Category Archives for "Family Impact"

Mar 14

1st SHU Visitation

Family Impact , Prison Life

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!

Mar 14

Talked to Unit Manager

Family Impact

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 |

I tried calling Butner several times again today and finally got through. Rather than leaving another useless message to his counselor, Ms. Butler, that would go unanswered.  I went over her head to Kevin’s unit manager.  I almost dropped the phone when he answered! The unit manager was less than cordial, especially when I wanted to find out if Kevin had been charged with anything.  He told me he couldn’t talk about it for legal reasons.

The guy finally agreed to talk to me about whether I could visit Kevin this weekend. It was like pulling teeth to get him to look up Kevin’s file.  I still don’t understand the visitation point system. I wanted to make sure I could visit before traveling from Atlanta to Butner.  If I got turned away on Thursday, I would have someone to hold accountable. He verified that Kevin had gotten his CPAP and his meds, but that was all. How unfulfilling, but at least I was going to be able to see Kevin!

Trying to Sell Our House

We have been fighting foreclosure on our house and we had come to an agreement with the lender on a settlement.  Now, all I had to do was sell the house … fast.  I had priced the house aggressively to attract an immediate offer. A buyer said they would offer $50k less than asking.  I told them not to even bother. I was firm and I had another buyer appointment for the following day, even though it was a travel day to see Kevin. Later that evening, the first buyer submitted a less than full price offer.   I countered hoping that we would get into a bidding war with the next buyer. However, they signed my counter! Yippee! One down and a thousand more steps to go to get this sold! Wait until I can tell Kevin about this; he is going to be so relieved!

Sometimes I wonder if life ever slows down? I know it does when death comes, but in the meantime, it really can be a rat race! And we don’t have children to complicate it more!

Mar 13

Labor Day Weekend Without Kevin

Family Impact

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011 |

It’s been a brutal weekend, not knowing what is going on with my poor sweetheart! Fear of the unknown is the worst! Truly it is the devil working his craft, creating more fear. So, the seesaw of life begins, between fear and hope… hoping that Kevin is at peace and that nothing can touch him and his equilibrium.

I talked to Kevin’s attorney on the Friday of Labor Day weekend.  It became clear that the attorney had no control of the situation. The attorney couldn’t get to anyone in authority at Butner to get Kevin out of the SHU. I tried to call the SHU but I gave up after 36 hours. I finally had to leave a message for his counselor on Saturday mid-day knowing I wouldn’t get a call back until Tuesday, at best!

The attorney told me that it took the AUSA and the attorney for the other co-defendant over 72 hours to get a separation order to the BOP on an emergency basis! That’s the government for you…. too many people to do a few people’s work, so they can drag it out and make more money. Sick of Government! This is far worse than the Army ever was!

Mar 02

New Realities and Another New Friend

Criminal Justice , Family Impact

Monday, August 29th, 2011 |

Kevin and I continued to talk about surviving incarceration in our new world, and what our new realities were.  My reality was dealing with our investments; trying to make money with option trades in a sinking market with only a few weeks training; dealing with putting the house on the market and if it didn’t sell, foreclosure; and worst of all, losing my best friend and husband to a system that is so screwed up you wouldn’t believe it!

Surviving Incarceration

For him, struggling to deal with incarceration after being forced to plea bargain due to (a) lack of money to mount a proper trial defense and (b) the risk of losing at trial; dealing with commissary limits on purchases (he couldn’t buy anything else for a month); surviving with slop prison food; and, trading in a new currency (stamps).

Stamps can buy most of what inmates want in prison such as cake, dinner, wine, pot, and probably all kinds of things I will never learn more about!  I’d heard inmates smoke pot in the showers (supposedly the CO’s (compound officers) bring it in). When I mentioned it to Kevin, he said that was true and that he had seen its use.  There is a “no see/no tell policy” among the inmates or you are labeled a snitch. That is probably as bad as being a “cho-mo” (child molester).

