Archives for posts with tag: TC’s newsletter

ote:  Esther:  My husband died November 2014, and I faded out of my SorryGnatWorldCitizen blog; I am still a sorry gnat on the spiritual path of becoming a giant eagle, but measurement of who I am these days is not my quest.  I am still connected to TC, a privilege I feel, and am posting her latest newsletter.  I noticed in the LA Times today, someone got 23 years for murder, and TC and her mom, have been in prison for ever; her stepfather abused her forever, but she and her mom, Barbara, didn’t receive battered woman status.  Prayers are the best thing when all seems hopeless.  She’s spunky, and is amazing I think.

The Uncaged Voice

4th QTR, November 2015

Dear Family of Friends,Has it really been nearly a year since last Christmas? They say that time flies when you‘re aving fun. I reckon it also flies when you‘re not counting the days, but instead, counting your blessings. We have more than we can count, and then very recently, had one that is the equivelent of the cherry on top. I‘m referring to the attorney and law professor that agreed to defend Mom‘s case pro bono! Who said that lightning doesn‘t strike twice? We beg to differ. This is Mom‘s second pro bono attorney, but technically, it is the third one to look at the case on her behalf. We believe this third time is a charm, and well, things are looking up!

This is the season of gratitude, and hopefully more love and humanity, and less violence. This is when people stop to actually focus deeply on what they have, more than on what they do not. What we are most grateful for is all of the family of friends who embrace us from across the miles with a letter in the mail. We are so blessed to have such angels in our lives, and we can never thank you enough. That connection to the free world makes all the difference. Each one of you, in r own way, makes a world of difference.

Thank you so very, very much.Love, Peace, and Light,TC and Mama ‚P‘

Prison Lingo

For those in the free world, you may sometimes be a little unclear on what we‘re talking about if we don’t explain our prison lingo. We usually do explain our use of such slang or shorthand but there are times when we are simply on a roll in our letter and neglect to be more informative. So here’s a little Prison Lingo 101.

BPH: Board of Parole Hearings, a.k.a. The Parole Board. When I say I’ll waive my BPH for two years, I mean I will request to not hold my parole hearing for two years.

ADA: It could mean Assistant District Attorney or Americans With Disabilities Act, depending in the context.

AD-SEG: Administrative Segregation, or The Hole.

805: The building number for the infirmary.

OTC: Out to court; transferred back to county jail.

OTM: Out to medical; transported to medical office or facility in the local community for treatment.

C/O: Correctional officer.

I/M: Inmate, as in I/M Paulinkonis

C/C: A double classification called “c-over-c” – basically punishment status for the I/M‘s who don‘t want to work, keep testing dirty for drugs, or are habitual behavioral problems for staff.

LTOPP: Long Term Offender Pilot Program. It is provided to I/M lifers 2-3 years prior to next BPH hearing           

Q & A with T.C.

 Q) Why waive your BPH for 2-3 more years? Couldn‘t you do more for Mom from the outside if paroled?

A) Everyone believes that, but I have carefully evaluated the facts, options, and worst case scenario. I can do more for Mom once I go OTC to begin a new trial. There is evidence that we haven’t openly discussed in letters on this format, but please people, I know what I’m doing. Everyon’‘s hearts are in the right place and so is mine. Once I am released, I’d never be truly free until my mother is released too. A new trial means new evidence and exposure of exculpatory facts that BPH and the DA hid for years. Parole is not an option.

Q) But, wouldn’t you have more benefits on parole?

A) Yes, That and a lifetime leash. My being paroled does not help Mom. If it doesn’t help Mom, it’s not an option.

Q) Okay, so what are your options, released without parole?

A) The short answer is that I’ve done a lot of research. I have sent out inquiries, many not acknowledged with the courtesy of a response. The good news is that I found a re-entry for only seniors aged 50 and over. Being that we are fed up with Romper Room on drugs around here, we’d love a place strictly for real adults. I wrote the Executive Director and await a response.                                                        * *   

A.R.C.‘s Ride Home Program

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) is formed of mostly formerly incarcerated people. ARC sends ex-felons to California state prisons to pick-up long-termer parolees on their release date. Long termers are people who’ve served ten or more years while the outside word has changed. ARC reduces culture shock.

