Archives for posts with tag: battered women

imagesCAUFKWM11359165214-protest-at-holloway-prison-supports-women-prisoners-rights_1750354The Uncaged Voice
4th QTR, 2013
Available free upon request at: elayneclift@gmail.com

Dear Family and Friends:
So much has happened this year, the fourth quarter is already here! We have been grateful for every blessing, and each of you is counted twice. Thank you for joining us on this journey of hope, faith, change, and personal growth.
In this issue, we asked a few inmates to write about their personal journey, with emphasis on the positive. We are very grateful for their willingness to be honest and forthcoming, using this forum as a stage to share from. One woman in particular requested that her identity be confidential, and as always, I will honor that.
I understand that many have questions about how my parole hearing with the BPH went on September 11th so I wrote a summary report that I hope makes the realities of that experience absolutely clear. It would not be clear without a little history that led to the decision; therefore, I included that, as not all readers have been privy to the facts.
As always, we hope this edition finds you doing well, safe from harm, and embracing each day as the gift that it is. We are grateful for your support, and ask that you continue to share this publication in any way available to you, even on Facebook, blogs, etc. Knowledge is to be shared. Each writer is a living testimony, as they too celebrate their uncaged voice.
Namaste,
TC & Mama P
SB-260 Update
When California Senator Loni Hancock introduced the Senate bill, SB-260, in March 2013, she knew it would be a battle. The bill recognized that juvenile offenders differ from adult offenders, mainly due to the lack of brain maturation. Hancock pushed this bill because she believed in experts like Lawrence Steinberg and advocates such as Human Rights Watch, who were speaking out about the barbarism in sentencing youth under the age of 18 to lengthy life sentences in adult prisons. I’ll refer to them as JOSAA.
SB-260 passed on May 20, 2013 by a vote of 27:11, and again on July 2, 2013 in the Public Safety Committee by a 4:2 vote. Whew! The big vote on September 6, 2013 by Assembly members was 51:21 in favor of passage. We’re happy to report that Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill on September 16, 2013.
This does not mean that all juvenile offenders will automatically be released. It simply means that there will be an opportunity to be found suitable sooner than they would have using the adult matrix set term protocol. The matrix is determined by case factors. So far this is what we know:
• Any JOSAA with 15 years or more will be eligible for parole after 15 years, but only by a special BPH panel.
• Those serving life sentences will be eligible after having served the base term of their actual crime; this means minus the enhancements that got stacked on top.
• Adults don’t begin life term until they enter state prison, which means county time does not really count at first until after found suitable. JOSAAs will begin their life sentence or determinate term from the day of initial arrest and incarceration. All time credit counts.
o Example: A 16 year old, sentenced to 25 years-to-life for homicide, plus an additional 10 years for a gun enhancement, is received in prison in 1998. Her time begins at arrest in 1996, with the 20 year base of the life term, minus the enhancement. In other words, she is eligible for parole in 2016 instead of 2028.
For more information on SB-260 go to http://www.hrw.org or call Elizabeth Calvin: 310-477-5540. Thank you so much for all of your support in passage of this vital bill. Everyone who helped made the difference. Thank you!
Not Everything About Prison is Negative, by Cora Murry
My story begins on August 3, 2003 when I arrived at prison a very angry person. When I was sentenced to 24 years, I thought it was the end of the world. It seemed like a lifetime away. I had only one thought and that was to make a name for myself behind these walls. Fighting was an outlet for my anger until my dear friend, Shawn, reprimanded me. She bluntly got my attention with “Cora, you’re not going to succeed like that! What about our plans?” At that moment, the light came on. It was clear that if I was going to make it in here I wouldn’t get very far by fighting. From that day forward I managed more control over my emotions and began planning for my future.
About eight months later I obtained a job on the yard crew. I performed my duties so well that I was recommended for a seamstress job at my facility yard clothing room. All I knew about sewing was what little I had gained from watching my mother years earlier. However, I accepted the job offer to stay on course with reaching my ultimate goal of working at Joint Venture. In order to achieve that goal I needed to build a strong resume. I was hired as the clothing room seamstress.
After doing well in that job for six months I applied for a position at PIA Fabric, a warehouse setting very similar to the 1920s sweatshops. I was quickly hired but the position required that I move from B-yard to C-yard, leaving the very peers who had mentored me to that point. It was scary relocating like that, but I adapted to new people, roommates, and the yard change in general. If nothing else, prison forces adaptation and you can either resist or go with it, and in this case, it was a new path toward my goal. I left the seamstress job at $36/month for the PIA job at $75/month. My goal at that time was to receive my five cent an hour raises every three months in order to raise my earnings to upwards of $100/month. Given all of the overtime and Saturdays that I worked I was well on my way.
I added being a WAC member to my responsibilities. WAC stands for Women’s Advisory Council. I became a voice for the women who couldn’t, or simply did not know how, to speak up for their prison rights. I spent one year doing this, keeping myself busy with as many positive activities as possible. Life was good by prison standards – until May 5, 2004.
I had done well for myself and was reaching goal after goal. Then I received the call that every prisoner fears, which is to report to your counselor’s office for a personal phone call. That was the day that my family informed me that my beloved mother, Alma Murry, had passed away. My flame began to flicker as I felt the oxygen leave my body. I had never been more crushed. I cried for three straight days in my solitude of bereavement, and then I knew that I had to make a decision. I could pick myself up and move forward or rebel in my pain, losing my job while other inmates waited to fill my position. I did exactly what my mother would have wanted me to do: I pushed forward, refocusing on my goal anew. I didn’t quit.
Exactly one year later, on the anniversary of my mother’s death, I was hired at my prison dream job: Allwire Electric Company, operated under the prison title of Joint Venture. I had made it! I went from one goal to the next until I reached my then ultimate goal. I started at the legal minimum wage as opposed to pennies on the dollar and did well for three years until 2008, when 15 others and I were laid off due to reduced work production. Still, I’m grateful for all that I learned.
My next goal is to be hired at PIA Dental. I earned my GED on August 5, 2013 and now intend to pursue my AA degree. It hasn’t been easy but I’m living proof that hard work and dedication does hold priceless rewards. In sharing my story, I hope my message is loud and clear: a lot of positive things can be achieved in life, even in a place like prison. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved thus far, but I’m still a work-in-progress. You can do anything you set your mind to, and like me, you too can be your own success story.
What Happened?!?
There are a good many of our friends scratching their heads, trying to wrap their brains around what happened at my parole suitability hearing on September 11, 2013. Given my positive prison record and impressive C-file, many cannot grasp the idea that not only was I denied parole for three more years, but that I asked the panel to permit me to stipulate to such a decision. I will do my best to explain how that sort of thing happens.
First, we need to time travel backwards to the year 2005 when my first suitability hearing was held. Prior to any hearing, all lifers must submit to a psychological evaluation that not only digs into their past but assesses their risk for recidivism likelihood. The BPH relies on these reports, providing them with the professional opinion of a licensed psychologist, which carries a lot of weight in that room. I had 602’d the report for its inaccurate assumptions and biased declarations that I have since proven false, but my 2005 hearing was held with that 2005 analysis used heavily against me. I learned something that year: I learned to fight lies with real evidence. But, what lies?
My interview with Dr. Hartung had lasted all of 45 minutes, with three phone call interruptions, one of which was so private he had me step out of the room for about seven minutes. I had answered questions about my childhood including the ugly truth of abuse. I explained how when I was five years old I was a chronic bed-wetter and my parents had me see a doctor to fix the problem. I told him, “They scheduled me for surgery. A surgery that was not necessary, because I didn’t have a bladder problem; I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it. The smell of urine appalled him, so even at five years old I had figured out a way to protect myself.”
In his report, however, Dr. Hartung had said that I had completely fabricated the story about the surgery. He wrote that not only is such a surgery for chronic bed-wetting unheard of at such a young age, but that I was narcissistic to think that I could manipulate him into believing the story of a conspiracy against me by my parents and the doctor for this unnecessary surgery. I never said it was unnecessary in the cruel sense of a conspiracy. I said it was unnecessary because I was wetting the bed on purpose to keep my stepfather out of it.
Oh, it gets better.
During our interview, on at least three occasions, he asked me if I had ever set fires or tortured animals. I was annoyed when he asked the third time. I’m in prison for killing my stepfather, yes, but I’m not a serial killer, for Pete’s sake! However, in the printed report, the good doctor based part of his claim that I lied about the sexual abuse on the fact that I had denied being an arsonist or sadist. I was raised to respect other people’s property and everyone knows I love animals. I don’t know what textbook he got his theory from, but not all incest and rape survivors resort to arson and sadistic acts of animal torture.
In a nutshell, he called me a sociopathic, narcissistic, antisocial liar without empathy or remorse. He called me a freakin’ liar! I was so outraged to have my voice shoved to a dark corner like that I decided to put that anger to good use. Instead of acting out, I responded with a mission to prove that Dr. Hartung’s report wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. I had to find the evidence, so I wrote every hospital in the Bay area until I obtained my medical records, and I had the proof staring me in the face. I not only had records of what led up to the surgery and the surgery itself, but other medical records that, had my trial attorney done this research before the 1992 trial, the jury would have had an entirely different perspective. Armed with those documents, I was actually grateful that Dr. Hartung set my anger on fire because it sent me into action. No survivor likes to be called a liar. As a matter of fact, it is that very fear that prevents most victims from speaking out. It takes guts and raw courage to speak up and it is almost condemning to not be believed when you do. Thank God I was already ten years into my recovery when that happened; otherwise I may have just shut down. However, I had found my voice. I didn’t shut down. And I didn’t shut up.
In 2008 I had a roommate named Echo who advised me that I could put a free ad in the Craig’s List website to draw attention to our case. We certainly couldn’t afford legal counsel so I thought, why not place an ad? I asked Steve and Carolyn to place the ad for me and they did, using their email address for responses. There were several hits which eventually led to my mother and I both gaining pro bono legal representation.
In 2009 I was scheduled for my subsequent parole suitability hearing, therefore [sent] to see a psychologist to perform a new assessment analysis report. I explained that I had legal representation that was putting together a Writ of Habeas Corpus and that I had already waived my 2009 BPH hearing because of this. He agreed that holding the lengthy interview would be irrelevant if I was not holding my hearing and also seeking to go back to court. He excused me from the interview, then once I left he proceeded to evaluate me without my being present. He used the 2005 report as his test subject instead of using me for that purpose. If that is not illegal, it should, at the very least, be deemed unethical. In essence, the 2005 report was still haunting me.
Fast forward now to 2013. I had to tell you all of that in order for what I’m about to tell you to make sense. When changes were made to BPH policy after passage of Marsy’s Law, it was determined that all psychological evaluations of lifers up for parole would carry a shelf-life of five years. The 2009 report is still valid until about 3rd quarter, 2014.
Due to the unethical nature of the 2009 report, my state-appointed legal counsel, Michele Garfinkel, requested of the panel that I be allowed to postpone my hearing so that I can be re-evaluated for a fair and impartial hearing. The panel denied that request. Michele then asked to speak to me privately to review my options, which we did.
Okay, I could go forward with this hearing using that foul report full of false accusations and risk what could have amounted to about a five year denial of parole. Michele, however, patiently explained the benefits of option #2 which was clearly in my best interest. I chose to stipulate to the minimum denial of parole which was three years. By doing so, I could wait out the shelf-life of the 2009 report and then take my medical records and evidence of abuse into an entirely new interview process for a new evaluation. That should help nip presumed assumptions of sociopathic lying. Well, I’m hoping that seeing the proof will make a difference. After a year I can file a 1045A formal request to have my next hearing held prior to the three year wait. Yes, in other words, I still obtained a postponement to obtain a new evaluation, but we’re calling it a three year stipulation of denial of parole. It’s just part of the political process. Had I faced the panel with the warped 2004 report it certainly would have been freedom suicide. This is not a matter of manipulating the system. I see it as a matter of using their written policy as a means to pursue my path to freedom, even if it requires that I file extra paperwork in order to do so.
I’m very satisfied with my decision and definitely grateful to Michele for her careful explanation of the law and my legal options. She says she does BPH law because she believes in the process. Her demeanor and professionalism was evident that those were not just words. Any lifers interested in a competent and caring BPH attorney, contact Michele Garfinkel, 1611 S Street, Suite 202, Sacramento, CA 95811.
There’s Nothing Funny About It
While it is true that the California state prison system has become a warehousing debt maker to hold inmates bulging at the seams, it has also warehoused the mentally ill. With the closures of many of the psychiatric hospitals, those patients need to be placed somewhere to obtain the help they need. They are being housed in prison, where they may not necessarily receive the medical attention that they need. Budget cuts have decreased the available staff and options for the mentally ill are limited.
Inmates who hear voices walk the grounds here, arguing and socializing with those voices. Those of us who cannot hear their voices are clueless as to what they are going through. There is nothing funny about an individual who is struggling on the brink of sanity and insanity. However, there are those who point, laugh, and even mimic the women devoured by inner demons in a fight for control. It is sad. It is preventable. It is inappropriately on display to be ridiculed by those who are fortunate not to be one of the mentally ill, lost in a wasteland of voices and finger-pointing. It is a lot of things, but funny it is not.
I learned that prison has a pill-popping policy that is their answer to everything. Now mind you, I can grasp that in some cases people need a pill for this or that. In 1995 I was having trouble sleeping. I was battling my own demons of the past. The staff here in white jackets wanted to give me Elavil, a psychotropic medication. A mood changer. I didn’t need a pill, I needed to talk. However, being overworked and understaffed, they would rather give you a pill and send you on your way. Since I refused pills to numb my pain they removed me from the list to be seen. By the way, the guy who did that was eventually walked off the job for inappropriate sexual behavior with a patient. Need I say more?
There are a good many individuals who are doing well with the use of medications but what about the ones on the walkway who argue loudly with the voices in their heads? The ones who officers walk right past? The ones who are getting the short end of the stick? They don’t belong in prison. They belong somewhere where they can receive help. Real help.
CCWF has a policy in place called EOP – Enhanced Outpatient Program. There is a unit in the receiving yard that houses those not ready for assimilation into the general population of inmates. There are rooms in each of the general population units that have “step-up” rooms. They are called that as a means of stepping up [or transitioning] from EOP. If the women can’t make it there they are returned to EOP. What is sad is that there are many who really aren’t making it as opposed to barely hanging in there. Since these step-up rooms are in G.P., we are all mingled together. If the EOP/Step Up inmate attacks one of us, they get a pass. No repercussions because they are deemed mentally ill. If we defend ourselves we can get a write-up. So not only are they vulnerable in this situation, but we are as well.
There are a lot of things broken in the penal system, but especially at the level of incarceration. There are people who do belong here, most certainly, but there are way too many who should be in a different environment. Definitely not criminal isolation. So when you are saying your prayers, add one for the mentally ill prison population. Someone needs to care about them, and if it’s not the system, it needs to be us.
When You Complain, You Remain by Niki Martinez
Who among us just gets frustrated and walks around saying, “I hate this place!” or “I’m sick of being here!”? We all have those days. And it puts you in a crappy mood. But I need to remind you: when you complain, you remain! It tends to set the tone for your day, your attitude and your perspective. It is so easy to get caught up in the mentality of “I hate it here.” But what we need to realize is that it could always be worse. When we change our perspective, we change our attitude, and when we change our attitude, it affects our lives! Why walk around feeling crappy, making life worse than it has to be, because we choose to? We have to know what thoughts to ignore, and respectfully, what people to ignore.
Too many people are negative and discouraged because they don’t like where they are. It’s just not where they want to be. They missed the unlock, their roommate locked them out, they’re stuck at the gate, they want in, they want out, they can’t wait for the door to open to go program, they get to work and they’re still irritated. They want to shop, they come back and they’re mad about being locked out and not getting this or that! They are always fighting against something. They are always trying to be somewhere else. We really need to begin to understand that change begins in us, not in our circumstances. The wrong attitude will keep us right where we are! So often, we find ourselves fighting our way to happiness, thinking it’s some sort of destination. We’re always trying to reach somewhere else and then we will be happy. “Once I shop, I’ll be happy.” “If I could just move then I’d be happy.” “If I had that other job, if I could move off this yard…” Or the bigger one that all of us are so convinced of: “If I could just get out of this prison, then I’d be happy.”
When we think of it like that, it only holds us back from our own happiness. A better approach is “This is where God has me right now and until He moves me, I’ll be happy right now, right here.” It is our choice. Our happiness doesn’t involve our circumstances or our place of residence, it involves our perspective and our attitude. We have to be determined to enjoy our lives no matter where we are living them. And when we understand that God has us exactly where He wants us, and when we learn to be happy where we are, He will take us where we want to be.
If we want to see God open new doors, the key is to bloom right where we are planted. We cannot wait until everything becomes better before we decide to have a good attitude. We have to be the best we can be right where we are.
When we change our approach, slow down, and just enjoy the journey, or take in all the journey has to offer, we will arrive where we’re supposed to be, but our lives will be much more fulfilled. And then we will be blessed with the perspective that it was all worth it. Instead of looking at what w don’t have, be grateful for what we do have. Somebody in this world would gladly trade places with us. Somebody would love to able to breathe like us, or be able to walk like us or see like us. Somebody would love to living where we are living.
Complaining only delays better days.