What I’m about to share will give you goose bumps and is so hard to believe. I haven’t verified everything yet, but there is enough out there to make me want to dig even more. If this IS true, then trust me, it will become part of our mission to expose how corrupt the system is.

A New Friend

When it was time to go, another woman, Carol, approached me and told me she was glad that I had been able to make it to visitation given my clothing issues of the last few days. We chatted.  Again, I felt as if God was putting another person in my path so I could learn.  She revealed that her husband had already served one year out of his 10-year sentence.  He had been charged with the intent of mail fraud…. intent! He had not done anything, but was indicted and ultimately sentenced based on intent! He was a paralegal who did research for attorneys for issues with the IRS.

Long story, but he had mailed out a letter to his clients stating that if they were having certain issues with the IRS that he could help. The attorneys he worked for liked the letter and asked if they could use it. They did and it came to the attention of the government through an investigation of the husband’s boss.  The prosecutors tried to use three paralegals, who did research for the boss, to testify to set up the boss. The aforementioned letter was the pressure point to get Carol’s husband to cooperate.  Ultimately, this paralegal didn’t cooperate and didn’t take the plea bargain offer for 11 months since he maintained he wasn’t guilty of any crime.  Not taking the plea deal was costly.  He was sentenced to 10 years by the judge. The jurors slept through the trial according to Carol.

Her story really rationalized our decision to take the plea bargain and cut our losses.  The 10-1 (plea bargain time v. judge-imposed sentence time) risk factor was a reality for Carol and her husband.  This happens all the time in our criminal justice system.  The judges will VERY unfairly hit a defendant for going to trial.

Mar 02

Visitation Center & How to Master the Vending Machines

Family Impact

Monday, August 29th, 2011 |

The visitation center is a large rectangular room with seating for approximately 200 people with stadium-style seating.  There are three sitting areas in front of an elevated desk where the guards sit and monitor the room. The guard at the desk has his back to the wall and is on the left center as you enter.  There is a vending machine alcove with microwaves on the far wall. No inmates are allowed in the vending machine area. On the right are glass windows and doors leading to a walled courtyard.  The courtyard has two large picnic tables, two benches in sheltered shade and more benches in the sun. Obviously, the benches in the shade are at a premium. There are cameras everywhere.

TIP: I learned right away that the first thing visitors do is to buy food in the vending machines.  So, you get the best selection while waiting for the inmate to arrive before others empty the machines. They don’t refill the machines every night.  The food in the vending machines is better than what is served to the inmates. Inmates crave the vending machine food. Buying your food early also gives the frozen items time to defrost.  Later you can heat up the food quicker when needed.

Heating up is another trick! For example, there is a fried breast of chicken with the bone in…really! Best way to cook this is to remove the bone while cold. Put the breast on paper towels for 45-60 seconds. If warm enough, then add the buns for an additional 10-15 seconds. Don’t put the bun in from the beginning since it will turn to stone if microwaved too long. One of Kevin’s other favorites is the chopped steak sandwich with A-1 sauce.  Surprise!

Feb 28

Second Day of Visitation-Information Overload!

Family Impact , Prison Life

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 |

The trip from the condo via GPS says 90 minutes; I made it in 75 going 10 miles over the limit. Travel was the easy part. When I arrived, I parked in the shade furthest from the entrance. A white Lexus parked next to me and a nice couple in their 60’s stepped out. The lady smiled and said jokingly that I had taken her great parking spot in the shade. We started talking, introduced ourselves and shared how neither one of us could ever have dreamed that we would be doing this in a 1,000 years!

She told me that it was through God’s grace that she had made it through the last 17 years! They were here to visit their now 35-year-old son. She was so nice that I asked her if we could meet him and she liked that idea. With that we entered the building, quickly filled out the paperwork and sat down.

Problems with Attire in Visitation Again!

