August 23, 2010
Monday, 6:30 p.m.
Letter #147: Blessed, Stressed, Failed Test
Greetings! I’m so blessed. No, seriously, my life is most likely far more blessed than yours, so you may not want to continue reading the detailed proof that follows. In other words, you should consider just not reading this particular letter, rather than face the inevitable pangs of envy that would follow if you continue on. Well then? Continue at your own risk, if you must.
I just had a Christian sister drive 24 hours round-trip to visit me! HA! Since when has someone driven more than an hour or two to visit you?!? I told you! I’m SO blessed! 🙂
My mom and her sweet friend, Mary Valkenaar, visited me yesterday and today. Honestly, people, it’s only because of Jesus’ love in someone that they would ever consider that kind of sacrifice to bless me. (A HUGE thank you to Mr. V. for blessing me with your jewel and holding down the fort!) I’m encouraged, strengthened, and refreshed. Truly, I’ve been given much! My spiritual batteries have been recharged, and I’ve experienced God’s love through these precious ladies. Thank you, Lord!
Last weekend, I was blessed with a visit by my cousin, Monica. The last time I saw Monica was nine years ago when she was only 5, so this visit surprised me with the young lady she’s become. Wow!
Both of my incredible parents made the trek in this way-over-100-degree heat to bring Monica to visit for a day. We had such a great time talking that Monica asked to please come back to see me the next day, which she did. God has given me a precious cousin, and I’m excited to see her making wise choices as she lives with my parents this year—fresh off the plane from Japan. My heart was overwhelmed to hear of her re-dedication to Christ at camp, and her desire to make positive changes is an example I wish others would follow!
Unfortunately, not everything about Monica’s visit went as well as I’d hoped. It started on Sunday, the first day of her visit. I was being ushered into the visiting room by an officer, Jeffries. I stopped at the doorway and refused to enter the visiting room. I explained to the officer that my visit with my 14-year-old cousin would need to be behind glass—a “non-contact” visit. He checked on it, came back, and thanked me for my honesty. He had just been trained and had almost brought Monica into the visiting room with me (much like the time in Soledad when I was told to go in the visiting room when Michaela and Madison came to visit; I’d had to get a sergeant involved before anyone admitted they’d made a mistake and nearly given me a contact visit with my little nieces and thanked me for my honesty).
The next day, I was ushered directly to the non-contact visit area and put in a room … and only my dad appeared on the other side of the glass. The officer from the previous day, Jeffries, had thought I’d claimed I couldn’t be in the visiting room with any children present. I explained that no, I just can’t visit children except behind glass.
He went to “check” on it, a process that took a long time. I finally asked to speak to a sergeant after an hour had passed. He didn’t know the proper procedure either. I asked to speak to his supervisor when the sergeant never re-appeared within another hour. I was told the head of security was checking into it, but he couldn’t find anything preventing me from being in the visiting room; they kept me behind glass with my dad—who I explained is NOT a minor—for four hours!
Meanwhile, my mom and Monica arrived for the final few hours of visit with me. By that point, I was heated, and I was determined to hug my parents IN THE VISITING ROOM.
I, for the first time since my incarceration 2½ years ago, raised my voice at the staff and demanded to speak with someone with authority.* The lieutenant in charge of all California inmates, Ms. Garcia, showed up … and made it WORSE! She ended Monica’s visit, claiming I wasn’t to have “vocal contact” either! I went ballistic. You can take my “yard time,” my “fruit daily,” my showers, etc., but you CANNOT take my family!
Long story short? They were wrong. I was right. A couple officers apologized to me, and I apologized for raising my voice. My visit with Monica was restored, and I got to hug my parents in the visiting room. Many procedures were not followed, my rights violated, and my counsellor told me to file a formal complaint against the prison.
Please pray, as I give myself a B- for my conduct, yet want to do the right thing now to prevent this in the future. Thank you!
I love you all!
*When requesting to speak with any officer of any rank, including the warden, the prison MUST allow a prisoner to do so.