1st SHU Visitation

Family Impact

Mar 14

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 |

I had a late evening last night after having a 3.5 hour showing of our house.  I only got the buyer’s offer at 11:30 pm and countered just after midnight. By the time, I had wrapped up all the business for the day, it was 2:30 am.  I got up at 4:30 am to get ready for the drive to Butner. I was dragging, but excited to see Kevin!

Visitation Check-In

The drive up was hard and I stopped numerous times to shake off my sleepiness. I stopped by the condo on my way up to take a nap. I slept through the alarm and woke up 30 minutes later than I needed to. That almost cost us the visitation.  If a visitor doesn’t check in by 3:15 pm, they wait over an hour because the prison does count at 4 pm.  They won’t allow anyone in during count and for 45 minutes thereafter! Luckily, I made it! When I got to the visitation center, there were two men in orange jumpsuits (uniform for the SHU) as well as other visitors and inmates I had seen previously.

You know the drill: I went immediately to the vending machines while waiting for Kevin, but there was NOTHING but a few drinks and candy. Just like the rest of the system, this vending machine operation couldn’t even run a business properly in the prison system. To make matters worse, the vending machine ate up my money without dispensing any bottled water! When I called the vendor the following day, it was just like the BOP: leave a message and we’ll get back to you.

Visit with Kevin

When Kevin walked in, he was so relieved to see me he almost cried and started running to me. However, SHU inmates have a restricted area they must stay in. I went to him and we hugged and hugged. He was shaking with relief. My poor sweetheart, my heart was bleeding for him. Since we hadn’t had any contact for the last week, he had hoped I would come but didn’t know for sure.

When he went past the guard desk, a guard called him over to tell him that he should curb his emotions.  Otherwise, some inmates might view him as weak and take advantage of him later. We understand it was good advice.

When I really looked at him after hugging, I was so shocked! As good as he had looked the last time; he looked beyond bad this time. He had lost more weight and hadn’t shaved in over a week!

In quickly sharing, he told me that his personal property still had not been delivered to him. Naturally, he is frustrated since others in the SHU had their things.  When I called the SHU the following day, the CO said they were processing him in the order they came in …. SLOW isn’t even the word, more like TOTALLY inefficient!

Kevin pointed out a very famous son and father who had been convicted of using their company’s funds to pay for personal expenses, allegedly. The father is 86 and the son is Kevin’s age. They have been in for four years already. The two men have already spent $30+M on legal fees!  After count, Kevin went to talk to the father and son. He was immediately told by the guards he couldn’t talk to them and told to go back to his corner … just like putting kids in time out!

SHU Living Conditions

He had finally gotten a jumpsuit for his size.  The initial jumpsuit was an extra-large and he had to roll up the hem so he wouldn’t trip. I knew he would be in orange, so I had worn my orange sweater set in support.

He had gotten the snail mail from friends and family who had sent him books, articles and cards.  Kevin had already finished almost all the books. There was nothing to do in his cell but read and write. He had written me and others several letters of thanks for their mail, but was unable to mail them since his stamps were in his locker.

Kevin was getting bruises because the mattress was only 1.5” thick on a steel platform bed. There is a small desk and steel stool, and a very small shower without a shower curtain. He asked for a curtain, and received one—a miracle, since there are only two in the SHU! Kevin told me he wasn’t going to give the women guards the pleasure of seeing him naked.

Kevin’s life as he knew it in Low had totally changed again. He said that the food was disgusting but he was getting salad every day.  They feed him two trays full of food, but he can’t eat it because it is so bad. He thinks he is the only inmate giving back a tray with food.

When asked if he wanted recreation time, he said yes. They handcuffed him to walk 20 yards outside.  Then when he saw they were going to lead him to a cage about the size of what a tiger would be put into, he said he would forfeit his rec time.  We discussed how vital it was for him to exercise, so not to atrophy.  I know it is hard to exercise on a concrete floor. I told him he should go to the cage, if only to sit and get fresh air.  Otherwise, he will suffer from depression and lack of vitamin D, especially with the weather about to change.

Wrapping Up SHU Visitation

I finally told him about all the worry I had not getting through to his counselor. She wasn’t returning calls so I had to go over her head. He knew I had called the unit manager, because the unit manager casually mentioned it to Kevin.

When I told Kevin that the house was under contract, his face lit up. He was so relieved, knowing all I was doing, and not sure I could get it all done. Then we strategized on how to deal with the bank to get this all done in time for a mid/end of October closing!

The four hours went by much too quickly, but we were both at peace now that we had seen each other and we knew we were going to survive this as well. Talk about the patience of Job! We are living it and then some!