first to make plans to come visit. They had confirmations in hand that they made the reservation. They drove 6 hours one way to see me. I was so excited! I was sitting in the visiting room and in walks my brother-in-law and not my sister. I love my brother-in-law and he’s a great guy, I was confused however why my sister wasn’t with him. Here, they would not let her in. She had proof she did what was required but the computer glitched and she wasn’t showing up on their list. They didn’t care how long they drove, that they were leaving to move out of state and couldn’t return. They made no allowances for a computer glitch because nothing was ever thought through. Anything the DOC does is based on reaction and not a plan. When the pandemic broke out, they acted like they didn’t know what to do. While this was new for everyone, it seemed to me that an institution that housed 1000’s of people would have had a disaster plan that included an outbreak. (Lice, TB, Scabies, the flu). It just confused me how they seemed so unprepared. They made stupid rules that made no sense to us. When we were able to go to activities, the library and commissary they had a 6′ social distancing rule. It was being imposed upon all of you on the outside, so it seemed to them to be a good idea for them to do on the inside. The funny thing was they had us moving by cohorts. This meant that we were only allowed to go places that with people that lived on the same unit with us. So, I could be standing in line at commissary with 2 of my roommates in front of and behind me. The staff would then yell at us that we weren’t socially distancing. Umm, excuse me but I live with these two and we’re barely inches apart sometimes in our room. Same thing if they weren’t our roommate. I could be on the kiosk next to someone I didn’t room with. The thing that made it so dumb was then they’d call us for chow. We would end up standing in line at the chow hall, with people in front of me I’d never seen before. from another unit. Yet we were to be separate by cohort to prevent an outbreak. So, it’s ok to be elbow to elbow with people I don’t live with, but you yell if I’m 2 feet from my roommate. These situations frustrated all of us and we would normally try to point out how it made no sense. Someone wasn’t using their head. When the booster shots came out, things really started to loosen up and soon they didn’t even care if the non-vaccinated folks were mixed in with us or not. Honestly, some of the decisions seemed to follow whatever you all were being told out here. This didn’t always apply to how things ran efficiently in prison, however. I know I keep harping on the Phoenix situation, but another unit is what the female’s need. (Actually, we need less incarceration). The over-crowding causes huge problems during these situations. When you try to move people around in a crowded space, it’s like re-arranging chairs in a closet. No one, at any given time should be made to live elbow to elbow. You’re only asking for it to become a breeding ground of disease and infestation. During this time the Governor enacted a temporary release plan that if you fit into a certain category, you were eligible for release due to the pandemic. The parameters were so small that barely anyone was released as a result of it. It was made to sound good, that’s about it. We’re approaching election time again. Our Lt. Governor is running for state senate along with Dr. Oz. (Yes, thee Dr. Oz). As part of the smear campaigns, Dr. Oz is using fear mongering to scare people away from voting for Mr. Fetterman. Mr. Fetterman is on the board of pardons and has been an advocate for second chances and inmates. I don’t find this to be a bad thing, when used properly. Every situation should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. I can tell you, after meeting some of the Lifer’s (they prefer to be called long-timers), there are some that I feel deserve to have their case reviewed again. Some of the law makers feel they are doing their constituents a favor by just voting “no”. I would like to think that everyone deserves to be heard, and at least given the chance to have their case re-evaluated. As time goes on, laws change and people who were charged today for similar acts aren’t being sentenced as harsh as a life sentence. They instead might be sentenced to 2nd-3rd degree murder or something else depending on their role. One major example that I saw often, was women that were abuse victims. They one day fought back, and things didn’t end up so good. Did they kill someone? Yes. There are resources today that weren’t available years ago. These are the types of cases now being reviewed again, to give people a possible second chance. So, I wouldn’t necessarily call someone like this a “violent murderer or violent criminal”. Yet, this is what the news/media will tell you. You won’t hear how they were tortured relentlessly. I saw a few ladies file for commutation while I was there. It’s a long and arduous process. Many of them have the total support of the DOC behind them. Staff that has watched them grow up and grow old. Who see them every day be nothing but kind and caring to others. I’ve also seen people who were meaner than a hornet and were set to come home. Not everyone in prison is violent or a terrible person. There are some good people who made bad choices. Some who were with the wrong people at the wrong time. I pray that the Lord will put it on the hearts and minds of the decision makers to bring positive change.

