The date is April 22nd, 2020. I officially found out today that I will be released early from my prison term, under the Cares Act, brought on by Covid-19.
On Friday, April 17th, I was informed that all minimum recidivism inmates, who had already had their exit dates, were being resubmitted. I believed that I was in this category. Because I fit all the criteria, but my past experiences wouldn’t allow me to get my hopes up, at least that’s what I told myself. The truth, I would have been devastated, again.
One problem, is the criteria kept changing, or so they say. There is also talk of a mysterious list that is supposedly being passed around between staff, with anywhere from 30-100 inmate names on it, that need to go home, NOW!
I’ll admit and if I didn’t, Dennis would be quick to remind me, I was losing my bearings. Actually, I was freaking the hell out, at least on the inside. On the outside, I appeared anxious and fidgety. Am I being considered? This is all I wanted to know, actually I needed to know. In the post “I’m Coming Home,” I documented how I came to find out I was being considered, and once I knew, it calmed me.
When I went to tell Dennis he said, “I already know bud.” Apparently his higher power told him a while back and he had felt it, but he didn’t know the exact date. He wanted to allow me to find out on my own.
He wanted me to find out through prayer, but spiritually I am nowhere near as advanced as he is because I don’t put in enough work. I assure myself, in due time!
On Sunday, April 19th, a friend of mine told me they had a staff member check their status on the computer and I thought, it wouldn’t hurt to have a look. I had just the officer in mind. I went to him and he informed me that my team did exactly as they said, my paperwork went out on Friday, two days prior.
I told myself I wouldn’t ask him to check again until the following Friday, but it wasn’t necessary. Because today, I am being sent over to quarantine.
Others weren’t so lucky, my buddy Ben, who was previously assigned a date of April 30th, which I also mention in the I’m Coming Home post, was informed on Monday the 20th, that his date had been pulled.
Apparently the initial memo issued by Attorney General William Barr on April 3rd included a requirement of 50% of time served. Somewhere between that memo and the 10th, that requirement was lifted in order to release more people in response to the pandemic that has already hit multiple federal facilities and is closing in on the remaining.
That is when Ben and so many like him were given the great news, they are going home, some with only a few months or years served and many more months or years to go. The white-collar inmates made up the majority of this group. This caused the already growing tensions to skyrocket. If you are wondering why then read my post about the war between drug offenders and white-collar inmates.
The drug offenders did not hold their tongues when the staff was around, “Why are these pieces of shit leaving, that stole retirement money from old grandmas, while I am left here to die?”
A staff source said numerous copouts, an electronic memo, a.k.a. “a kite,” where inmates and staff can communicate, have also been sent in complaining about the heavy favoritism that appeared to be going on.
I even heard talk of inmates conspiring to take a lock, attach it to a belt or put it in a sock, and take it to the head of a few white-collar individuals that were going home.
Once again the criteria changed, apparently on Friday the 17th, attorney general Barr, re-instated the requirement of 50% full time served. That means if you had a 60-month sentence, you must have 30 months in. Adding this requirement back on killed almost 90% of the people getting action.
Ben believes the reason for this was because Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, was released under the Cares Act after only serving a fraction of his time. Immediately after his release, he got on national TV on Thursday, and by the following day, the criteria had tightened back up. The evidence is making it look very feasible.
So here we are, Wednesday the 22nd, I’m saying goodbye to a handful of friends and it’s hard to be happy because a couple of the people I am saying good-bye to, have recently had their hopes and dreams crushed. I am also trying to keep a low profile because people are getting restless, they want to know when they are going home, and why others are leaving now. I have treated people well during my time at Yankton, I don’t have any known enemies, and none of that matters, because they still are mad right now, that they aren’t me (being released).
Ben, myself, and a mutual friend of ours were planning on making some tacos this weekend. The mutual friend, while staring at his commissary list, asking Ben what he needs to get for the meal.
“Is there a gun on there?” Ben asks while making a gun with his right hand and putting it to his temple and pulling the trigger.
“No seriously, what do I need for the meal?”
“How about some suicide pills?”
Clearly Ben doesn’t care about the meal anymore, but he isn’t alone, because there are at least another 20 inmates who have received the same news over the last couple of days. One guy, a 90-year-old man named Gill, was taken out of the quarantine and placed back into the housing unit. Inmates asked, “How this could be, the guy looks like he about to die as is,” and staff responded, “There are no inmates here that are at a high risk to the virus, otherwise they would be at a medical facility.” It sounds like a crock, but technically they are right, so arguing with them would be pointless.
Suddenly I am called to the front desk, it’s time to head over and begin my 15 days of quarantine. I wonder how terrible it’s going to be. Will I lose my mind or will it be pure tranquility?
On the walk over the lady from R&D (receiving and discharge) asks, “Are you going to keep writing after you go home? With a surprised look on my face, I tell her of course! She continues, “Good, I think it’s amazing what you guys have been doing over the past couple years, to be able to make an impact in people’s lives, while incarcerated, that’s something you don’t see every day.”
Those two sentences lifted my spirits because this is coming from someone who is generally perceived to be on the other side. Most inmates and staff perceive prison as a war, staff on one side, and inmates on the other. I tried to never think that way and sometimes it is hard not to, but moments like this remind me why I need to not see it that way.