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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Is there such a term as “comedically painful”?  It would sort of be the emotional equivalent of hitting your funny bone, I guess.  If it doesn’t exist I’d like credit for coining it, because right now, my situation symbolizes it to a tee.  I don’t necessarily want to say I’m having bad luck, but jeez, are there any other scenarios in here that I could end up getting delayed or “picked last” on?

So here’s the scoop now.  It’s early Wednesday evening and of course  I’m still here.  A released date has not yet been scheduled for me.  There are a couple of other people from my class who have already gone home, and their calendar situations were identical to mine.  I should have expected this delay, as it certainly seems to be par for the course.  Five months for a parole answer, the lockdown costing at least 2 weeks, and now, having to go into my 5th and 6th weeks of waiting since finishing the class.  Funny, funny, funny!  I hope by the time you’re reading this, that I’m home, but who knows?
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  My mind has been changing gears.  I haven’t meant to neglect my friends and readers, but it’s been so difficult lately to come up with ideas to discuss.  Hopefully, this letter will get you completely up to date.

Since my class concluded, I’ve just been plodding along and passing time here as effortlessly as I know how.  I’d say that it has moved rather quickly.

For the most part, the weather has been decent, and I’ve been able to get outside 3 times a day to exercise. However, last week we were not spared from the cold and snow that swept through.  The snow and ice hit here very early last Tuesday morning.  By 4 am there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground.  I think the temperature dipped to a low in the negative single digits over the next four days.  The snow didn’t really start melting away until Saturday, but even now, some of the drifts are still here.   Again, very early this morning, the temperatures dipped and it snowed again.  I don’t know what amount it snowed this second go round, but it was enough to accumulate on the ground.  

Last week the entire unit here pretty much shut down except for the cafeteria. Today everything remained open.  The wind was blowing today at a constant gale force and being outside was absolutely miserable.  In my ongoing self-campaign of Andy vs. Prison, I have maintained my pact to never wear my jacket.  I seriously reconsidered this game today, but I ultimately prevailed.  I’m really hoping this is the last bit of North Pole weather that invades before I leave.

Super Bowl here was somewhat of a bust.  Due to the fact the weather closed down the unit for 4 days, we were unable to go to commissary.  This meant that just about no one had extra food and snacks to cook and eat during the game.  This took a lot of pleasure out of the excitement of the game day, and didn’t help my mood at all, but what can you do?  I did watch the entire game closely.  I probably watched it closer than I’ve ever watched a Super Bowl before, so it turned out to be a good day.  

I was glad Green Bay won, but it  wouldn’t have mattered much to me if it had gone the other way.  I didn’t feel as though I had a horse in the race.  One funny thing that I did see on ESPN just yesterday is that the Cowboys have the 3rd best odds of winning next year’s Super Bowl at 8 to 1.  LOL!  I’ll  book any takers on that right now with no hesitations.

I didn’t think of it until just this second, but the Super Bowl was the first big event that I have double missed because of spending over a year in here.  Valentine’s Day was the second.  I still remember my feelings last year at this time when I was still in county jail.  Needless to say, I’m in a far better position now.  Missing these two events this year is really of no consequence.  I would have much rather been at home, but I’ll be just fine here enduring it for a week or two more, if needed.

Right now, someone here in this dorm is getting the living daylights beat out of him.  It’s happening in the 3rd floor dayroom, and I’m in the 2nd floor dayroom.  I can’t see anything that’s going on, but I can hear it.  I think the very abbreviated version of this story is that some guy was caught stealing and is now getting “D’ed Up”.  “D” stands for discipline.  Stealing amongst inmates is completely not tolerated.  It’s rare that something is stolen and even harder to actually catch the thief, but the consequences are grave for the accused if it does happen.  

I’ll find out the details a little later, but most likely, the thief upstairs just got attacked by three white, black, and Spanish guys at the same time.  He was probably beat to the point of needing to go to the hospital. The reason that all races beat him was to hopefully, take all racial tensions out of the situation.  The thief in this case, is black, but that doesn’t change the racial balance of the “D’ers”.  If the thief happens to ‘survive’ his punishment, he will either be transferred off this unit by the staff, or he will have to check himself into PC (protective custody).  If he doesn’t do this, he will get beat up again.  No other inmates in here want to live with a known prison thief.  PC means that he would be locked in a cell by himself and would be isolated from the other inmates for his own safety.

On another note, my hair is too long.  I’ve been refraining from getting it cut over the last 10 days in here so that I could get a good professional haircut as soon as I got out.  Darn it, now I don’t know if I can tolerate it for another week.  It drives me absolutely mad when my hair is too long.  I’m sure everyone reading this really wanted to know this tidbit of info.  I’m sure you’ll sleep better now.  You’re welcome.