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Journey of Faith

Missing Home

When I was younger, I thought it would be a great idea to go to church camp. I was so excited. I was there about 2 days if that and I started to feel really sick. I was depressed and I just wanted to throw up. I knew the Pastor from our church was coming in a day or so and I had it all planned in my head that I was hitching a ride home with him. Well that never happened! I was forced to stay. Thinking back on this experience as an adult I can understand why I was so home sick. This camp wasn’t fun at all! They ran it like a boot camp. I remember having to be up by 6 am. They literally woke up us with a bugle. Once you were awake (or barely awake) they expected you to then run. I think it was a pretty decent run if memory serves me correctly. This was all before eating breakfast. Once breakfast was served, we spent most of the day then in some sort of Bible class or another. There was some game time later in the day, because I remember playing “capture the flag” for the first time. The counselors were super strict. I remember not having fun at all,, and growing up I loved vacation Bible school. I think in my mind that this would be an extension of that, and it wasn’t! I never asked to go to another camp again after that. I couldn’t wait to go HOME! I actually remember thinking to myself one time during my incarceration about the Bible camp and how here I was so far away from home. No one was able to visit because of Covid, and I was being woke up at 6 am for a required count. No bugle, just the officer on duty yelling “COUNT, lights on, feet on the floor, standing count!”. Sometimes you didn’t hear them call it, and you were then startled out of your sleep with your roommates and the officers yelling your name. They just needed to make sure you were still alive and breathing. I handled this entire situation of being away from home better than I thought that I would. Even as an adult, I didn’t like being far from home. If I did go away, it was with family. One day, it just hit me though. I had been through A LOT up to this point. The constant moving and transfers took its toll. I remember the one night at SCI Phoenix in the room where the 4 of us were quarantined. I was sitting at the table with my friend Jodie, and I just started crying. I apologized to her and told her, “I just want to go home! I miss my family so much!”. I told her that I was tired of being strong and putting on a brave face for everyone. Phoenix was supposed to be the end of the road. All of us were so honored to be asked by the Head of the DOC in the Central Office to come to this high honor unit. We were finally being recognized for being model inmates that posed no risk to anyone. We were less than 2 hours from home and able to make phone calls whenever we wanted and as often as we wanted. We were soon to be able to have unlimited contact visits. We were also told by the Captain and Major that we were pretty much guaranteed parole by being chosen to go there. When we caught covid and things came to a halt our world imploded. It took every bit of wind out of our sails. I supposed some people wouldn’t agree with having an honor unit and giving privledges to inmates like this. I beg to differ! Not because I was a recipient of those benefits, but because I know first-hand why it’s so important. Prime example is my friend Jodie. After we returned from all of this mess and settleed back at Cambridge, she came up for parole before I did. She never ever got in trouble, was part of this honor program, did everything she was supposed to do and then some. She goes to see the board, a few days later she gets told that she got a 9-month hit. (a hit is basically saying you can’t see the board again for another 9 months from the day when you first saw them). This wasn’t just upsetting to her, but it was upsetting to the staff as well. For the most part a lot of the staff and counselors really do care. (There are some that are there for a check, but some do care). The one counselor was so upset about it, she went home and was telling her family about it. You just get to the point where you see people who get in trouble and act stupid while there that get paroled right away. You start to wonder if being a goody 2 shoes is really worth it. The answer is yes, in the long run it is. You just start to feel defeated though when things like this happen. Unfortunately for my friend, it happened a second time right before I left to come home. They say everyone’s case is different and you can’t compare yours to theirs. I just still feel so awful for her. The staff continues to do things to increase her changes of being approved. There needs to be a complete overhaul of the entire justice system in the US and Pennsylvania. I see so many people up in arms about President Biden wanting to relieve student loans and yet no one bats an eye at paying tons and tons of tax money to support mass incarceration. Other countries are even some states within the US are finally realizing that mass incarceration doesn’t help. Should I have been punished for what happened? Yes! However, there was many other ways that I and other folks like me could have paid my debt to society. I now have become a burden of society because I’m currently without a job. Finding a job after post incarceration isn’t easy. I have many transferred skills that I should easily be able to find employment. The problem is, everyone wants to do a background check. Why? if I’m only working in an office processing paperwork and you’re going to put me on a 30, 60, 90-day probationary period anyway-why does my background then matter? Pennsylvania is an at will employment state, therefore you can let me go at any time. Especially before the probation period is over. The other problem is that there is really NO vocational opportunities while in prison. Prison is essentially a warehouse for people. Your tax dollars is paying for people who are willing to take a vocational class, to be able to leave there a start a job immediately however the opportunity isn’t there. Instead, it’s easier to pay inmates $.19/hr to push a broom or take out trash than to teach them something worthwhile. There are programs like cosmo, eye class lens making and plumbing that you can do. Yet my roommate did the lens class, came home and was told they would never hire her because of her record. it seems to me; they should partner with LensCrafters or someplace like them to offer employment post incarceration to inmates that pass the exam and become licensed to do this. If you’re an inmate and you took the initiative to go to the classes and take the exam, I think you’re pretty serious about wanting to be employed. I know some of you won’t agree with me and that’s ok. We’re all entitled to our own opinions and that’s what makes America great. I also think that having some of these healthy conversations with people other than law makers that never stepped foot in a prison could be helpful. People shouldn’t be sitting in prisons, being transferred and moved 14 plus times while paying officers 2 times their hourly wage to drive them around. People make mistakes, dumb ones. Bad things happen to good people and accidents happen. We are all one mistake away from something like this happening to you or someone you love. Why is America the home of the free and yet we are the highest in incarceration populations? I am not the only one who missed their family while there. Covid didn’t make it any better. I went almost my entire time without physically seeing my loved ones. I did have video visits with them but it’s not the same. I spent most of that time in lock down, only being allowed out during assigned times for phone calls and showers. There wasn’t any day room or yard anymore. There weren’t any walks to the chow hall or to appointments. Everything during covid was brought to us. Phoenix was the first taste of freedom and “fun”. When I finally sat down and thought about it, I think that’s why I finally started to cry.

