FUNNY THINGS INMATES HAVE SAID PT. 2

RT telling riddles… “What has holes but is filled with water?”
Inmate: A bong!
RT: No… a sponge, that was a valid guess though.

 

Inmate: We do ghetto yoga
RT: What’s the difference between ghetto yoga and regular yoga
Imate: We use a twister mat with the colors
RT: Like left hand green right foot red type of thing?
Inmate: YEUP

 

Inmate: Yea this Yard’s crazy, you see stuff that you never thought you’d see
RT: Like what?
Inmate: I’ve seen a guy go from a gang bangin killer, to a full on transgender, back to a man gang bangin killer, then to a long haired dread locked muslim!

 

Inmate: Aint it what it is…
RT: I think your grammar is a little off
Inmate: What??!
RT: *a little louder* I think your GRAMMAR is a little off
Inmate: MY GRANDMA!? …WHAT YOU TALKIN BOUT MY GRANDMA FOR?!

 

To view all inmates as humans, or all humans as inmates…

 Or maybe…. we are all both, inmate and human.

What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be an inmate?

Inmates are forced to give up their human rights when coming to prison, often creating a self outlook that they are less than human. That the world would be better without them. That they don’t deserve to run free. That they are broken. That their worth is defined by the cuffs around their wrists and the label on their shirt… “Inmate”

Without even realizing it they will become comfortable in that new identity of being worth nothing, even though their insides are being ripped apart by their own clawing for meaning, purpose, and hope…

Because though they wear the “Inmate” label, though they can be treated like animals at times, they never stopped being human. At the core (even though for some of them it’s deep deep DEEP down there) they still need to feel safe, they still long for love and affection, they still feel emotions, they long to belong somewhere, to have a purpose.

I think we are all inmates. We are imprisoned by what I call the “human condition,” which is our lack of perfection. The parts of us that are broken, selfish, and undeserving of freedom. Or in short, the parts of our humanness that cause us to sin.  

Jesus once said “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34). And it’s true, I have not met one person who is perfect. We all are a slave to sin. We are all imprisoned by the human condition. We are all broken.

And at the same time, we all long to rise above the brokenness and have meaning, purpose, and hope…

We are all both, inmate and human.

But neither of those labels defines our freedom. I have met inmates more free than humans, and humans more imprisoned than inmates, and there is usually a common theme… the inmates here that feel more free than some humans out there almost always believe in Jesus.

Right after Jesus told of how everyone who sins is a slave to sin he says this:

“Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

He is referring to himself, the son of God.

“Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8: 2

We are all both, inmate and human, but though that will always be apart of our nature here on Earth, those labels do not have to define our freedom or our identity. It’s crazy the change and freedom that can come when you accept Jesus as your Lord and savior.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32

So if you have never heard about this truth, or accepted this truth, but understand what I mean when I say we are all broken and are seeking freedom… then I encourage you to explore it (:

A Cheesy Inmate Love Story.

Once upon a time in the confines of building 7 on B yard, in the land known as the “Hole,” one handsome mentally ill inmate found love with a cute and sassy mentally ill transgender.

He was “Cellies” (prison slang for roommates) with his best friend on the upper tier (tier is equivelant to floor). The young green eyed inmate, we’ll call him Bryan, had no idea how his life would change when 4 cells down in moved a long haired ethnically ambitious transgender cutie, we’ll call her Cynthia.

Since fate put both of them on the same side and same tier, they would have their Mental Health groups together, and it was in those group rooms their romance began.

Out of all the pickings, she only had eyes for him. It started off as cute little bursts of sassy flirtation on her end, and subtle hints of intrigue and interest on his end. Sure enough they started requesting to be put in the cages next to each other during groups (in the hole all groups are ran with inmates in cages). They may have been caged up, but that didn’t stop their love from running free.

They started to become exclusive, but in a non confrontational way. It didn’t take much of a guess to know they were a “Thing.” As their love grew so did Cynthia’s sass, to the point where she would get defensive of her Man if there was a female clinician running their group.

“DON’T BE TALKIN TO MY MAN” she once told a Recreation Therapist when all the Recreation Therapist wanted was their participation. It was soon understood though, Bryan was Cynthia’s territory and she wasn’t afraid to claim it.

Their love grew like a forest fire, and about a month later they moved in together. Bryan left his cellie and moved in 4 cells down with his new found soul mate Cynthia.

Now Bryan and Cynthia are living together in one cell. Will Bryan miss being Cellies with his best friend? Did they move things to fast? Is this really true love? Is there something more to this relationship we cannot see?

Only time will tell…

Satanists or actors?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when inmates are genuinely crazy or if they’re putting on a show just to start a ruse. These guys in particular though are either way far out there or just too dang bored.

