CURRENT STATUS

If you have any questions for Andy about the prison system, what it is like, what goes on there, or anything, please leave the question in a blog comment and Andy would be happy to answer it. It keeps him occupied and allow us to learn about the system.

Also, for his friends, he would LOVE to get pictures of anything, so if you have his address, please send them to him, or if you would like to email them to the blog editor, you can do that and he will print out the pics and mail them to him.

He is now attending the class he must take before his release, and he will mention the journal entry memo they discussed that day in class.

Even if you don't know Andy, feel free to comment on his blog entries, which he gets and will respond to.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

THE PAROLE DECISION

Well, the answer finally came. (Wasn't sure it ever would!)  There’s good news and there’s bad news.  The good news is that I am really doing well, and I will soon have these crossword puzzles perfected.  The bad news is that I’m going to be doing them for 4 or 5 more months here.  I received and was approved for parole yesterday.  

My specific answer was an FI-3R, which was the one single answer I didn’t think I would get.  FI-3R stands for Further Investigation - 3 Months Rehabilitation.  What this means is that I will have to complete 180 hours of a class here before I am released.  The class is projected to take 3 months or 12 weeks.  It is probable that I will take the class here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m transferred to a different unit to complete the course.  The parole board mandates that very many inmates complete this class, so it’s definitely not something specific to my case.  The class is titled “Life Skills” and, from my understanding, it helps inmates adjust to a more complete law abiding type of lifestyle.

I am in no way, shape, form, or fashion delighted about staying here for several more months.  I was genuinely angry for 3 or 4 hours yesterday when I found out this information with the parole answer.  Although I’m still not 100% adjusted to the idea, it is setting much better with me today.

On much brighter note, this unit just started selling macaroni and cheese in the commissary.  It’s pretty much the generic version of the Kraft variety in the blue box.  I purchased 2 boxes yesterday and I’m pretty much craving it incessantly.  My dinner tonight will consist of a PB&J sandwich and the mac and cheese.  It will be one of the few highlights of my stay here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

THOUGHTS ON FORTHCOMING PAROLE DECISION

Well, the nfl games just wrapped up.  Boy, the Texans are looking good.  I’m excited now about seeing some more of them this season.  Yesterday’s college football was fun, too.  I watched a little of each game that came on TV, but I didn’t watch any of them in their entirety.  As I think I’ve mentioned before, the seating here isn’t the most comfortable in the world, and I get too fidgety trying to stay seated for so long.  I’m definitely able to get my fill.  I’m not sure what’s in store for next weekend’s games.

I haven’t been nervous one bit this weekend about finding out my parole answer this week.  These will probably be immortalized as famous last words if I’m wrong, but I’m chalking up a “yes” vote as a foregone conclusion. I figure if I’m wrong, then I’ll obviously be disappointed, but at least for one weekend, I was able to experience the joy of thinking that my not too distant release was eminent.  At this point in the story, you can all feel free to laugh, at my expense, if it turns out I’m wrong and I’m denied.  A denial would mean I’d most likely get out on April 21st of next year.

There are a few ‘varieties’ of parole that the board could grant.  In the best scenario, I’d be home in a month.  There are 2 other options where the board grants parole, but makes me take classes in here or just has me spend more time in here to be released later on an arbitrary date.  Although, these 2nd two options would be better than waiting until April 21st,  I would pretty much take either of them as a defeat and be disappointed.  These 2 options would have me leaving roughly in 3 to 4 months from now.  Again, better than April 21st, but still not desirable.

This may be somewhat ‘institutionalized’ side of me speaking right now, but it will be refreshing to learn an answer tomorrow, if for no other reason than to know exactly what I’m facing time wise.  Throughout this entire episode, I have lacked the luxury of being able to plan for a known future.  This week that should cease.  And really, this will somewhat be the onset of closure for my whole legal quandary dating back over 5 years ago.  Any way you look at the situation it will ultimately be positive.

Next week I plan on going to the law library here to research what the full extent of the Texas and Federal laws are concerning me owning firearms once I’m out of here.  I heard some new info today that contradicts what I have been carrying in my mind, and I think now would be a good time to clarify and extend what I have learned so far.  I did a little research on this back a long time ago when my case began, but it’s time to get it all straight in my mind.  Heck, maybe I’ll stick to fishing for a while and leave the hunting alone.  I know I can’t get in trouble for casting out a lure!