Journey of Faith

Here I go again on my own!

Like the song goes, “Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever known”. That’s how it started to feel after a while. I no sooner go settled into another room, with another roommate, when my phone was shut off. I knew what that meant! It meant that I was getting ready to be transferred, AGAIN! Up until this point, I had been trying to see if I could remain at SCI Muncy. It’s only 2 hours from home, and they kept telling us they were going to take us back to Phoenix that spring/summer. When the transfer came, we knew that wasn’t going to happen. The other thing was by this time it was February of 2022 and that meant that I’d start my parole process by that August. If they did plan to return folks to Phoenix, I could’ve been on the fence about returning there and messing up that process in any way. they never did open it again, and no one returned there. We heard all sorts of things about what it was being used for. Most of the opportunities in prison (at least in Pa), are for the men. There are more facilities for them, more programs, more, more, more. It’s said around the female facilities “the men stick together”, and that’s how they end up with stuff. Well, the last thing most of us want to do was create a fuss and end up being accused of “rioting”. I personally think that there needs to be someone or a committee that makes sure that certain policies, programs, etc. should be consistent across the DOC regardless of male or female. (Ugh, that’s another soapbox). The whole process of being transferred was exactly the same. It sucks every time. Then comes getting situated again, getting your mail straightened out, worrying if any books that were sent will show up. The positive thing was that we all knew that to expect now, returning to SCI Cambridge Springs. The bad part was staff and some of the other inmates that didn’t realize we went to Phoenix; thought we came back as parole violators. We all spent about a month repeating the same story about how we were in Phoenix, and it was shut down. We had to go back into a 14-day quarantine again when we arrived. I was super lucky, because I ended up with my friend Jodie. They ended up moving us after this to C unit. So again, I returned where I started. I liked being back on C unit. I liked the location of it, I liked the staff assigned to work on it, and I liked the other inmates living there as well. We actually all seemed to get along for the most part. When someone came along that caused an issue, it’s like the one officer told me, “Just be patient because they’ll end up doing something to get themselves moved soon.” He was right. Living on an open unit is a privilege. If you can’t play nice, then they are going to move you. It’s your choice whether or not that move is via the “rhu” (restricted housing unit aka the hole). They may also just decide to move you during the next round of mass moves. The one time when I ended up on the block that are only behind doors (not an open unit), the officer’s kept asking me “why I was there”. Even the one counselor pulled up my file and asked me the same thing. Luckily, it was a temporary situation until I moved to Phoenix. I figure the Lord always had a plan and it wasn’t up to me where I lived. It was his. The Lord definitely took care of me while I was incarcerated. No one can tell me otherwise. I was always where he needed me and who he needed me to be roommates with. I got along with everyone. The average age for the most part seemed to be 25-40. I got along with all of them. The young girls respected me. The ones my own age became my friends. Some will say you can’t have “friends in jail”. I find that statement to be incorrect. You just need to be selective on who you call a friend because some people will smile in your face and then stab you in the back. if someone did try to harass me for whatever reason, a lot of times the younger girls would tell the person off saying, “leave Miss Jodie alone, she doesn’t bother anyone!” This was a true statement. I didn’t bother anyone. I stayed in my room 98% of the time and if someone needed me or wanted something they called me to come out. A day would not go by that someone wasn’t looking for me or asking for me because I possessed some bit of knowledge, they wanted to pick my brain on. I was the crochet lady, I was the recipe person, I had knowledge about technology, I was very prepared for the parole process that folks wanted me to help them get ready for. One day, my one roommate came in and said that a few young ladies were looking for me. She said it was something about that I knew a lot about genres of music and who sang certain songs. She told me that she had to laugh at first because she asked them again if they had the right person. She said, are you sure you are looking for Jodie? The girl said yes, I want Miss Jodie. She’s an older lady with gray hair (it was then), and sometimes walks with a cane. My roommate was so confused when she came to get me. She said, I just learned something new about you! lol. I just got along with everyone. They also knew too that if you did cross me that I wasn’t afraid to speak up and let you know about it. This was how my nickname “Spicy Annie” was born. I think we all have our limits on how much crap we will put up with. In prison, it’s very important to let people know right away that you’re not going to be a door mat. Most of the arguments that I started while I was there either over girlfriends and someone messing with their girl, or just the lack of respect for another person. My advice to anyone who is put into this situation is not to get a girlfriend while in jail. It’s going to get you in trouble and added time. Also, just be respectful to your roommates, your space, your housing unit, areas you use and respectful to staff and others in general. Stay in your own lane. Find a person you can truly rely on and call a friend and use them to vent to when you’re frustrated. The wonderful thing is, that the Lord is always my friend. He is always ready, willing and able to listen, and he doesn’t repeat my secrets. I could NEVER have done any of this without his unconditional love and forgiveness.

