Okay, well here we go! This has been an eventful week. To start with, Thalia's visitation list was scheduled to be updated. I know this because I called in August to check on it due to family recently returning to the area and wanting to come see her. Well, her case manager calls her in; advises I have called; gives her update forms for her to send out. We received those forms (I received mine, her aunt and uncle received theirs). We, myself and 2 friends complete our forms and put them in the same envelope and return them to the facility; they are dated 9/6/08. Her aunt and uncle complete theirs (I know this because I explain to them to be sure and return the form to the address listed on the back of the form, not Thalia, and to be sure that everything is completed). Theirs is mailed out about the same time ours were. Interestingly enough, as of Tuesday of this week, September 30th, the forms have NOT been received by the facility. Not just my (our) forms but aunt and uncles forms either. Now, in case you don't know this, I live right here in the same city where CMCF is; in fact, their post office box where they get their mail is the same post office I use. Hmmmm, wonder what has happened here! At least two different mailings for her visitation are not received at the facility. Well, hold on, cause it gets deeper.
Last week, in fact, I called to check on the status to be sure they had received the forms and was told the lady who handles that was out; the man I spoke with checked the computer and the new forms had not been loaded and he couldn't tell me if the forms were there because he didn't have access to her office. Call back next week. Okay, I can do that! So, Monday I call and I speak with someone who is taking care of this because apparently the person who normally does this is out on leave or whatever, who knows! She indicates she has a lot of them to enter, doesn't know if the forms are there, please call back Thursday. I expressed my concern as visitation is coming up this weekend (Sunday, October 5), Thalia has family who wants to come visit, she's had no blood family visit in the entire 10 year time she's been incarcerated (they've lived in Ohio) and could she please just be on the lookout for the forms. We want to be sure they can visit this weekend. Also there are some things going on with her kids which she and I need to discuss ASAP. She is understanding and polite (not something that happens often when dealing with staff at CMCF) and I expressed my appreciation. She also then asked me to call her back that afternoon at 4:00 (I had a doctor's appointment so I called back on Tuesday; this gives her a little more time to get through all the forms she has, right?). Well, at this time she tells me not only has she not received the forms (any of them) BUT my visitation is expired and I won't be able to visit Sunday if the forms aren't received. I've been on Thalia's visitation list for YEARS. So, okay, what do we need to do to rectify this? Well, she has to have the forms (the original forms). No, a copy won't work it has to be an original. She transfers me to her supervisor, a warden at the facility. We have a pretty heated discussion because right out of the gate she comments on the type of people Thalia's family must be if they've not visited her in 10 years. In fact, after her "insinuation", she goes on to say something along the lines of that just shows the kind of person Thalia must be and/or the type of people they are and "well, I'm not even going to go there" comes out of her mouth. I am floored that this warden has just made these statements to me. Excuse me, she doesn't know these people (I don't either BUT I do know that they've lived in Ohio the entire time, she doesn't). She has no business making such unprofessional comments about people she doesn't know, especially considering her position within the facility. Once again, refer to title of this post... just another incident that shows the unprofessional behavior and underhanded things that the employees at this facility will do.
Do I think they have the forms? Yes, I do. Do I think they are sitting on them? Yes, I do. Why do I think this? Because they don't like me (someone who stays on top of things with Thalia). I actually expect them to do their job (which isn't usually successful but does keep the heat on and bring about questions asked by Commissioners and Superintendents of the Facility when necessary).
So, Wednesday I spoke with another Warden at the facility and after a lengthy conversation, she agreed to accept my scanned copies of the documentation if I could get it to the facility by Friday and original signature underneath the copied signature. Of course, even mailing from right here in the city can take a couple of days so I express mail, signature required upon picking up mail from right here at this local post office where their post office box is. According to the post office, they would have it in their box even that afternoon (since it's in the same building) but I went ahead a sent it express with a signature required. Documents were picked up Thursday, October 2 at 7:29 a.m. Great! Document was addressed to the Warden I spoke with but also had letter for person handling the actual entry of the information (covering bases). Upon speak with the Warden yesterday afternoon, she hadn't received the mail, hmmmm! I realize this is a prison facility but something sent express mail to a Warden at that facility, in my opinion, should have been on her desk by lunch but, okay! So, I will call back this morning to ensure that she has received it.