Choices by Christina Francis
Life is about choices- good and bad, positive and negative – and the consequences of actions taken because of the choices we make. My own choices led to my being a juvenile offender sentences as an adult. I entered State prison only three months after turning 17 years old. At that time I was the youngest person housed at CCWF, not exactly the claim to fame one strives to reach. I was instantly defined as a lost cause and led to believe that this was true. My truth. Not knowing any better, I embraced that [stigmata]; that is how I began serving my life sentence.
Through many trials and tribulations, today I now know that this is not true. That it need not be my legacy. I’ve learned in my own way to turn that around and to re-evaluate my views and values. Incarceration really is the biggest time out ever. It has brought me face to face with the here and now. Although I am separated from the outside world, prison has offered me the grand opportunity to stop and think about the natural flow of life, and to reflect on my place in it.
It has not been easy to grow up in a women’s prison. To be raised in such a volatile and angry environment. My vision, hope and faith were distorted by the daily madness; I simply let it envelop me and became a part of it. I somehow settled it in my mind that not only would this be where I will die, but that I was okay with such a desolate reality.
Over the years, however, that 17 year old kid has grown up, and in that development process I forced myself to look deeper into my core issues. I did not do this alone, but with the help and support of good friends who had pure motives and who hoped to see me reach my true potential. It took time but I found that it really is possible to overcome challenges. It took all the super-human dedication and effort that I could muster, but I grew tall enough mentally to see over the mountains of what I perceived as impossible. I’m content with the struggles that I’ve encountered. In life, every struggle, every circumstance of pain and chaos is in itself a lesson in progress. I have gained wisdom and personal strength through this philosophy and it allows me to perceive and respond to things as they are.
Growth requires limitless courage and through the experiences that taught me that I now believe that anything is possible. Before I could ever take control and rebuild my life I needed a firm desire to make my wishes sincere and real in every way. The more progress I made, the closer I drew toward becoming a useful person with a purpose in life. I learned that making excuses for not growing and feeling sorry for myself and my predicament was wasted energy. The negative sources of stagnation that I surrounded myself with only delayed my growth process – time I can never get back. When I hear someone say that I never had half a chance, I hear a voice of knowing that says, “You create your own chances, or lack thereof.” And I know this is true. At least for me it is.
I am a true believer that an inner drive for growth will push you forward; I’m living witness to how you can conquer many obstacles by demanding such commitment to personal growth. Being incarcerated, I have little control over many aspects of institutional life, but I have control over myself, how I see things, and most certainly, how I react to all of it. We can choose to advance or sit in our self-pity and rot. The choice is ours. As for myself, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and progressing forward. Doing so has made all the difference. A difference I now embrace.

I Saw God Today by Patti Garrison
I saw God today,
In the sunrise;
Beautiful hues of pink and purple,
Brush strokes in the clouds;
Painted by a master painter.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is beautiful.

I saw God today,
In the forest;
Awed by the majestic trees,
Which have stood against
Winds and storms, yet stand proud.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is strong.

I saw God today,
In the eyes of a man;
He rises early to feed the hungry,
And help the needy,
His only reason being that help is needed.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is kind.

I saw God today,
In the actions of a woman;
She stopped to help a homeless man.
She extended her hand and he was hesitant,
Until he saw her smile.
Yes, I saw God today,
And I can tell you, He is compassionate.

I heard God today,
In the laughter of a child;
So pure and sweet,
Filling the air,
With happiness and innocence.
Yes, I saw god today,
And I can tell you, He is joyous!

I thanked God today,
For allowing me to see and hear Him,
In the simple, yet beautiful everyday things,
Which surround us all,
If only we take the time to notice.
Yes, I thanked God today,
And I can tell you, I am blessed.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving by Strictly Anonymous
I, like anyone else, have a story to tell. I believe we are all the walking proof of our pasts. While my story may not be pretty, the truth is that for prisoners it never really is.
In high school I never really had very many friends. The jocks all thought they were gods, the cheerleaders were total snobs, and the in-crowd could see that I was more out than in. I felt like an outsider looking in to a world that didn’t care if I even existed. I felt alone in the world.
And then I met him. He made me feel like I mattered. He actually wanted my time, my attention, to hear my own thoughts; he even asked about my dreams. His name was Jeff. I was 16 years old and in the 11th grade. Jeff, however, was 21; he worked as a forklift operator at a large warehouse. He made money that he readily spent on me. I had never felt so special in all my life. For the first time, I felt loved.
Because of our ages we had to keep our relationship a secret. Even from my sister, who almost always knew what I was up to due to her snooping nature.
We had been dating for over a year when Jeff hit me for the first time. I never saw it coming. He kept it invisible to the peering world by leaving marks only where clothing hid the bruises. Somehow he had convinced me that it was my fault. That I made him so mad at me I had it coming. I actually believed that.
In a relationship like that things never get better. Ours got worse and when he realized he had gotten me pregnant, he expected me to get an abortion. Hiding the relationship was one thing, but hiding an abortion from my devout Catholic parents was a whole other idea. Jeff and I argued over this. I was 17 years old by then and he kept telling me how he could get in trouble if I didn’t get the abortion. The final straw was when he began to threaten that he’d kill the baby himself. I imagined his kicking me in the stomach. I agreed to the abortion to escape that sense of a beating. The next day I disappeared from his life.
Jeff couldn’t contact me at school and he couldn’t contact my family for fear of statutory rape charges. What he didn’t know was that I’d told my parents the truth. It was all I could think of to do. First I told my mother, then with my mother’s support, my father too. I went to live with my aunt in southern California and spent my son’s first two years under her roof. She was my saving grace. I was able to get a job and my GED with her help and daily encouragement. I made a life for myself in southern California and life was good. Jeff was only a memory.
When I was 24 years old, my son Dalton was six and in school. I was working at an office building that had a front desk with security personnel. One day I was called to come down from my office to see a visitor at the front desk. I was told his name: Jeff had found me. I felt my breath get trapped in my lungs. The walls were closing in. I couldn’t even speak for the first few seconds. Reluctantly, I agreed to meet him at the front desk, but I warned Perry, the security officer, on the phone, “This may not end well. Please stay nearby.” Perry assured me and I reported to the desk.
Well, this story actually did end well. Jeff asked me to sit on a couch in the lobby with him and he proceeded to tell me how he had found me. It wasn’t very hard; I had never changed my name. He assured me that he had grown up, changed his ways, and was a better man than the immature person I had left behind. He apologized and then he asked, “How is life? Tell me about the baby.” I told him he had a son. I gave him ten minutes, and then had to return to work, but agreed to meet him in a very public place – a restaurant. I showed him photos and literally let him see his son grow up in pictures. Our son. My intuition was that Jeff really had changed.
Although Jeff and I never got back together again, we were able to maintain a personal relationship of respect and I introduced him to Dalton. After about three months, Jeff relocated to southern California to be closer to his son. They have formed a beautiful bond and I am grateful for that. Had I held on to my anger, hatred and mistrust of Jeff, I would have robbed my son of the privilege of knowing his father. I chose to accept Jeff’s apology, and I truly forgave him. Once I did, I was freed from the past.
A few years ago, I took the law into my own hands against a coach, to protect Dalton. The law didn’t like my idea of a mother’s love and I was sentenced to 16 years in State prison. However, Jeff brings my son to see me twice a month and on holidays. My one act of forgiveness has come back to me over and over again.
When I began telling my story, you may not have expected this ending, but what it amounts to is this: Life is beautiful, even in prison.

Hey, Sports Fans!
Joe had tickets for the Super Bowl with a seat on the 50-yard line. As he sat down he noticed that the seat next to his was vacant. He asked the man on the other side if anyone was sitting there.
“No,” the man replied. “That seat is empty.”
“This is incredible!” Joe said. “Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super bowl and not use it?”
The man looked up and said, “Well, it actually belongs to my wife but she passed away. This will be the first Super Bowl we haven’t been together since we married 23 years ago.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” said Joe. “Couldn’t you find a friend or relative or even a neighbor to take the seat?”
The man simply shrugged, saying, “No. They’re all at the funeral!”

From the Heart
I remember my first trip to Yosemite National Park in 1982 with a few of my co-worker friends. We drove late at night so didn’t see much scenery going through Mariposa. We couldn’t see much more than darkness around us beyond the bit of road in the headlights. It wasn’t until daybreak that we really saw the beauty of the valley floor. It was nearly intoxicating.
After checking in and locating our canvas tent cabins the four of us set about exploring the park. We headed straight for the tourist spot of the magical and fantastic Yosemite Falls. The way the mist kissed your face you knew you were somewhere special. I wasn’t the most religious person in the world and even I felt as if I’d been misted by God.
Garfield, Lynn and Lori were good company as we hiked up the fall, the slippery wet rocks beneath my boots. We could feel the change in altitude taking effect, the higher we went. I think it was my legs that felt the burn equal to what Garfield’s lungs did. That’ll teach her to smoke! Lori and I wanted to go up higher but Garfield couldn’t make it, and well, abandoning her wasn’t an option. We did make it to a high pool where we could sit on some boulders and just take it all in for a moment. It was absolutely magnificent. Here was clearly a landscape that paintings could not do justice to, for it was a creation not of man, but of a power greater than that.
In those few minutes before we trekked back down the falls I took it all in. I breathed it in. I soaked it up like a sponge and I have kept it all these years. It was one of those experiences that photos cannot convey but can only capture frozen in time. In those few minutes, I truly appreciated that I had the opportunity that not everyone does. I’ve met many women here that never had that chance. And every time that I do, I feel blessed all over again.
So I say from the heart to you: Don’t ever take anything for granted. Not your knowledge, mobility, senses, or next meal. Don’t take it for granted that you can breathe or talk or have clothing and clean water to drink. It is said that the best things in life aren’t things, but everything. I agree. When you struggle, it is part of your life’s blueprint, and even the butterfly must struggle out of the cocoon before it can fly. A woman goes through pain when her child is being born but she is grateful for the priceless gift. Stop and think about the people you haven’t spoken to or seen in awhile. Then tell them that you’re thinking of them. You just may make their day. Better yet, they are given the opportunity to make yours. Works for me. May you all have a safe, healthy, happy holiday season.
Love and Peace,
TC and Mama P
T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 (514-16-04U) W45120 (514-15-02L)
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508 Chowchilla, CA 93610-1508

(In typing this newsletter, some minor edits were made for clarity. Words in brackets indicate that the handwritten version was unclear.)