Journey of Faith

I was fearfully and wonderfully made!

Jesus tells us that we were meant to stand out and not to fit in. Being 51, I can look back over several decades of my life and tell you that is absolutely true. When I was about 3 years old, a neighbor came to my parents to tell them they noticed that I had a limp. I was also falling more than normal when I walked. They immediately took me to one of the best Orthopedic Doctors in our area. I was diagnosed with Legg Calve Perthes Disease ( It’s rare to be found in girls. So, I’ve been “different” for as long as I can remember. I had to wear a leg brace on my right leg (the leg with the issue), and a tall, healed shoe (like the rock band Kiss) on my left foot. Somehow, I was able to jump around and do pretty much the same stuff other kids could do. Although, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was probably 8. I finally had the brace removed before I went into first grade. By 5th grade, I again couldn’t just fit in with everyone else. Noooo….I had to be taller. I had to develop sooner. By 6th grade, Aunt Flo came to visit sooner than some of the other girls. It just seemed like I could never catch a break. When you look back over the Bible and the cast of characters that Jesus ask to help him with his ministry, they weren’t the blend in type of people. We had a bunch of run of the mill fisherman, a tax collector, a reformed prostitute, and then there’s Paul who hated Christians before his walk down the road to Damascus. I thought about this post yesterday after listening to my playlist. I love listening to Christian music. My one favorite group is #Casting Crowns. They came out with a recent song called “Nobody”. Here’s the link to the official video ( I often wonder if people question who do I think I am to talk about the Lord? Then I remembered this song and its lyric are exactly what Jesus wants from us. “I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, all about somebody that saved my soul.” God wants those of us that don’t fit in because he needs us to stand up and shine! We have stories to tell, we have testimonies to give. We have proof how he has worked in our lives and the lives of those around us. So go and stand out in the crowd!!