When they called me up, it was the same guard from yesterday. He said, “Mrs. Foster, I know we had some issues with your attire yesterday, and, well, we can’t let you in today with what you are wearing. If you read this, it says ‘no spandex’” I was floored. I was wearing very much the same clothing that the black lady had worn yesterday and she had been allowed in. I didn’t know what to do; again, the clothes were back at the condo.

With that my new friend, Margaret, came to my rescue and said, “Let me go to my car, I have some pants you can borrow.” Together we backtracked to the car sharing more stories, one of which was how the guards had denied her husband entry one day because he was wearing Khaki pants. I was incredulous, but found out that it was because the prisoners are all in Khaki and they want us to look different.

A New Friend at Visitation

She told me a little more about her son, his good attitude and how he had survived many situations during this difficult time. I was anxious to meet him and introduce him to Kevin.  Kevin needed to have someone help him learn the ropes. I just had this feeling that this was divine intervention. Boy, I like it when my feelings are right on!

When I saw Kevin, and told him about the lady’s advice from the previous day and the debacle it had caused, he wasn’t surprised. The guards were flexing their power over their domain and they love to pick on the white women. I witnessed it with others. I told Kevin that after count, he was to get a picnic table so I could introduce him to Margaret, her husband and their son Haight. He didn’t look quite as “up” today and told me he was tired today. I tried to diagnose the reason with no success.

Reputations are Earned Quickly

As planned we all rendezvoused at the table. We spent the next 90 minutes having a blast learning the ins and outs of the system at Butner and where Haight had been previously. Haight told Kevin that he already had a reputation due to his blue skin.  It is called “smurfing” and is the result of the medication he takes for his heart condition.

When Kevin explained that, Haight said, “You know, no one will be able to get that. You need to just say you are depressed and blue!” With that Kevin said, “I’ll just tell them I listen to the blues so much, I turned blue.” We chuckled and I think his new nickname might become, “Blue” or “Bluesman.”

In addition, Haight knew all about Kevin’s cellie and how slow he really was. Inmates would tell Kevin’s cellie all the time to go away and don’t come back. Twenty minutes later he would be back with a smile, as though nothing had happened. No doubt, his brain is fried from too many drugs.

Overdosing on Iron in the Commissary Multi-Vitamins

Prison vitamins have too much iron. Copyright: deanpictures / 123RF Stock Photo

Haight has a wonderful sense of humor, a love for God and has managed to survive the system in good health by really taking care of his body through yoga and eating peanut butter and oatmeal throughout the day as his mainstay. He mentioned that he had done this regimen while taking vitamins and lifting weights, but without positive results and was always tired. He told us that he sent the ingredients of the multi-vitamin to his sister, who was a dietitian, and she told him immediately to get off the vitamins as they had 150 ml of iron.

Kevin and I immediately put two and two together, as he too was taking those multi-vitamins. This was why he was tired today—he had been on them for 10 days. He said he would check out the label. However, my thoughts were racing to another reality: BOP was allowing men to take vitamins with iron so they would be too lethargic to act out! It was like legalized drugs to the body and mind.

I asked Haight if he would coach Kevin on his yoga since we used to do that together previously. Kevin hadn’t done yoga in four years.  He dropped it with all his travels and then we moved away from the club. Now, yoga was one of the few activities he could participate in here.  He can’t do any contact sports due to his ICD (implantable cardio device). I could tell that was asking too much of Haight. He enjoyed retreating to a quiet corner of the yard early in the morning to do his yoga (and I’m sure meditating).  The most difficult thing to get accustomed to was constant noise in the units.

Haight also cleared up the differences between the Camp and Low Security:

In Low, the guards were a little more lenient since there are more restricted movements. Inmates can only move on the half hour/every hour, but there are more sports activities for the men to partake in because there are 1400 men. In addition, there is a huge sub-culture/micro economy with all these inmates at the Low. Probably the big difference between Low and Camp was that many of the Low inmates were elderly and handicapped, or at the other end of the spectrum: drug dealers and more!