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imagesThe Uncaged Voice
2nd QTR, 2013-04-25
available free by request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends
You will notice that we‘ve changed the name of this newsletter. The truth is, we‘ve thought about it for a year now, and the new name came to me while I meditated out of this place. It moved me so The T.C. and Mama P Newsletter is now renamed TheUncaged Voice.
This newsletter began many years ago as an easy way for us to better inform family, friends, and pen pals of the realities of our life behind the walls. It was mostly updates on health status and BPH matters. The more I wrote, the more vocal I became, the more informative my writing became. Along the way, I discovered I had a politically outspoken revealer within myself. Then I began to seek other prisoners that had something to say. We may be in prison, but this newsletter has carried our uncaged voices out to society. With every one of you that posts it on your blog, web page, or copies and circulates it, you help us spread not only the truth, but our reality for others to see. Please continue to help us expose our words ….. our voices.
In this issue, the topic tended to focus on moms. I sat down to write, and blam! There it was. This will likely not reach you until after Mother‘s Day, but it is dedicated to all of the moms out there. You have the hardest job in the world. I knew it was hard when I was a kid, and that‘s when I decided I‘d rather just be responsible for a pet cat. Works for me.
Anyhow, I‘ve asked a few others to share their own thoughts, feelings, and realities in this issue about what it is like to either be a mother in prison, or to be in here away from their mother. Everyone has a different story, so I hope to be able to share other women‘s experiences, other than my own. I have my mother here with me, so every day is Mother‘s Day. For most however, prisons are built in the middle of nowhere, and then a community grows around it as jobs become available. Therefore, visits are never guaranteed, but they make all the difference.
Please share this newsletter with others. Hear our voices.
Happy Mother‘s Year!
TC and Mama P

Life Scripting – written by Wilma Kilpatrick
I know that while there are many free citicens reading this newsletter, many prisoners do as well. I would like to inform both groups of people about a class at CCWF calle Life Scripting. I do hope to encourage other prisoners to enroll in it.
Life Scripting is a very positive and informative 80 hour class that I recommend to those that have the opportunity to participate in it. It has taught me techniques in how to deal with negative energy regarding people, places, and things. It also guided me onot a path of self-discovery as I learned how to get in touch with my inner child. In doing so, I was able to gain insight into why I did many of the things I have done, and to grasp a clearer perspective into my thinking patterns. Negative habits cannot be broken unless they are recognized and addressed when you‘re ready to be honest with yourself, this class can help you.
Oh, sure there‘s a lot of writing! Anyone too lazy to write, need no apply. Change requires work and effort. For those willing to take a step in a new direction, this class offers hope for a better self-reflection. Participants are educated in the four key areas of self, family, relationships, and society, by arming women with the psychological strategies needed to make healthy, personal choices. The lessons motivates the students to want to alter their social and anti-social behavourism.
My personal experience allowed me to witness the unique approach the class exercises in helping women heal from their own traumatic experiences. Many suffered mental, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuses as children that left scars that lingered into adulthood. They‘re taught how to reframe, which is to rethink and look at things differently.
From what I understand, many of the Free Worlder‘s reading this newsletter are avid writers, some members of writer‘s clubs and guilds. Maybe there‘s an avenue there to seek something similar, if not at YWCA or local women‘s shelters that can recommend resources. For those at CCWF, I cannot stress enough how much you can get out of this class. Take advantage of this golden opportunity while we have volunteers that sacrifice their time to offer us hope for a new improved self.
Thank you for letting me reach out to you all.

Inmate Manuscripts / Publication Opportunity
Everyone has a story to tell. It could be a mystery of pure fiction, or an account of their incarceration experience. It could be of fantasy, science, or romance. It can be an open no-puncher-pulled memoir that exposes all of their well kept secrets as a means to tell the world, „I will no longer be silenced!“ We all have voices.
Prisons Foundation wants to publish inmate manuscripts. All genres welcome. They will not be screened, or censored. All work will be scanned as received, no editing will take place, so that means errors and all will be published. Proofreading is your responsibility prior to submission. You work will be placed on the internet for free worldwide reading on thier website, http://www.prisonsfoundation.org, and will remain there indefinitely (unless a problem arises where at their discretion, it needs to be removed). Anyone can view, read, even download your work at no charge. However, you do retain full rights to your book, should you later wish to later seek commercial publication for profit.
No manuscript will be returned. If you want a copy for yourself, either make one prior to submission, or wait for it to be published online and have a friend or family member go to the above website to download it for you.

Below are guidelines you must follow to publish your book. Your book will be rejected and will not be returned to you if it does not follow them.
1. Every page of your book must be on 8 ½ by 11 paper and unbound.
2. Nonfiction and fiction books must be over 100 pages and no more than 500 pages.
3. Plays, screenplays, poetry, music books, art books and comic books must be over 20 pages and not more than 150 pages.
4. A self-addressed stamped envelope showing your prison address must accompany your book so they can inform you of its imminent publication and verify that you are indeed the author.
5. The cover of your book must contain your name, title of the book (not to exceed 10 words, including subtitle), date, whether the book is nonfiction or fiction, a brief paragraph about it (to entice readers to read your book) and both your prison address and your outside permanent address.
6. Legal motions, transcripts and court records (unless they are brief and part of your book) will NOT be published.
7. If your book includes photos or drawings, they must be glued firmly to 8 ½ by 11 paper exactly where you want them in your book.
8. Use only one side of each sheet of paper (though you can use paper with one side previously used for another purpose as long as you mark out the side that is not part of your book).
We also recommend that you number and put your name on every page, write or print your book legibly and get another prisoner or staff member to edit your book before you send it.
Send your book to:

Prisons Foundation
P.O. Box 58043
Washington, DC 20037

She Did Not Fail Me by Randi Sorlon
It‘s getting harder and harder to do time. This prison sentence is of my own doing. I cannot play the mental battlefield game of, „If I had only done this. If I had only done that.“ There is simply acceptance. However, my actions have affected others, especially my mother.
I‘m not going to go on a merry-go-round of excuses for what may have led me to commit my crime. My mother did the best she could with me, and while I feel like I let her down horribly, I want her and the world to know that she did not fail me. It is I, who failed her.
I‘ve missed a multitude of holidays and one-on-one talks with my mother. I haven‘t been there for Christmas or her birthday, let alone Mother‘s Day all of these years. For years, she took care of me, my every need, and here I am at a point where role reversal should be in place, yet I‘m not home to take care of my mother, who is in failing health and aging more rapidly from the stress I‘ve caused her to endure. You could say, she‘s one more victim of circumstances I caused. Whenever I start to think to myself about how hard this sentence has been, I stop and remind myself that it is harder on my mother.
I make each day in this caged in world, not knowing if she made it through the night. Is her heart still beating? Do her lungs still take in air on their own? Has she not given upp all hope of our being reunited? Will she make it out here this year to see me? If not in May, what about by December? I wake up each day not knowing but more important is what I wake up each day that I do know. I know that I haven‘t made life easy for my mother, when all she ever did, was try to make it as easy for me as she possibly could. And I know one more thing. I know that she loves me unconditionally. The question is, what did I do to deserve that?

She Never Stood a Chance
One day, a little girl was born into this world, the product of either and unplanned pregnangcy, or quite possibly rape. For, what other reason would the birth mother have for being so angry that the child was born at all? The mother, not wanting to have anything to do with the child, passed the newborn off to her own sister to raise.
The newborn was raised by her aunt and uncle, but was none the wiser. She was clueless that they weren‘t her real parents. She believed that her cousins were her four siblings. She believed she was loved in a family that she was born into. However, as fate would have it, her little world was rocked and as a teen, she was dropped off at her birth mother‘s front door. Highly aggitated by the unexpected circumstances, the birth mother greeted the child with a slap across the face so hard that she saw stars. She was clearly an unwanted burden.
It didn‘t take but a minute for the live-in boyfriend of the reluctant mother, to make sexual advances upon the child, now a teenager in girly development. Discovering that the mother had no intention of protecting her from being molested and raped, the teen walked across San Jose to the police department to report the situation. There were no reprecussions for the adults, but the teen ended up in the foster care system. While there are many cases with wonderful stories in foster care, the same cannot be said for this one girl in particular. She went from foster home to foster home, being molested, raped, sadomized, and threatened to remain silent. Her terror and horror had only multiplied by her not remaining silent. She never stood a chance.
She did finally end up in one good foster home, but her ride on the Terror Train was about to end, as she was nearing the age-out date: her 18th birthday. Not long after that, she met a man that made her feel like someone finally cared about her. And maybe he did. At first. But, before long, he was proving to not be husband material, but by then, they had already been married. Another few layer of self-esteem evaporated by the time their second child had been born. And it was about to get worse.
Her husband wanted to „live to ride and ride to live.“ He wanted to ride with the Hell‘s Angels, chase women, and live a wild and crazy life that came from being connected to that particular motorcycle club. He wanted it more than his family he had already helped create. He wanted it so badly, that he agreed to let 30 to 40 of them come into his home and do dispicable things to his wife to prove his loyalty to the H.A‘s, putting them before any women, any thing. He wanted it that bad.
The first time it happened, it‘s any wonder she survived it. When she knew it was about to happen again on a different night, she made plans to avoid it. She fed and bathed her babies early and put them to bed. The infant and her three year old sister would be safe, as the H.A.‘s would never cause harm to a child. Believe it or not, no matter what one may wish to say against them, the don‘t hurt children. There really is a moral compass there after all. Before they could arrive for a second round of Boys will be Bullies night, she left the house. She didn‘t know where she‘d go, but her feet took a hike and she ended up at a bar. And that is when she met Mr. Nice Guy.
Nice Guy struck up a conversation with her, and she found him to be empathetic. He listened to her. By the end of the night, before she left to return home hoping it was safe, Nice Guy handed her a $100 bill. He told her the best thing to do was to get her babies out of that house. The money was to hole up and hide out in a motel room. The year was 1964, and you received a lot more stay in a motel room for $100 back then. He assured her that there was more help to come, and there was.
The girl was now a woman with two children and barely escaped a nightmare. She had help. She and Nice Guy began to spend more and more time together and he eventually married her. He adopted her children as his own, giving them his last name. He provided healthcare, food, clothing, a roof over their heads, every necessity for daily function and survival. He worked full-time, was a good provider, and treated his wife with respect. Her whole life had turned around. It was almost too good to be true. Well, not almost …. it was too good to be true. It took several years before he changed, but unlike the H.A.‘s, this guy didn‘t have a moral compass when it came to crimes against children. That is another story in itself. He was however like the others in his deviant acts against his wife. It comes on gradually and gets worse over tiime. That‘s how abusers do it. He was indeed an abuser.
After all those years in foster care, she thougth the worst was behind her. After those years in a hopeless marriage, she still had thought the worst was behind her when Mr. Nice Guy became her knight in shining armor. But it only got worse.
If you were to ask her why she never left him, she has more than one reason. First, she loved him. Defects and all, he was the man that not only rescued her, he also secured a future for her children that would not involve the foster care system. Secondly, between her childhood and two husbands, she had absolutely no self-esteem or confidence in herself that she could function alone, for she had always had a man telling her what to do. And third, he had told her that she owed him because he rescued her and her children. That if she left him, it‘d be the last thing she‘d ever do. Fear had once again ruled her life and both dominance and control were in some one else‘s hands, not her own. She was defluted, defeated, and empty. She was trapped in a home that felt more like a prison. In a sense, she was a sex slave, but because they were married, it wasn‘t deemed rape even without her consent. Oh, sure, now they call it spousal rape, illegal by law, but they didn‘t in 1988 to the best of my knowledge it wasn‘t until the 1990, but I‘m not sure.
I felt badly for this woman, for her past was one big open wound. I felt anger at the husband, because he was my stepfather, and that woman is my mother. All her life she was somebody‘s victim. She never really stood half a chance from the day she was born. I feared he‘d eventually kill her – and who‘s to say he wouldn‘t have? My fear kept me from thinking clearly, and I put myself into a position that ended his life, but affected so many others. My actions resulted in her coming to prison because she felt responsible that I killed him. In her mind, if she hadn‘t told me about his series of sexual violations and buttery, she believes I‘d never have gone to their house that night to stand up to him. What she doesn‘t realize is, none of this is her fault. I didn‘t need her to tell me anything at all. I could see it in the tears in her eyes, the bruises of perfect handprints around her wrists. I saw it in a black eye. I heard it in the tone of her voice. It was evident in her fading joy of life, her state of mind as a darkness called depression was engulfing her. I didn‘t need her to tell me. I knew. And I felt like a coward for not having stood up to him before then. Her past wasn‘t her own doing any more than that night was. I‘ve crtainly learned that there are other ways to deal with perpetrators in non-violent ways, however, it has been pointed out to me that the fact remains: My mother has not been raped, sodimized, beaten, bullied, or victimized by violent intent since the day I killed my stepfather 24 years ago.
From the day my mother was born, she‘s been in one type of prison or another. Right now, it is this manmade one in Chowchilla, even an LWOP sentence is up for parole consideration after 30 years. She‘s served 71 years. Technically …. A little girl was born in Jan Jose November 30, 1941 … and she never stood a chance. Tell me, where is the justice in that? Is it any wonder Lady Justice was a blindfold?