I read about ARC in The New York Times Magazine and I agree that such a program needs to exist. The parolee is met at the prison release area by a couple of guys, ex-cons themselves, who offer the parolee a cell phone to call home, and a ride to a restaurant where they can be served a hot meal without having to stand in a line to get it, or be threatened if they get up out of their seat until told it’s time to leave. For the long termer, that goes against the conditioned behavior that has been instilled in them for years, day after day. They need to relearn life, free and in public, and ARC is there to help them do just that.

The two-man team of ARC drivers take the parolee to the DMV to get a photo I.D. card, and to a nearby department store to get new clothes. The parolee doesn‘t have to touch the $200 gate money they were given. ARC gradually inches the parolee back into the free world during the day trip, before dropping them off at their destination, usually a re-entry program.

This ride home program is currently only for male drivers to pick-up male parolees. That led me to ask why not a female driver to pick-up female parolees? And the light grew brighter! I am in the process of contacting an attorney who is one of the ARC board members who was responsible for helping all non-violent Third Striker inmates released in the aftermath of 2012 changes in law. I want to ask him that question, but more importantly, I want to ask why not me? He teaches law at Stanford University, and well, why not me? Why not a ride home or to a re-entry facility for women who’ve been locked away while engineers taught cars to drive themselves? It’s a whole new world out there and women need reduced culture shock too. Where I see a need I see a purpose. Time for some equality. I am woman – hear me roar!

——————————————————————————————————

Beauty Tips by Audrey Hepburn

Ms. Hepburn wrote this piece when asked to share her own beauty tips. It was read years later at her funeral. Thank you to Carol Rischette for sharing with us, now we can share with others. Here are words to live by.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.            For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.            For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.            For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.            For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others

tear

Army of Woman await their men’s return from Baghdad

Troop Day by Sally M. McNeil (USMC)

Troop Day was held at CCWF on 10 Oct 15 by the Veterans Support Group (VSG) and Dependents Support Group (DSG). It was planned many months in advance, and my day began at 0500 hours.

VSG and DSG planned Troop Day to honor the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). We planned a PFT (Physical Fitness Training) for the women who wanted to participate. Think Boot Camp. Each participant had to complete as many push-ups and sit-ups as they could in two minute test times each. Once that was done, they took to the track for a two mile run, seeking their personal best. Some struggled on the PFT, and some plowed through it like the warriors they could have been.

The PFT is meant to keep soldiers conditioned and physically fit to withstand going to war, in the deserts of the Middle East, jungles of Vietnam, or the mountains of Afghanistan. It takes endurance to fight in a war. They don’t cancel a war because it’s a scorching 133°F or a chilling -22°F. Wars are fought seven days a week for 24 hours a day. Holidays are not observed or honored by the enemy. They‘ll attack when we’re not ready, so you have to have three shifts a day for 24 hours of surveillance. It is the assurance that the enemy cannot sneak up and attack at the dawn of a day.

Conditioning is important along with support from the American people. As prisoners, we may be incarcerated, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that we still love our country and are proud of the branch of service that we represent and served in.

I was in the United States Marine Corps for 11 years. I served my country honorably, and CDCR can never take that away from me. Being a Marine prepared me to endure 20 years of imprisonment. I‘ve kept myself conditioned and do my time like a prisoner of war. I will survive my incarceration due to my military discipline and training.

I am a Three Blue Star Mom. All three of my children have been to war. My son, John Jr., is a Green Beret who has been to Afghanistan three times. My daughter has been to both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She had to leave her son with my niece as she went off to honorably fight for our country. My children were welcomed back with wonderful greetings from the press. However, that did not happen for my three uncles who fought in the Vietnam War. Because of this, I painted a yellow ribbon to respectully welcome back all Vietnam veterans. The back-drop of the ribbon was cammoflauge in an array of green, brown, black and beige. It was displayed in the gym during Troop Day for everyone to see … and reflect upon.

For me personally, Troop Day meant thanking the VFW‘s Vietnam vets. They were given a hard time when they returned from the war. I want to thank all of the veterans who did not receive a hearty welcome back home to their land of the e. God bless them, and God bless the U.S.A.Thank Veteran’s for Giving Day

It‘s not a day off of work or school to play video games or to finally reorganize your spice rack.

It‘s not just another day on the calendar. Veteran’s Day is a day of remembrance and gratitude. It’s a day to mourn the loss of lives cut down in their prime, or to have a sincere empathy for those still alive but forever changed. It’s a day to not take their personal sacrifices for granted.