Journey of Faith

I was sent to the gas chamber

I begrudgingly packed up all my stuff AGAIN and moved to my new cell. My new roommate seemed nice enough but was upset that she was losing her current one. (Oh well lady, I’m not excited either). This move was part of the 14+ times i would move from July-February. Once, I get settled again my new cellie and I hit it off pretty well. She too was a Christian, and we ended up spending a lot of our time watching Joyce Myers and other televangelists. If we weren’t doing that, we were coloring or reading. The bad thing about living in a cell vs an open unit is that you have your toilet/sink in the room with you. That creates a bonus during the night when you have to pee, but it’s not so great when one of you has to “go”. Eventually you learn to get over it, do what you need to do. Unfortunately for me, this girl was full of noxious gas! All day long, morning, noon and night she would pass gas. It smelled terrible and finally I had to say something. Those who know me, know that I’m not one to just let you have it. This took a while for me to finally ask her nicely to figure something out. She claimed they gave her something to help it but that it didn’t. I said to her that I can’t understand how she was just doing it constantly. It was to the point where I felt it was forced rather than out of necessity. After a few times of asking she did finally start going to the door and trying to let loose by the door so it could escape. The other alternative was to sit on the toilet and flush it. (You figure these things out). So why am I telling you about someone passing gas? I truly believe that God had a purpose for everyone he put in my path. Sometimes, I believe it was for me to build my patience. I learned through this process that my patience wasn’t always the best. As Christians we should try to be patient and kind. I know that I am not always a patient person. The way that things are today, it doesn’t help matters. Society and technology have made us want instant gratification. I had to learn that our timing is not God’s timing. When we pray things like, “why Lord did you put me in here with this lady?”, it’ for us to figure out along the way. Sometimes it’s not about the other person but showing us our own faults that we need to fix. Through this process, I learned to try to look at things from another person’s perspective. I don’t know what these people went through in life, who beat them down, or who bullied them, etc. I don’t know anything about them at all. I think, if we all took a little bit of time to get to know someone before judging them saying “how gross” something is, or “you’re disgusting”, put yourself in that position before speaking. What would you want to hear? I know, easier said than done. This lady and I did end up hitting it off. We had many conversations about God, the Bible, and one time she broke down crying and asked me to pray with her. Sometimes, as a Christian we might be the only Bible someone may ever hear. We might be the one thing that brings them back to God or pushes them further away. I tried every day to be a light onto other’s path in this dark, God forsaken place!

Journey of Faith

The People you meet

I definitely met some interesting characters while incarcerated. Some famous for the wrong reasons obviously, and others well known because of who they are in there. When you’ve done some time in prison, eventually you’ll end up with a nickname. I’ve met Shug, Twisty, Snoop, Cookie, Snaps, and I eventually became Spicy Annie. Some people come to jail with nicknames because they don’t give out their “government” as they call it when they’re running the madness on the streets. Some have so many names, I’m surprised they remember their real one! If you are curious about some of the infamous ladies I met, here are links to some of their stores. (Miranda Barbour, “the craigslist killer”, (Angela Marinucci, “Greensburg Six”, (Melanie Ray, “Killer Couples” ( The reason, that I’m bringing this up is to not brag. This is NOT something to brag about in any sense of the word. What I want to tell you is that people can change in some cases, others maybe not so much. When I first came to SCI Muncy and we were walking around to gather our clothes, and getting checked in you could say, I heard this beautiful voice singing out the window. She must have known we were scared to death, having just arrived. She started singing, “keep smiling, keep shining”. When I was in county my friend Brandi told me her cousin was at Muncy for life. Her nickname was Shug. I asked what her real name was and was told that didn’t matter that she went by Shug and that’s what people call her. Well, it was Shug singing out the window! I eventually met Shug face to face when I made my complete circle back to Muncy from Phoenix. Once they moved us out of quarantine, I was moved to J Block. This normally was known as “The Jungle”, because it was where they kept troublemakers, people who couldn’t play nice with others, etc. I am none of these, but things weren’t being run the same either during covid. They needed to move folks around to accommodate them during covid. I had a cane and was bottom bunk restricted. Therefore, I had to go to J block. I knew the Lord had a plan, and I’d be ok. I just needed to ride it out to see what the plan was. They were actually moving some folks to one side of the block on B side, or other units. I was left on A side. They Lord always has a plan, and always locked out for me. When I was moved, I was sent to my cell and immediately hit it off with my new roommate. I later found out her dad was a preacher. After, getting settled in I was told that they accidentally placed me in the wrong cell and wanted me to move. My roommate called the Sargent over and explained that her and I really got along. Also, that I had just moved and was practically traumatized by what happened with the whole Phoenix thing. The best part was the lady who they wanted to switch me out with, was a lady who came with me from Phoenix. She had a colostomy bag due to being in a car accident prior to coming to jail. They roommate she got was familiar with this and wasn’t grossed out by it. (People can really harass you in jail over the smallest things believe me!). It was the perfect fit of roommates for both of us. I say they Lord put us where he wanted us, no irony about it. Sargent Scott said I could stay, and he’d let the Unit Manager know. (Sargent Scott disappeared shortly after this and I never saw him again. Later we heard he was arrested! No favors were exchanged in the case of me staying put, I can promise you that!! I was able to spend Christmas with my new roommate. We spent 99% of the time in lock down because of Covid. We got off one day and were able to walk to commissary. The next day we were back on because someone tested positive again. This went on like this the entire time I was at Muncy. We’d be on lockdown due to a positive case, then off a day or two, then back on. My roommate left to go home, and they told me I had to move to a different cell across from where I was. Ugh, here I go again-moving AGAIN!!!