The Raw Truth About a Prisoner‘s Mother‘s Day by Cora
Every woman in prison eperiences their own Mother‘s Day. Some are mothers that have the privilege of visiting their children. Most have their mother‘s who want to visit them. And some enjoy the privilege of both. A good many have a good, happy story to tell, but no all of us do.
I am 48 years old, and mother to five children aged 17 to 31 years old. When I came to prison, my children were still in school. I left them in a changing world, but promised that they would still see me no matter what. Twelve years ago, that promise seemed realistic, but over a decade later, I can count on one hand how many times I have seen my children. On a number of occasions I broke down and begged other family members to bring my children. I felt so powerless.
Throughout the years, my mother‘s vision deteriorated, and blindness was setting in. I finally got my mother, health concerns and all, to agree to chaperone my children to visit me. That was the year that she died of heart attack. That was 2005, eight years ago, and when my heart began to harden. The pain is unexplainable, as I deal with this double-edged sword each Mother‘s Day now.
As Mother‘s Day approaches again, I‘m beginning to feel the nervous energy and anxiety, that includes sleepless nights, and when I do sleep, nightmares. This is the wrost holiday or the year for me, because it represents a day of celebration with the children that I gave birth to ….. only there aren‘t any reunions or celebrations. I perceive the day that I received my sentence, as the day that active motherhood ceased to be a reality. And I miss it every single day.
The Dept. of Corrections declares that they favor and wish to encourage family visits, however that is not so simple for many of us. For many of us, we‘ve been relocated several hours away from our loved ones. My family lives five hours away, and in this economy, it is not cheap to travel halfway across the state for such reunification. This is not something you can prepare yourself for. It‘s not something I added to my Bucket List. The truth is, my decision one day has led to my children and I growing apart. It is my burden to face.
That God for the Get on the Bus Program (GOTB). It is a community contributed opportunity for children to be brought on buses on Mother‘s Day weekend to see their mothers in prison. The GOTB takes care of gas, transportation, and food for the families to eat at their visit, as many are economically strapped, if not just downright dirt poor. My second daughter who is now 22 years old, began coming with GOTB when she was 16 years old. All that was required, was a chaperone. She has a dream that the governor will reduce all 85% prison terms to 65%, which would get me home to her much sooner. In the meantime, she tries her best to keep our family together.
One year, my daughter came with GOTB, and I noticed that she had bruises on her legs. She didn‘t want to talk about it, but I discovered that another family member had put their hands on her in frustration. Why? Because she fell asleep on the toilet at 4 A.M. getting ready to come see me. I had to promise her that I wouldn‘t say anything. To do so, would have resulted in my family terminating any future visiting plans. How would you deal with such a revelation on Mother‘s Day, in a room with dozens of children and several correctional officers that would have seen a negative reaction as violently disruptive? I honored my daughter‘s plea for not reacting or speaking out on it. No and easy decision to make, nor to live with.
My two oldest boys, aged 21 and 30 now, stopped coming to visit or write when they joined their new family: gangs. When my younger son had a chance to visit me, the authorities refused to allow him in due to his birth certificate being too worn. He was enraged and stood out in front of the prison screaming, „Free my mother if you won‘t let me in!“ That day, my sister was allowed to visit with me while they had my son visit in a trailer where he cried in bitter defeat. I spent 15 minutes listening to her tell me how vital it had been for me to see my son that day. He was dealing with peer pressureto join a gang. He needed to talk to his mother. That was two years ago.
Here it is again, Mother‘s Day is once again upon us. Like many, I can‘t see my own mother, for she‘s left this world. Like many, I can‘t see my children, for I left their free world and reside a world away in prison. The anxiety and stress sets in. I‘ll be a nervous wreck on the Saturday before the holiday, and I‘ll dread the inevitable … dozens of women on the walkway, in the unit, and even those in my room, greeting me with, „Happy Mother‘s Day!“ It hurts to hear it, because I have a few thoughts that ramble around in my head, and deposit themselves in my heart. First, will I get to see that little boy I left 12 years ago, who is now 17? Second, will my daughter travel safely, let alone make the trip at all? And third, what about my two oldest sons in the gang? When will I see them again? No, no, no …. will I see them again?
As I write this, I cry. I have tears rolling down my cheeks, it‘s hard to breathe and the lump in my throat is getting even larger. Call it regret or maybe remorse. Call it loss or devastation. No matter what you call it, it is the consequences of being a mother in prison. And that is a hard pill to swallow. It‘s also, the raw cold truth.

I‘ll Never Know – by The Truly Remorseful
I dont know what it is like, I‘ll never be able to epress enough,
To be alone on Mother‘s Day, Remorse for what I‘ve put you through,
To never again, feel her embrace. And I will never truly know,
I don‘t know what it‘s like, I don‘t feel sorry for myself,
To be a mother who lost her son, On Mother‘s and Father‘s Day,
To be her the second weekend of May, What I do is think of you,
Coming all undone. As I hit my knees and pray.
I‘ve never known that pain,
The loss, the ordeal,
Losing a child so young,
Then being told my would would heal.

Unconditional Love Without Boundaries – written by Niki Martinez
I have been extremely fortunate throughout these 19 years that I have been incarcerated. Many times I feel so unworthy and undeserving of the unconditional love that is so freely given to me.
I have caused tremendous pain and devastation, and I have hurt so many people because of my actions. I have continuously failed my parents throughout the years, and disappointed them in ways that no parent should ever have to deal with. I have brought them excessive heartache that I constantly created in „this world“ with my own self-absorbed, self-destructive hehavior. How ignorant I was!! I never took my parents for granted, but I can honestly say, that I didn‘t appreciate them as much as they should be appreciated and valued. They definitely deserve so much more and better that what I have given them. They are precious, priceless gifts froom God that I truly cherish today. It blows my mind, swells my heart, and humbles my spirit, that after all these years, after all of the disappointments, agony, and shame – they still love me and are still by my side.
I remind myself constantly that they don‘t owe me anything. They do not have to accept my collect calls or come to visit. They do not have to take care of me, and they don‘t have to even care. My iniquitous crime and actions brought me to prison – and yes I was only 17 years old at the time, but I am the one who committed the crime. Not them. I created this catastrophe. I ruined, destroyed, and shattered lives, families, and communities. When the world judged me as a vicious, teenaged monster, my parents seen their precious child. They could have easily walked away and gone on with their lives, but I must say, thank God for my parent‘s love. It has been the ultimate force that has definitely carried me through the years. My love, gratitude, and appreciation for them is completely immeasurable.
My Dad‘s love is unconditional and so fulfilling. He has blessed my life with his love, his care and concern, his dedication and his presence. He travels all the way from his home in Chicago to visit me at least twice a year. He even rides his Harley out here in the summers. He spends days on the road just to get out to California to see me. Talk about love! He even brings an entourage of friends and family to come and visit me just to make sure I feel the love, and that I will know that I am loved. How amazing is that?!! I haven‘t made it easy on him, but his love is endless. It has been empowering, and his love is what keeps my heart beating – literally – to this very day. My Daddy is a phenomenal father, and yes I am extremely fortunate and beyond blessed.
My Mom has been the ultimate blessing to my life. The agony that she has had to endure because of me, has been inconceivable, yet she still showers me with unconditional love. She has been there to comfort me when I felt like I was falling apart. She has been there to encourage me when I felt like I couldn‘t stand to do this time another day. She has picked me up and carried me when I felt defeated. She fed my spirit hope when all I could think about was giving up. She has taught me the lesson of faith, and blessed me with her knowledge, wisdom, and of course, her love. She has given me the greatest gift that any mother could give their child – and that is to know Jesus. She has been on her knees praying for me every single day for two decades. No matter how much trash and devastation I have brought to the table, she continued to love me, and she never gave up on me. My mom has helped mold me into the woman that I am today … with morals, ethics, integrity, and the love of Jesus in my heart. She is truly an inspiration and I pray to aspire to be half the woman that she is. I am so honored that she is my mother. She has saved my life, my spirit, and my soul. It is only by the grace of God, and the wisdom and love from both my mother and father, that I still have my sanity, my health, and I am with a faithful heart and an encouraged soul.
I continue to breathe every day not only because of my parents, but for them, God has blessed me with the capability of breathing on my own, and I thank Him every day. What a gift!!
I am blessed with wonderful parents: Jesus, Jesse, and Gladys. I thank God for my life, and that they are all in it. Cherish those whom love you. Happy Mother‘s Day. Happy Father‘s Day. And God bless you all.

Q & A with T.C.
Q) How is the VSP to CCWF transition going?
A) Hmmm … to quotate an officer, „I haven‘t seen so many disrespectful, angry at the world, youngsters in all my life! They think they can do whatever they want!“ Apparently, the rumors we had heard for the last 15 years about VSP being strict with structure were, just that – rumors.
Q) What‘s up with Folsom housing women?
A) They don‘t live with the men. They can only house 403 women, and in an open dorm setting – no cells. Basically, they sleep iin cubicles like in an office building, so no electrical appliances are allowed.
Q) Whatever happened to that Correctional officer that got arrested?
A) Sergeant Edward Tovar, who volunteered at a local high shool as a girl‘s softball coach, took a plea bargain to avoid a trial. He was sentenced in Madera County court on March 27, 2013 to a lousy 128 days and 5 years probation for multibple charges of child sexual molestation. He got a slap on the wrist, and the D.A. had the nerve to say, „He‘s not going to have it easy.“ Why? Because he lost his job as an officer? Because he has to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life? Because he is jubject to random polygraphs? How does that serve justice? I can just imagine the outraged parents when they heard it‘d be days served, and not years. He was a mandated reporter. He was in a position of authority and trust. Ask anyone. He got off easy. That‘s the census here. Go on, Google it. Once you have all of the facts, you may agree that being in a position of authority does have certain privileges.
Q) How is the Medical there these days?
A) The Medical Receiver, who was federally appointed to oversee all of the 33 state prison Medical Depts., has slashed the budget and spending from $600 million to $300 million across the board. A lot of medical procedures and surgeries requested by doctors, are being denied. A local hospital in Cororan has had to close their doors and let go of staff, because the bulk of their business was the nearby Cororan State Prison for men, where 10.000 inmates are housed. Yes, ten thousand! So, with costs slashed, it is bound to directly affect the well being of chronic cure inmates.
Q) What happened to CCWF trying to kill of the rabbits there?
A) You can‘t keep a good rabbit down! While many were victims of rabbitcide, our furry little friends put on their bunny armor and refused to go down without a fight. They‘re everywhere! And these little guys are picky eaters. They won‘t eat lettuce, but give them apples and bread and they‘ll love you for life.
Q) Any more news about the 85% rumors?
A) An inmate told me that a friend of hers got word from her mother via telephone, that affective June 1st it should be in effect. The mother apparently had a letter signed from Jerry Brown himself. Whether 85% term inmates will drop to serve only 65% of theyr term, remains to be seen. I‘ll believe it when it happens.
Q) Any other rumors you can speak on?
A) No, but I could make something up. You‘d be surprised how fast a rumor will spread in here, and what gossips will believe.

A Letter to God
Dear God,
I want to thank You for having kept my mother and I together all of these years. There were times when circumstances beyond our control separated us, but You kept placing us back together ever since county juil. In our darkest hour, You let us share our own light with one another. Thank You.
I don‘t know what it is like to not be able to talk to my mom on Mother‘s Day. I don‘t know what it is like to wonder if I will ever see her again. I don‘t need to rely on the phones or mail system to express my love. While her being in prison for a crime I committed is not fair at all, I do see the bright side. I do see that I have not missed the last 23 years with her physically present in my life every day. There are a good many here that wish they had this blessing. I do see the blessing that it is, really I do, but I also see the downside, Lord. I can‘t help but to see what is right before my eyes.
Above all others, You know how hard prison has been on my mother‘s health. The older she gets, the younger they come in here, and I stop to wonder, „who raised some of these people?“ In March, my mom could have walked out of here and paroled to Crossroads, but her fate was decied in October 2012 that that was not to be. Not yet. I‘m sure You have Your reasons, although the panel had their own. I don‘t want to question Your will, but I‘ll admit that there are times when it is easier to pray The Lord‘s Prayer, than it is to exercise it.
My mother is tired. Anyone with half a brain can see it. I believe the only thing that keeps her hanging in there, is me. You‘ve given us a couple or close calls with her strokes, and it scared the heebie-ba-jeebies out of me each time. The fear of not knowing if she‘d return from the hospital, or be physically independent if she did. That‘s a fear that many lifers and others here experience with their own mothers in society. The question too fearful to voice! Will I see her in the free world again?
God, I know You have millions of people in Your ear all day long, and believe me, I do not envy You of Your job, but I want my request officially in Your Prayer Request Book …..
Lord, if You have any plans to take her home to You, could You please not let it be in here? Please, let her be free to pet a purring kitten once again, to make her homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread, to sleep in a real bed, and know what a bubble bath feels like again. I don‘t know how I‘d react if You took her before the system set her free first, but I can assume I‘m likely to lose it. She‘s here because of me. I was only trying to protect her that night. My way did not work, obviously. So I ask that You protect her Your way. I pray that my request reflects Your will. Nobody knows what it‘s like to be. Nobody, but You. Please don‘t let me be held accountable for two deaths.
In Jesus‘ name, Amen

On a Lighter Note ….
So much emotion in this issue of the newsletter, huh? Well, to lighten the mood a moment here, I want to share one of the funniest jokes I‘ve seen in awhile. It was sent in by Lisa Santimaw a few moths or more ago. It goes like this …

Mr. And Mrs. Fenton are retired, and Mrs. Fenton always insists that her husband go with her to Wal-Mart. He gets so bored with all of the shopping trips. He prefers to get in and get out, but his wife loves to browse. He racked his brain to find a way to get out of having to tag along. One day, Mrs. Fenton received the following letter from Wal-Mart:

Dear Mrs. Fenton,
Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may ban both of you from our stores. We have documented all incidents on our video surveillance equipment. All complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below.