Some came home but far too many didn’t. Sadly, there are those still fighting the battles in their minds. It isn’t like a bad day at the beach. It isn’t a forgotten memory. They remember. We need to remember them. Even if it is only to say a prayer, go on; God is listening. For those who can, visit woundedwarrior.org and give what you can. They need us.

Is it any wonder that in November, Thanksgiving falls just two weeks after Veteran’s Day? Let that be one of your reasons to celebrate – the service of our military personnel. They certainly deserve to be appreciated and remembered.

Ed. Note: Wounded Warrior has come under criticism for the limited amount of their funds that they spend to directly support veterans. Please consider researching other reliable organizations to send donations.

 

 

 

 

***************************************************************************

… And I Am Grateful

 

Somewhere on the streets of Guatemala there is a ragged child who hasn’t eaten since yeasterday. The pain of their growling stomach is only one of several stages in starvation, something they know all too well.

Somewhere along the Ivory Coast, a man can feel the warmth of the day fade away, ebbing from daylight as the sun begins to set. He cannot see the blend of yellow and orange hues that paint the sky, his vision long gone from wounds suffered in a bloody civil war.

Reading a discarded issue of National Geographic, I see the vivid reality of childen without shoes, I see someone who must carry heavy barrels of river water to their mud hut, I see faces of people who truly know what it is  to live a hard life.

And I feel grateful.

Somewhere, there’s a woman wrinkled by time who weeps over the ashes of a war that has taken good men from her family, and some grandchildren too.

In the ruins of Syria, innocent people trying to escape inevitable death by terrorism scrape together what little they have in order to seek a new life in Europe. Some cannot afford the life vests to protect their childen for the desperate sea voyage but they risk the challenge all the same. And children become another statistic taken by the sea – innocent and so young.

With tears in my eyes, I am grateful.

In many places across America there are people trapped by floods or hikers lost in the wilderness because they took a wrong turn. Perhaps a child sleeping on the couch is struck by a drive-by bullet and hangs on in the ICU. So much misfortune, so much pain, loss, and inhumanity. It all makes me that much more grateful to live the life I’m living.

I‘m not saying that I’d want to re-live my entire childhood or this prison experience all over again if I had the chance not to. But I cannot deny that both have made me more resilient for what lies ahead. My experience has given me a strength that I otherwise would not have. I am a better, stronger woman for the journey. It has introduced each of you into our lives, and we would not want to erase that. And with heartache, with life’s struggles, wounds and scars, character is born. I am a better daughter, friend, and confident for the entire experience.

And for all of that, I am grateful.

 

To Quote a TV Show 

One of the television shows I watch is Madam Secretary. On the October 25th episode, the daughter of the Secretary was caught up in a scandal. Apparently, she made the mistake of taking selfies of her boyfriend (The President’s son), and herself in bed. A former secret service agent out to avenge being fired took possession of the lost cell phone that held the photos and not only released one risky photo to the media but also threatened to release the rest if not paid handsomely not to. Once he was caught, the daughter of The Secretary wanted 15 minutes alone with the guy. Clearly, she had something to say.

The two were put in a room where she broke the ice by asking about his family. She asked questions about him. He answered politely, but then finally he said, “Look, I don’t know what you want from me.” She looked him in the eye and ever so calmly replied, “I just wanted to get to know you better. I didn’t want to reduce you to the one bad decision you had made.“ Something he had done to her.

I grabbed a pen and wrote those lines down. I love a good quote and this was enormous! Those words spoke volumes about each and every one of you who have met us only through the written word and not yet in person. It spoke directly to my heart. Thank you to each of you who took the time to get to know us better and did not reduce us to the one bad decision I made on New Year’s Eve, 1988. And thank you for letting us in return get to know yyou. Thank you.

From The Heart 

Years ago, I heard another quote but I cannot recall where I heard it. I only know that I wrote it down:

“What hurts us the most, that’s where we find our strength – that’s what keeps us going.” 

Words to live by.

Some of you tell me how impressed you are by my strength to carry on after all we’ve been through. Some are even more surprised at my tolerance and patience with the long, drawnout process of this appeal for a new trial. Many have told me that they’d have lost patience by now. So, how do I do it? What hurt me is what keeps me going. He’s not allowed to win every battle, even in death. My stepfather is not allowed to define my character by his own flaws.