Have you heard of free masons? Or more specifically the 72 keys of Solomon? Well it’s basically a twist off of Solomon in the bible. Solomon had the greatest wisdom and because of that some people believe that with that knowledge he created 72 keys or symbols, that supposedly when you practice the spells that go along with them, will give you access to dark magic and give you access to dark power or whatever…

These two inmates wanted me to print out some of the spells so they could start using them. One of them also claimed the other was Satan. Now I do believe in the existence of heaven and hell and do believe there is a Spiritual Battle going on around us, so talking to them was very interesting to me. I will say that while conversing with them and asking them questions they were in fact pretty knowledgeable and insightful about certain things, and they spoke like they truly believed everything they were saying. I say they were insightful because one of them hinted at my birth year with full confidence and he was right (either a really good guess or he got that intuition from somewhere). He was also saying some very insightful things that definitely takes a deep wisdom (hard to explain, but trust me on this). However as you get deeper and they get more comfortable, they will say things that cause you to just not even question it, smile, nod, and awkwardly say “HA HA… UH HUH OKAY..”

At one point I asked them how long have they known each other, and one of them answers very seriously… “Many Life times,” I questioned him and he ends up following up with “We’ve known each other from the beginning of time.”

The other guy then steps in and says, “To really answer your question…  we have known each other two months.” When he said that I thought maybe he was not as far out as the other guy… well I was corrected real fast because he followed up with… “But he’s right, we’ve known each other in previous lives”

I had a long and interesting a conversation with them over a game of chess. One of them told me a sob story of how his son was murdered during a robbery, and I won’t lie he had my empathy at the time. Then after debriefing with a coworker who has known him longer she just laughed when I told her that and said “HE AIN GOT NO KIDS” ….so at that point I had to ask my self are these guys Satanists? ….. or actors?

Either way, they need prayer. Greatly. LOL…

“I won’t pull my weenie out on you”

Yes, the title of this post is a direct quote of an inmate speaking to me. When he said that though I felt more relieved than weirded out, and here’s why…

He is a known IEX-er. That stands for Indecent Exposure, which around here basically means an inmate was jacking off at an inappropriate time in an inappropriate place. It usually happens during a group or a one on one with a clinician, and of course on the receiving end of the act there’s the victim, which is always a female staff (at least as far I know, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened sometime somewhere to a male staff).

This guy, we’ll call him inmate S, has built up quite a reputation for himself. So much so, I heard about him way before I ever saw what he looked like.

It spread through the staff gossip grape vine that inmate S was back in ASU (aka the hole- I explain what that is in a previous post, but its basically the mini jail within the prison). I heard the news and immediately thought of my groups there on Saturdays… and wondered if I would be so unfortunate to meet the infamous inmate S.

Saturday morning I pulled up the group list names and began to read them from top to bottom. I was only a few names down then there he was. Inmate S. I freakin knew it…

“Well” I thought to myself “Today may be the day someone whips ‘it’ out in group…”

But I had my alarm and working here it’s not so much a matter of IF you ever get IEX’ed but WHEN you get IEX’ed, so I just figured if it was going to happen at some point, why not today? (honestly around here you have to keep gross and sad things light hearted otherwise stuff will get to ya)

So I walk into group and there he is, sitting in the second cage from the door.

“What’s your name?” he asks, “Miss J” I reply.

As we make our introductions the C.O.’s finish up locking up the last inmate and one of them asks to talk to me outside. I go out and shut the door. The C.O. ends up warning me about inmate S and how he was taken off wearing the Marshmellow Suit (It’s a suit IEX-ers wear that’s thick and prevents them from accessing their ‘part’ during groups), so I should just be extra extra aware.

The C.O. leaves and I go back into group now almost expecting for an IEX to happen with all the buzz I’ve heard about him. Immediately inmate S asks “Was that about me?” I tell him yes, and then he starts a ramble of defenses, and the bits and pieces I took were

Don’t listen to the rumors Mrs. J… They’re not all true… I’m not like that… They’re just mad because…

And then he concludes with…

DON’T WORRY, I WON’T PULL MY WEENIE OUT ON YOU

What a relief!

So I in fact did not see a weenie that day. Thank. The. Lord. Jesus.

However… I know this isn’t over… I mean I cover some of his groups and I see him on Saturday’s. He’s been acting more and more comfortable every time, and apparently he’s been requesting me to primarily run his groups.

So who knows what might happen down the road… Updates on him to come…

After a year of working in Prison… I finally pushed my alarm.