Things Mr. Bill Fentoon has done while his spouse was shopping in Wal-Mart:
1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people‘s carts when they weren‘t looking.
2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House wares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
3. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone. ´Code 3‘ in house wares … and watched what happened.
4. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M on layaway.
5. September 14: Moved a ‚CAUTION – WET FLOOR‘ sign to a carpeted area.
6. September 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he‘d invite them in if they‘ll bring pillows from the bedding department.
7. September 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks, ‚Why can‘t you people just leave me alone?‘
8. October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.
9. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, asked the clerk if he knows where the antidepressants are.
10. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the ´Mission Impossible‘ theme.
11. December 6: In the auto department, practiced his ´Madonna Look‘ using different size funnels.
12. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled ´PICK ME!‘ ´PICK ME!´
13. December 21: When an announcement came over the load speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams ´NO! NO! Its those voices again!!!!´
And last but not least.
14. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, ´There is no toilet paper in here!´

From the Heart
The telephones attached to the white painted cinder block wall don‘t really look like much to the casual observer, but if you ask Dee Dee, Becky, or especially Niki, they‘ll tell you that they are a lifeline to the outside world. The policy requires our family and friends to set up ability to hear the voice of their loved ones. The bills are paid before the calls are made, but still when they accept the charges of those collect calls, it screams, „I Love You! You matter to me!“
Whether a letter or just a signed card, the fact that we are worthy of a little of your time and a 46 cent stamp speaks volumes. At Mail call when the officer says your name, what they‘re really sayiing is, „Someone out there thinks you‘re pretty darn special.“
We would be lost and lonely, hopeless and empty of any fight left in us if not for the love of family and friends. I speak for all prisoners, not just mom and myself. The first and third verses of the Blake Shelton son „God Gave Me You“ says it all. Here‘s the first part of that song:
I‘ve been a walking heartache / I‘ve made a mess of me
The person I‘ve been lately / Aint who I wanna be (but)
You stay here right beside me / And watch as the storm blows through
And I need you …. cuz
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubts
And for when I think I‘ve lost my way
There are no words left here to say
It‘s true … God gave me You.
So, I say from the heart … not just on Mother‘s Day, Father‘s Day, Christmas, or Thanksgiving, do we celebrate each of you in our lives. Dear loved one, please know that your love and support makes everyday a personal holiday in our hearts. And that is straight froom the heart!
Namasté,
TC and Mama P

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41
PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

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The T.C. and Mama P Newsletter
1st QTR, 2013, Available free at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,
With a new year upon us, we look forward to what we hope is a good year of changes for the better, and new insights as we face each day as it comes.
The 4th quarter of 2012 was especially stressful on Mama P and myself and we prepared her for her parole hearing. She went into that hearing room hopeful, given the good fate of many lifers before her who received parole grants. Have you ever been at the beach and had a big wave crash down upon you and literally knock you off of your feet? You think to yourself, „what in the hell just happened?“ as you try to regain your composure? Yeah, well it was like that. That is the best way to describe it. It sort of takes the breath out of you.
On top of the parole hearing, which got put off until it was held in October, we had other prison politic‘s taking place as well. If it wasn‘t the transfers of women from VSP coming over in droves, it was the stress level of those around us. The air was thick with it. We had a lot going on in our minds. A lot of „what now?“ questions. Yes, we were so self-absorbed in our own world here behind razor-wire fences, considering our own futures, that for a little while, we forgot what it meant to relax.
And then it happened. The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When something that horrific takes place, it puts things in perspective for you really fast. You‘re grateful it wasn‘t your child. You‘re glad you have someone to hug, your loved ones to talk to. Why is it that people wait for tragedies like this before they wake up and realize they‘ve taken others for granted? I challenge you to live each day like tomorrow may not come. I you care about someone, tell them. Don‘t assume that they already know and don‘t need to hear it. People need to hear it. A little effort on your part can go a long ways. For every day that you wake, be thankful. For every breath that your lungs automatically take in, be thankful, for there are countless others who cannot on their own.
Folks, for every day that you can rise out of bed, be it in the free world or prison, be grateful that you can. There are six school staffers and twenty innocent children who cannot. There are 26 families who can no longer say, „I love you“ to listening ears. We have that chance every single day. Don‘t take it for granted. Please, for the love of God, don‘t assume they don‘t need to hear it. You never know what kind of day they are having. A few kind words from you could make all of the difference.
I challenge you to love …. and love well.
Happy New Year,
T.C. and Mama P

About Mom‘s Parole Verdict
We understand that many of our loyal supporters have questions about what happened during Mom‘s parole hearing. We‘ve been asked what was asked, what was said, how it all went. Please understand that we‘ve reported what we thought was sufficient to help y‘all understand why mom was denied parole. Her legal team wants to keep any such statements to a minimum. We need to respect that. They are acting in her best interests and will continue to do so. Calling their office to voice your opinions isn‘t going to help matters.
According to the law as it is written, mom can file a special form called a 1045A Petition, to request a hearing sooner than five years. If she has her ducks all lined up like the BPH recommended she do, she could possibly be reheard in three years. It‘s all a matter of more time.

You Be the Judge
Let me introduce you to Steven C. Martinez.
While serving his 157 years to life sentence at Centinela State Prison, he was attacked by two inmates and stabbed in the neck. The laceration of his spinal cord caused instant quadriplegia. Martinez requires 24 hour around the clock care, and will so for the rest of his life. He can barely turn his head, yet has zero motor skills in his arms and legs, nor control over bowel and bladder functions. He is not expected to ever regain any, let alone all of these bodily functions again.
Would you say he qualifies For Medical Parole under legislature act 3550 for medically incapacitated inmates? The parole Board denied his petition For Medical Parole due to his heinous crime and his aggrivated potential towards violence against women. Oh, you need more facts, don‘t you? Well in that case, read on.
In 1998, Martinez deliberately drove his car into two young women, pinning one beneath the vehicle. He then grabbed the incapacitated woman by the throat, broke her nose by punching her, and threw her into the backseat before driving her to a secluded location. That‘s where the worst part of his crime was committed upon his bloody and battered victim. I‘ll spare you the graphic details evident in his convition list of charges! Forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, rape with a foreign object, assault with a deadly weapon, battery causing serious injury, hit and run causing injury, and finally, kidnapping.
While in custody, he‘s threatened custody staff and nurses with great bodily injury, even provoking responses about knowing where they live. He was constantly verbally abusive using both vulgar and derogatory name calling to berate the nurses who tried to help him. Being that he was completely reliant on medical staff due to his paralysis, you‘d think he‘d be more respectful. That is not the case. He threaterned them on a regular basis, so is denial of Medical Parole, Poetic Justice?
So, you be the judge. Although paralyzed with no hope of normal motor skills ever again, does he pose a threat to public safety? The BPH thought so. And so, he appealed their decision, to which the 4th Dist. Appelate Courd ruled in his favor. They ordered the release of Steven Marinez, subject to whatever conditions The Board deems appropriate.
Before you say yes or no on this sensitive issue of Medical Parole, let us not for get that there was a young lady who was savagely raped over and over again by this guy. There‘s a part of her that‘s paralyzed as well for the rest of her life. Why should she be robbed of justice just because Martinez picked the wrong fight with the wrong inmate? Yes, he‘s paralyzed, but his mentality is that he‘d do it all over again if he could. Lifers are not allowed to be paroled until we change our way of thinking. The Board is very adamant about this criteria for parole. Does paralysis change that?
So, if you were in the position to decide the fate of inmate Steven Martinez, would you agree with the BPH, or with the Appellate Court? And more importantly, no matter what you decide, could you sleep at night with that decision?

Change – Submitted by Snoop, Aka Raphael
Long ago someone taught me that people enter our lives, some for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. Expect nothing to remain the same. For it is in the order of change that some thins must grow. It is also in the order of change, that some things must go.
Expect a change to come. Change will come whether you welcome it or not. It must first be recognized before it can ever be utilized. Change implements new ways and ideas in doing things. It is the order of change that brings about prosperity. You must seek to prosper in everything you set out to do, but the ideas must be done with the order of change.
Ideas begin as a thought, which are seeds that have been planted in the fertile ground of your mind. If you want change to manifest in your life, you must change the way you think. In order to do this, you must change your heart. Your mouth will speak whatever is in your heart. So, if you are speaking ignorantly, idly, or just plain old hating, that‘s what‘s in your heart and what you see in your life is the very manifestation of it. You must change your heart so that your speech can change. You are actually creating your future with the words you are speaking today. Change what you‘re speaking to words that bring life, words that will build you and the next person up.
Seek not to destroy others with angry words of malice. Remove envy and jealousy from your heart. These are the very things that will surely tear your hopes and dreams apart. Indeed you are committing suicide. You are killing whatever good that may have began to grow in yoru life before you could ever see it blossom. That‘s why some people think that speaking words of faith don‘t work. While waiting for the very thing they were hoping for, they killed the manifestation of it by speaking unencouraging words into the atmosphere against the thing they were hoping for, or against someone else. You reap what you sow. You planted a seed of death into your own garden. Now you may never see the manifestation of it simply because you trampled on someone else‘s garden.
Change your heart, so out of it will flow rivers of living water that will empover you to speak words of life, building and edifying yourself and others. From these seeds that you plant will return unto you a harvest of the very thing you were hoping for. Your garden will surely grow and bring forth nothing but good.
Dare to do different that the rest. Don‘t be persuaded to fall back just because no one else is taking this courageous stand. Be committed. Greatness requires everything that you have to give and more. Greatness will never go on sale, nor does it come cheaply. You must pay the price to obtain greatness. Don‘t allow anyone or any circumstance to detour you from your commitment to achieve greatness.
You must know that change can be a desperate thing. In the order of change, it can make on quite uncomfortable. It is the very thing needed to take you into your destiny. It will cause you to enter different choices and decisions in life in an effort to transform your into the new and improved you, preparing you for your future. I‘ve experienced a temendous amount of change in my personal life this past year. To be honest, it was quite disturbing at first. Nevertheless, I had to embrace the change in an effort to grow. When God closes one door on you, He will always open another door for you, allowing you to begin again.
In order to become an innovator of change, one must simply set out to gain knowledge, get understanding of that knowledge then, utilize wisdom and discretion based upon what you‘ve learned. Without knowledge people perish, so don‘t be ashamed, cry out for it.
Whatever you want outta life you simply have to get acqainted with what it will take to acquire it. If it is just to survive in life, then find out what it will take to achieve it, meditate on it constantly, then set out to accomplish it. If you set your sights higher and you want ot have a career and be successful at it, then research your field of choice and if at that time you still decide that is what you want to do, then go get it with all that you have to give. Don‘t shortchange yourself by taking shortcuts, because the time will come when your knowledge will be tested. If you are in school, do your own homework, ya dig? Save yourself the embarrassment of your conversations not measuring up to your degree.
Some people remain in their current position in life due to their lack of knowledge. They don‘t acutally know what it will take in life to go from their current status to one of elevation. The knowledge is out there, but some feel as if society owes them something and want society to come look for them and drop it in their lap. These people become stagnated and never grow up.

