I am on the draft. That means I will be moved to the reception dorm until I get transported to wherever they are sending me. The rumors as to where abound. Everyone agrees it will be upstate, probably the Oneida hub, which means one of three facilities – Oneida, Marcy or Mid-state. The latter two have an SO program, so I think it is one of those. Others at work think it might be Marcy, a smaller one and a newer facility. All are medium security ones, meaning fencing with barb and razor wire tops some 15′ in the air with a shorter version spaced 15′ inside, dorm type living, and similar movement restrictions to here. I ask everyone to tell me everything they know about each facility, even my friendly Sergeant at work. Of course moving is only part of the problem.
Since the only time I moved, other than from the county jail, was from the maximum security reception facility to here, I do not have a great deal of experience. My work buddies tell me what I should and shouldn’t be aware of. Of course, I have no idea if they are truthful or not.
The newest member of the work staff is a replacement on the inmate investigation team. He is a guy in his early forties who has been around a dozen years or so. He tells me several things about the movement I need to know. One, they do not transport on Wednesdays. Two, they will not allow you to take open containers of food, like cookies or peanut butter. Third, they will not let me take the great lightweight jacket I was given. I wasn’t sure of any of this and had the feeling he just wanted all he could get from me.
Normally, you cannot trade or give people anything inside corrections. I can see some reasons each way, but it sure makes things difficult when some guys have very little and others have much. I was given the jacket for helping a guy write letters and learn math for his GED. He was being transferred, so he gave me one of his two jackets. It was a great fit and was perfect for cool evenings and to take the place of the only jacket, a heavy winter one, the institution supplied. However, I am now being told these jackets were only issued through 1996, and since I arrived in 2007, the CO’s would confiscate it when they performed their pre-movement check. Only lifers would still have such an item.
Turns out before being moved back to the reception dorm from where all movement out of any institution takes place, the guards make you pack everything up in gunny type sacks so they can unpack it all, go through it and tell you what you can and cannot take. It’s at that point they would take the jacket my new co-worker tells me along with any open food containers.
When fishing for some of these answers with my boss, Ms. Stone, she turns the topic as she somehow knows my movement is pending and calls me in her office to try and talk me out of going. She says there is no way to tell if and when I would be put in the SO program and it would be better to wait here until an opening occurs. She also mentions what good work I have done and was very thankful for all the organization I had added to the department.
I had heard through the prison grapevine the department was in a shambles prior to my arrival. Cases were lost, files misplaced, and the head of the department whose place I took had an affair with the lady CO who was housed in the department, bringing a great deal of scrutiny on the whole department. I knew from speaking with my boss when I got hired that a whole new team of inmates was installed, with me being the last piece. She also mentioned how he was caught in the back stairwell with the CO in a “compromising position” as they called it. That was why we now had a sergeant placed in the office. She asked if I like my job, to which I replied very much. However I wanted to complete all I could so I might get paroled at my first board. She said since I was a sex offender that most likely wouldn’t happen. At this point, that only fires me up to make sure I do all I can to make it, which at this point, means being transferred.
My roommate Arthur, the 27+ year veteran, says some of what I have heard very well could be true but it varies from guard to guard. He simply advises me to get something for any items I swap – like the jacket. However, he does say not to sell anything given to me, it is bad karma, kind of a prison thing I guess.
Now, Arthur is a Christian. He was the one who urged me to attend the Protestant services. He sits up front on Sunday, leads prayers often, and even shouts a hallelujah or amen frequently. What, I wondered, does karma have to do with anything? I was confused, having never seen anything about that in the Bible. It does say treat your neighbor as you want to be treated, but I do not know enough to challenge him at this point.
I casually mention my pending movement to the Sergeant stationed in our grievance office to see if he could enlighten me on anything. Of course I cannot tell him someone gave me the jacket, so it makes the discussion difficult and he doesn’t say anything to give me an answer one way or the other. I feel comfortable talking to him as we have had several discussions when he escorts me down to the copier for work as well as after our hearing sessions. He knows my crime, even asking me why I did what I did and how my family is handling it and other questions. He even has offered suggestions, similar to what most counselors have advised, to get me through this ordeal. In fact, he was very generous to me just last week.
I was called down to the packaging room unexpectedly from work. There was that Sergeant who explained a letter to me had fallen accidentally behind a filing cabinet some three months prior. He was very sorry for the mistake, but informed me that the letter contained five stamps, an illegal item to be sent in for any inmates. He said he wanted me to send them home. I was unsure what he was saying, as I knew they could only come from the commissary and not from the outside – why I do not know. Was he trying to trap me off? Then he said again, I want you to send them home, but added, am I clear? I said yes sir, finally understanding he was going to give them to me and not discard them. He said the institution felt very badly I had not received the letter. On the way back to our grievance office he said again, send them home, do you understand? When I looked at him probably with a dumb look on my face, he was smiling, and said even if it is one at a time!
So the next day at work I ask the guy what he will give me for the jacket in trade. He knows I like to eat healthy, at least more healthy than the facility supplies. He also knows I like real oatmeal, sort of a staple for some and available at the commissary. So he says he’ll trade a big bag of oatmeal and some cookies for it, to which I agree. But this was all before I knew I was on the draft, before I had to pack everything up and take it down to be perused by the guards. So I thought I had some time.
Wrong. Once they tell you to pack up, there is no adding to or taking away from your stuff – unless they do it. Since I was wearing the jacket that was not too difficult to keep. All open containers of food I gave to guys who I knew had little and didn’t get packages. It is very easy to notice who has what. Everyone knows I get mail, visits and packages. And most know who do not. Now I have to decide do I keep my word to trade the jacket even though I will never get anything in return. Tonight I have to pack up and will be moved to the reception dorm down the hill. I am not sure if I will still go to work in the morning or move, as it is Tuesday. Time will tell.

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