I don’t know if it’s possible to convey my attitude shift between last Thursday and right now, but there has definitely been one.  I don’t know if it’s permanent or not, but I feel like I am now living in here with a specific purpose and something to look forward to.  I do not feel any longer, like I am just idly existing.  I actually have a somewhat sense of urgency coursing through me, and I feel like I need to start making more specific exit strategies and an updated plan of attack strategies for as soon as I’m home.

I’ll end up by saying that the next time you hear from me, I’ll have a positive parole vote in my pocket and the next phase of this all will have begun.  Thanks again for keeping up with me and for showing all of your support.  There may be a handful of days until the next post, but now would be a great time to leave any comments you may be mulling over.  I’ll talk to you soon.

Friday, September 24, 2010

ATTORNEY MEETS WITH PAROLE BOARD

3...2...1… The cameras are rolling.  The day is finally here.  I found out during my routine Thursday evening call to my dad last night that my attorney would be meeting with the parole board this afternoon.  That means the vote is today.  By the time you read this, I’ll have an answer and know whether I’ll be coming home next month or if I’ll be here through the spring.  Pretty cool, huh?

I think I should be able to learn what the decision is early next week, however, I’m not certain about that.  At least I have the comfort of knowing that I’ll have an answer sometime next week.   That’s a great feeling.  Surprisingly, I’m not feeling too anxious right now.  I guess that’s just a prime example of how much prison dulls one’s senses and acclimates one’s mind to reacting at a snail’s pace.  It’s a little scary to know this about myself, although I believe some of my energy has dissipated into these darn crossword puzzles from the “USA Today”.  They are now an addiction, I’m afraid.  I still haven’t aced one yet.  I was 4 letters away at the beginning of the week and only missed 2 letters last night. What’s the definition of ALATE?
I don’t have much time to write now, but I do plan on filling you in on lots more throughout the weekend.  I was excited about the parole vote and wanted to let you know ASAP.

Saturday
I hope your weekend has started well.  It’s coastally humid here today and that made my running this morning seem rough.  I’ve changed my routine up just a little to try and incorporate a tad more cardio.  I can already tell that it is working.  I’ve already finished the crossword that was new to yesterday’s paper.  I’m sure it’s 100% correct.  There is only one letter I’m uncertain of.  Not sure if it’s and “a” or an “e”.

Today’s post may be random and sporadic so please forgive the absent minded allusion.  A want to write a lot and let you know about my day, however, I’d also like to watch plenty of football.  Pin is absolutely annoying.  He has the personality and social skills of tropical reef fish and is just a complete bug.  In all likelihood, he’ll be out of here on Oct. 16th.  I think and hope I’ll be out of here before him, but in any case, I’m ready to be done with him.

I’m watching football right now and I’m going to spend the midday rec. period inside and continue to watch football.  I’ll make sure to get in an extra good session of exercise this evening to make up for the absence this afternoon.
Good night.  I’ll write tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

THE DISCONTINUED STORY, MY RADIO, AND AN INVITATION TO RAY

Good afternoon.  It’s been a few days since I’ve written. I talked to my dad today to get my weekly update on the parole hearing, but nothing has been scheduled.

That story that I had told you about that was unfolding in here... about the prisoner who wants to marry the pen-pal, is now on hold.  I really thought it was going to prove to be interesting, or perhaps, even ridiculous.  I even came up with a character list. So I’ll share that with you as a ‘sneak preview’ for the future story….

Pin- You already know him  - age 42
Mike – The inmate in the relationship with Shelly - age 43
Shelly – The outsider pen-pal that is in the relationship with Mike – age 42
Francis –Kyle’s mother; friend of Shelly from church- age 50’s
Andy – I’m the story teller

Even though that story isn’t developing, at the present, I did get to to speak with Mike from the character list.  He is the one who told me that things are on hold.  However, when I was talking with him about all of this, I was reminded about what a small world it seems to be sometimes. Even in here!  There is a guy in here that I’ve met named Lee.  Lee’s brother has been locked up off and on in prisons for 15 years or so.  Mike was locked up with Lee’s brother for 4 or 5 years at some other unit.  How those two ultimately figured that out, I am unsure.  I don’t know Lee’s last name, but maybe it is peculiar and it stood out when Mike heard it again.  To me, it’s kind of creepy how many guys in here know one another, are related, or have mutual friends from the real world.