Q & A With T.C.
Q) How is Mama P doing after parole denial?
A) One day at a time. The blow of „No“ hurt, but she still gets up and faces each day. Depression is normal in such a situation, but she‘s coming back into her usual self. She has me right here beside her. If need be, I‘ll hold her up.
Q) How has the VSP to CCWF transition gone?
A) More smoothly for room #/6 than for some others. This cell has been blessed by the hand of God since I‘ve been in it beginning in July 1995. Mom and I are the only CCWF originals, the other six are all VSP, but let me tell you, they are a good crew. Some real keepers for sure.
Q) Is it true about the 85% going to 65% time credit?
A) That rumor hasn‘t been true since it began circulating over a decade ago. I have more of a chance of seeing Big Foot out my back window wrestling the Locness Monster.
Q) What‘s up with Marsy‘s Law and how it affects old lifers?
A) Old lifers, meaning those sentenced prior to the voter approved Victims‘ Bill of Rights, ADA Marsy‘s Law, are still being denied parole at terms consistent with the 2008 approved law. An inmate named Michael Vicks, not the pitbull fighting ring football player, but some other guy, filed an appeal on this matter. As a lifer sentenced prior to 2008, Vicks appealed the BPH denial of parole that they kept in accordance with Marsy‘s Law. The California Supreme Court granted review, however no decision as to the legality of the BPH decision has been determined yet. It should be noted that whatever the court rules in the Vicks case, will affect all lifers convicted before the effective date of the amendments applied in 2008.
Q) What does Prop 36 mean for Third Strikers now?
A) Okay, there‘s a lot involved here. First of all, not every third striker qualifies for resentencing. If one has a serious or violent felony as their current offense, they are not edigible. That long list includes the intent to cause great bodily harm. In order to get resentenced, any Third Striker that qualifies, needs to file a petition for recall of sentence under the newly created Penal Code 1170.126 to get a hearing. It must be filed within two years, so any Third Strikers reading this, need to march their butts to the Law Library.
Q) Whatever happened to Richard Masbruch?
A) After he met his march at CCWF, he got transferred to VSP and placed in a sort of protective custody medical ward. A friend at CIW reported that he was transferred there in October, again in PC. Word is that he‘ll remain on that status until his previous victims all transfer or parole from CIW. At such time, word is that he‘ll be released into the General Population. Nothing like setting a prihana loose into a pool of little fish, and acting like nobody will get hurt. I guess CDCR hasn‘t accepted yet that Richard is a threat to all woomen and that will never change, because he won‘t change.
Q) Do you have access to vitamins and other supplements?
A) Yes. They sell a multivitamin on canteen here, plus our quarterly box vendors all offer a list of the approved options. They offer Omega-3 fish oil and Glucosamine chondroitin, as well as your alphabet variety.
Q) Will CDCR house inmates in the dayrooms soon?
A) We hope not, but once we‘re at capacity, they‘ll need to house them somewhere. They can‘t just start taking us out back and shooting us. The odds are that they‘d house in our dayrooms before they ever did the gym. So much for the Supreme Court‘s ruling to reduce over crowding, huh?

December 14, 2012
I see in my mind‘s eye
Children playing in the street
They hold no fear now
Of whom they may meet

They‘ve never been safer
Than they are at this time
Where there is no sickness
No evil ….. no crime

Children playing with each other
Adults they‘ll never be
But as childen in heaven
Twenty angels with wings

On streets of gold they play
In fields they pet a lion
While here on earth families mourn
Day after day cryi‘n‘

And the teachers that died beside them
Making the ultimate sacrifice
Continue to watch over them
Until their parents arrive

They are safer now
Than they could ever be
These twenty innocent children
Angels with wings

Take Nothing for Granted
Whenever I stare at the walls in my cell, i am reminded that I can see. My mother has failing vision, and there are several who lost their vision today before the noon hour. I thank my God in heaven, I am not one of them.
When I awake each morning to the cold reality that I am in prison, i am thankful that I awake at all. I thank God that I have a bed to sleep in – it may be a cracker thin pad on a metal cookie sheet, but it‘s a bed all the same. I have blankets, a pillow, and a roof over my head. I pray for those who aren‘t so fortunate. I‘m reminded that although we lost our home in the aftermath of our arrests, we are not homeless. We are not at the mercy of the elements on the street.
When I‘m released to morning chow to race around the track for a meal I have no intention of eating, I thank my God for the mobility to do so. I‘m thankful for the option to eat when so manu don‘t know where their next meal will come from. I‘m grateful to be given the opportunity to be a blessing to my mother and a friend, who don‘t let that food go to waste.
When the dayroom is so loud that I can‘t hear myself think, I am thankful that I can hear at all. Somewhere in Afghanistan, an American soldier will lose his hearing to an explosion. He may lose more. I‘m not only thankful to his service, I‘m grateful it is not me. I‘m not that brave.
Every morning when I hear my mom in pain as she struggles to get out of bed, I stop whatever I am doing to help her. I am grateful that we‘ve been blessed to be together these last 23 years, even if not always in the same cell. I‘m grateful that every day is Mother‘s Day. I‘m thankful she‘s still alive and that my stepfather didn‘t kill her. I thank God for letting me see her each day. There are so many without that daily blessing.
What are you grateful for? When is the last time you voiced it? And what are you waiting for?

From The Heart
Let me take you an another journey down my Memory Lane.
The year was 1981 and I was 16 or 17 years old. My best friend since the fourth grade was Nancy Caruso, and in our Junior year of high school, her parents went on vacation. A long week of teenage fun, no parents, and the house all to ourselves. Gee, where is this going?
Nancy‘s sister, Cathy, had recently gotten married, and there was more than a case of beer left over in the garage. So, with her parents gone, her brother (over 21), agreed to say if asked, that he took a 12-pack. We had ourselves a little gathering of no more than five girls in the house. Because we couldn‘t take too much of the beer, we decided in our adolescent minds that drinking two bears each with a straw, would be equivelent to say four beers. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time.
I had already had two beers, but Tracy was going to go be with her boyfriend two doors down, and gave me her open beer. Insert straw, will drink. That is right around when I did my Angus Young impersonation to „Whole Lotta Rosie“. We had the AC-DC tape in, and it was during „Let There Be Rock“ that the aire accumulated witin me from using the straw, made a most distubing announcement to my senses. I ran for the bathroom. It served me right, too! I puked my guts up. I‘ve always been a lightweight, I‘m not much of a drinker, and this is partly why.
I spent a good amount of time hugging that toilet like a long awaited lover. The intimacy with a toilet is so unbecoming, but there I was in all my glory ….. RALPH!
At some point, someone needed to use the toilet, so they helped me to the couch with an empty paint bucket, just in case, and not to paint. I remember Tracy was there, having come back. Next thing I knew, I was out.
The next morning I went to check on the bathroom, to clean it. Nancy had done it the night before and told me that I owed her one. I didn‘t really have a hangover, but remembering how I felt the night before never left me.
Cut forward to the day after Nancy‘s parents came home. Nancy and I had returned from Winchell‘s Donuts, and her mom asked if we wanted to play Spades. She hand been laying solitaire, and quickly shuffled the cards waiting for us to sit at the table. We were into our third or fourth hand when out of nowhere Mrs. C asked, „So, who got sick in the bathroom?“
You could‘ve heard a fly fart.
We were both looking down at our cards, and jolted our heads up looking at each other. Busted. Cold busted. Neither of us was open to being the first to respond. We both wondered if her brother, Rick, had already given us up. Our silence was met with information.
„Look, I‘m not mad, I just want to know what I missed. When I returned home, the blue rug was ont the bathroom floor. I changed the rugs before I left, so for it to be back oon the floor, tells me that Nancy cleaned the bathroom and changed the rugs. And Nancy never changes the rugs. Never! So that tells me that someone got sick. So, I looked in the garage and I fould empty beer bottles in the opened case. So, who got sick?“
Busted. Bold busted. Rick didn‘t tell on us. Our own immature ways told on us, but Nancy didn‘t A true friend till the end, she let me tell on myself. Her mother held my secret, never telling my mom, who would‘ve blown a gasket … and a few blood vessels too probably, ranting, „I raised you better than that!“ Yeah, well truth be told, I cherish the memory.
I learned a few things that weekend. First of all, don‘t , I repeat, don‘t drink beer through a straw! That‘s a big No-No. Secondly, if you do, it is strongly advised that impersonating Angus Young‘s wild guitar antics is a really bad idea. But, more importantly, it‘s vital to know who your friends are. I once heard a joke that a good friend will bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting right there beside you iin that hole and say, „whew that was fun!“ Nancy was that friend. She let her mother answer her own question more or less, and then allowed me to tell on myself.
Over the years, I‘ve had many friends in and out of my life since Nancy and I parted ways prior to my arrest. She had her life with Bob, I had my life as a workaholic. In prison, I‘ve had people flow in and out of my life like water through a sieve. One however, has been there through thick and thin … through witnessing my heartache after betrayal, and even in those moments of shared silence, our hearts spoke volumes to one another.
I met Dee Dee Sala in 1999 while we were both enrolled in a Vocational Info-Tech class. We hit it off immediately. In the over 13 years that Dee Dee has been my Best Friend, we have not had a single argument. Not one disagreement. We listen while the other speaks, and we also hear what they are not saying. We have shared secrets and dreams and hopes. While my mom will always know me best, Dee Dee will always know me better than anyone else. They key to this friendship is an open line of communication. But also neither of us takes the other for granted or has that „what‘s in it for me?“ mentality. So often, I‘ve been hurt by those that have impure motives or a lack of appreciation for what I bring to the table of friendship. An open line of communication is the key to any healthy relationship and especially my friendship with Dee Dee.
And so I say from the heart … learn from this past year what hurt your feelings, and see what lessons you gained in those connections. If a friend made you feel jilted, is it a matter of perspective, or a matter of ethics? If you wish that your friends would be more open with you, are you willing to be equally open with them? Can you tell your friends anything and know it won‘t go anywhere? Why or why not? Friendships are like gardens … you need to cultivate them, tend to them when you can see that they need attention, and not wait to see something dying before you do.
I‘m not one to make New Year‘s Resolutions. I never believed in that sort of thing, but if I did, I‘d say that I would cultivate my garden of friendships, continuously. If tomorrow weren‘t to come, at least today, my friends know that I love them and that my heart beats stronger because of them. I wish you could all have a friend like Dee Dee, but that‘s not to say that you can‘t be a Friend like her. Hever, ever assume that they know how you feel. Tell them. In notes, cards, the smallest of gestures … everyone likes to feel special. If you‘re reading this, you are!
Namasté, TC

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41
PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Reader:  Janine, a wonderful member of our verbally weird and adventurous, skilled, blabby CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforWriters – suggested a prompt overusing adjectives.  Here’s my take:

Muffy Kincaid, that lustrous blonde with just a wee bald spot on the top of her head, revealing a dot, a splot, a mere quiver of pink flesh, under which spot, a brain whirred, as if agile and liquid,

and our Muffy conjured up ways to attract Alfred to her yoga class, in which she would point her long, long, long, long, limber, limber, limber legs and elegantly formed, mushroom like in its splendor big toe to the dappled white ceiling which was in tiles if you want to know, and they were becoming loose,

as Harry Raymond, a swish of a guy, who stood on head in his irritable, Terrible Tempered Tommy Bangs moments of anger, sweating, frustration, brought on by glaring at the cellular, no  – not cellular — oh why had our Tommy Bangs, histrionic hero of the Yoga Loaf, on the top floor of a bakery, a hot, hot, hot floor, why could he not, indeed, could not find fame, and then our little mischievous Muffy, with a nickname of misky tisky, conjured again, under that pink spot of the brain,

having listened carefully, her spike-like cilia open to Harry Raymond’s needs and desires, thought, “Why I can kill 2 birds with one stone,” and thought Alfred twisted and twined his “Hi I’m from the Maine Woods,” thick lumber-like legs, would come and discover the lascivious twists and turns of

Dear Muffy, who not only thought under that pink spot on her head, but lusted, yes, our audacious mild mannered heroine Muffy admitted to lust,

and if she could entice Alfred into a yoga studio, surely Alfred would receive a memorable metaphoric epiphany and envision, using his yet to be developed connecting skills under his skull, yes our Alfred, had  a skull, but opposites attract, pink spots vs. skull and

Alfred from Maine would visualize throwing Muffy into the clover and violating her in the vilest way, all the while, thinking, this all started because I left my man cave, my man ways and went to Yoga, and Harry Raymond, that insipid white crow of a man, actually had some tricks up his sleeve with which to twitch and turn and perhaps thrust (oh dear an inflammatory thought) and so I would end this earnestly written tale with the motto,

“Yes the Muffies of the world, can conjure, and the Harry Raymonds of the world, will live to see another economically assured day, in this time when men of reptilian brain, and smaller anatomy down there, trot and scheme behind the crooked corridors of power.

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

prison wire at Chowchilla

Ten or so years ago, I read a request in the Women’s International Writer’s Guild newsletter.  A small 3 line or so request, which I am updating to the present day (Mother’s Day 2012).  Readers, further into my posts, you will find entries of T.C. Paulinkonis, her mom, Barbara, and life at Chowchilla Prison, a too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter prison, where T.C. sends, and I receive, or I send, and she receives mail.  She has been in prison for 22 years.  Her mother may soon be released, due to age and infirmity and go to a halfway house. You will have to decide whether you want to be a penpal or not.  I did, and I’ve never regretted it.  First her current plea: “Imprisoned woman seeks pen pals and contact with the outside world.  Please send SASE w/1st letter to: Teresa Paulinkonis (W45118); P. O. Box 514-16-4U); Chowchilla, CA 93610.”  She needs mail.  Contact with the outside world keeps these women alive.  She and her mother were battered women.  T.C. was also sexually abused repeatedly by her stepfather, and one day she retaliated.  They didn’t get arrested under the “Battered Women” concept.  They have been exceptional prisoners for 22 years.  She started a newsletter.  My relationship with her is one of mutual respect and love.   I didn’t ask her for quite a while what the nature of her conviction was.  It came out gradually.  Her mother is ill, has botched eyesight because of a procedure within the walls, and I believe has fibromyalgia, and a host of other ills, such as diabetes. Barbara Paulinkonis is coming up for her parole board hearing in August and may be released.  TC has an attorney (a volunteer firm) who is working on her release also. TC and her mom are in the same cell, and now Barbara can’t even make her bed, so TC takes on all extra work.  She is an incredible daughter, and never complains.  Her mother and TC are very loving and appreciative. You must send any request to her exactly as stated.  I have sent envelopes which were the wrong shape, or sent too many stamps, and not known cardboard cards are not accepted, and each time, TC or any prisoner, for that matter, must pay for the whole package being returned and they make about 12 cents and hour. There is a lot I can say.  It’s an entirely safe procedure.  Let me know if you take action.  When I am very old, and I lay down my bones, I’m sure there’s lots I could have done.  but writing to TC has been a mutual blessing, and I hope I have served her in some small way. Love and Happy Mother’s Day to all, and just Happy Day to all who love and serve.