First of all, I’m really in no big hurry to leave Mom here alone without me. I do have to leave at some point but I‘m not in a hurry. I’m on God’s timetable, not my own. If I had the choice to rush into court for a new trial clear back in say, 2005, I would not have been as ready as I am now, nor would I have the evidence that questions the DA’s integrity. So yes, God knew what He was doing all along. The DA thinks that they are running the show, but I know better.

I have the will to face down the dragon. I don’t know how to give up, so quitting was never an option. I kept the faith, allowed hope into my heart, ran with patience the race before me, and well, like the song says, “I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.” I can relate deeply to the lirics in :Fight Song:”

Like a small boat, on the ocean            Sending big waves, into motion            Like how a single word, can make a heart open            I may only have one match, but I’ll make an explosion            This is my fight Song, take back my life song            Prove I’m alright song, my power’s turned on            I don’t care what no one else believes –            I still got a lot of fight left in me!

So, I say from the heart to you – my strength come from a power greater than myself. My willingness to face demons from the past and ressurecting old ghosts is all part of doing what this girl has got to do. And yes, it would be a badge of honor to hear them say, “You fight like a girl.” Your darn right I do. Right into the New Year and beyond! Its’ time to fight lik a girl!

Happy Christmas & New Year,TC and Mama P

Teresa Paulinkonis                                                                  Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis

W45118     513-5-3U                                                             W45120     513-5-3L.O. Box 1508                                                             P.O. Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                           Chowchilla, CA 93610

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Uncaged Voice

Available free upon request at eclift@vermontel.net

2nd QTR, 2014

 Image

 

 

Dear Family of Friends,

 

        As Mother‘s Day approaches at the time of writing this edition of the newsletter, there are many emotions in the air here at the Central California Women‘s Facility. Looking around, there are mothers and grandmothers everywhere. Those of us who never had children are somebody‘s child, and therefore, we, too, feel a loss as the holiday nears. It is a day of celebration, but also one of reflection. We are each given the opportunity to reflect on the fact that we didn‘t have to be here instead of at home. It sort of has a way of making you appreciate all the more that mother-daughter bond in your life.

 

        I‘ve asked other inmates to share their own thoughts and feelings on this subject for this issue. A few stepped forward, willing to express themselves.

 

        In another article, a juvenile offender that was sentenced as an adult offered to write about her personal perspective on her experience in the system. As an individual woman, she wanted to join our voices with her own thoughts and be heard.

 

        I‘m happy to report that Michele Garfinkel, the attorney appointed to me at my last parole hearing, has joined our team. She will have her own column on parole issues that specifically affect lifers, as this is her specialty. It is a privilege to have a true professional join our quarterly publication.

 

        We thank you again and again, for not only reading our Uncaged Voices, but for sharing it with others. Please, as always, feel free to photocopy, post on social media, or have others join the e-mail list to begin receiving it themselves. Our goal afer all, is to reach as many people as possible. Your efforts to help achieve that are greatly appreciated.

 

                                                     Namasté

                                                     TC & Mama P

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEGAL LINES – ASK AN INMATE ATTORNEY

 

By Michele Garfinkel, Esq.

 

 

            My name is Michele Garfinkel.  I had the privilege of representing TC at her last Board hearing.   I instantly felt connected to her and her mother after hearing their story.  During our conversations, TC asked me to contribute to The Uncaged Voice.  I am honored to do so and would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.

            I have been representing inmates for almost a decade.  Due to injustices I witnessed growing up, I went to law school with the intent to make a difference.  I have found my calling in working with life inmates and have decided to devote my practice to lifers.  Being able to witness the rehabilitative process has been the most fulfilling work I have done to date.

            The purpose of my column in The Uncaged Voice is to answer your questions and address the issues you find most important.  I will be accepting questions and/or requests for topics via mail or email.  I will also do my best to keep you up to date on new developments in the parole process as the process is currently going through many changes. The goal of my column is not to give legal advice, but to assist you and your loved ones in better understanding the journey before you. Please use the email designated below so as not overwhelm our hard working editor. 

I look forward to being a part of The Uncaged Voice family.

 

Michele Garfinkel, Esq.