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Journey of Faith

So are the days of our lives

Again, like I mentioned before my life goes on outside now as I try to tell my story on the inside too. Recently, I had my 3rd retinal detachment in my right eye. Ten or so years ago, I was at work and saw flashes. I thought the fluorescent lights at our office was just playing tricks on my eyes. I like to watch medical shows and read a lot. I knew that seeing flashes could be bad, but I was concerned about a stroke or something else. I was shocked to learn that my vitreous was detaching and pulling the retina with it. A few years later it happened again in the left eye. Now, I was no sooner back from being paroled when it happened a 3rd time, 2nd time in my right eye. I can only see because I’ve made my backgrounds dark, and my font is huge. I’ll have my second surgery soon to complete the process of fixing it. This is all going on while we are trying to sell our home so that we can all be together again as a family (that story later). I hate moving! After also having to move so much while incarcerated, I really hate it. A lot of things have changed since I’ve been home. My one sister, her husband and my parents all moved out of state. I still have 2 sisters here, along with my chosen sister Lynn and my bff’s. This has made me decide that staying where I’m currently living is best choice. I essentially have returned to where my family actually is from. Well, my mom’s family. I was extremely lucky to know my maternal grandmother’s parents, and my maternal grandfather’s mother. There aren’t many people who can say they’ve met their Great Grandparents I don’t think. We have very deep roots in the area where I’m living now. My family settled here in the late 1600’s, and was given one of the first land deeds from William Penn. They were part of a group of settlers that he asked to come here to settle in Pennsylvania, in the Lancaster/York County areas. My family has fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, as well as many wars since. So, when I couldn’t return to York County, I was deeply hurt. God opens doors, when one closes. Therefore, I’m feeling pulled to return to where my “family” is from. I mentioned before that having a great roommate is half the battle while in prison. Having a great parole officer on the outside is just as important., if not more so! I like my parole officer. We don’t talk much, unless I need him or he’s coming to check on me. I’m considered a low risk, low priority. he knows I don’t bother anyone. I have better things to do with my time. He’s also familiar with my case, which I feel helps when someone understands what happened from beginning to end. I’m not left explaining or feeling like I’m under a microscope. I have an opportunity to choose where we want to move to now, but again I feel I want to remain where I am. If I move, I’ll have to obtain a different officer. I don’t know that I want to do that. I pray every day that the Lord shows me where he wants me to be. He has watched over me and led me to where he needs me. I will continue to trust in him for my path going forward. Stay tuned!

