I’VE “RE-ENTERED” SOCIETY AS A FELON !

And so at 6:30 AM on June 19 a group of solid loyal dedicated women walked me down to R&D where I waited patiently for my family to pick me up upon my release of Alderson Women’s prison camp. A very very emotional day for everybody …….the feelings were bittersweet. I said my goodbyes to Brandy, Roya, Josie, Linda, Kelly & Cayla.   A group of women I shared much pain, many tears and genuine laughter with over the past year. This experience is something that I will hold dear to my heart and something that I will always cherish. One more time God knew what I needed in my life. I continue to be blessed and God continues to give me exactly what I need and not what I want. I’ve learned however that there is a very fine line now between what I want and what I need. This past year was spent soul-searching and working on myself.  I got into the cargo van mail truck to be driven to the parking lot and when the door opened, Anthony, Talia  and Sean were waiting patiently to pick me up. I have to say this was one of the happiest days of my life. As I stuck my middle finger in the air to so kindly say FUCK YOU Alderson, we started our journey home!!!  So now what? How do I begin my life all over again? How do I pick up the pieces of the devastating bomb which was dropped two years ago on our lives?  How do I begin? Where do I begin?  So I spent the past week at the halfway house experiencing what all of my patients have been experiencing for years! It feels so very strange to be home.  I have been released from the halfway house and am now on home confinement until July 20.    I think of the women in Alderson every day. I know what they’re doing I know what they’re thinking I know what they’re feeling and I pray that they all get to come home very soon.

The prison system is the absolute worst. The fact that there are prison camps and FCI’s and different levels of security that nobody knows about is ridiculous.  Alderson is a camp. It’s a very very low level security for first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes. You would think that the inmates were nothing short of baby killers the way they are treated by the staff.  I am extremely grateful for my many many years of recovery and years of private therapy that I have had.  Thanks to this I was able to survive the brutal daily attacks on my self-worth my self-confidence and my self-esteem.  Living by my motto of “TREATING PEOPLE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED and NOT THE WAY THEY TREAT YOU” is virtually impossible in that miserable environment. And unfortunately knowing that society has a preconceived idea of what a prisoner is and how they should be treated, one must be very thick skinned to survive going to prison. Once again there is prison and there are camps.

     As pretty much all of you were aware I became involved in the sex scandal that took place in Alderson. One of the young ladies who was sexually abused by the captain was someone who I was trying to help get clean.   When I made the decision to help her I was told by many of the inmates that I needed to stay out of it. I was amazed at how many women have been brainwashed and institutionalized.   They were genuinely afraid for me. I initially thought they were crazy until I first handedly experienced the retaliation that I endured.  I had a very light sentence of a year and a day giving me a 10 month bid.  Within those 10 months,  because of my decision to help this young lady, I was put in the bus stop which is a form of torture for over 180 days out of 310 days, I received three shots and I was shipped to a maximum-security county jail without explanation for a period of five days.  I was lied to and told that I was being taken there for my protection. The Warden and the Lieutenant are  who signed off on sending me to the county jail only for me to find out that they were both walked off of the compound by the FBI 24 hours after putting me in the county jail. The Warden so rudely asked me if I was SORRY implying that I should have gone to him and given him the evidence that I was holding probably so that he could destroy it.   He allegedly is being charged with obstruction of justice. Since this experience I have been suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) as well as severe anxiety disorder. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would not do it any different. I am now trying to recuperate and get back on my feet so that I might fight and take on Alderson Women’s Prison Camp.   They have a serious price to pay. To allow 1100 women’s lives to be put in the hands of a group of unethical, illegal, abusive, power hungry authority figures is absurd. Nothing short of a Class Action lawsuit is definitely in order.  See, we as inmates are told that we are property of the BOP.  We are not humans and we are not citizens. Once again we are property of the BOP.   I have never been called “property”.   Nobody knows what goes on in prison because there is no conversation following the words “they are in prison”.  I have never experienced such inhumaness and unfairness in my life. There is no healthcare offered. The library is on the fourth floor of an old building with no elevators. The email is also on the fourth floor of that same building. The other email is located at the bottom of a very very very long hill.  My point is that these areas in the prison are not handicapped accessible.  My facility, ASI and MES,  was required to be handicapped accessible or we would be shut down.  There was a van that drove the handicapped places however it had no air conditioning. The bus stop which is a very large area similar to a lobby of a large hotel had approximately 20 bunkbeds in it. The bus stop is where the new inmates were housed and also where the disciplinary problems were housed.  They left fluorescent lights on 24 hours a day. You could not sleep in the bus stop. Remember that I told you that Alderson women’s prison camp is a camp. It consisted of people who were first-time offenders of Non-violent crimes. The majority of inmates were charged with conspiracy.  If you know anything at all about the law, conspiracy is how the Feds cover their ass and make sure that they have something to charge you with.

