65 | The Not-So-Great Escape

November 30, 2008
Sunday, 6:00 p.m.
Letter #65: The Not-So-Great Escape


Dear Family,

Wow! What a very happy Thanksgiving I received from you this year! Thank you for the effort to make my first major holiday here special.  🙂  On Thanksgiving Day, I had a visit with Michael and Katie, then a visit with Mommy on Saturday, and Daddy came today! I’m full of food and blessings!

For Daddy’s visit today, I tried something kinda crazy. I’d known he was planning to visit me after church, so I decided to exploit some weaknesses in the visiting system. Normally, when I am called for a visit, it is because the officer just outside the Visiting Room calls my building’s tower cop. My tower cop pops my door open and tells me to report to B Yard Visiting. I walk to the exit gate near Visiting, where an officer checks my ID and pats me down before letting me pass through a second gate to walk past the flowers in the Visiting Room’s “Strip Room.” (I don’t know what it’s called—it’s where I get searched after each visit.)

Besides my tower cop and the officer outside of Visiting, no one knows if I’ve actually been called for visiting or not; that is, they don’t look to see if my ID is on a “list” or something. This includes my floor cops, the officer at the gate, the officer who writes down my info in a log book in the “Strip Room,” and the other Visiting Officer, who stands at the podium and monitors the Visiting Room camera.

Also, as we’ve discovered, since I’m on “Close A Custody” status and need to check in for 12 noon count, if my visitors arrive between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., they don’t see me until counts are cleared at 12:30 p.m. That is, I have to stay at my building until counts clear, unless I’m out on the yard, as when I play basketball. Those days, I check in for count early at 11:30, then run back to the basketball court to continue playing. I used my knowledge of how this all works to exploit the weakness in the system to my advantage …

Today, after playing piano for church, I returned to my building, where I got permission from the tower cop to drop off my Bible and folder of music in my cell and then go out to yard. On the way out, since it was 11:30, I checked in for count. I asked the tower cop if I’d been called for a visit yet, and he said no. So, I decided to go for it: sneak into Visiting without being called.

At the exit gate, the toughest sergeant on the yard was passing by. I got an adrenaline rush and stepped through the gate. “Going to visit?” he asked.

“Yes, sir!” I smiled, commenting on the nice weather as he personally patted me down (the first time a sergeant had ever done it at this gate). The next gate moved open … the officer inside the Strip Room logged me in and opened the door leading into the Visiting Room.

As I realized that Daddy wasn’t there, it dawned on me that I hadn’t planned on what I’d do if he wasn’t there yet—I was only trying to get there to visit with him before they would normally release me at 12:30. I hadn’t thought about what if he just wasn’t there …

My heart was pounding—hard—as I walked slowly around the room. I spotted Gabe (the guy who used to play piano here but now plays guitar) sitting with his parents, and I said, “I snuck out here, but my dad’s not here yet; may I sit at your table?”

He’s a friend and a good Christian brother, so he calmly looked up at me and said, “Heck, no!”

I walked over to the officer’s podium and simply sat down in a chair next to it. The officer (who knows me well from many previous visits) just thought it unusual that I was out there already. I offered to wait for my dad in the Strip Room. “Nah … waiting there is just fine,” he told me.


Right at noon, Daddy walked into the room. The cop knew I was hiding from him, so he helped me sneak up as Daddy had his back to me. They’d JUST told him I’d be out at 12:30, so it completely shocked him when I hugged him.  🙂  a half-hour early. So … what is my post-crime analysis?

Well, maybe it’s not what you think my response would be. Sure, if caught, I could have been charged with an “escape attempt” or received a “115” with only 30–90 days’ time in the “hole,” or I could have been written a “warning.” My visits would have been interrupted for any of those infractions.

So—why did I do it? For the adrenaline rush of being sneaky. Hmm … as I recall, and many of you already know, it is this adrenaline rush that was my drug of choice for much of the wrong I’ve done, motivating me to risk relationships, income, and ultimately, my freedom. As a result, I’m not trying this little stunt again—instead, I’ve asked God’s forgiveness for giving in to the temptation to do something I knew to be wrong. Pray I break this addiction, please. I love you all. Hugs!