11310 Prospect Drive

Suite 10  PMB 53

Jackson, CA 95642

Email: Michele@MicheleGarfinkel.com

 

 

 

Once a Year – by Connie (Huerta)

 

            Some people say that Mother‘s Day isn‘t a real holiday but more of a commercial event. Whether they are individuals without children or don‘t have a healthy relationship with their own mother, or both, I do not know. The only thing that I can say for sure is that for myself, it is a day of both joy and heartache.

 

            I have been incarcerated for over a decade and in all that time I‘ve seen my children once a year for the past ten years, and only on Mother‘s Day weekend. My own mother‘s health has declined with age and diabetes. My father has been gone for a good part of my life; it‘s almost like he was never there at all. I have one sibling, a sister who judges me, saying she‘d never have committed the crime that I did. That is easy to say when you‘re not the one being beaten and raped. She puts herself above me and believes that I have forfeited my parental rights to see my children, given that I killed their father. I guess it‘s easier to condemn shoes you have no clue how to walk in.

 

            I‘m fortunate to have an aunt who knows a thing or two about domestic violence and Intimate Partner Battering. She volunteers at a women‘s shelter. Since my mother could no longer travel here – the middle of nowhere – given her health, my aunt began bringing my son and daughter on Mother‘s Day weekend five years ago. My son turns 18 two weeks after our next visit. He‘ll be able to bring his sister on his own once that happens.

 

            It is not easy being a mother in prison, watching your children grow up in pictures. Our choices are our own but we‘re not the only ones suffering the consequences. Unlike many others here, I have a release date in four years. I am so blessed to not be a lifer, and I learned quickly that in the blink of an eye, anyone could be, with one bad decision. It has been very difficult not being able to see my children more often, but by the grace of God, I do see them. There are far too many who do not.

 

            Mother‘s Day is not about cards, flowers and gifts. Not to all of us, at least. For women like me who learn just how easily parental rights can turn into parental privileges, Mother‘s Day is a day of merciful reunification. It is a celebration of love and a special bond between a mother and her childen. It‘s most certinly not just another day. As a matter of fact, it is everything. After experiencing it behind these walls, you can appreciate it with a new perspective upon your release. At least I know that is true for me. It is both joyful and heartbreaking … and precious. Oh, so precious indeed.

 

 

Jeremy – A Letter from Your Mother

 

Dear Jeremy,

 

            I know that you´re confused right now about everything that is happening. I‘ll never forget the look on your face and how haunted your eyes looked when the officer placed me in his car. That doesn‘t make him the bad guy, Jeremy. I‘m the one who broke the law doing something I shouldn‘t have been doing. The officer was only doing his job. Please don‘t be mad at him for the police overall. I put a lot of people in danger and by arresting me, he was protecting so many more people. Had it been someone else that had done what I did, driving their car while drunk, I‘d want them arrested too. I don‘t know what I would do if a drunk driver hit you on your bicycle. I‘d want them to be punished, therefore I must be punished. It makes no difference that I didn‘t actually hurt anyone. The point is that I could have if not pulled over and arrested.

 

            Jeremy, when you get older, you may have friends that want to party with alcohol and drugs. Maybe you already have been introduced to that world, but are still too young to drive. Once you are though, you could end up like me right now, and I do not want that for you. Just because you don‘t drive a car, doesn‘t mean that you can‘t harm yourself or cause an accident while riding your bicycle or skateboard. I know that sooner or later you‘ll face the introduction of alcohol and drugs into your life. I can only hope that it is much later, and that you have learned from this chaper in my life.

 

            I am so sorry for not being there on your birthday and the holidays. I‘m sorry that I‘m not there to play games or read together. I wish so much that I could‘ve been with you when you saw the sea lions, or when the seagull pooped on Uncle Gino‘s head. I‘m seeing what I‘m missing, and I don‘t want to miss out on the life I took for granted ever again.

 

            Jeremy, please don‘t be mad at the police, the DA , or the judge. They were only protecting the public from the menace that your mother became. Please don‘t be mad at your aunts, uncles, or Grandpa Jeff. They are all doing the best they can doing what I should be home doing myself. If you need to be mad at me, that‘s okay. Get it out of your system. Talk to someone. Talk to me. Don‘t hold back. You didn‘t do anything wrong, I did. And I swear to you, I‘ll make up for it, but first I must accept my consequences.