Quite some time ago, I told you about a guy in here named Mike who had become engaged to a lady he met while he was in prison.  Well, today he received word that he was denied release to mandatory supervision.  To those of you not too familiar with parole terminology, he was, in essence, denied parole and will be locked up at least one more year.  I won’t go into my thoughts on the whole situation, but I will say that the parole board’s decision does not surprise me.  However, on a personal level, I feel bad that Mike will not be released.

I went to medical last week to find that my blood pressure was still normal and my weight was 191pounds.  I’m looking forward to getting out of here in order to proceed past this fitness plateau I’ve reached.  It has become obvious that the exercise clothing I have in here limits what I can do when it’s cold outside.  It‘s also apparent that the boredom of doing body weight only exercises indoors has become overly agonizing.  I’ll feel like a new man as soon as I’m back in some decent clothing and shoes, and have some basic equipment to use.  I haven’t been able to run as much lately, but I don’t think it has affected my ‘marathonability’ too much.  I’m still very comfortable in my thought that I could run a marathon, with limited fine tuning, as soon as I’m out.  I guess now, that March will be my month for a half marathon, and then I’ll go from there.  Maybe I can do one right around Spring Break time or so.

As I thought today of what I wanted my “first meal” to be when I’m out of here….a Japanese steakhouse dinner amongst friends sounded best.  This constantly changes, though, depending on the day and my mood.  It will be different by tomorrow, but the constant is that whatever the cuisine, being with my friends and family will really make it special.

I also want to see a chiropractor for a month or so as soon as I’m out.  Sleeping on a rock hard steel bed for a year has brought about a constant dull soreness.  I now want a lifetime membership at Massage Envy. Somehow or other, I am going to try to make time in my schedule to get massages on a regular basis from now on, if at all possible.  One right this second would be ideal, but I’ll just have to daydream about it now.
Later on tonight, I think I’m going to get out my Bass Pro Shops catalogue and make my complete wish list of all the fishing gear I want.  I’ve been meaning to so that for a couple of months, but I think I’m actually going to do it now.
The movie that I am watching right now is called “Wanted”.  It’s decent, so far.  I can’t remember the last time I actually sat still long enough in here to see an entire movie.  It’s been months.  At my last commissary visit, I bought a few souvenirs to bring home.  I think all of my friends should get a pretty good kick out of them.  Then we can sell them on Ebay and apply the funds to the Memorial Weekend party!

Hopefully, this will be my last submission to the blog from behind the walls.  If all goes normally, it will be.   I just turned in my commissary order for next week, and I anticipate that I won’t be doing that again, either.

Wow, what a trip this has been!  I appreciate so much that all of you have helped me through it.  Through the year, I have learned more than I ever imagined I would, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with all of you soon.  Thanks again.  Hopefully I’ll talk to many of you in person soon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


(Editor's Note - This blog entry sounds as if it was written prior to the last one....I'm not sure if the mail got held up or what....but if it seems confusing, that is the reason.)

Today's Discussion Topics “History teaches us there is no substitute for the family, if we are to have a society”, “Things that matter the most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least,” “Your child’s self esteem is in your hands," “The home is the nursery school of violence, not the streets. Disagreeing or fighting is not abuse. You can be angry with one another without being abusive.”

Well, we’re back in escuela today. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that nothing has been thrown askew, and that I’m still on track to be submitted at the end of this week.  I’m not sure exactly what’s on tap for this week back in the dorm. I know there are bowl games every day except for Wednesday.

My teacher here in class just came around the classroom and let a several guys know that she’d be submitting us at the end of the week. She confirmed to me that I would be getting submitted. Needless to say, it was very comforting to receive that news. I’m sure it will be even better once that actually has been done.

We’re watching a film in class today called “Bad Dads” and it is narrated by George Foreman. For some reason, I find that to be hilarious.

Funny thing. I found out yesterday that the riot that we had here in the newspaperr. Sweet! I’m famous now. The riot went down on the night of December 17th so check the online versions of the newspapers on the 18th and 19th to read all about it if you are interested.

I understand that Clay has already left a response on the blog site. Glad to have you Clay, but get off the silly computer and start playing our game. The stakes are high and you’re going to need all the head start you can get!

I’ve been sleeping a little more comfortably each night. I’ve perfected my pillow with some creative textiling to the point where it’s pretty much a regular pillow. This is a far cry from the ‘hard as a rock’ standard issue thing that is passed out! I’ve also managed to make my bed a lot more cushiony. It’s not a Tempur-Pedic, but we’re heading that direction. I’ve started having weird dreams. My dreams in the real world are generally random, so I guess crazy dreams in here are hitting spot on. I think I’ll record the subject of each dream in the little daily journal I keep. Wait. Don’t know, maybe not ….it’s a little creepy.

