I looked down at the paperwork and there it was, the words I’ve been waiting for all this time. The Lord never fails and he told me I was going home. My excitement was clouded with confusion however. I now had to read my conditions of parole. I noticed the normal things like no drugs or alcohol, no contact with the victims or families. Then it hit me like a sucker punch, the one Last blow that could be handed to me. I was being told that I wasn’t allowed to live in, travel to or through the county that I grew up in. I had lived there 95% of my life. Our home was there, my family, my husband and kids. My parents and grandmother. This still doesn’t set well with friends and even businesses that had grown to know us. I can’t even return to my church. All of these people were looking forward to seeing me and spending time with me. Everyone who has and continues to support us. I however wasn’t in complete shock. I mentally prepared for this as much as possible. I had three home plan options going in to this meeting and this wasn’t part of the plan, however. I had to remind myself that God’s plans are not our own. I had to trust in him like I had been this entire time. I just looked at the parole agent and said, “But that’s where I live, I grew up there and I own a home there.” She the look on her face looked like I felt. I could tell that she truly didn’t want to share this news with me. Most of the staff had grown to know me and wanted to see me go home. When I was being transferred to Phoenix, the one officer stopped me and said, “I’m so happy for you that you are going there and getting out of here.” After years of seeing things that I’m sure they have seen, they know who needs to stay and who needs to go. The parole lady explained my options to me and told me to get back to her as soon as possible so that they could get me out of there. If I didn’t have any options, then I could always go to a center operated by the DOC. They are free and run by the state. It gives you a landing place to go to in situations where you don’t have a home plan. You could also go to a paid “halfway house”. I went back to my unit holding the best news an inmate could ever receive, and yet I had this cloud looming over my head. I walked in my room and told my roommates what happened. They were excited for me and tried to stay positive. They said, “Jodie, you know that God will figure this out for you. It’ll be ok!” I really loved my roommates. Heather and Pam where the best. We got each other through a lot over the time we were together. When we got moved to another unit unexpectedly, we asked the Unit Manager if we could be put back together when we returned. We knew that wasn’t going to be an issue because none of us caused any problems. We were all just grateful when we finally did move back to our unit after a month and a half of “living in exile”. That’s how it felt to all of us. The other unit wasn’t happy that we encroached on their space. The funny thing is, I landed in a great room,, and the girls in there didn’t want me to leave. I’m not trying to brag, but this happened a lot. Even in county, my one bunkie went around telling everying that “she had the best bunkie”. Another roommate wouldn’t tell anyone who I was and made people keep guessing because she didn’t want to share me lol. It was a joke and nothing serious to worry about. It was a compliment. When I was in this other unit, I ended up having to move to a different room. Someone in another room was caught stealing and the other roommates kicked her out. Yeah, it can happen. You can say that staff is in charge, but there is truth to the saying that “the inmates run the asylum”. When you aren’t liked, especially if you steal, you will not be wanted. When we moved, I literally saw one girl, get rejected at every room she was told to go to. She had a bad reputation for stealing and no one was going to put up with her. They blocked the doorway and would not let her in. Rules are fairly simple in prison, mind your own business, don’t steal, repay your debts if you borrow and don’t, I mean don’t try to steal or look at someone else’s girlfriend! I’m not gay so all of these rules were fine with me. I also don’t steal and I rarely had to borrow from somone. Borrowing could be expensive depending on what you needed. People loved to “sell” the e-cigarettes. The price for those was 2 for 1. So, when you borrowed 1, you had to pay them back with 2. I heard that Shug, that I mentioned in a previous post sold hers 3 for 1. People paid it too, and I bet they paid her back! I saw people get stopped on walks, I saw people get screamed at out windows at people that owed debts. I saw people grab commissary bags out of someone’s hand when they returned from shopping because they owed debts. Don’t mess with not repaying debt. People seem to forget who they are dealing with in there. There’s also a rule from the DOC that lending, and borrowing isn’t allowed. So it’s actually not allowed, but it does occur. Unfortunately, it’s a necessity sometimes. When you order commissary, you wait 2 weeks at Cambridge for your next order. That’s not h elpful when you need a Tums today. So having great roommates is extremely important. They are your temporary family. They are the usually the people who know you best while you’re there. I was lucky enough to always have great ones. I was especially glad to have Heather and Pam during this time. I know needed to get on the phone and call home. I needed to explain to my husband and Mom that I had good news and bad.