Camp food is supposedly better. That appeals to Kevin. Plus, no razor/barbed wire and total freedom of movement. There are only 340 men at Camp.  They are primarily first time offenders and have low points. According to Haight, they are not trouble makers. Kevin is anxious to go to the Camp.

It was getting hot, and we were afraid the guards were going to separate us.  Inmates aren’t allowed to talk to one another in the visitation center, another stupid rule. They fraternize with each other in the dorms all day long! So, at the end of our conversation, I asked if Haight would keep an eye on Kevin and he looked me straight in the eye and said he would. I believe him and think we have new friends. Strange how God has this interesting way of weaving the fabric of our lives!

Feb 27

First Prison Visitation after Incarceration

Family Impact

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 |

I woke up at 4:30 am after three hours sleep and got on the road by 5:45 am for my first prison visitation.  I made it to my friend’s High Point condo and then to Butner in great time!  What a relief not to have to pay for hotels, and what solace it is to come and rest my head there!

Visitation Arrival

I had a feeling there were going to be issues on the first visit so I made sure I arrived 15 minutes prior to visitation time.  Kevin wanted me to wear a sundress and when I approached the guard he said, ”You can’t go in like that—no sleeveless attire.” OK, now what? I had dropped my luggage at the condo already. I approached two ladies and asked if they might have a T-shirt I could borrow, but they had nothing with them. However, they suggested the Dollar General Store in Butner.

Butner is so tiny.  I missed it. You would think that it would have stood out. The town is only two blocks long on the south side. So, I raced back and bought a T-Shirt from the Dollar General to put over my dress. Then back to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI).   I signed in, filled out their visitation form, submitted it with my driver’s license and waited.

Visitation List Approval

They called me up to tell me I wasn’t on Kevin’s approved visitation list. Kevin had mailed me the form, but it had not arrived prior to my leaving for Butner. I had been told that for immediate family there was a 30-day waiver of these written approvals. I told the guard I was supposed to be on the visitation list. With that, the guard told me to sit down again. I overheard him trying to get five members of Kevin’s team, but they had all left early. Finally, after 50 minutes I got clearance for the visit.  I was photographed and then scanned through a metal detector. Then I waited with other visitors to be escorted through the two massive electronic gates into the yard and then into the visitation center.

What I later found out from Kevin was that he had submitted his immediate family list to his counselor, Ms. Butler. When she saw the list, she said, “I don’t have time to clear all these people; my work load is overloaded.” To which Kevin asked if she could just clear me since I was coming up for four days. She said she would…well that didn’t get me too far!

TIP: Take an extra visitation form home with you, fill it out without a date and photocopy.  Keep a stack of the forms with you in the car so you don’t have to do it each time.

While waiting, I met a very beautiful black woman, 7 months pregnant with a 3-year-old in tow. We talked about her child. I was afraid to ask any other questions; Kevin had already told me that you don’t ask inmates any questions. They must volunteer. Once we were in the visitation center, I noticed that she and everyone else was anxious to see their loved ones.  I knew I would see her again.

Our First Visit Together

Again, I waited but not for long. Kevin came in and went straight to the guard desk to drop off his prescription sunglasses. He is only allowed the sunglasses due to his medical condition. Thank God, we had our ophthalmologist write a long letter about his eyes and the effects of the Amiodarone to his eyes.  The drug causes a “vortex” and creates light sensitivity.

Then he turned and saw me. I thought he was going to shout and cry for joy, but you can’t exhibit any emotions, just a little hug or kiss, very much like being chaperoned in the 1800’s! To hell with it!  It was our first visit; better to ask for forgiveness than permission, so I grabbed him and gave him a big bear hug from me and all who had called on the way up. Well not all of them, or the guards would have yelled at us!

