Today will forever be known to me as your “gotcha day.” It’s the day the system got you and changed the course of our family forever. No more family trips or late night runs to McDonald’s. Instead, as your mom, I learned fast how to negotiate the systems that would allow me to talk with you, write to you, see you, speak to you, send you money and negotiate for your future. (more…)
The wind is brutal, the temps are hovering around 10 degrees as I cross the parking lot to SSCF.. There are more visitors in the lobby than usual, but not surprising, since it’s Christmas Eve. We wait for the the CO to show up, then take off our shoes to walk through the metal detector. Some COs will actually check the inside of the shoes for contraband, but today’s guy doesn’t.. One woman in leggings is told she couldn’t visit because leggings were on the NOT ALLOWED list. Since I am heading to my sister’s home in New Hampshire after the visit, I have a dress in my car. I head out into the frigid air to fetch it for her, and she’s able to slip it over her clothing. (more…)
In the spring of 2014,a slow-to-heal sore throat turned out to be cancer. By mid-October, I had been moved from the CCA facility in Kentucky to Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vermont. The bus ride was miserable. Thirty hours on a rock-hard bench chained to another guy. No movement allowed except to use the toilet, while still chained together.
Initially I was housed in Charlie unit. It is a medical unit for people with ongoing health problems. Nurses came in at various times to dispense medication, check blood pressures, change dressings, etc. Examinations and other treatment are performed in the medical wing. It is not a walk-in clinic. You have to submit a medical slip, then wait to be called in — usually a few days later. A doctor is available on some days. Nurses do the bulk of the work in the infirmary and everywhere else. The staff have widely varying levels of experience. Some emergencies are handled at Springfield Hospital. Specialty care and surgery may happen at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. My cancer treatement – seven weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, in the company of corrections officers – happened there. At DHMC, the level of consistency is high. No staff ever behaved toward me as if I was some sort of a monster. I felt very lucky to be treated there. Kentucky was a bad joke. (more…)
Let us introduce ourselves, and explain why we began this blog:
I have been involved with the criminal legal system for roughly 10 years, when a close loved one became incarcerated. I volunteered with Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform at its inception, and served on its board of directors. During that time my focus was on legislation and education. I hoped that our state government could see that the current system of dealing with harm, punitive incarceration, was not effective. Not only does it fail to make our communities safer, it also takes a large chunk of tax dollars for no return on our investment.
Vermont has instituted an initiative called Justice Reinvestment. The goal is to move money away from imprisoning people and move it into education, mental health, and communities — all of which would further the goal of lessening crime. Sadly, small steps are being taken by the leglislature rather than the big, bold reform which is so sorely needed. (more…)