It’s getting late again, so before I say good night, here’s to…. good dreams for everyone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Class Discussion Topics for this week:

“Open minds are always the most tolerant and the most violent.”

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

“Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

I’ve finally signed the final roster here in my class, so I guess it’s official that my teacher will submit my paperwork today. What a relief! I feel like it’s merely just a countdown now to the time when I’ll get out of here.

As I write to you now, I am in the last week of school.  It is a full week, but it is a mere formality. Overall, the class has been a very positive experience and definitely helped to pass the time quickly. That being said, it feels great to know that the last step prior to just ‘waiting’, is now over. Last week began my release process, so it’s just a countdown from here on out. I have heard conflicting stories on my projected release date. Back in September, the parole board informed me that I would be released sometime during the month of January. However, as you know, the Christmas holidays interfered with my class time. I started the class 10 days earlier than expected (Sept. 20, as opposed to October 1), but I’m not sure if that will offset the holidays or not. I telling myself that I’m going home before the end of January, but that’s not much more than my usual wishful thinking. I don’t think it will be any later than February 11th though. We’ll all know soon. Anyway you look at it, I’m down to under a month. Fan…tastic!

This was a good year for college football.  I'm thinking the Aggies should be strong next season, so I guess I’ll start to look forward to September 2011.

Can someone please look up and report back to me what laws dictate concerning American felons entering Canada to visit and/ or reside?

The weather here has been very cold over the last several days. Lows have been near 17 degrees. I think it’s supposed to begin warming up later today and get into the mid 60’s by the end of the weekend. I’ve still been able to get outside to exercise, but not for the duration I’d like. I’m hoping to change up my workout schedule starting tomorrow and hit it hard for my remaining time.

I find myself very excited about my release, but I’m trying to be patient and not get too antsy, because the next week or two could end up really dragging for me. Thanks again to everyone for continuing to follow along with me and read the blog. Can't believe it's been over a year! Can you believe it?

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Responses to comments

Eddie C.  My desire to tackle you right now may be at an all time high. I’d be cautious if I were you .There’s not much for me to concentrate on as far as getting out goes. All of that is beyond my control and just a matter of time ticking by on a clock at this point. It’s a struggle to remind myself on a more than once daily basis that I’m still in prison, and I need to make my own security paramount, but I think I’m still doing a good job of it. I don’t want anything to interfere in a negative way down this homestretch, but there is only so much I can do to actively think about it or control it before it becomes counterproductive to do so. I’ve decided to run a ‘homegrown half marathon’ almost immediately after getting out. I’m gonna have Dad drop Tank and me off 13 miles away from his house and we’ll run back together. (Tank is a chocolate lab.) I’ll do an official full marathon soon after I’ve been out long enough to schedule something.

If we could get that guy Kevin on the Jerry Springer show to wrestle a midget stripper, it would be awesome.

Marcs’ Queen Thanks so much for continuing to keep track of me on here. The guys here on this unit all get their shortway answers about 3-4 weeks before the projected release date. I’m not sure what sort of time frame you’re working with, but hopefully, you’ll have some good news soon. I can’t remember the specifics of your situation, but knowing that your husband is waiting for a shortway answer again, pretty much says enough. I realize it’s very stressful to wait. Obviously, “Discretionary Mandatory Supervision” is an oxymoron, when compared to how the term was used before 1996, but it’s all just semantics.

[This may be a good spot for the moderator to explain how Mandatory Supervision works. I’ll skip it for the time being.]

I agree that the effects of waiting on a shortway answer are debilitating to the average inmate, but that is just another facet of our punishment, I feel. What I think is unfortunate, is the effect it has on the families of the inmates.

In hindsight, Kevin does appear to be quite a piece of work, but if you could see him, you’d realize that there is no legitimate chance of him physically harming anyone. The dude was just too scrawny. He may have been able to bug someone to death, but that would be about the extent of it.

MamaB  I think that your son will have his answer by now. I really hope it’s good news. I understand that he was recently transferred here. Small world, huh?

It’s unfortunate he has to endure this lockdown after just getting here. However, once it’s over, and he has a couple of weeks to get used to the place, he ought to be much happier that he was at Holliday Unit. One big difference here is how disrespectful a lot of the younger inmates are. It takes a while to get used to all the mouthing to the guards, all the stealing from the cafeteria, and all the cutting in lines. Once he reconciles this in his mind, he’ll be ‘good to go’. It won’t take too long. He’ll love the fact that he will no longer be behind any locked doors!

