“Sugarmann, let’s go, you have a visit,” the guard yelled as I just started my shift in the kitchen. “Great I can get a day off of working in the kitchen– Thank God!”
I got dropped off at visitation. There was Nick, Sean, Maria, and Talia!! It was so great to see them. Anthony was missing though. I miss him so much. I miss my family. My heart aches when they leave. This is very difficult. I never want to do this again. I went back to my unit after the visit only to find my bunk 100% decorated in paper butterflies hanging from strings! Each one had a hand written message from the women in the unit. Brandy did the decorations; she made dumplings and baked me a birthday cake!! They sang Happy Birthday to me and I suddenly realized that I had NO camera. I could not take a picture of my bunk with the butterflies or the birthday cake that was baked in the microwave out of Oreo cookies and coke!!! NO CAMERA. There were no pictures of my 63rd birthday. Because there are no cameras in prison. There are no iPhones in prison. There is no Google in prison. There is no Facebook in prison. There is nothing here in prison. The women in my unit made my birthday bearable. I am so grateful to have these women in my life.
There is however, ONE Narcotics Anonymous meeting on Tuesday nights in prison. I chair the NA meeting this month of November. We do the readings and have a speaker share for approximately 20 minutes and then members comment. Christine spoke for me this week. She is a registered nurse who lost her license and is doing two years in prison. I walk up and down the unit every Tuesday starting at 3:00 pm, yelling that the NA meeting is tonight at 6:00pm!! Meet at my bunk to walk together at 5:30pm. And I tell them: “Chase your recovery the way you chased your dope…. if there was a pound of heroin or a meth lab at the bottom of the hill you would run there… NOW get your asses up and let’s go to the meeting!!!
Last night there were 10 women from my unit walking to the meeting together. It made my night!! These women have never been to an NA meeting or to rehab. So I shared that I am 63 years old and 34 years clean and my first time in prison. I have spent the last 35 years helping people. And I was helping people when the FEDS busted into ASI on October 8, 2015.
Does society know what is really going on with the sentencing guidelines? The mandatory minimums? The non-violent/ first-offenders?
Brandy from North Carolina was sentenced to 15 years for a drug charge, manufacturing and distributing methamphetamine. She has 4 children. She had three years knocked off of her sentence giving her 12 years to do. She has never been to rehab. She has no knowledge of the world outside of prison. I keep picturing a little 8 year old kid using a cell phone and how a grown up like her is going to manage coming out of prison.
Bella, also from North Carolina was sentenced to 12 years in prison for conspiracy. I just read her paperwork from the courts. Oh my God she is not an addict and she never touched a drug. Her boyfriend who she lived with was a drug dealer. Bella was arrested and basically charged with conspiracy for “knowing” that her boyfriend was selling drugs. 12 years in prison. She does not even qualify for the RDAP (Residential drug and alcohol program) ! That is offered to addicts in prison and they are given 18 months off of their sentence! Bella does not qualify. This was her first offense and it was non-violent. She has been incarcerated for 10.5 years.
Gena is from Texas. She is serving 13 years. Gena was clean in recovery for 10 years and she relapsed. When she used, she started cooking meth and she caught a charge. First offense- 10 years clean, sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Kelly is from Florida. They call her “wink”. She is getting released on December 13, 2017 (my clean date!). I sponsor her. She will have served 17.5 years once she is released. She will be going to Tampa to a half-way house. This was a first offense for her also. She is extremely intelligent and has lost 17.5 years of her life. She is very active in NA in Prison. She is working the program. She has just started her 4th step. Her desire to stay clean and recover is awesome. She is a breath of fresh air!!
These are just some of the women I have met in here. It makes no sense to me that these women have never been in any trouble at all, and are punished to this degree. There are murderers who have been given less time than these women. Child molesters who have done much less time. The system is flawed. The government is flawed. It is upsetting to know that their are 1,100 female inmates in Alderson Women’s Federal Prison who are so unfairly mistreated. Who knows this is happening? Who even cares? What is the answer to this? It is unfair. The reality is: If these inmates would have been given a slap on the wrist and then promised to be given this hard sentence if they repeated the offense a second time I would bet everything I love that they would NOT repeat the offense. Why is it so harsh??? It makes no sense at all.
So I will have spent my birthday in prison, along with Thanksgiving 2017; my 35 years clean anniversary; Christmas 2017; New Years; and Anthony’s birthday.
I AM READY FOR 2018!!
Thank each and every one of you for writing to me and for remembering my birthday. All of you from the ASI veterans page are in my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis. You are making my time tolerable. PLEASE keep writing and PRAYING for my family and me.
God Bless You– I love you all!!