T.C and Mama ´P´ Quarterly Newsletter, 2nd QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,

It is our hope that this issue of the newsletter finds you doing well. As time goes by, more and more readers have joined us by the sharing of distributed copies with others. We would like to encourage each of you to pass it on to others to read. Esther has posted it on her blog while others have e-mailed their e-mail versions to their friends. Knowledge is to be shared. In some pieces, it may be more perspective than scientific fact, but there‘s nothing wrong with sharing that too. Please feel free to make copies and share with others. For anyone who wants to automatically recevie this quarterly newsletter via e-mail, all you need to do is to send your request to Anna Ingolfsdottir who resides in Iceland. She is my typist and publisher, yes, but she is my friend first. E-mail is annaing@centrum.is

I have asked several other „writers with a number“ to join forces with me by making submissions to include in this quarterly report. Some did not meet the deadline, so maybe next time. In this issue you will be introduced to Gia, a volunteer Health Peer Counselor and breast cancer survivor that helps educate other inmates on health related issues. I‘m proud to have you meet La Donna, a woman I met about 13 years ago in the U-Turn prison prevention program directed at youth-at-risk. Donna Lee, an LWOP prisoner, choose to write on the topic of parole. Her piece was most informative, but I had to edit it to fit in this format, while hoping I kept it well in tact.

Thank you for not judging us. I mean, if you‘re reading this, you‘re either a prisoner or you know one. To those of you who‘ve stood by us over the years, please know that it truly is your strong shoulders that we lean on. Thank you for ever stuff!

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

What Is D.I.D.?

Have you seen the movie, „Sybil“? Sybil had what was termed MPD, or Multiple Personality Disorder. Over the years MPD got a pretty bad name as a defective title for a person who is totally messed up. The MPD was for the most part, replaced with D.I.D., Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Now, I‘m not a psychologist, but I‘ll explain this the best I can.

When an individual is subjected to trauma, and their conscious mind (present tense person) cannot deal with said trauma, they may dissociate. That means to mentally check-out, leave their conscious mind and hide in the safety of the subconscience. When that happens, they may appear changed, or in some cases, in a daze. In those instances when one has dissociated, another personality often referred to us an alter, is developed. That alter personality can be male or female, even genderless. They can be of any age, and not age as the host does. You, being the host. D.I.D. is most commonly brought on in childhood sexual abuse cases. In my case, when I could not deal with the trauma that I was subjected to, I checked out. When she couldn‘t handle it, she checked out and another stepped in. That‘s why they referred to it as multiples.

Each personality has their own memories. Where I have lost time, is when I checked out. The alter that was present is the one holding those memories. In recovery, you attempt to pull the memories together. Trust me, that requires professional counseling. Think of it as a huge jigsaw puzzle, and each piece is a memory. The pieces however belong to more than one personalty. The idea is to piece the picture together. In my case, I really don‘t want to recall whatever I don‘t remember. All that really matters to me is that I know now what I didn‘t know back then, and that is that I did nothing wrong to get D.I.D.

Did You Hear About the Super Jail for Kids?

In the last issue of this newsletter, I asked who would lock-up teens for life and throw away the key. The answer quite simply was: our legal system. Lady Justice wears a blindfold supposedly to not see defendents by race, gender, culture or any other means by which prejudice can be measured on her lopsided scales. Personally, I think she wears the blindfold to avoid seeing how terribly bent the system really is. I mean, how can you not want to fix it once you see it? I discovered an answer to my question that took place in my own backyard, Alameda County. The facts are appalling.

In the late 1990‘s, the state legislature voted to reallocate federal funding that was meant to support the construction of new prisons and to renovate and expand local juvenile correctional facilities. The general concensus was that local juvenile detention facilites were in a state of disrepair. Many of the existing buildings were at least 50 years old and inadequate living conditions. The chief Probation Officers Accociation tried to get voters to agree to a bond measure to remeoly the conditions, but California voters adamantly rejected not only bonds to improve detention centeres, but clearly did not support expanding juvenile facilities or building new adult prisons.

President Bill Clinton‘s administration began making federal grants to partially defray the building of new prison facilities. California‘s share of the pie was a whopping $275 million a year. Almost all of the money was used for renovations and improvements to adult lock-ups, but the grant mandated there be some expansion in custody beds.

The BOC, Board Of Corrections, was given the task of either improving or building new juvenile detention centers. It wasn‘t enough that the adult rate of incarceration was a booming economy for the state, lets add juveniles to the melting pot of the prison industrial complex. The counties all wanted some of that money and began applying for grants to the BOC for their cut. Of the 58 counties, 40 received grants. In the end, it ws a tidal wave of madness that proposed expanding the juvenile bed capacity by 3150 new beds, a 50% hike in total. It should be noted that this took place in the late 1990‘s when juvenile arrests had been on a continuous decline. Hmmm …. follow the money.

Alameda county operated a 299 bed facility in the northern part of the county near the neighborhoods where most of the youth lived. Technically, the place was in such bad shape, it should‘ve been illegal to house mice there, let alone 299 kids. To consider their options, the county hired a firm out of Georgia to evaluate the situation and help prepare an analysis for just cause to build a new juvile center with even more beds. That firm proposed the plan to build a new 540 bed juvenile hall to be located on the site of the old adult county jail, SANTA RITA JAIL (SRJ). The old SRJ was shut down in September 1989, just two weeks before our arrest. It was a rat motel at best. Yeah, lets remodel it and put kids in there. Are they nuts?

Well, that‘s when things became interesting. The site was in Dublin, across from a federal prison, the new SRJ hi-tech county lock-up, and out in the boondocks, meaning it would be more difficult for those youths to receive visits. Public transportation is fairly limited to that area. The site was justified due to the acreage of land. The need was further supported by false data that showed an increase in juvenile arrests. Alameda county applied for funding, having secured nearly $30 million for renovations and an additional $3 million to subsidize bed expansion. The funds only covered a small percentage of the costs for the new facility. They must have figured that once they began, grant money would certainly be given to complete such a big project. They never figured in the funding for staff and operating costs. That‘s like buying a fleet of cars that you can‘t afford to insure or put gas in. Where‘s the logic?

Finally, after all the hoopla, a small group of youth advocates called Books Not Bars (BNB) stepping in to oppose the madness. They pointed out that mostly minorities faced extreme detention, local budgets had taken away from youth programs, public schools and welfare, and that the super jail for kids was nothing more than a political investment for Supervisor Scott Haggerty, in whose district the new super jail would be built. His agenda was to bring a new source of revenue to his district by way of local construction businesses who were bidding for the contract. That‘s when the media got more involved. All coverage, was bad coverage, so the pressure was on. Dublin residents got involved, protecting the new super jail in their backyard. It took the tireless efforts of BNB, the center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Youth Law Center, and several other juvenile justice advocates to shut down the maddening plan for what would have been the largest youth detention center ever heard of. Reasonable renovations and building did take place in Dublin, but not before the persons who sought personal gain at the expense of a bunch of kids where eliminated from the picture. This included personnel changes in high positions of both the Probation Dept, and the Juvenile Courts System.

Prison is an industry of making money. Everyone from building planners and builders, to staff, local businesses, and vendors that win state contracts, all profit from the incarceration of 33 state prisons. And they want to build more. By taking away funds from public education and after school programs, our budget planners reduce the chances that today‘s youth will succeed. It almost seems like a set up. It is long proven that humanities in the arts guarantees a kid a better shot at half a chance and higher self-esteem. So why are our legislators reducing their chances? There are many besides myself that think it is to increase the delinquency ratio, and pack our prisons. And with life sentences being handed out, how can you argue with that? Money is money, right? Even at the cost of today‘s youth. And that‘s a high price to pay.

Juvenile Offender Facts To Consider

· There are approximately 275 California youth presently sentenced ot life without the possibility of parole (S.F. chronicle 12/6/10)

· Within months of the passage of Proposition 21, San Diego was the first county to put the new law to the test charging eight middle class white students as adults for chasing down and beating some Latino immigrant workers. Being there were 8 of them, according to the text of Prop 21, that is defined as a gang.

· No other country outside the United States implements children to be sentenced to LWOP.

· In many cases where a youth was prosecuted with an adult for the same crime, it was the kid that received the heavier sentence.

· Many youth sentenced as adults, had no prior criminal history.

· Each youth offender sentenced to LWOP will cost taxpayers about $2,5 million.

· To continue incarcerating the 275 youth already sentenced to LWOP, will cost close to $ 700 million.

· The principal opponents to Prop 21 included juvenile court judges.

· Neuroscience studies report that children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than that of adults. This scientific theory was recognized by the supreme court in Roper V. Simmons as well as Graham V. Florida. The Graham case was ground breaking, as the U.S. supreme court held that it was unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to LWOP for nonhomicide offenses as well. The Graham case recently affected more than 100 juvenile offenders who received LWOP sentences for nonhomicide offenses.

Parole Denial in Federal Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Swarthout V. Cooke, 562 U.S. (zoll) (Per Curiam, 1/24/11, case 10-333) that California lifer inmates have no right to federal habeas corpus under existing law to challenge a parole decision, based on the „some evidence“ rule. Federal writs are based upon the grounds that one is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. In a nutshell, this ruling states that federal habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state law. Period.

I Am One Of Many – submitted by La Donna Robinson

My name is La Donna Robinson, and I am serving a sentence of 15 years to life for 2nd degree murder. A murder that was committed at the ripe old age of seventeen. I am now forty years old, soon to be 41, in 3 months.

I don‘t pity myself, and I don‘t feign innocence for the crime of which I know that I am guilty. However. I know I have served my time-nearly double-than that of which I was sentenced.

I have appeared befoe the Board of Parole Hearings approximately eight times, and have been denied each and every time, regardless of the positive psychological evaluations that I have received, stating that I am a „low-risk“ of danger to society if found suitable for parole. I have been disciplinary free since my arrival, have become a certified Airline Rerservation Agent, a certified Animal Groomer, and have received all the necessary hours to become a licensed Cosmetologist. I have received my GED and an AA degree, and have completed too many self-help classes to count.

There are numerous juvenile offenders just like myself who are struggling every day to achieve their freedom. We program every day for up to eight hours, return to the houseing unit to be counted, and immediately report to some self-help class or another. We struggle to remain diciplinary free in a miniature world where we are constantly threatened with „how ´bout I get you a 115 to take to the board?“ We find the strength to support each other no matter how tired we get on our journey because as with any species, when one gets tired one will fall back and wait with hi until he has found the strength to move ahead. We have created our own makeshift family of juvenile offenders who have discovered that it makes it a little easier whenn you know there is someone struggling to paddle in a boat just like yours. We don‘t always like each other, but we love each other, and we are here for each other.

Thank you T.C. & Mama ´P´ for the opportunity to participate in something that reaches far beyond these prison fences. There are people who need to know that there is more than „convicts“ stuck in this place, ther are „prisoners“ who left society when they were too young to legally take a drink of alcohol, or to get a job, or to even marry. What about us? What is to be said for a state that will not allow you to take a drink until the age of 21, but will try you as an adult and lock you away for the rest of your life at the age of 14? There is a lot to be said. But no one wants to be the one to say it.

Juvenile Justice Reform Update – by Elizabeth Lozano

On April 5th, California‘s Public Safety Committee voted 5-to-2 for SB9, which is derived from SB399 that did not pass by two votes last fall. As I‘ve said before, this bill is not a get out of jail free card. SB9 is a bill introduced by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) to end life sentences without parole (LWOP) for juvenile offenders. It would require that I prove that I deserve to be considered for resentencing. As an LWOP juvenile offender, should SB9 pass, my fate would lie in the hands of a court judge.

This bill has many stages to go through. Any support by way of phone calls, e-mails, or written correspondence to Assembly members and Senators in Sacramento would help immensely and be appreciated.

In another area of reform, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on March 23rd on whether police officers ought to consider a young suspect‘s age before Miranda Rights are read to them. (The right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, you know the drill). Currently under Federal Law, a suspect taken into custody is Mirandized. Certain uses of restraint such as prolonged interrogation, handcuffs, and restricted surroundings, add up to custody. Under court law if a „reasonable person“ would feel free to leave, then the rights need not be read. In this case and others like it, children are being expected to obey authority figures and have the thinking processes of an adult. Both technically and scientifically, that is unrealistic.

The case being argued is that of J.D.B. v. North Carolina. Detectives went to a middle shool and escorted 13 year old J.D.B. to a school conference room where officials awaited him. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in this case that since the door was not locked, and he began to speak after agreeing to answer questions, that he must have reasonably understood that he did not need to answer any questions regarding his involvement in property crimes. He was not Mirandized. The U.S. Supreme Court however, granted certiorari, creating what could be a ground breaking case to protect the legal rights of underaged suspect. So far, the last two cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court involving uvenile offender rights were ruled in favor of the juveniles. This case is pending decision.

For more information or to learn how you can become more involved in reform, please go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org.

Breast Wellness – contributed by Gia M. McClain

Let‘s talk about breasts, Baby. Yes, breasts. If someone were to gie you a free gift, wouldn‘t you accept it? Of course you would. I have a gift for you. It is information about self-breast examinations. Now, while both men and women can get breast cancer, the focus of this piece is on women‘s health.