I gave the URL for this site to my friend, Ray, who was granted parole and is leaving this place tomorrow to head back home.  I certainly wish him the best of luck and hope that he reads this post and takes the opportunity to leave any type of comments he feels appropriate. Ray…I’m sure all the readers here would enjoy reading your thoughts as they mend and melt their way back to what we all perceive as “normal”.  Again, I invite you to leave your comments.  Are you wondering if Kevin (Pin) is in a state of despair and missing you right now?  I’d let you know exactly what he’s doing if I could, but it seems that at the moment he’s wandered over to the parole office to bug them just a little more.

I was fortunate to able to acquire a radio a couple of days ago.  Luckily, I got it just in time for football season.  I don’t know how the reception will be for other games, but I hope it’s at least decent.  I get ESPN Radio, a good talk radio station, a couple of country stations, and, for some reason, about 4 Spanish stations.  There is no decent rock station, which is unfortunate, but I understand that there is a rock station (92.9) that ups it’s signal and comes in clearly on the weekends.

It’s nearing the end of the evening, and I’m about to be off to bed.  Maybe next Thursday will bear better fortune about my parole hearing.  That will make just over 20 weeks I’ve been waiting.  Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer.

Thanks for everyone’s support, interest, and comments.  I’ll be in touch again soon.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WAITING ON A PAROLE HEARING AND EXCITED ABOUT COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Hello and good day to everyone.  I hope this day finds you well.  How is the weather in everyone’s specific neck of the woods?  The last 3 days have pretty much been incredible here.  I think yesterday it only reached 98° and was overcast all day.  It is supposed to remain the same today. I think the high will creep back up to 90° here in a few days and then start to trend downwards to a high 80’s in the middle of next week.  Compared to the 108° that it reached here on Monday, it more or less feels like I’ve moved to Fargo. It seems like it’s cheating to exercise outside and not be drenched in sweat.  I’ll enjoy it while I can because I’m sure it will heat up to an extreme level a few more times before the summer completely disappears.

I feel, again, like I’ve been neglecting the blog.  There just is not anything new or exciting to report to you.  I literally keep assuming that any day I will get notice of a parole vote, and once that happens, my creative side will be rejuvenated into word processor mode.  However, I only continue to wait and wait and wait.  It’s been over 18 weeks now since my initially interview.   Most of the guys here are learning their answers in 6-8 weeks.  You do the math.  I wonder if the parole board would claim a “my dog ate my homework” excuse if I could quiz them on their lagging punctuality.  Probably so.  And I bet they’d apologize profusely.  Dream on………….

It still works 100% to my advantage the longer the vote takes.  Well, 100% minus my impatience.  As far as the vote goes, however, it looks more appealing for the board to grant my parole if I’ve served a longer portion of my sentence.  This is one of the few facts that goes through my mind and helps make it tolerable to sit here and “open-endedly” wait.

I have received several personal letters from friends lately, and I can tell from the tone and content of the letters that you can also sense that the end of my incarceration is near.  It would be nice to be able to trick my mind into continually knowing that I’ll definitely be home by a farther away date (ex: Thanksgiving), but I just can’t do it.  My thoughts always drift back to a best case scenario.  I guess I just don’t do this ‘prison stuff’ very well.

My 3-a-day exercising continues to go on, although I did need a 3 day recovery from a blister on my foot at the beginning of the week.  I’ve decided to run a half marathon very soon upon leaving here.  Who would be interested in running it with me?  There are several of my friends that will be mandated to participate.  I’ll let you know who you are.  The run would need to be in in my home state and the date should be no earlier than mid November and no later than Christmas.  This gives anyone interested plenty of time to get in shape to run 13 miles.  I guess you could choose to walk, also, if that sounds appealing.  I will run it.  If anyone feels up for the challenge let me know and then we’ll search for a run that fits the bill.