Now i’m going to vent about the drug problem. I don’t think the country is aware of how many addicts are in prison who have never ever been offered or sent to treatment of any kind.  Prisons offer a program called RDAP.   It is a cognitive behavioral program for addiction.   RDAP  is offered to the inmates the last year of their sentence.    For example if someone is given a 10 year sentence and they are qualified to do RDAP, they are given a year off of their sentence. However when they get to prison they do nine years before they’re allowed to get into the RDAP program.  In other words they sit for nine years doing nothing before they start treatment. In reality it’s not that they do nothing because what they do do is get high. They use. The Suboxone problem in prisons is outrageous. A strip of Suboxone costs $200 in prison.  The best part is the prison does not drug test for Suboxone. Basically because it makes too much money on the sales of Suboxone through the commissary. It’s a joke and it’s a nightmare. Many of these drug addicts would be much better off if the judge would sentence them to two years of rehabilitation with the understanding that if they relapse after they complete rehabilitation then they would be required to complete their full sentence.  I would love to be able to work with an addict for two years in treatment.   I wrote a full program on supporting this idea. I would love the opportunity to pilot a program of this sort.  

Basically I am home praying about what I want to be when I grow up. I’m going to rebuild what was stolen from me. Working with drug addicts is my passion. The opioid epidemic continues to be out of control and there has been a total of 83 ASI patients who have died of overdose since April 2016.  I am almost finished writing two books. Be on the lookout! My plan is to open a few outpatient treatment facilities and continue helping people get clean!   My other plan is also to never go back to prison! I thank you all for your love your support and your letters while I was incarcerated.I look forward to your comments and to your support. Stay tuned for my new upcoming YouTube channel! Yes I’m going on the circuit! I love you all and remember that God Got Us!!!!!!

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Just an update on Prison Life…

December 1, 2017

“Mum, I didn’t get to talk to you much during that skype yesterday, but I just wanted you to know that you don’t have to worry things will work themselves out. Remember how you felt when we finally got to go on vacation for the first time and how relieving it was? I’m just saying you guys have a habit of getting through times like this and it’s times like this that make you and Dad who you are. I’m gonna go now. I love you. Nick.”

I can’t tell you how much it meant to get this email from my son Nick. He’s special. Nick has epilepsy, and he has had it since birth. For those of you who know Nick, you know what I mean when I say “there is only one Nick Sugarmann”. He literally has a heart of gold but enjoys arguing more than he enjoys anything in life. Thanks for making me smile Nick. It isn’t an easy thing to do these days— Smile that is.

The holidays in prison is not something I wish on anyone. It is sad. So many women in one place who are not with their children or their family. My head was in the sand all of these years, like so many others. I’ve balanced out a bit, at first I was anxious and trying to adjust being on another planet in a totally unknown culture. My mind continually spun and I couldn’t eat or sleep. Never have I been treated so poorly for no reason whatsoever. i used to think, “well, if you break the law then you don’t deserve any thing good.” I learned quickly that this is so untrue. Because someone is doing prison time doesn’t mean they broke the law. Yes, that’s what I said. Because a person is in prison does not mean they broke the law. The majority of inmates took a plea. I took a plea. I took a plea because I was told if I went to trial and was found guilty, that I could be sentenced to 10-15 years. “WHAT?” So, I took a plea, even if I knew I shouldn’t. I agreed to a two year sentence because I didn’t want to take the chance on getting 10-15 years. How is this fair? I don’t get it. Regardless, these private prison “camps” area  waste of money and totally useless in the area of any type of rehabilitation for both drug addicts and white collar criminals.

I owned a full service addiction treatment center for 20 years. We treated more than 3,000 addicts. We helped many addicts get clean and learn a new way of life. There was no good reason to shut ASI down. The real crime is that my family is suffering and will continue to suffer until I am free. I will have been locked up for 9 months when this is all over. They are struggling every single day and I am stuck in here worrying about them every single day.

I worked in the kitchen up until yesterday. Today I started working in the prison gym. THANK GOD. Everyone works in the kitchen for 60 days when they get here. I was there 80 days. The place started to grow on me even though I was there 8-9 hours a day and spent 3 hours every day doing absolutely NOTHING. It was torture. Two days ago, the main guard of the night glared at me all day and on into the evening. I had several inmates come to me and tell me about him watching me.