 

            This Mother‘s Day, once you leave the visiting room, it will hit me all over again just how much I took for granted. Just how much I‘m not the only one serving this sentence. Jeremy, I love you, and I will never, ever, do this to you again. When I said my actions didn‘t hurt anyone, I was wrong. My actions most definitely hurt you. I am so sorry. Please know that I love you. I miss you like Blue Man‘s.

 

                        Love- momma

 

 

 

Being A Grandma in Prison – by P. H.

 

            In the Easter – Passover season, it seems so much harder just being here, in prison. I feel filled with pain in my heart and soul, as I serve my sentence, isolated from the outside world. The law found me guilty, so I must serve my time.

 

            I am eternally grateful for the family I have. I am a mother of five adult children, aged 32 to 42 years. I am also the proud grandmother of 11 grandchildren ranging from 5 months to 24 years old. The youngest was born while I was here, waiting for the news. I could not be there, which makes it especially painful, because I was present during all previous births. I am simply missing way too much.

 

            My husband is the greatest man alive, and we‘ve been married 48 years. He is the most loving, kind man I could have been blessed with, and he has been 100% supportive in my predicament, standing beside me.

 

            My husband and children are exceptionally good to me, and I feel grateful without end for how well cared for I am by them. The love that I‘ve showered them with is coming back to me in abundance. I was a very abused child, thus making my feelings all the more profound. I am a combination of a Polish Jewish father and a German Christian mother. My mother, in her 80‘s, still writes me four times a week. She and I suffered a great deal at the hands of my stepfather, but we are survivers!

 

            Today, I have to find strength to be strong for my entire family, bot here in America and in Europe. I know that my family will visit often and maintain this bond of love. There are so many other prisoners here that do not have those commitments of the heart in action, and that compounds my sincere appreciation. There are inmates who do not get visits or mail at all, so I am rich in these priceless treasures.

 

            It takes more than just familial ties to face each incarcerated day here. My faith is strong, thus making it possible to cope through prayer and meditation. It is at times unbearable, and one must find their center to cope.

 

            My heart is very full and goes out to all grandmothers both in prison and out in the free world. Whhether free or not, the separation of time and space between loved one is painful. The sense of loss can be overwhelming. Prayer and meditation has aided and healed the pain I feel on a day to day basis, and the same can be true for you as well. It is in centering ourselves that we can embrace our own light.

 

            While it is not easy to be a grandmother in prison, I want to stress that the bars on the windows do not lock up the heart. There are no bars on my heart, and it is my intention to encourage others to remain free from within in the very same manner. May you all feel the love that you deserve this Mother‘s Day.

 

 

More Than A Number – by Lakaysha Redd

 

            I was incarcerated at the age of seventeen for murder, in the death of my girlfriend. The charge was later reduced to vehicular manslaughter. It is my testimony that I did not actually kill my girlfriend, but my inability to control my anger and other emotions were a problem. I was raised in a middle class environment with parents present to teach me morals and ethics. I didn’t have any prior behavioral problems; yet that one fateful day, many lives were changed when one life ended.

 

            While the prison system’s goals on paper are to rehabilitate criminals, I beg to differ. As I rode up to the prison‘s barbed wire fences and tall gray concrete buildings the day I arrived here, I felt freedom and my life as I knew it escaping me. Society would like to believe that prison is teaching inmates how to rehabilitate themselves and resist criminal behavior. In actuality, I‘ve witnessed one large warehouse that educates inmates to be more clever at committing crimes. By this, I emphasize that many staff members contribute to that education by assisting in the breaking of laws as a means of survival in here. Prison is a world within itself if you choose to indulge in drugs, sex, theft, trafficking, and an array of other violations. It is all possible behind these walls. And avoidable.

 

            During my imprisonment, I have witnessed how some inmates have allowed the system to steal the good parts of their hearts, minds, and spirits. Prison is a place of discipline, but that doesn‘t mean that we have to surrender our mental freedom and sense of character, or our state of humanity. There is a daily fight to not lose grasp of these things but there are those who succumb to prison life in negative ways and indulge in drug abuse and unhealthy relationships. Many do so due to the lack of help from family and friends on the outside who sadly assume that all our needs are met by the taxpayer. They are not, and women here slowly slip away, becoming people they never thought themselves capable of becoming.