I’m ready for college football.  Never thought I’d be in here for the openers, but never-the-less, I’m very ready for the season to start.  I don’t see Alabama repeating, but I don’t have a solid guess as to who will emerge as #1.  I love the BCS System (for real).
I do not want a playoff.  I think it’s awesome that Boise State is ranked high.  They have been rewarded for tending to their business for the last few years.  I have a weird feeling that Miami or Florida State will do significantly better than predicted this season. Aggies will beat Longhorns 28-22 at the end of November.  I will be in attendance.

Thanks for reading.  I will write again tomorrow.

Monday, September 13, 2010

FEELING GOOD, CATCHING UP, AND RESPONDING TO SOME MORE COMMENTS

I had a great day today.  I had a good visit from my dad and relaxed for the majority of the day.  The weather was terrific and I was able to catch up on my letter writing.  (I had fallen a little behind on it.)  With the amount of time I spend exercising, it doesn’t leave quite enough free time for writing.  In any case, I do feel caught up now.

Before I forget, let me tell you that I may have some interesting drama for you here on the blog before long. Remember Pinocchio?  Well, Pin’s friend in here is a guy who has been incarcerated for the last 15 out of 16 years. This friend, Mike, is roughly 42 years old.  Mike has recently met a female pen-pal and is attempting to marry her.  I’m about to go “undercover” to obtain the exclusive on this strange tale to see where it all goes.  I think I’m going to venture out on a limb and promise you that it’s going to be entertaining.  Give me a week or so to check things out and…… stay tuned.

No news yet on a parole hearing.  Maybe next Thursday will bring better news. For now I am going to respond to some more comments.

MamaB   Annoying people are just so damned…..annoying, aren’t they?   I feel like my tolerance for annoying people has decreased since I’ve been here.  I used to have a very high threshold.  Now it is only medium high.  I won’t be worried if it decreases even more, because sometimes I think I am too tolerant.

Your 2 cents are always appreciated and always thoughtfully considered.  Please keep them coming.  Heck, you can even pitch in a nickel’s worth if you’d like!  If you sat back and watched a prison ball game, you would be amazed and disgusted with how much the block inmates whined, complained, and yelled.  Please don’t construe this as a discriminatory statement, as it is 100% fact. The rodeo would be fun.  I would participate in any of those events right now out of sheer boredom. 

The stories you read about on PTO about inmates conspiring against another inmate that has been approved for parole do not happen at non-ID units.  ID units are units where inmates are incarcerated for an extended period.  Transfer facilities and pre-parole facilities all house inmates for a maximum of two years. Prejudice against inmates that are about to go home just does not happen, as far as I know.  It is common knowledge to know who is leaving and when they are leaving.  Although there is certainly some envy directed towards the soon to leave inmates, I feel safe in saying that the envy leaves before morphing in to jealously.  With everyone here leaving within two years, there is a surprising emergence of happiness that is dutifully awarded to each inmate when it is their turn to leave.  Almost a rite of passage.
As I just explained, the pre-parole and transfer facilities are all two year max units.  Inmates do not stay here over 24 months.  If an inmate does not make his parole or is denied his short way, then he will most likely be transferred to an ID unit around months 16-20.  There are exceptions to every rule, but everything in the last 2 paragraphs is pretty solid.

Anonymous   I’m glad I can help you in any way possible.  I’ve had many conversations in here with guys and we conclude that our loved ones on the outside have it tougher than we do in here.  Every case is different, but I firmly believe that statement.  That being said, try your best to come to terms with and accept the situation.  There are no rules and no instruction manual for how you are “supposed” to feel or act, therefore, you do what is necessary to respectfully ease your mind and bide you  time until it’s all over.  And it will all be over.  Please keep reading and feel free to make any comments that will help you out or help others.  If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask. Prison is easy. You hang in there!

Moe  Thanks!  Don’t worry about the letter.  I’ll be out of here soon.  Until then, just keep thinking about squirrels, pirates, and clubs across the street.  Not necessarily in that order.