Another friend of mine in here, also named Mike (gee, there are a lot of Mikes) has a shortway date at the beginning of March and does not agree with your analysis of FY-anything versus an unpredictable shortway answer. I asked him if he would swap his situation for an assured release in 6 months and he said, “No”. He is serving a 2 year sentence for intoxication assault on his 3rd DWI. Just food for thought. This is the pattern I can see for shortway votes. There are only two groups that are denied their shortways on 2 year sentences, so long as they have no prior TDCJ sentences in their pasts. These are DWI and burglary cases. I only know one case of a 2 year DWI guy ever being denied and he was obviously, the exception. I haven’t seen anyone denied their shortway any longer than a 2 year sentence, as long as they had no previous TDCJ record. I can’t say I’ve noticed a pattern on shortway answers here for the inmates with prior TDCJ answers. I think most of them are denied their shortways on 2 year sentences, but beyond that, all bets are off, and I think it goes on a case by case basis. There are several guys in my dorm who have long records and 5+ year sentences. They have all recently been denied their shortways.

Young guys in here on drug charges are getting a lot of FI-1 and FI-3 answers on their first parole votes when serving 2 and 3 year terms. Almost all ages are getting FI-1’s and FI-3’s on their second parole votes when serving 4 and 5 year sentences for just about any charges, as long as they don’t have a huge background.

My bad on attacking your fishing knowledge! Maybe you should start signing on as Bill Dance, rather than MamaB. I know very little about saltwater fishing and my ignorance surfaced. Thanks for setting me straight. Did you end up catching any fish?

Anonymous - Another Michael here, huh? I wonder if I know him. I wish the best for you and your family.

Mom of Texas Magnum - I guess any new advice I’d have about intake now, is a little too late. Sorry about that, but I’m very happy that you found this site and I’m even happier that it alleviated your fears, if even just a little. The prison experience is a textbook example of “fear of the unknown”. It is also a common thought of mine and my friends in here that our families on the outside are under more strain than we are, because of all the unknowns they experience. Just know that what you are imagining is worse than the reality of the situation, and that your son will be able to make informed and conscious choices on how he chooses to do his time. Great for him that he is writing a blog. It will really help to pass the time for him, and I’m looking forward to reading it when I get out or when someone mails me a copy. Best of continued luck.

MamaB - Thanks for all the drug stats. I’m going to take them to class with me when we return after the first of the year. Sea Biscuit is awesome. Thanks for forwarding the pictures. I enjoyed them.

The rooms here are all AC’d and heated so we have blankets year round. We were issued a seasonal heavy coat a little over a month ago, but it hasn’t been cold enough to even wear it yet.

My dog, Tank, became really sick when he was a year old. I think he ended up spending about 10 days in the hospital and the cause of his illness was never diagnosed. He completely stopped eating and had to be fed through an IV. Seems to me he was only a few days away from death, but he all of a sudden rebounded, and is now one big, hard-headed, in-shape lab. I hope you dog pulls through, and has already gotten stronger. Please keep me up to date.

Walkman type radios are for sale on commissary. Night table alarm clock style radios are common here, but they are all brought in from other units. On non-transfer units, table radios and fans can be bought from commissary. Inmates bring them along to MW when they transfer here from one of these units. When these inmates leave to go home, they let their radios and fans stay behind or they may chose to sell them sooner. A radio sells for about $15 and a fan sells for about $5. Payment is made using items purchased on commissary. For your reading pleasure, let me also note that a cell phone call in here costs $1.50 and K2 and other smoking products can be purchased, but I’m not sure of the costs.

Commissary is much better here than in the transfer facilities. The items are a little more expensive, but there is a wider variety. We go to commissary on the same day each and every week, and it is very possible to keep your locker well stocked with healthy foods, sweets, or a combination of the two.

The cafeteria food here is seems to be indeed turkey based, but truthfully, I really don’t know what that means in layman’s terms. It looks to me like we eat turkey, ham, cheap hamburgers, and some other mystery items. The portions are decent and for the most part we get some sort of desert or sweet item each day. The cafeteria at the intake unit had no windows and you had a limited amount of time to eat your meal. Here, the cafeteria is open and well lit and we have a reasonably unlimited amount of time to eat. About the hot plate…it’s actually a hot pot. This is merely a pot to heat water in for Ramen noodle soups, coffee, and a few other items that are made with hot water. They can be purchased from the commissary for $25. I was on 2 different units and the commissary lists were close to identical. The one here at the CCA run unit is much different, but carries the same type of things. There is a larger variety of clothes to purchase here and it is rare when an item on our commissary list is not in stock. All of this sums up to make the commissary here far superior than a commissary.

The temperature in the dorms here is what it would probably be in yours at home. I wear shorts and a T-shirt 100% of the time when I’m inside. The most I’ve needed outside so far, has been a sweatshirt underneath the normal prison issue uniform. Cloth gloves can be purchased on commissary and I wear a pair when I run early in the morning. Toboggan style hats can be bought ‘off the street’ for $2-$3, or can be made by certain ‘sewing enabled’ inmates in here for about the same cost.

Thanks for everyone’s ongoing interest and support. I hope you all had a great holiday season. I’ll talk to you soon.