Now, let me drop back and let you know what has happened with Thalia. They moved her! Imagine that! Yep, they moved her to another building that doesn't get visitation this weekend. Wonder why they did that???? Any ideas????? Anybody?????? Thalia tells me, however, that in spite of that normally the inmate will still get their scheduled visitation that is coming up so soon. I agree with that. It's not her fault they decided to move her; it's not the fault of her family/friends that they decided to move her. So, why should she or her family/friends be penalized because somebody out there got a hair up their (well, you know the place)? So, when I called to verify that the forms had been received yesterday, I also followed up on her receiving the visit on Sunday due to move. I am told that is not the procedure unless the inmate has made arrangements prior to being moved. Hello; the inmate isn't notified they are being moved UNTIL they are told to pack their stuff. How do they pre-arrange that? There isn't a way for that to happen. Which leads me right back to yes, they do allow inmates to receive their upcoming visit if they are moved to a building that has visitation on a different day; but it's all about who you are, who you know and what you will do for the facility as an inmate. Will you snitch on another inmate? Do you set other inmates up to get in trouble? Do the guards like you? See, Thalia isn't a trouble inmate but she's also not a "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" with the guards. She minds her business and stays to herself (or tries to as much as they will let her).
Now, I'm not saying that all employees at CMCF are corrupt or show favoritism or just plain out do what they want to do; but it is my opinion based on my experience with that facility and employees of that facility that there are a greater number of those who are than who aren't.
I've personally heard a guard tell an inmate to just kill herself! That's just an example of what I've experienced so you come to your own conclusion on that. But, let me go ahead and tell you, if you call to discuss the issue with someone they will quickly tell you that you don't know the person you heard say that was a guard; after all the only word you have to go on is the person you were talking to on the phone at the time which would be an inmate of the facility and those people aren't credible because they are incarcerated. Yes, they will all but tell you that. And if you personally experience something such as my conversation with the Warden who made the statements about Thalia's family, you better have a witness because you will be told that you can't prove that was said. It's your word against that employee and they aren't going to believe you. You come and visit an inmate so you have to be a worthless individual. Your word means nothing either.
Well, on that note, I'm going to put this out there again! My opinions have changed greatly in the last several years on our judicial and prison system. I used to be one of those who believed the judicial system works and if you're in jail/prison, you obviously deserve to be there. Folks, that just isn't the case. I'm not saying everyone in prison is innocent BUT take a look at the number of people who are now being found innocent due to the advancement of technology. Come on! There is something terribly wrong with our system up to and including employees who work for the system. And I hate to say this but I live in Mississippi and everybody knows Mississippi is way behind the times. So, the number of people serving time in Mississippi who are factually innocent, in my opinion, is bound to be higher than most other states.
I do actually have something good to post. I spoke with one of our local House Representatives who is working on a Bill that would offer some guidelines on the ability of the Governor to pardon, parole or grant clemency (he, as I, am very upset over the recent release of Michael Graham -- I'm going to be sure I have a link on that posted on this site) who is interested in the things I'm going through and the information I have and what I have experienced. I told him about the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission (talked about in an earlier post) and he'd heard of it but was interested in knowing more so I am to mail him the information I have. We exchanged e-mails and plan to stay in contact. At this point, I am so thankful to have assistance and someone who actually listens to what is so obviously a HUGE problem in our state. So stay tuned on that! I hope it will lead to a break somewhere down the road not just for Thalia but for all the others who truly have a situation that is so very wrong.