Kevin looked great, clean shaved, haircut and pressed uniform—that’s my man.  He had lost another 3-5 lbs. but can’t afford to lose too much more. Kevin told me that he was really trying to stay away from all sugar and carbs. Problem is, that is about all they serve. Vegetables are canned, then over cooked and then further steamed in the cafeteria. Kevin doesn’t like anything but raw vegetables, and few at that. He told me that in the 10 days he had been there, they served salad only once! Chicken is always dark meat—you guessed it, Kevin only likes breast meat. He is now adapting…slowly. Much of the meat that is served is “broken parts” where the bone is broken prior to freezing. Companies can sell to the BOP, but not to retail customers.

We had so much to catch up on; it was like a super ball bouncing all around. Frankly, I have never had Kevin to myself for four uninterrupted hours without a cellphone or TV or interruptions and it was information overload. By the time visitation was over, I was ready to go as I had another 1.5 hours’ drive back to the High Point condo.

While walking back through the “yard” and through security, I talked to the lovely lady again with her child. She had seen my sleeveless dress dilemma and advised me that I could wear what she was wearing: spandex Capri pants and a tunic. I thought, “Great, I have that with me, that’s what I’ll wear tomorrow and there won’t be a problem!”

I felt Kevin hadn’t disclosed some things so I wouldn’t get concerned.  But in all, given how out of our comfort zone we are, I was amazed! Truly God has given each of us peace and the serenity to know what we can change and what we need to accept. I’m not giving up; I’m still praying for a miracle that it will be less than five years. Seeing him adapt, and make such an effort for our first “date”, convinced me that he will survive this as well. He will separate himself from the rest of the pack, while at the same time help and mentor others during his time there. That’s my man!

It had been a long and emotional first day—I had been up twenty hours!

Feb 23

Planning My First Visitation

Family Impact

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 |

I started planning my first visit to Kevin. We had already agreed that I would come once a month.  So, I thought it would be good to go over Labor Day and take advantage of the extra day of visitation that is granted on national holidays. After all, gas isn’t cheap so I need to make the most out of it that I could. I checked the BOP website for their visitation policy and days.  Thursday through the end of Labor Day looked like a possibility. NOT!

Importance of Checking Visitation Information in Advance

The visitation information on the website isn’t correct! Visitation is every other weekend at the Low.  There are so many inmates that they must rotate the dorm visitation to first and third weekends for half the men and the second and fourth weekends for the other half! So, I had to alter my plans and come up the weekend before Labor Day.  Kevin was already showing signs of stress and depression. Besides, we were going to run out of minutes.  We had so much to go over with the selling of the house, furniture sales, etc. for me to relocate somewhere smaller.

I also changed my health insurance policy now that I was a “single” woman. Everything was changing in just a few short days! So many companies had not been informed of the “change in leadership” of our team (i.e. the stock brokerage accounts, the life insurance policy accounts, Verizon and on and on).

TIP: The best thing we did was to execute multiple powers of attorney!

Feb 23

How to Cut the Cost of Your Prison Phone Bill

Family Impact , Prison Life

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 | (Updated for experience after the original writing of the post)

We quickly discovered how expensive it is to make phone calls from prison.  An inmate is only allowed to make phone calls that do not exceed 15 minutes at a time.  The inmates are further limited to 300 phone call minutes each month.  In November and December, the BOP graciously adds an additional 100 minutes to the inmate’s phone account for the holidays.

I’ve never heard a reason why the BOP even limits the calls.  Kevin told me that the phones in his unit were always busy during the high peak times around count and in the evening.  But, he had plenty of opportunity to call during the day when most inmates were working.  Phone calls to home are essential to the inmates keeping in touch with their families.

We always used all our minutes each month.  Nearly all our calls were 15 minutes because we had so much to talk about and we missed each other.  The BOP charges inmates $0.60 for a 15-minute local call but $3.60 for the same call if it goes to a long-distance phone number.  So, the BOP charges 6x more for long distance phone calls. This is price gouging at its worst! Talk about kicking someone when they are down and out.   We were looking at $72 per month for phone calls alone.