Jeff B.   Wish I knew the number of the mechanic we used last year, but it’s in my cell phone.  Won’t do you much good there.  Your Florida trip sounds cool.  I’m jealous!  Take plenty of pictures, as I’d like to see them later.  I’ll be out in time to hit the lake before it gets too cool.  Have fun and I’ll see you soon.  Try searching for TJ’s Mobile Mechanics or Tee Jays Mobile Mechanics on Craigslist.   You may be able to find the number to some good help.

DS  It’s amazing how far this blog has reached.  Has the bus tour found a new route to Dallas via Maryland?  Congratulations on beginning your plight to invoke change in the D.C.  justice system. After spending nearly 8 months locked up, I have come to the conclusion that any meaningful attempt to curb recidivism has to involve harsher deterrents and more comprehensive rehabilitation.  I encourage you to help us transcend in our evolvement as I am released, and as we try to produce a more meaningful tool here in this venue, which can help others who find themselves in situations similar to mine/ours.  I will help in any way I can and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

GETTING IN SHAPE!

I was glad to be able to weigh myself and check my blood pressure yesterday.  Blood pressure is normal and I weighed 193 lbs. This astonishes me!  I’m 30 lbs lighter now than when I entered the system, and I think I weigh less than MV  (MV, this does not bode well for you).  When I look at some of the photographs that were included in my parole packet, I can’t believe the difference in how I look!  There is a photo from Thanksgiving 2008, and I don’t recall exactly what I weighed, but it has to be close to my all time high of 263 lbs. Losing 70 lbs is like shedding an entire little kid.  What grade are you in when you weigh 70 lbs?  I have no clue, so I’ll say second grade. So, in essence, I have lost a second grader!

I’ll assume that everyone saw the USA Today College Football Poll that came out yesterday.  Alabama was picked 1st, Texas 4th, and I think A&M was 47th or so.  What’s happened to my team? How is one of the largest schools in the nation still doing so poorly? I think this is Sherman’s third year, isn’t it?  Maybe it is only his second.  I didn’t like the decision to hire him, although I am pulling for him to now turn things around.  It seems like it has been forever since the Aggies have had a positive season.  It’s always next season this, and next season that…..

For the last two years I’ve made it to see the Aggie vs Texas game on Thanksgiving Day.  Two years ago in Austin and last year in College Station.  Two years ago was the resurrection of the Turkey Day Game.  I told myself then that I was going to make it a tradition.  So far, I’ve been served a Thanksgiving dinner at the Iron Cactus on 6th Street in Austin and at Dudley’s Draw on Northgate in College Station.  Both meals were surprisingly delicious.  This year should have some more good stuff in store.  I am definitely ready for some college football!
Three things I want to mention……First, (although by the time you read this it will have passed), next Tuesday is my birthday.  Damn, it feels good to finally turn 29. :)   I certainly have an exciting year in store.  Please hold all the gifts ‘til I get out.

Next, I have grown an inch since being in here.  I have been 6’1” for pretty much forever, but the last two height measurements I’ve done have both come to 6’2”.  Does losing weight make you elongate?  Maybe the stretching that I do has straightened me.  Although, I never thought I was crooked.

Third, it is crazy how many guys are in here for their 3rd DWI.  Hundreds!   I’m not one to preach, so I will just state facts.  If you get a 3rd DWI in Texas, you will go to prison for 2-4 years.  Done deal.  Everyone be cautious.  If there is one great thing that has evolved from me being here, it is that I will no longer drink and drive.  I may have to hire a full time driver to keep on call, but so be it.  Now, here is a question for you.  Would you, with the forethought of knowing a release date, willingly spend 8 months in jail if your could lose some weight, grow an inch, eradicate drunk driving from your life, learn a lot  about the cultural differences in our country, and regrasp just how important true friendships are?   If your answer is “no” then, would you do it if you were handed $25, 000 for your troubles at the conclusion?  How about $40,000?  Everyone try to be honest.  I suppose if you still need some perks, I could throw on some prison tattoos, constant companionship, or the opportunity to join a nice club…err…gang.

It’s now Saturday afternoon around 4:30.  I think we will be going to dinner soon.  This may be the end of my communication until next week.   I really appreciate every bit of support that has been directed my way.  It has been and continues to be invaluable.  I’ll talk to you again soon, and I hope everyone has a great week.