If you’re locked up, chances are its for a reason. Its not to say that you weren’t overcharged or over sentenced or the courts didn’t do you wrong, but there are not many that didn’t do anything wrong at all and are completely innocent.  That being said, we’re punished for something we did and all of the consequences of that aren’t always realized by someone who hasn’t been through it. Being locked up effects every single aspect of life.

We are deemed unfit for society, so we’re cast out of it . We are sentenced to live a limited life surrounded by others who have also made decision causing society to exile them. For those of us not doing life its only for a certain amount of time, but sometimes the effects of incarceration and what comes with it follows us on the other side of the fence. I know for me the phase, “out of sight, out of mind” has become all too real.

Something I’ve had to deal with is the lack of contact from people I once considered friends. People I grew up with, used to hangout with, party with, play sports with, go to school with, text with, or were apart of my life for other reasons. It’s reality that most people grow apart as time goes on, people their separate ways and live their own lives and nothing wrong with that. Especially considering how social media is and how people stay updated on each other through that. I’m an advocate of more personal interactions myself, but at least they have the option. We don’t get that in here. I can’t look someone up and see what they are doing, or text them and ask them how they are. If they give me their phone number I can call, but if they are busy, they can’t call me back. It almost always takes for people out there to reach out to me in here.

Contact with the outside work is something that’s important to me, but its also something I can’t provide for myself. Being in here is like being in a time warp, like time stays still in here and everything else out in the world keeps moving forward. People out there get to meet new people, make new friends, take new pictures and experience new things. The only time I have an opportunity to meet someone is if they come to see me. I haven’t had anyone who is not related to me come see me since I’ve been in prison. I don’t get a chance to meet new people on my own, so I tend to hold onto the memories of people from my past. People that I will never talk to or see again. It takes a lot for me to truly care for about someone but when I do, I care a lot. It sucks sometimes knowing that they are living their lives without even thinking about me.

That itself makes me think all kinds of things: maybe I was wrong about how our relationship was, maybe I wasn’t as important to that person as I thought, maybe they heard rumors about what I cam to prison for and believed them and don’t want anything to do with me because of it, maybe I’m just out of sigh and out of mind and they just don’t think about me at all. In one way, shape or form, it means I’m not worth them getting in contact with me. Especially considering how easy it is to Jpay me (the email service our state uses for prison). With the app its basically just like texting. Things like this make me want to isolate myself and just focus on the things I’ve got going on in there, but I know that’s not good because only focusing on things in here leads to institutionalization which leads to not being able to function out in the world to become a productive member of society.

Its like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do I keep reaching out and wanting to talk to people just to be disappointed because they won’t respond or don’t care? Or do I focus on my life in prison and lose sight of the real world?

A lot of guys do their time and find support though the girlfriends they have. I’ve never had a girlfriend in all the time I’ve done. I’ve had a couple of girls come into my life, but they don’t last long. Its hard sometimes not having that special girl to talk to that I can really trust and talk to about everything and open up to – someone who gets to know me and values who I am enough to stand by my side and convince me that its worth being with me even though I’m in prison. I make my own money, so I don’t need help financially. It’s not one way either, I find value in my life by helping others and I’d love to find the right person to have that special bond with that I can dedicate myself to.

The circumstances of being locked up in general keeps you away from people and the DOC (Department of Corrections) goes out of their way to make it even harder than it needs to be. They don’t put us in prisons close to our family or loved ones even though they have regional facilities all over the state. Even the facility I’m at now, they have 24 phones for 720 prisoners, and we can only use them while yard is open. People have jobs and responsibilities out in the world and there are only certain times they’ll be able to answer the phone so if yard isn’t open or we can’t get one because they’re so busy we don’t get to talk to them. Not only that, there’s no downside to putting more phones in and they stand to make a significant amount of money from it, but they still refuse to let us have more contact with our people.

Every facility that I’ve been to there’s been at least one guard that processes visitors coming in that abuse their authority and turns visitors away for the way they are dressed even if it’s allowed by policy. This causes a lot of stress on an already stressful situation. I imagine coming to see someone in here for the first time having never met them before is nerve racking. To some it makes them nervous just coming to a prison and then they’re anxious to meet someone for the first time and you have some guard that has an attitude with you and turns you away to go change, even though you’re following the rules. It’s unfortunate that the administration allows people who can’t be professional and follows the policies that are in place to work in a position that effects people who aren’t even punished.

If you’re one of the few people out there who are selfless and caring enough to put in the time and effort to be there for someone who’s locked up, you should be cherished and feel good about yourself. Know that sometimes all it takes is a small message to someone in here to let them know they’re not forgotten that can make their day.

Sincerely,

Dakota Turn

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