Solution to High Prison Phone Bills

prison phone

Prisons phones are a rip-off to inmates and their families. Copyright: photodee / 123RF Stock Photo

I knew I would have to go to Verizon to make some changes to our phone plan. We had decided to get a local number on Kevin’s cellphone since he wasn’t using his cellphone.  He was still under a 2-year contract so we had to pay the monthly access charges anyway.  I changed his old cellphone number to a new number within the zip code of the prison and forwarded Kevin’s cellphone to my phone.

TIP: Don’t go to your local store, but call the customer service line. They were far more efficient and could get the out of state number easier that the local store.

However, this was not a permanent solution because we did not want to keep paying the Verizon line access charges after his contract expired.  We ultimately settled on a Google Voice number with a 919-area code.  I forwarded the Google Voice line to my cellphone.  We used this number for the full-time Kevin was in prison, but …………

Glitches

The BOP prohibits calls to phones that are forwarded.  Fortunately for us though, the Butner phone software was not able to detect that the Google Voice number was forwarded to my phone for nearly all calls during all three years.  We were not that fortunate when Kevin was sent to Mecklenburg County jail subsequently.  Almost none of the Google Voice calls were forwarded to my phone while he was in Mecklenburg.

We later learned that calls to a Magic Jack number also will not be completed in a federal prison.  There are other services available that promise to reduce inmate phone call costs but almost all of them use some technology that are at odds with BOP policy.  Google Voice worked the best for us.

The prison inmate phone business is BIG business and the institutions get a cut of the action.  As much as the BOP and others may cry about the need for security, it is the money that is driving the policy.  Prison phone calls have always been a rip-off, and probably always will be due to the money involved.

Feb 20

Unfailing Love Comes From Many Places….

Family Impact

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 |

Woke up at 7 am and dragging like a stuck pig!  Just after enjoying my breakfast, I got Kevin’s first call. I could tell he was miserable about his situation being stuck in Low Security for an undetermined period.  He had already run through the first $300 with his first commissary order and needed more money for phone and Trulinks email credits.

Hangin’ in there

How my life has changed in two short days: Thinking of Kevin all the time! Phone is now attached ALL the time, waiting to hear his wonderful voice!  Praying that he can hang in there, “For God’s sake, I know you hate this change, but don’t CHANGE… love you the way you are! So proud of you and so damn sorry that this is our life right now. Keep praying for miracles! Don’t give up….” I was very discouraged after that first call imagining how tough the adjustment was.

Inspiration

So, I went to see what Rick Warren had in his Daily Hope today: “The thought of my pain and my homelessness is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-26 TEV)

“When your world is falling apart, it’s so easy to focus on the pain, the problems, the pressure and the difficulties. It’s the natural response… If you want to change your life, you have to change your thoughts…  “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.” … You don’t know God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. But that’s all you need, because God will take care of you… So when you feel like you’ve lost everything, stop focusing on what’s lost and start focusing on what’s left: God and his love for you.”

AND MY LOVE FOR YOU, MY SWEETHEART!!!!!

I had so many mixed emotions: sadness and pain for Kevin, inability to do anything to help, lack of control and tears and finally a migraine!  I rushed off to a real estate inspection and called Ioana, one of my staunch spiritual supports as she coached me through this abyss. She verbalized what I had read.  Hearing her say that we don’t know what God has planned for us, but it will be great, was the hope that I needed to get me through the next few hours.

More Money Out and Email Delay

Got another Western Union money transfer to Kevin done around dinner time and then wrote four detailed emails to him.  When Kevin called again to ask if I had gotten his emails, I told him I hadn’t. He emailed them around noon…another glitch in their system. Obviously, someone is reading them or delaying their transfer out. He was devastated at the thought that all his time and efforts in emails may have been lost.

>