So towards the end of the evening he walked up to me, pointed his finger in my face and said, “Hey, you, why don’t you just stand here and watch the paint dry on the walls?” I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders and said, “Okay”. He didn’t like that. He said, “Really? Okay? Well don’t you dare expect a bonus or a raise as long as I am in here!”

Well I became enraged. I said, “Look here, in order to get a raise or a bonus you have to receive a PAYCHECK. That $5.25 per month you give me is not a paycheck. I am a VOLUNTEER here. Me and every other inmate here is a volunteer. We do NOT work here. You’ve degraded and humiliated me enough!” Then I proceeded to walk over and face the wall so I could continue watching the paint dry.

A few of the women shuffled me out of there at the end of the night because I could not afford to be taken to the County. The next day, with the suggestion and guidance of some long time inmates I wrote a BP9 on the guard. When I gave it to the counselor she immediately took me out of the kitchen and placed me in another job. This abusive guard worked at an all male prison and one of the prisoners hit him over the heard with a steel pipe. They left him for dead. He has a steel plate in his head and he was moved to Alderson Women’s prison!! What kind of sense does that make?

Not every Alderson staff member behaves like him. Unfortunately, nobody should behave like that. There are several that do. They talk down to inmates and humiliate them. They degrade them. It is unbearable and it is unnecessary. This is inhumane. Anyone who works for the Federal Government should be ashamed of themselves. And I mean that.

I have to get through the month of December. The anniversary of my father’s death is December 6th. 53 years ago. Sean’s birthday is December 10th, my clean date is December 13th, and Christmas  !!! Then 2018!! THANK GOD!

I have begun to write a book. I wrote the first chapter. I am very excited that I got started. I can’t stop writing. I have been talking about writing a book for quite sometime. I cannot wait until it’s completed. It is definitely going to be a Bestseller! haha!

I am sponsoring 8 women in here. I am not sure when or how that happened. It is definitely God working in my life. It is also a huge struggle. This is the most pain I have experienced clean. I don’t understand what the lesson is for me yet. I am more than sure he has a reason for me to be here. There is something here for me to experience or find out. I hope to discover what it is very soon. I am praying for God to reveal to me the meaning of all of this. It is my hope that all of this pain is what will give me a new life and an unforgettable spiritual awakening. These women in my life, this horrible place, these past 2 years of tears and tragedy, and losing everything all over again. It is explosive and heart wrenching. As I said before, the pain is absolutely unbearable. I can’t imagine not having a God in my life.

Thank you all for your ongoing love and support. Please pray for my family and me. That we continue to overcome this monumental disaster. I love you all.

 

#Wave #GameChanger

Please God, is it Time for me to Wake Up Yet?

November 11, 2017 

I hit a wall in here this week. An emotional wall. I get up everyday at 6:30AM. EVERYDAY. This place is spread out over many hills. The mail hill has to be walked at least three times per day in order to get to the mess hall. I am very tired. Physically exhausted. I work in the kitchen from 9:30AM to 6:30PM. Every inmate MUST work in the kitchen for 60 days. My first two weeks I was placed in the Medical Center to work. Once they realized that I had medical experience they took me out of there and put me in the kitchen! Ridiculous.

I’m going to talk about ME today…. it’s my turn to share….

I want to come home. I am tired. Mentally and physically. I am worried about my family. It is all like a bad nightmare that I can’t wake up from. I have not felt this level of powerlessness since I was in labor delivering my children. I am angry. I am tired. I am frustrated. My family is actually doing time. They are the ones suffering. I have helped others all of my life and now….. well, I apologize for whining and complaining about my life. I really do. I just felt the need to dump. I think what truly saves me is that I know in my heart that God is in my corner 100%. That at the end of the day, God is there for me. While I know that he doesn’t give me anymore than I can handle, I am still flawed and human. I still “feel”. Right now, I feel sad, angry, hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and emotionally beat up. Since ASI/MES closed their doors on April 30, 2016, we have been suffering. There have been more than several OD’s and deaths of our past patients and this is constant. I am surrounded by addicts in here who have no clue that they do not have to live like this anymore. Is it really my responsibility to carry the message in here? I really am tired of fighting.

When I was using I was never in this position. Ever. I had no idea that ANYONE ANYWHERE in our country was being treated like this. I feel like an idiot. Like my head was totally in the sand. I can’t seem to put the pieces together.