Thousands of women die needlessly each year from breast cancer. Many women automatically assume that during a self-exam, they are looking for a lump. The purpose of the breast exam is to become familier with how your breasts naturally feel, so that when you feel something different, you wil lknow it. This can allow you to get to your health care provider in a timely manner. It will help to ask your healthcare provider for guidelines that are appropriate for your age group.

Within the prison environment, inmates are their own best defense, and in some cases, their own advocate to fight for their own medical rights for healthcare. As budget cuts have come down upon us, there has been a lack of doctors, replaced by nurse practitioners. However, regardless of whether you‘re a prisoner at C.C.W.F. or a citizen within the free society, here‘s my advice as a Peer Health Volunteer:

1. Do a monthly self-exam. It is best to do it about the same time of the month every month, and while you‘re not on your menses (period) or ovulating. You may experience tenderness and discomfort at those times and be less likely to do it properly, or at all.

2. Have a buddy check system, which is a friend or loved one that you contact monthly as a reminder to do the self-exam, and they in turn do the same for you.

3. When you see your healthcare provider, as for a clinical breast exam on a yearly basis. Using your birthday as an easy reminder can make it less likely to forget the last time you had one. Also, ask them to show you how to properly do a self-exam. Far to many women assume incorrectly, missing anomolies.

4. Get a mammogram, set by guidelines of American Cancer Society. Guidelines include age, ethnicity, and family history. Remember, the life you save, may be your own.

A Perspective of parole – submitted by Donna Lee

If you ask a lifer whether parole is a right or a privilege, most will say that it is both. If you‘re sentenced to a life term with the possibility of parole, that opens the door to your legal rights. However, being granted parole encompasses the respect of the privilege of a second chance at freedom.

Life prisoners are a special breed. They work hard to satisfy and meet the nine circumstances tending to show suitability criteria. They learn the rehabilitation tools needed to insure that they can succeed on parole and for therest of their lives. The lifer spends a majority of their time and energy in thinking about the factors that led to the crime and how they can avoid similar situations in the future. With age comes maturity, and the likelihood that the paroled lifer will not reoffend.

Like anyone else, the lifer inmate has goals. Usually, many. Some want to help support family and friends who‘ve stood by them over the years, while others dream of starting up businesses or families. Granted, one released after decades of confinement, the newly released lifer will experience culture shock. That is where re-entry programs like Crossroads can benefit them and help orientate them back into society. The goal however, is to be granted parole first.

The nine circumstances to become suitable for parole can be a challenge to meet, but is achievable. They include:

1. Lack of a juvenile record depicting career criminal behavior.

2. Stable social history that demonstrates you‘ll have the support of family and friends upon release, especially during transition.

3. Signs of remorse (a step in the insight issue)

4. Motivation for the crime (also part of insight)

5. Battered Woman Syndrome, if applicable.

6. Lack of criminal history, – first time offender.

7. Age.

8. Parole Plans, which include employment, housing, and counseling or support groups relative on a case-by-case basis.

9. Institutional behavior.

Even if you‘ve satisfied the criteria, there is a chance thatyou will not be found suitable for parole. It could be the psychological evaluation you were subjected to, or the inability to adequately answer to a panel question regarding insight issues. If found unsuitable, and you believe your rights have been violated in that denial, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus in your trial court. It isn‘t easy to do on your own without legal counsel, but there are a number of jailhouse lawyers who can help guide you through the process. It will not be easy. It can be quite stressful overall. However, when your personal freedom is at stake, you either step up to the plate or you walk off the field and guilt. I say look the pitcher in the eyes, because a girl‘s gotta do, what a girl‘s gotta do, Parole is possible. You just have to want it. You have to earn it.

Donna Lee, LWOP prisoner

Communicado

When we write in our letters, some prison slang or facility terminology comes out. There are words and numbers we use quite regularly, so let‘s define some of that here.

C-file: Central file. Our peersonal prisoner file that contains all of our achievements, write-ups, numerous documents.

UCC: The classification committee that evaluates us yearly.

Program: Well, like robots. To do a good program is to do as you‘re told and expected to regarding school or work assignment duties.

Hooch: Inmate manufactured alcohol, AKA PRUNO.

Recall: This doesn‘t relate to memory. It means return to our cells.

Insight: The Parole Board expects that we can see into various elements of our crime, the full impact and all aspects of it.

Canteen: Not a thermos. This is our local 7-11 store.

805: The infirmary (Bldg. number)

504: Administrative Segregation, death row, EOP (Bldg. number)

602: Appeals process (document number)

115: Disciplinary Action (document number)

EOP: Enhanced Outpatient Program for mentally unstable inmates

The Health Care Issue

Although the information is not plastered up in the clinics and 805, there is actually an Inmate Health Care Inquiry Line mainteined by the California Prison Health Care Services. It allows members of the public and families of inmates to report concerns in regards to our health care from behind prison walls in Chowchilla.

As a prisoner, it is my right to 602 any complaints that I have regarding medical services, or lack thereof. The first step in the complaint process is the 602 grievance form. They allow me only 15 days from incident of complaint to have the 602 filed. The form specifically states that they in turn also have that time limit, however, there is a loophole exception to the rule for administration that inmates do not have. Staff is afforded the right to a time delay. Their prison, their rules. I just live here.

What do we 602 on midical grounds? Per Title 15, Division 3, Article 8, Section 3350 Provisions of Midical and Dental Services, the prison is obliged by law to basically take care of our medically necessary requirements. That includes, but is not limited to reasonable care to protect life, prevent illness or disability, and alleviate severe pain. The problem with defining severe pain is that it has become a matter of opinion. Believe me, if I feel it is severe or chronic pain, I will file a 602 to seek a medical remedy.

I cannot find a section int he Title 15 (Prisoner‘s Bible of Legal Rights basically) that refers to the conditions in 805, where some inmates are housed indefinitely. Pour souls. There are partially paralyzed inmates who rely upon nurses to help bathe them and change their bedding. The problem is that many of those overpaid babysitters don‘t want to be bothered. The Health Peer Counselors that volunteer their time to those inmates on occassion, find themselves carrying out those nursing duties as a matter of an act of humanity. But, nobody wants to make waves. Nobody wants to speak out. And then there‘s me.

Tripp‘s dream

In the third quarter issue of this newsletter, we shared the plight and perseverance of our friend and sister in Christ, Deborah Pegler. We even dedicated that issue in her memory, as she had lost her brave battle with Stage IV lung cancer in June 2010. It has been almost a year since she joined the angels, and I find from time to time, she enters my thoughts like a fresh summer’s breeze. She was my friend, and I loved her like a sister, and I miss her as both.

Before her passing, Tripp, as many of us knew her, had the privilege of seeing a dream come true. She did not want her painful past to all be in vain. She believed that if she could help save just one life by telling her story, then her journey would be complete. Filmmaker Yoav POTASH made a documentary that detailed the repeated beatings, rapings, and torture that Oliver Wilson subjected Tripp to. Much of the abuse was to entertain his friends, but we all know that abuse is about control. Potash leads the viewer through the death of Wilson and Tripp’s 1983 murder conviction. But, it does not end there. The film tells the rest of her story. A story of recovery on several levels and the path she took to freedom. Tripp was incarcerated for 26 years, and was released in October 2009. She spent 9 months with her children and grandchildren before she left us. She did not fear death. She accepted it. She’s one of the most influential and courageous women I have ever had the honor and privilege to have met.

Tripp’s dream was for the documentary to be made. It was completed in time for her to attend a premiere prior to her death. The film debuted to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in February. It is called “Crime after Crime”. See crimeaftercrime.com for more details.

As I’ve said before, I imagine she’s giggling while riding a rainbow on the other side. Even now, she makes me smile.

From the Heart

As a life term prisoner, I know all too well what it is like to be judged – by those I thought were my family and friends, as well as some of the general public. Funny how people think that THIS could never happen to them. If they’re lucky, it never will, but one would have to have worn my shoes the first 24 years of my life to have any idea what it is like to wear them now. People judge people. It is a defect we’ve all been guilty of doing. I’ve long ago learned to shrug it off. I can handle the looks, gossip, assumptions, even the abandonment I’ve experienced from so-called friends, who judged my. Being that I was more of a square in my school years, I had a lot of practice feeling like an outcast. I sort of embraced it. I didn’t need to fit in. Lucky too, otherwise in spring 1989, I would’ve gotten my sensitive lil heart broken…

I was a time bomb inside of myself. I could feel it. I was guilt stricken by my life crime. I couldn’t sleep of rind any peace. I couldn’t erase the images in my mind. I needed to get away from the Bay Area for a weekend, so I asked BREE to join me, Bree was like a sister, but we were total opposites. She was 100% Biker chick. And I don’t mean Schwinn neither. I mean Harley-Davidsons, motorcycle clubs, bearded bedfellas, drugs, the whole nine yards. That includes the mouth, language, and “Are you talkin’ to me?” attitude that comes with it. In a word, Bree was a Badass.

We went to Yosemite National Park for the weekend. When we reached Curry Village, where I had made reservations for a canvas tent cabin on my VISA card, I was in for a shock. They accidentally gave my cabin to someone else for the first night, but we could have it the second night. When I asked where we were supposed to sleep that first night, Bree volunteered us to share that cabin. I kindly rejected. I’d sleep in the back of my mini-truck before I did that. The clerk gave us a room at the Ahwanhee Hotel for the first night. The cost difference was comped to us, so off we were to find this place.

We had to drive up an incline and around a mountain but we found it. Oh my gosh, it was beautiful! We were expecting a motel setting, but what we drove into was a country club setting. I felt like I had driven into the Twilight Zone. I pulled off of the highway into a dirt lot and parked my Dodge RAM 50 between a Mercedes and a Porsche. I saw the people playing that lawn golf game with giant hammers – what’s it called? Croquet. That’s it! I turned to Bree and said, “This should be interesting.”

I was wearing a black sleeveless t-shirt, SOL JEANS, hiking boots, a leather belt with a rodeo buckle, and a buck knife in the sheath. Bree was wearing a t-shirt that she fringed the sleeves off of, skin tight black jeans, knee high Zodiak boots, her arms and chest tattooed with enough ink to print the Sunday paper, and a large handbag hanging off of her shoulder. My hair was short, hers was wild. We looked like we just left the Sturgis Run, and as we left the lot to approach the main lobby, which was a good 100 yards away, all eyes were on us. We stood out, we didn’t fit in. One woman defensively pulled her croquet-playing daughter to her side as if we were hungry cannibals. I just smiled and kept walking. Personally, I think they were trying to recollect if they had seen either of our faces on a Wanted Poster. We were being judged by how we looked. No doubt about it. Someone call America’s most wanted, immediately!

Once we reached the front lobby, I could feel the holes burning into my back from their stares, as the clerk looked up from the front desk and did a double take. I could swear I heard him gasp and his neck crack. I knew what he was thinking. He asked if he could help us, and by that, he meant with directions to where the peasants camp. I explained that we had a reservation to which he said, “oh no…. there must be a mistake.” I handed him the paperwork. He immediately got on the telephone to call Curry Village, probably to cuss them out. Next thing I knew, he looked up over my shoulder with this absolute look of horror on his face. That’s when I realized that Bree was no longer at my side. It had to be her that caught his eye-bulging attention. Sure as water is wet, it was Bree alright. There was a complimentary table sat up in the lobby for guests checking in. It had bread rolls, crackers, cheeses, meats, and lemonade. Bree didn’t need their beverages, because she pulled out her bottle of Yukon Jack to wash down those little sandwiches. She was making little sandwiches and wrapping them up in the large fancy napkins, and stuffing a few in her handbag for the road. I swear it, I couldn’t take her anywhere, but in that moment, I saw her point! Treat us like we don’t belong, she’ll act like she doesn’t belong. However, she was just being herself. The clerk humbly apologized and gave me the key to our room, happy to see us leave his lobby. I bet he lost sleep over it.

After we settled in to our room, we returned to the valley floor for the day. Around 4 p.m. the dark clouds arrived and it began to pour rain. Darkness enveloped us as I drove up the mountain back to the hotel. It sat in complete darkness, as the storm had taken out all of the power. Before we got out of the truck, I opened the glove box and removed two flashlights and an extra package of batteries. We made our way to our room, walking along the outdoor wrap-around porch where people sat at tables with candles flickering as they played cards and chess. One older woman with a snotty attitude asked me, “Excuse me, but how do you rate?” I had no idea why she was so animistic towards me, and I simply said, “Excuse me?” She went on a tirade about how the clerk in the lobby said they only had complimentary candles that were for outdoor use, and how they should fix the lights or refund their charges. I didn’t know how to respond without being offensive. That is, until the rich grouch said, “So, how do you rate? Where did you get those flashlights?” As calmly as I could muster, I replied, “Ace Hardware,” turned, and went to our room. Bree was so proud of me. I’m a pretty nice person, but I had finally had it with the “we’re better than you. They may have been more financially set than either of us was, but at last I had the good sense to bring flashlights and extra batteries to the frickin’ wilderness! Hmpf!

This experience rally did happen. A whole lot more also happened that weekend, but the moral of the story her is…. no matter who you are or where you are, it doesn’t really matter what others think of you. What truly matters, is what you think of yourself. I can look at my reflection in the mirror and not be ashamed of how I treat others. I live my life with Hebrews 10:29 in mind, but I also live by one main philosophy: I make every effort to be the kind of person that I’d be honored to call a friend. And so, from the heart, I simply say, that if you are reading this, it is an honor to call you one.

NAMASTÉ,

T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610