“Long Time NO Blog”

March 24, 2018

So I decided I should touch base with all of you who so generously and so kindly have followed “aheroinestory.com”. I am sorry to have fallen off the world of blogging, however I was not given a choice in the matter. For reasons that I will explain at another time. I was told to “refrain from blogging” about the daily happenings in the world of “Alderson Women’s Federal Prison”. So I refrained. It was in everyone’s best interest, as it was put to me. On some level I agree, on other levels I do not agree. However, I am scheduled to go home to Pittsburgh, PA on June 19, 2018. That is my top priority now. To get home in one piece with my health in tact.

Once I get home I will be able to go into depth about the many events that have transpired. You will be reading my blog or my best selling books! Stay tuned, one way or the other.

To say the least, I have met some very interesting women in here. A hand full of them will remain in my life forever. This experience is something that is extremely difficult to put into words. It is however, something that needs to be talked about. And I plan on doing that!

This blog, my readers, and my family are the reasons that I so graciously made it through the past 7 months. As you know, I had written a blog a few months ago, that I was forced to delete. There has been a series of events since then that I have agreed to not discuss in my blog for several different reasons. At some point I will be able to share this information with all of you. Now is not the right time.

In hindsight, I can see that writing has allowed me to preserve my sanity and it has made my time go quicker. That is a blessing. I just realized that being able to write in my blog from the beginning of my sentence has kept me focused and grounded as well as in this reality of actually being in prison.

I have met phenomenal women here. Women who I would have never had the opportunity to meet anywhere else. I feel a spark with some of them. A spark that says “we were supposed to meet; our paths were supposed to cross!”. Only in prison. Only in Alderson Women’s Federal Prison.

So yesterday, the Thursday flight came in from Oklahoma. Meaning that the new inmates were on their way in the door. So here comes Lacey! Everyone is hugging her and she is excited to see the entire unit. She is very cute with a bubbly personality. She was Roya’s girlfriend in the county jail. So I introduced myself and said, “well, uh this is a bit awkward, but God forbid I ever come back here on a violation and everyone is so happy to see me! I am not real sure how I would feel about that!”. She responded, “Yes, I know what you mean. I started my bid when I was 18 years old. I am 33 years old today. I was given a 10 year sentence for robbing a bank. I was with my husband who was 24 years older than me. I was an angry, rebellious kid. I was always being put in the SHU. Always getting in some kind of trouble. I started using heroin in prison. My life started to really go down hill fast”.

“Have you ever gone to rehab Lacey?” I asked. Her response was, ” Well this is my third time back here on a violation. They were all three dirty urines. Now this time I turned myself into my PO. My Po said this is the behavior he wanted to see, and he would work with me to find a rehab that would take me. Instead, he sent me a letter in the mail telling me to appear in court. I knew what this meant and it was not good!”.

So now I am baffled. Once again, this pretty attractive young girl has spent 12 years in Federal prison with not once chance to attend rehab to treat the disease of addiction that she is clearly suffering from.

What is wrong with this picture? Something is very wrong. It is 2018. in 1954, the American Medical Association declared addiction as a disease. Why is this so difficult for people to understand?

Lacey went on to explain that she was introduced to Narcotics Anonymous in prison. She celebrated 18 months clean in the program. She is aware that the program works and she knows she will need to jump back on board to get clean and stay clean again. When sharing with another addict how the program works, there is a deep level of understanding that takes place. A common bond. It is the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. If lacey commits to staying clean and taking direction one day at a time, she will thrive in the NA program here. Lacey has committed to coming with me. Let’s see if she follows through!!

So I was here at Alderson for about two weeks when Ms. Kitty told me there was a girl in my unit who has been at Alderson for many years, and that she was interested in making extra money by doing my laundry.  Her name is Brandy A.

She found me in the microwave room. I was ironing my pants and I heard, “Hey are you Sugarmann? Are you sure you should be ironing while you are falling asleep?” I have had a sleep disorder since I was 1o years old when my father passed away. The past two years have been extremely stressful. I spent those years waiting to go to prison. My world had fallen apart. When I arrived at Alderson I was unable to walk without a cane. I would fall asleep while standing or sitting. I was terribly unhealthy.

I looked at Brandy and we laughed. She has been my guardian angel throughout my time here. She is God’s gift to me. Brandy is here and she is a first time offender. She was given 15 years. Her mother left her with her father when she was 9 years old. I can’t even imagine that. What the hell was her mother thinking? Brandy got involved with an abusive man at the age of 14. She had three children to him. She finally left him and raised her children on her own. She began cooking methamphetamine to support her family. She was then indicted for conspiracy to manufacturing. First time offender, never arrested for anything, never in rehab. The judge sentenced her to 15 years in prison. Jesus. When the judge said 180 months in prison, Brandy’s father hit the floor of the courtroom. Brandy’s ex-husband stepped up and took care of the children. She is grateful for that. Brandy is not the norm when it comes to being a prisoner. She works in the facilities. When she works, she works. She does landscaping and can drive every piece of John Deere equipment there is! She takes care of the compound when it snows. They wake her up at all hours of the night and she goes! Brandy is one of the few inmates who has changed her life on her own. She stopped using drugs while in prison. That is a major accomplishment. She keeps her distance from people and she doesn’t get too close. You can count the people she chooses on one hand. I can see how this happens. She has good clear boundaries. She is a true loyal friend. She is very trustworthy. After what I learned about friends and loyalty the past two years, she is breath of fresh air.

Brandy is a God sent to Roz Sugarmann. I am her prison mom. She cooks for us every day. Cafeteria food is awful. I lost 50 pounds between September and February. Brandy has been locked up for 10 years. She has never had the opportunity to learn about the disease of addiction. She gets 300 minutes a month on the phone and she divides them between her dad and her kids. She skypes them once a week. Her kids LOVE her and they miss her very much. They need their mom. She has maintained as consistent of a relationship with them as she can. I respect her for not giving up. So many other mothers have done just that. Brandy completed Alderson’s firefighter program. She is a certified Federal Firefighter. That is a major accomplishment too!! For the most part, the staff here at Alderson respect her.

I told my family that Brandy will be coming to Pittsburgh at some point! I am more than sure that if I bright only one person home from prison with me they will be grateful! LOL only ONE !!!

I  have many more phenomenal women who I have met in prison. Brandy has become family. The others have crossed my path each for a different reason. I am getting excited about coming home. The simple thought of driving out of the gate gives me goosebumps. and puts a lump in my throat. This has been yet another one of God’s experiences that I have to figure out for myself what the lessons are.

The mail has dropped off over the past few months. It is okay though. I know it is difficult to write letters on a regular basis. My main concern while I am here is my family out there- at home. This has been very hard on them. Harder on them than on me. They have had to realize what life is like without their mother. It has been almost like a death. They have grown in ways that others don’t have to until they lose a parent. I guess what I am saying is.. if you are a friend of mine or “were” a friend of mine and you think of me now and then. Please replace the thought of me with a phone call or a text message or anything you can to let my family know that you are thinking of them. It will mean the world to them. It will also mean the world to me.

I am excited to come home. I am excited to go back to work. I am excited to see my family, my dogs, my cats, my house, my patients, and their families!!!

God Bless You All!

Til my next blog…..

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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