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Prison Diaries

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January 9, 2011

Yesterday (Saturday) not very eventful – they are now all taking on the same routine and quality. Read a lot and finished House of the Seven Gables – my quest to read the 100 Greatest Classics while I'm in here. Reading more of The Power, The 5000 Year Leap, and the Bible. Remarkable how interesting they are – or more accurately – how our Founding Fathers depended on and referenced the necessity of a virtuous and moral people. Wonderful quotes from The 5000 Year Leap such as page 56 from John Adams: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Equally powerful quotes from James Madison, Jefferson, Washington and Ben Franklin on proceeding pages certainly, in my opinion, ring true today. I certainly think we, as a society, community and family, have shortcomings in fueling the fires for the past few generations.

I did get in a great run yesterday afternoon – pretty special to be outside in the early afternoon. Despite cold and cloudy, I knew the sun must be just behind the clouds. I think this was my first time outside during daylight! So nice. After about three miles, I was joined for a few walking laps and one fourth sprints by one of the younger inmates. Turned out to be a nice interaction and we both got a good workout – challenging each other to get in one last forth mile in the remaining minutes of our rec time – making us the last ones in to pick up our badges and head in.

The past few days I had gathered that the oddity of my addition to the cellblock may be over. First few days is was odd – "new guy, officer, in the news." Now pretty sure many know I'm ok – not fragile, willing to help, be nice, but able to verbally spar back when called upon. Sparring this week has all been friendly. More guys asking me for advice on jobs after getting out. Another indication – more and more inmates and guards calling me "sir" – which they should not do. But the good aspects of military respect are not easily broken or forgotten – and I evidently have earned, or begun to earn that respect back.

January 11, 2011

Received ten letters yesterday and five today. Several sending checks or cash that the mail clerks take out and deposit to my prisoners deposit fund. A non-interest bearing account that apparently is great at taking ones money, but requires several days and appropriate paper work and approval from several to gain access to have funds transferred to the phone system.

The letters are incredible! The there are always several that bring tears – they are so touching. Christmas family photo cards – of families I have never met – saying thanks for your courage and defense of the Constitution – for our children and us. Many retired military confirming the Officer's Oath needs to be upheld and thanking me for my doing that, - even retired Navy JAG officer.

Using my free time to greatly expand my weak knowledge base in history, literature and philosophy, and finding it relates very much to issues of our country. I am completing The 5000 Year Leap – and have found that it leads me back to the World's Greatest Classics which includes the volume "Basic Documents of American History". I missed this series, and its counterpart serious more on philosophers – must have been sick all those days in middle school and high school :-). Read several classics but do not recall much exposure or curriculum designed to provide exposure. The contemporary self help and self realization books are really just repeating biblical and classical works – works that our Founding Fathers knew extremely well as the crafted our country's greatness. I am looking forward to this new expanse for me to traipse into. Resolving that my children will not miss it like I did. I may have been too oriented to the sciences growing up (a weak excuse – but I'll use it.)

But my lack of knowledge in these areas seems to be pervasive in our country now. I received a copy of Dr. Kate VanDemoer's essay "Stand By Me" December 5, 2008 that partly discusses telling signs that reveal " part how little people understand or know of the history of the U.S. Constitution in our founding as a structure for governance, nor the laws, amendments, decisions, and proceedings that make our growth as a nation."

January 13, 2011

Seems like some busier days yesterday and today. Had appointments at sick call to get my entry physical completed – but they did not see patients yesterday because guards were having training activities. So went today. Worked this afternoon and got haircut, appointment at mail room yesterday and today – all appointments end up being prolonged. Usually takes an hour to get some place, do your task and return – need an escort by guard if you don't have a "hall pass."

Received first letter that was "hate mail" today. Some guy thinks I should have "Googled" the settled issue of eligibility – had he only told me that before all this happened! :-)

Had about 25 letters yesterday and another 25 today. Such nice people! Most items are removed (stamps, envelopes, post cards, pamphlets). But they did miss a couple blank post cards – pictures of Colorado, some stamps and a few book marks – guess they did not see "a threat" today. Printed out articles and newspapers seem okay. Read copy of Washington Examiner Diana West December 19th commentary. Such a great writer! Wish is had means and time to thank everyone personally – but it would be impossible.

Talked to Pili today for a few minutes. Neighbors help her clean driveway of recent snow. God bless our wonderful friends and neighbors.

// Terry