Journey of Faith

I drove 6 hours to catch Covid

The finally arrived when we were going to be transported to SCI Phoenix. There was 6 of us going. You would have thought we were being released to go home as giddy as we all were acting. The day started like any other transport day, bright and early at 4 am. We all had already packed out our stuff the day before at property. I had 2 boxes that needed to be shipped. One went home and one to Phoenix. We were going to a low-level security facility for high honor inmates, yet we still had to go through the entire process of strip search and shackles. It seemed unnecessary since we all had these new codes to live and work outside the gates because we were “trusted”. Also, the premise behind going to this new place was that we were all transitioning to go home. So why would we run? Heah, I guess anything’s possible, and they’ve seen it all. We were loaded into the van finally and the one officer who was going with us I really liked. He was a nice, fair officer, and he wasn’t ashamed of telling anybody who’d listen that he was a Christian. He put on a Christian radio station, and I was thrilled. Others, not so much. His response was that “everyone can use a little Jesus in their life”. Basically, he wasn’t changing the station. Amen Brother, you go ahead! We all knew the ride was going to be long. That was part of the deal when we signed up. We drove about halfway and made a pitstop at a police station. There, they also gave us our packed lunches and bottled water. To this day, I wish that I had a camera to video us at this point. So, when you’re shackled to your waist, your hands can only go so far in any direction. The officer was kind enough to open our sandwiches, veggie sticks and hand them to us. They problem was, we couldn’t hold on to them, eat them, and negotiate the eating process while restrained. The van pulls out and my veggie sticks go flying onto the floorboards. I said, “well I guess I didn’t need that, now it’s tossed salad”. We’re all trying to eat and the only way to get the food to our mouths was to try to fling it up and hope to grab a bite in the process. Finally, the girl next to me (who I knew from county jail) decided that her and I would work together. She’s trying to feed me my sandwich and vice versa. She was teasing that by the end of the trip she would wonder if her and I were in some sort of relationship. I said, there will be no worries here. She knew I was heterosexual. I’m then trying to get my bottled water open, twisting the cap in my mouth and she of course this doesn’t look good. I wasn’t thinking about “how it looked”, I just wanted a drink! Everyone’s cracking up at this time because they all know I am this strait laced, Christiann lady. Here I am making this obscene action while just trying to open a bottle the only way was able to. Poor Toni, next to me then has her pack of cookies fall on the floor. That was it, she says, “great, now they fat girl can’t even eat her dang cookies”. We just laughed and laughed. They 6-hour car ride didn’t actually seem that long. It was more a road trip than a transport. One thing I learned right away in prison was that if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. I chose to laugh as often as possible. We finally arrived, pull in and there are about 3-4 officers standing outside to greet us. They all have these stern looks on their faces, mean mugging us. We all look at each other, wondering if we should ask to turn the van around and go back. Well, that turned out to be a show because they were super nice, and we were thankful! The place was amazing. Every time we turned around, we felt like we were going to get punked. Someone to come and say, “just kidding!!” My family could hear how happy I was, how relaxed it seemed. It was like they could finally have a sigh of relief. We each received our own cubicle. They cubicle was set up for 4 inmates with 2 sets of lockers on each side. Everything was brand new. We were told that we’d never have to share a cube with anyone, unless we decided to do so. Once, we’d complete the quarantine stage we could join the other ladies that got there before us a month prior. We would also be given the chance to pick out our own comforter. A real one, with pretty colors. Not a prison issue. Our meals were amazing, with real seasonings and some actual love that went into making it. We were brought ice cream and popcorn. It was crazy! We were told by staff that we were “pretty much guaranteed release from parole because of being part of this program”. See when the DOC establishes programs, they need to prove their successful in order to keep them funded and active. Well, it’s not going to be successful if people don’t get paroled from it, so in order to do that they chose people whom they knew were a good candidate to be paroled successfully. (Pretty Genius!) We were just enjoying our time, making crafts, watching movies, eating great food and I was crocheting hat sets for babies at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. (They provided the yarn). Day 14 were supposed to get ready to transfer to the other side with the other group of women. Our quarantine period would be over. We were I think 2-3 days shy when 4 of us started feeling sick. The Sargent was called, the medical team, and up our noses went the Covid test. We were all now asked to confine to our own cubicles until they results came back. The fun came to a screeching halt. I knew it wasn’t good, when a maintenance man showed up looking like someone from Ghostbusters in a Tyvek suit and a sprayer.