Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Amber S. Jackson
Lucky Lifer 

You Can Always Tell Who Will Make Parole, Claims Woman Prisoner at California Institution for Women

I'm firing on all cylinders! I want to show the parole board that they can trust me enough to give me my life back. I'm showing that I use my free time to better myself and stay out of trouble even while under pandemic stress.

 

March 10, 2021

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The writer completed 20 correspondence courses during the span of the pandemic

I've noticed that many people have a totally unrealistic vision of daily prison operations. I had the same false idea of prison life. So don't feel bad! The prison correctional officers have little interaction with us on a regular basis, unless you have a specific job that involves working with officers. Some a**kissers stay in officers' faces all day long. One caught covid doing that.

So, breakfast. I usually throw it away. I'll eat a banana or fruit. When the door pops open, you get a tray if you want it and sign up for phone or laundry if you want or need it. Before covid, we would leave to eat in the dining room, then come back. Anyway, after that, your time is open and spent however you want. Most people will be in the unit unless they have work. About half do not. I'm on fractured ankle thanks to the prison nurse. So, from 8am - 1pm, I'm at my table in my cell working on my in-cell classes.

So, what am I working on now? Anger mgmt., domestic vio., wellness and recovery from addiction, life skills, financial literacy, victim impact, poetry writing, gardening and meditation, contraband use while in prison, bible study, criminal thinking, parenting, gang awareness. I think that's most of them. I have completed about 20 correspondence classes during this pandemic and received 20 certificates. Yes, I'm firing on all cylinders! I want to show the parole board that they can trust me enough to give me my life back. I'm showing that I use my free time to better myself and stay out of trouble even while under pandemic stress. I made this painful, depressing time work for me and I got a lot done. You don't get this time back. So, use it!

I eat, sleep and breathe rehabilitation materials and self-help books! I'm serious about my parole. Other than writing this column to you and journaling, I'm working on these assignments. I put them in the mail and receive new assignments daily. I love it. I love watching myself change. I'm in a period of self discovery and growth. It started about 3 years ago. I don't know when it will end. I discovered I'm not a monster after all??

One important thing about lifer parole: After seeing many female lifers go home, I can tell you one thing, you can always tell who will go home. You can tell by how they move. It's just different. But you always know who they are. You can also tell who is headed for disappointment at the parole board. You can tell when they got one foot in and one foot out. They're not ready and only fooling themselves. I've been watching long enough. I know what to do and I'm doing it. I use my time extremely wisely, the board will see that.

I also believe aside from work on behaviors, you must also truly change inside. The old me would not even recognize the new me. I'm so glad. The bible says to enter heaven you must become like small children. I totally understand that now. I want to point put that to get parole, you must also become like a child in a way. When you let go of all of the walls of protection and heal, you get back some of your child like innocence! I've seen this with many other lifers who went home. Now, I see it in me. Not naive, but healed and just see the best in the world. Instead of living life controlled by PTSD and expecting to be hurt all the time.

So, I carefully inventory my behaviors daily to improve what works and remove what is not. I mentor girls who are younger lifers wasting their time during this pandemic. I gave them the direction to have all of the certificates I have. Yet, little progress. Mentoring is irritating. You can give them info. But you can't give them motivation. I find I'm better able to motivate people in their late-early 40's and up. Most people my age are busy socializing, in prison.

I usually get all of my assignments in and out within the same day. I keep my mind on the prize.

I should also tell you that I do battle depression. So, I struggle to not stay in the bed all day, everyday. The morning is the hardest part of the day for me. Coffee helps. My depression is from the loss of my son who was adopted out by the San Diego foster care system. Up until about 5 years ago, I did not want to get out of prison since he grew up without me. I still had low self worth. I was okay being in prison because he could not be here with me. I felt that out there, I'd feel the loss of him more in an empty house where he should be with me.

So, after therapy and work and prayer, I have forgiven myself for losing him. And, to move on I made a deal with myself. First, I will, not allow any contact with my son if he ever reaches out. That chapter is over. No contact with any of my blood family members or my son's father. All of my past is the past. My only exception is to my victim, my sister. I'm open to making amends to her face to face if she wants that. I owe her more than that. However, that's the limit. My family was always toxic.

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It is possible to attend college while in prison

We have dinner at 5 pm. I usually do not eat that. After dinner, shower and watch the news and usually continue or put the last touches on my assignments to go out. We lock in around 8:30. I'm usually in way before that.

I don't watch much TV. I turn it on and it watches me while I do my work. Although, I must say, I've never seen or watched so much TV until this pandemic. I'm used to being in my room all day now, after 2020. I worry it will be tough to go back out to classes in-person, when things open up. My fear is I'll be uncomfortable when it's time to go outside, after I finally adjusted, after a year and counting of confinement.

The best is always last. My favorite part of the day is night time. I listen to a radio show called Coast to Coast AM with George Nori on KFI.640 AM. I found it about 5 years ago and I've been listening ever since then. Finding it was a blessing to my life.

 

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