The board is ready!
Three and half years, I waited for this day to come. I knew the Lord had already told me that I was going home. I had prepared for this day from day one. I let the officer know that I was there for my Parole board hearing and waiting to hear my name to be called. I was there with a couple of other ladies that I knew from my unit. As, I heard my name I walked up the steps to meet the officer who would be sitting in my hearing that day. She took me in to the conference room that I was shown a month earlier. I was told to sit at a specific chair and that the board would appear via Zoom in a few minutes. The chair was sitting at a weird angle that made me feel uncomfortable. It was set so that they could see you on the screen, but it was an un-natural way of sitting at a table. The officer sat in a chair about 2 seats in front of me, her back to me. I think that was a way of giving me a sense of privacy. I appreciated the gesture. Two men appeared on the screen. They introduced themselves, said hello and I introduced myself in the most professional way possible. I wasn’t uncomfortable with the idea of having a zoom meeting because working in an office as long as I had this wasn’t unusual. The people I was meeting was the nerve ending part. The first man seemed to be the “good cop”. He asked me questions about my family, what I intended to do when I left. Warm up questions. He then asked me about the day that brought me before him. I had gone over this in my mind so many times, I knew it well. The story didn’t get any earier to tell. He asked me some follow up questions, as if surprised. The reaction I see often when I tell this story. I know he asked me a few other questions, but I can’t remember them specifically. Next was the “bad cop”. He actually wasn’t that bad, but he asked the tougher questions. The question that he asked me though was only one question and I knew it was to see my reaction. I was actually glad he asked the question that he did because it was the one that if I was him, I would have wanted an answer to as well. It was the one question that I prepared for. That right there was the Lord’s doing! He looked at me and asked, “You seem very remorseful and have taken responsibility. When, are you taking responsibility now, and why did you file for an appeal?” I looked at him, calm and responded to him. “Sir, you’re absolutely right. I did file for an appeal. I took a huge risk in doing so, knowing that I could be facing more time if I did this. I’d never been in trouble before or in jail before. I was scared to death. Everyone that talked to my family, and even other attorneys encouraged me to file an appeal because of different aspects of the case that wasn’t adding up. I was told that I had 10 days to make that decision. After, I became acclimated and had I had more time to decide, I wouldn’t have filed for the appeal. I actually tried to request it to be withdrawn and I was told that wasn’t possible. I don’t know if that is correct or not. I was following the advice of counsel. I wanted to withdraw my request because I realized that by doing this I was not only putting the families through this again, but my family and the community. I was not trying to revictimize anyone. I realized that by doing this that is what was happening. If, I had the chance or know what I know now, I wouldn’t have filed for an appeal.” He looked at me stunned. He didn’t have any further questions. I was dismissed and left with no feeling of a yes or no. I would have just have to wait AGAIN. We saw the board on a Thursday. The following week by about Wednesday, all but two of us were on the call out to go to the parole office. They all came back stating that they were denied and had to waiting another 6 months, 9 months, etc. to be able to see them again. I was not part of that group. I thought to myself, “ok, this has to be a good sign”. They have 10 weeks to let you know, by 6 weeks you can send a request asking for the status. It was now 6 weeks, no word. I wrote a response, and they heard nothing. I ran into my counselor, and she said to me, “you did really well”. I took that as a positive too that she knew something. I waited almost the entire alotted time until I finally went to the parole office for my decision. I walked up, sat down and was shaking more than when I saw the board. This 8.5×11 piece of paper had the answer on it. I was so scared; I could hardly read it. She wouldn’t just tell me. She made me read it. I felt like it was slowest that I ever read anything in my life. I felt like the world was moving in slow motion. Then I saw it. The answer. I saw it. I looked up at her and she says, “there’s good news and bad news”.
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