Journey of Faith

The time had finally come

The day that I was sitting in my mom’s living room and found out that my appeal was denied, I said to her, “Mom, I’m ready for this to be over”. I couldn’t take the weight of the shadow hanging over my head anymore. Enough was enough. When, I stepped on the grounds at SCI Muncy, I started to prepare to leave. I told my one friend, “I will not call home and tell my children and my family that I got in trouble over something dumb and might not come home on time.” I wasn’t going to let them break me, and I wasn’t going to let it happen. Finally, the day came when I was on the call out sheet to go have my one-on-one meeting with parole. I had my folder put together that contained all of my certificates, I had about 10 letters of support, I had my freedom plan, my re-entry plan, my mental health plan, and I also included my resume. I had my inmate version of what happened and had that reviewed by the re-entry parole agent. She only had one suggestion and that involved a statement I included regarding my husband and me. She had me rephrase it to where I still took responsibility, while including him in the narrative. She was also impressed how I included a paragraph about how I now could see what else could have happened. The morning came, I got up and made sure that my clothing was clean. In order to press our clothing, we put them under our mattresses at night. So, I was clean and pressed. I had my hair fixed, and I had on a small amount of makeup. We were able to buy eyeshadow, lipstick, mascara and eyeliner. I didn’t want to overdo it, but I had enough on to look like I was going to a job interview. I already knew going in that I received that institutional vote. That meant that my housing manager, my counselor, and other higher ups, including to superintendent all felt that I deserved to go home. That is an important vote to get because it sets the tone for the upcoming parole meetings. Although, I did hear of cases where people didn’t receive the institutions vote and were paroled. So, you just never know. (I must digress here in saying that the one instance that I knew of this happening, was actually a friend of mine. She had PTSD from something that had to do with men. I didn’t really ask, and she didn’t elaborate. Well, when she went to her staffing meeting which is when it’s decided if you get the institutional vote or not, she started to panic. She was forced to be alone in a room with the housing manager and her counselor who were both men. During this time, she started to have a panic attack and the meeting didn’t go well. The good thing is, she had gone to a lot of therapy classes and had the support of other staff showing that she made a lot of progress. So, in the end I believe the board members could tell that this event shouldn’t have been handled the way that it had been). Anyway, as I walked to my meeting I talked to the Lord. I said, “Lord, I already know that my meeting is going to go well. You’ve told me several times that I was going home. I know that you have already gone ahead of me and prepared the way. The Bible tells me that, and I believe it to be true.” When I arrived at the building, I told the officer I was there for my one-on-one meeting with parole. He told me to have a seat and they would call me. As I sat there waiting, I started singing a song in my head in tongues. I don’t know what I was actually singing, but it must have been something that I couldn’t express except that the Holy Spirit needed me to relay it this way to the Lord. I didn’t wait long, then I heard my name being called down the steps. I walked up to meet a man who appeared to be in his 60’s. He guided me to his office, and we walked to his desk and a chair beside it where I sat. He asked me a few “warm up questions”, about my family. He asked me if I had any siblings, he asked about my parents. He asked me about my husband and my sons, about friends we had, my prior jobs. He asked me about activities I participated in while there, things I enjoyed doing on the outside, plans I had when I left, how I was going to achieve them. Then he asked me the question about what happened. No matter how many times I prepared for this question, it never gets any easier repeating it. I went a lot better than I could’ve hoped. He asked me if I had anything that I wanted to provide to the board to review. I handed him the papers that I brought with me. The entire meeting took less than a half an hour. He walked me out, stopped by the conference room to show me where I would be having my meeting with the actual board members. Once I returned to my dorm, everyone wanted to know how it went. Even my family wanted to know how it went. I left feeling that it went pretty well. Everyone says that they pretty much make their decision based on how this meeting goes. I can understand that, since this meeting is the one where you as an inmate get to show them who you really are. Now we wait again. We wait for at least another month.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk:

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