Do you know that I get paid $5.25 a month? I bet you didn’t know that, did you? These inmates actually look for better jobs that pay maybe $20 a month. Maybe you think that “criminals” should be grateful for anything they are given? If you think that way, I will pray for you. Mind you… this is supposed to be a “Camp” for non-violent first time offenders. Better known as, “Camp Cupcake”. Not hardly.

So I will be here worrying about my family until June 2018. Wondering what the next step will be to put us back together again. Our life was yanked out from under us. After 20 years of helping and giving. Yanked out from under us by more corrupt people than I could ever believe.

I could be home on an ankle bracelet. These camps need shut down and send everyone home on a bracelet. Ankle bracelets to go to work and pay taxes. We would be worth more to the government. We are a total waste of money, and a total waste of time. I don’t understand the purpose of these camps. It makes no sense at all to put white collar criminals in the same institution as drug addicts. It’s like they throw people from all walks of life that are between the ages of 21 and 80 into the same institution and act as if they have absolutely anything in common. It truly is a nightmare. And NOW, there are absolutely no programs; no classes or courses; no trades to choose from; nothing at all to help the inmates to re-enter society. This is a sad state of affairs to say the least.

I am trying to sleep, but I am still in the bus stop. I was supposed to be out on November 6th. They didn’t get around to moving me yet. There is a new woman in the bus stop and she won’t stop snoring. If it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck. So at 7:00AM I will go see the counselor and see if they will move be back into a cubicle. Everyone is done on prison time…. NOT regular time! Prison time means hurry up and WAIT! (Now I know how my husband Sean felt all these years waiting for me haha!!)

So have you ever seen “Orange is the New Black”? It is a great show and a great story. It is what happens here and it is so very accurate about what is going on in Alderson Women’s Prison Camp. It is pretty much the exact same at Danbury, which is the women’s federal prison in Connecticut.

This is a secret. This prison camp is not something that anyone discusses. It is not openly talked about anywhere. Women that have been to prison do not usually share about their time incarcerated. The reason? Shame.

I am so frustrated with all of this. On December 13, 1983 when I entered Gateway Rehab, My eyes began to open. The “fog” began to lift. I began learning about myself and the shame I was carrying around. The shame of not being good enough for anything or anybody. The shame of being an addict. The shame of feeling less than everyone around me. Where did this powerful feeling come from? A feeling that only “drugs” could take away. Then the drugs stopped working. I was left with myself. So I worked the steps with my sponsor and I went to therapy every week without fail. I prayed daily and asked God to help me change. Guess what? It worked. I changed. My life got better. I went back to school. I got married. We had children. I continued to change, the shame lessened, and I started to hold my head up. I walked standing with my shoulders back and my head up. One day I looked in the mirror and I felt proud. Proud of who I was and how much I changed. Proud of having a loving and caring relationship. Proud of my education and my career. Proud of our four beautiful children and who they were. Proud of building a life from the bottom up.

Saying, “Hi, I am Roz and I am an addict” no longer had any shame attached to it.

Then one morning the shame was back and it was back in full force. My head became so heavy I could not lift it. My world was crashing and my feet were coming out from underneath me. I could not put the brakes on. The shame was back. Do I use or not? Do I keep fighting or throw in the towel? I lost my business and all of the wonderful people I met as a result of the business. I lost my livelihood, my career, and everything we worked so hard to build. I could feel myself losing my self-esteem, my self-confidence, and my pride. Was I going to lose my clean date? Was I going to lose my dignity? Was I going to lose my family? My home? I was losing all of the material things I worked so very hard for. Now the emotional and spiritual loss? Was I losing that too? After all, I was going to PRISON. How much can one person swallow? Prison brings such a negative connotation. It is so very overwhelming. I worked so hard to release myself of the shame I felt while growing up. The shame I felt from being so different than the rest of my family. Roz was the drug addict, and now she is in prison. The shame came back, and it came back strong.

So here I am. In prison, overwhelmed and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. One day at a time; one minute at a time. I am starting to release that shame. It is not completely gone, but I am getting back to where I was before this nightmare started. I have a new energy. I am ready to move on. I managed to  weather my birthday in prison. I received so many cards and letters from people in Pittsburgh. It was heart warming. The girls in my unit sang happy birthday to me. Brandy decorated my bed with beautiful hanging butterflies that had positive messages from the women in the unit on them! My first and last birthday in prison! I am going to make sure of that.

Thank all of you at home and those of you who are supporting my blog. I truly can’t wait to come home and see all of you. You are my strength and I thrive on hearing from you.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

xoxoxoxoxox

#GameChanger #Wave

November 3, 2017 … Happy Birthday… in Prison!

“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!!