 

            I am not one of those women; I am an incarcerated student. I‘m looking into the future, working on my A.A, degree with Feather River College, and planning to further my academic successes in psychology and business. I work my hardest not to let the negative aspects of prison life influence me, as I strive to use every resource possible to keep me free on the inside. Although I am locked in a cell each day, prison cannot lock up my heart and mind. I have plans for a better life that doesn‘t include being in prison.

 

            I committed a crime as a result of not having control over my anger, and I am in a place that tests it daily. I am not just another number. I am a human being learning from her mistakes. I am a woman seeking self-help, even when the prison doesn‘t offer it. I could succumb to the depth of darkness like many others have, or I could rise above it. I chose to rise above it. Not everyone in prison maintains criminal thinking or behavior. I‘m proof that there is another whole class of inmates here. We are the class that deserves a second chance.

 

 

 

 

 

Drum Roll, Please!  

Elayne Clift and Anna Ingolfsdottir, two of the people who put our newsletter together and get it out to you, have just published books!

Birth Ambassadors: Doulas and the Re-emergence of Woman-supported Birth in America by Christine Morton, PhD, and Elayne Clift, M.A. was published in January by Praeclarus Press.  It has been called “THE definitive work on doulas in the United States, immediately drawing readers in to the story of doulas in the U.S. and of the social movement that arose to support their incorporation into American hospital birth.”   Doulas are (mostly) women who provide emotional and practical support to women throughout labor and delivery. (The word ‘doula’ comes from the Greek for “woman servant.”) Elayne has been a doula at her local hospital for ten years, and even did a volunteer doula stint in Somalia, Africa in 2011.  A prolific writer, she also published her first novel in 2010.  Hester’s Daughters is a modern, feminist retelling of the American classic The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  (www.elayneclift.com)

 

Anna published two books in April, both available on Amazon. The first, Losing a Spouse: On Love, Grief, and Recovery,was written in collaboration with a well-known Icelandic psychologist, Guðdinna Eydal, whose husband died four years ago. The book is based on Anna‘s journal written when her husband became ill with cancer and died seven months later when their three daughters were 12, 6, and 4 years old. Guodinna also shares her personal story and writes from a psychologist’s perspective about loss and grief, especially when a spouse dies. The book includes assignments to help the surviving partner in the process of grief.  (www.losingaspouse.com). Anna’s other book, Belongings, also tells the story of her personal experience as a stand alone work of creative non-fiction, eliminating the psychological context and assignments.

 

From the Heart (TC)

 

            I read a daily word, “Streams In the Desert“ by L.B. Cowman, first published in 1925. It was written out of her heartache as she cared for her ailing husband from 1917 until his death six years later. It‘s the perfect daily word for a prisoner because it inspires us to see hardships as obstacles on our way toward hope, betterment, personal strength, and true faith.

 

            The entry for April 4th I quote briefly here:

 

            Mom and I have had a tumultuous last year and a half, dealing with a variety of issues and both conflictive and defective personalities. While we cannot control another person, we do have the reins in our grasp to decide how we will deal with those who are detrimental to our own well-being, and more precisely, our path on this journey towards freedom‘s gate.

           

When you put women into closed quarters, there are bound to be differences in opinions, belief systems, and perspectives of what is respectful and/or acceptable. When it comes to our sense of parole-acceptable behavior, anything that impedes that is unhealthy and calls for action. Not an act of violence, just the act of making a healthy decision. Being that there was way too much conflict and chaos going on in unit 514, I had to get mom and I the heck out of there. Like the passage I quoted said, „”he smallest trial may become an object crushing everything in its path into misery and despair, if we allow it.“ I could no longer allow it.

           

Mom and I are happily relocated to unit 513 where staff has structure and discipline is more visible than the animal house we left. I‘m happy to report that my mother will be in a less stressful environment now, and what a great gift for Mother‘s Day!

           

So, I say from the heart to you, while change is not what many of us want, it may sometimes be what we need. I prayed for mercy, God delivered, but first I had to stop trying to fix it my way, and get out of His way. Once I did that, we were given the gift of more peace and less stress; we were doubly blessed. I just had to get out of His way! Silly me. Silly, silly, me.

                                                                                   

Blessed Be –

                                                                                    TC and Mama P

 

Teresa Paulinkonis                                                      Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis

W45118     513-5-3U                                                  W45120     513-5-3L

P.O. Box 1508                                                             P.O. Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610                                                           Chowchilla, CA 93610