It happened one beautiful January afternoon. Group was going just fine and perfectly smooth. I had two guys working on bead art, one was coloring and the last guy was just sitting watching the animal planet I had put on in the background, we will call the last guy Inmate G.

Inmate G was perfectly normal the first half of group. He was cooperative, responsive, didn’t show any signs of agitation or aggression. However, out of no where about 40 minutes into group he gets up and walks around me to the other end of the table where the first Inmate was sitting.

“DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ME?”

He said… the inmate was taken off gaurd and quickly responded, “What, no.” Inmate G then walks up to the next inmate and says:

“I HEARD YOU BEEN TALKIN SHIT”

The other guy just looks at him and doesn’t even say anything. Throughout those interactions I was trying to get Inmate G’s attention and asking him if he was alright. However, he ignored me and kept making accusations at the other inmates, which led me to believe he was out to start something. So I began to slowly exit the room.

Finally, as Inmate G approached the last Inmate in the room, a poor helpless older man who was just working on his beads, things started to escalate. By that point I was already out the door telling the officer…

“They’re going to fight!”

Last I saw before the officer ran in was the poor old helpless inmate holding up a chair trying to defend himself. I quickly turned my attention to pressing the alarm, and when I went looked back into the class. I saw blood splattered on the floor by the old helpless Inmate who was laying on the ground on the other end of the room and closer to me was Inmate G laying on the ground unscathed with the officer on top of him cussing him out.

Meanwhile, out of the window of the class I could see a hand full of officers running over to the building as the alarm blared and lights flashed.

I should of had the alarm on me (my forgetful mistake, and one I will never make again), but luckily I got up and exited the room before the fight even started, and the C.O. was ready to respond. He was one of the better C.O.’s… you honestly can’t depend on all of them for safety.

After Inmate G was escorted out and the ambulance along with a few nurses had come, the poor helpless inmate was sat down in a chair and examined. I was outside the room looking at him. He looked beat up, sad, and scared. It was one of those moments where I had to hold myself back, and not walk up, look him straight in the eye, and genuinely ask “Hey are you okay?” ….I have moments like that a lot here, but this one moment especially. But of course the way things are here… I can’t do that, at least not without A LOT of consequences.

That incident was just a reminder of the darkness of the world, and representative of the brokeness we carry as humans. Sometimes it’s hard not to let the empathetic emotions I feel for some of these guys here weigh down on me, but in moments where you witness a poor helpless old man getting beat up out of no where and you cannot do anything…. it’s almost impossible.

The Art of Balance

 



It’s no secret that in life your health correlates with how well you balance all the plates in your life. Between healthy and unhealthy, social and unsocial, work and play, self-care and caring for others, and whatever other opposite spectrums your life style incorporates; how you balance them can cause you to sink or swim.

Since circumstances are constantly changing, we will always be learning how to balance the plates we have in our life. Some plates may be bigger and others smaller. Some may need to be adjusted so that it’s easier to handle. And finally some you may have to choose to put down so you don’t risk completely dropping it, and the plate breaking. Learning to find your rhythm and know yourself well enough to dictate the maximum amount of plates you can handle is an art, but once you master it, it’ll be easier to keep balance throughout life.

I have learned a lot of balance working here in a prison. It’s a balance of treating inmates like humans and being cautious of their intentions. It’s a balance of respecting the Custody Officers but also trying to make sure inmates get fair treatment. It’s a balance of expressing the love of God, but not alarming coworkers into thinking I’m favoring inmates. It’s a balance of putting on tough skin but still giving off a warm essence.

It has been a challenge and an art, but I think I have found my rhythm. What I have learned here can be applied to anyones life to help find their rhythm, so without further ado, here are some tips I use to keep my sanity and stay afloat:

 1) Understand that you are not going to please everyone, and you are going to make mistakes

2) Understand what values and morals you want to prioritize, and stay true and consistent with them

3) Be honest with yourself, and know what you can handle; pushing yourself when you know you can handle more and having grace towards yourself when you know you cannot take on anymore

4) Do not compare how many plates you’re balancing with how many plates other people can balance, unless they might need help and you can afford to help them. Other than that, focus on yours and yours only.

5) Say no when you need to and don’t worry about offending people by saying it. You are only human, and other people will understand that- if they don’t, then that’s on them not you.

6) Have patience when things or “Plates” change or break or get bigger or get smaller… we cant always control what happens in our lives but we can control how we respond to it. 

7) Starting to feel frazzled or not like yourself? Give yourself a break and self care.. go take a walk, do a hobby you love, rest, read your bible or any book that brings you joy. This will help prevent complete burnout or a breakdown in the long run.

8) Keep a humble mindset, and pat yourself on the back because you’re doing your best and that’s what matters (: