Incarceration affects family more than those in Prison
I would have never thought that to be true before, but I have learned first hand it to be the case. Eevn though I've learned it to be true for me and many others, the vast majority of inmates, that I have met and interacted with, has NO contact with their immediate family members. And hearing there stories, I have an understanding why that is the case. Incarceration effects the families of loved ones on many different levels. One is the unknown. If an inmate gets sick they loose all contact with there family. They can be housed in medical, iscolated for days or even weeks. In August I was in an outside hospital for a week and in ICU for two days, and the only information my family received was from a few trusted inmates that had access to sending my loved ones messages to alert them. When they called the institution, they were only told that I was inlisted in the institution, but no information on where I was or how I was was given. Being transferred to another institution can happen in a moments notice, still not information given to the inmate or their family about where they are going and when they will get there. There is a daily danger of being seperated from the general population, (taken to the SHU - Special Housing Unit) where again all contact is cut off. This can happen if you are involved in any form of violence, your cell mate involved in violence, are a victum, or suspision of any criminal activity. I was housed in the SHU in Miami for two weeks and two days, after an assault, where I was investigated, with little to no contact to family and friends. So in limiting contact with loved ones, there is no way to truly know how you are, or what is going on with you. Even though there is nothing they can say or do to control the outcome, you still feel powerless without information. The other side is the life outside continuing on without loved ones. Leann has never had to financially support our family, especially on her own. So becoming virtually a single parent over night responsible to meet all the needs of the home, and of the children. The task of parenting is a difficult one, when your alone it is an even much more of a challenge. Just looking back to the past few weeks, and months, our youngest, now 2 years old, has been hospitlazed a half dozen times with Phnemonia, ear infections, visrus, and such. Going from a stay at home mom, to sending her to daycare everyday has taken a toll on her ammune system, and she gets sick almost weekly. Leann has got her scheduled for getting tubes in her ears, a small surgical procedure next month, in hopes it will help her stay more healthy. The other kids have had to change schools 3 times, since my incarceration. My oldest got her braces on just a few weeks ago. Leann is being treated for Myloma and having chemo creme for her face daily. Even as I write this my dad is hospitialized in ICU overseas for severe abdominal pain and blood clots in his leg. The day to day hurtles and list of trials go on and on. With limit of 300 minutes a month of phone time at $ .15 a minute for non-local calls. The phone calls are limited to 15 minute increments with 3 interuptions reminding that this is a call from an inmate in a Federal Penitenteray. Then Trulinks emails costing $.10 a minute for email communication, and for people to see the messages, they have to log into a BOP site, or pay a monthly fee to get it delivered to their email or phone. And ofcourse letter writing is permited as long as you buy your own paper, pen, envelpoes, and stamps now costing $.55 for stamps. But there are SO many restrictions on mail. What pictures you can receive, how many, etc. People cant send cards, of any type, as they will be photo copied and destroyed giving the inmate a photo copy. If people send any form of stickers including an address label the mail is returned to sender. If mail "smells" or is wet at all it is returned to sender. So overall, communication is hard. With regular lockdowns, fights, and riots its hard to make commitments of talking or visiting. Visitation is offered Saturday - Monday for family and friends, with no physical contact with the exception of a greeting and goodbye in a "box" while officers supervise. Children find it most difficult as they dont understand the rules and often rules can change based on which officer is supervising. The simple reality is much of the day to day stress you deal with on the outside we are not subject to while incarcerated. We know we will get "fed" three times a day, access to drinking water, and medical attention for virtually no cost to us. We have a "room", bed, blankets, pillow, as well as the bare necessasary clothing provided with three t-shirts, three khaki pants, 3 socks, and 3 underwear, as well as a jacket in the winter months. You are given a pair of "vans" slip on shoes to wear, and if you are considered indigent, you get provided with state soap, and razors each month. However everything else costs money. In addition to the cost of phone and emails, as well as stamps and staionary, we are responsible for all our hygene, shoes, boots, clothes we desire as well as food items as what is provided is always eatable but not always desirable. So families are left to support themselves and on occasion send money to you to support you. They visit and can be turned around after a day of driving because of simple lockdowns, or can end abruptly because of incidents. This is not even considering the hastle of what loved ones go through to visit. They deal with daily stresses of life without the help or input of their loved ones. Often without knowing what is truly going on with you, whether you are safe and healthy or not. In a way when an individual is sentenced to time, his entie family serves the time.