Tag Archives for " money "

Mar 07

Random Thoughts on Prison Life

Prison Life

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 |

I just wanted to share some random thoughts on prison life.  It was decidedly cooler this morning so I walked for about 45 minutes in the fresh air. It was great. I got on the scale this morning and weighed 2 #’s less than 2 weeks ago. So, I am a full 30 #’s less than at the beginning of the year. I can’t imagine gaining any weight here. Though, they had lasagna last night and it was not bad.

Services by Inmates

Many guys here have nothing except the meager amount they make working here. So, these guys will work for other inmates using stamps as currency. I am paying 4 stamps for someone to do my laundry and another 4 stamps to iron my uniform. I can get a haircut for 2 stamps. You would not believe how creative the inmates are preparing food! Food prices in the unit vary; there is nothing much more that 2-3 stamps except for pizza which is considerably more.

Controlled Movements

One of the biggest hassles for me is the controlled movement. As I told you before, we are only allowed to move freely out of the unit on the 1/2 hour once an hour. But, it gets more complicated than that. There’s more freedom of movement around meals, and if they don’t lock the doors, or if you get called out, you can move. The key to look for is other movement. It is best to follow the crowd. You do not want to stand out.

Reading and Praying

I have been praying and meditating each day trying to find some significance in my plight.  I have two books going all the time, and one of them is always a religious book. The Magnificat starts up tomorrow so I will read that each day.  I hope that God uses me as his instrument, and something good comes out of my situation. I have faith.

Feb 27

Kevin’s Cellmate

Prison Life

Friday, August 26th, 2011 |

Kevin described his living conditions during visitation today.  He has 350 people in his unit, and one is sure to draw an interesting cellie.  Kevin’s cellie is in for attempted murder-for-hire or he would be in a higher security level. The cellie, Brandon, is only 26 and has served 8 years. His mother was an accomplice and is in a prison in Indianapolis. Apparently, Brandon is mentally slow due to drugs at a very early age, and because his mother is an alcoholic and druggie.  Brandon couldn’t stand their other cellie, most likely because he is black, so the other cellie moved out. So, that leaves just Kevin and Brandon in a 3-person cell for the time being.

Stamps as Underground Currency

Unused stamps are used as currency in prison. Copyright: andylid / 123RF Stock Photo

In his own way, Brandon is teaching Kevin how to survive in the system, especially about stamps being the underground currency. Brandon has offered to do Kevin’s laundry for one stamp because Brandon needs the money.  Kevin doesn’t have any money but can purchase stamps at the commissary or from other inmates.

Once an inmate amasses stamps, he must get rid of them by trading the stamps for something the inmate needs.  The buyer of the stamps can trade the stamps for something purchased at the commissary.  The stamps are not traded at face value but at 3 stamps for a $1.

We decided it’s not worth Kevin’s time or money to buy laundry soap at that cost! It takes another stamp for an inmate to iron Kevin’s khaki uniform. Kevin is trying to coach Brandon to go through drug rehab.  Brandon, like a lot of these inmates, should become responsible in the real world after release — something he has never done. At the age of 18 Brandon had already fathered three children with three different women!

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.


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.”


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.