Journey of Faith

Return to Go and don’t collect $200

We finished count and breakfast was delivered. Hard boiled eggs, bread, and something else. We barely had received our food when the shoe on the other foot dropped. It was December 22nd, and we were informed that, “one of the men’s pods in SCI Phoenix (down below us) caught fire and they needed our building to house the men”. So many questions came to mind because the housing unit was built for females, and now we were getting the boot. We didn’t understand why our building was their backup plan. We knew that we were to leave eventually, and this just was the icing on the cake. The thing that made it so bad was they were calling for a severe snowstorm to start any minute. They came in with tons of boxes and told us to pack up, we were leaving and going to Muncy. There was no Q&A. Just pack up and get it moving. I pretty much had my stuff packed because I wasn’t naive enough to believe that we were staying, and the other ladies were coming back. That wasn’t going to happen, at least any time soon. The male guards who wanted nothing to do with coming down while we were there, seemed to get their kicks out of now packing out stuff to move us out. Everything had to be inventoried like I explained before when you pack out to be transported. This time, however, they did it as quickly as possible. They wanted us GONE! By the time we were packed, changed in our transport outfits, including shackles again the snow started. We should NOT have been driving during this storm. I could only keep praying to the Lord that he would protect our van and guide us to Muncy safely. When they put us in the vans, they kept 5 of us that had covid in one van. The other girls that didn’t catch it went in a separate van. They wouldn’t so much as look or talk to us. We couldn’t figure out why because we did nothing wrong. We didn’t create covid, and we didn’t go out and bring it in either. After a grueling van ride back to Munch, we slide into home base. Literally. We sat outside the gate for the longest time, having to pee terribly. Here they never called to tell them we were coming. We just dropped in like they were a motel with a vacancy sign. They weren’t amused. I wasn’t amused either. I just returned to where I started almost exactly a year to the day I left!! I returned to GO, with nothing but a lot of grief. From the time that I was moved originally in the July mass move in 2020 (Cambridge), until my eventual back to return to Cambridge in February 2021, I moved over 14 times. That included the moves around in Phoenix, at Muncy and then back to Cambridge. I was so tired of moving my stuff! The guards and staff would get frustrated because they figured we didn’t have a lot so why was it a big deal. Unless you’re in that situation there’s a lot of emotion that goes into constantly moving and staring over. Regardless of the amount of crap you accumulated. When we finally were changed and escorted out of the admin building to our new housing unit at Muncy the snow was coming down harder and harder. We kept telling the staff that we had NO clothing. They couldn’t understand this because we should’ve had our “browns” that were issued to us. Well, when we went to Phoenix, we received purple uniforms and therefore we owned no more “browns”. There we were, walking around in the freezing snow, with ill fitting “blues” shirts and pants. The ones that you receive on day 1 when you first get to prison classification. They also offered us NO coats. We had nothing. It was freezing, and we were still getting over Covid. Finally, a Captain or Sargent came by and yelled at the staff to “get those ladies inside, it’s effing freezing out here”. A round of applause for someone with a heart and brain! The 5 of us that had Covid ended up getting the better end of the deal. They sent us to a housing unit where 4 of us were housed in the same room. We had our own bathroom/shower. It wasn’t bad. They only kicker was phone calls were at the will of the officers. This usually meant calls at 7 am. UGH! We were supposed to stay there for 14 days, then moved to regular housing. They ended up moving us sooner. I have to digress for a minute. I said they moved us on the 22nd. I actually believe it was a little sooner because I was moved to my new dorm before Christmas. We were told that we were going to eventually go back to Phoenix. Probably by the spring/summer of 2022. Covid was still rampant, and they made it clear they were NOT going to allow us to stay in Muncy. I had asked since it was closer to home than Cambridge. God has reasons for everything. We just need to hang tight and see what’s next.

Journey of Faith

Pack up you’re leaving

After catching Covid and being moved to our new quarantine area, we thought we were finally in the home stretch. We woke one morning to a bunch of commotion. The Captain and Sargent came to let us know that the other group who came prior was being forced to pack out and leave. We were devastated! We also felt terrible because in a round about way, the blame was shifting to us. Their lives were fine until we showed up. Once they left to return to Muncy, they then told us to pack up to move back to where we were in the dorm. The difference was that they moved us where the group just left from. The cheerful decor now looked like a war zone. We would never see or speak to the rest of our group until months later. Everything changed. We went from total privilege to don’t do this, don’t do that. The only way we could wash our clothes were in the washer and dryer they bought for us. Well they were so concerned about washing uniforms that we finally said something. They were worried about uniforms no one would ever wear vs clothes we needed then and now. One lady finally said she felt like a piece of dust just waiting to be put into the dust pan with everything else. The calendar clicked closer to Christmas. We begged them, PLEASE don’t move us at Christmas. Remember my fiasco a year prior started on Christmas Eve? My Mom kept hearing that the Governor was going to cease all inmate transports because of Covid. We finally had a little hope we could maybe stay by chance. The excitement though of any holiday cheer had already dashed away. December 22nd, the door flew open in a flash but it wasn’t jolly Saint Nick!