A Great Day

VINCE

A couple great things happened today. Even though I was on LOP I got to go to my AA meeting and I listened to somebody that really had an impact on me. After the meeting I felt great. When I got back to my unit the Sargent waved me over and offered me the swamper job! That’s the house cleaning crew. Pretty much the job everybody hopes for. It pays 25 cents per hour at 80 hours every two weeks. I get half of that and the other half goes to pay my fines and court costs. So that’s great news. And I walk up the four flights of stairs to my room and on my bed is a little slip of paper that tells me I finally got some money on my account! From two different people! Thank you both! So I ordered a radio!

What a day. I ordered a whole lot of other things, too. Real toothpaste and deodorant. Good razors. $15 in phone time. $5 in envelopes. Ear buds, so I can actually listen to my radio. Noodles and rice. And my favorite…a half pound bag of Folgers Crystals instant coffee.

It takes nine days to get an order once it has been placed. The price may be right. But fuck you, Bob Barker. Your products are just not that great. Sure, technically, we could use our own feces to shave our faces. But we just don’t. Much like we don’t use your 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, and shave soap. I heard real soap doesn’t have to come with a disclaimer that says, “Made in a factory that also processes peanuts.” Bob, you’re a legend for one thing. Let’s keep it that way.

I moved for the second time in five days. All the way from the top of the north side to the most desired floor—level four of the south side. My shift doesn’t start until 2:30 so I’m in my cell until then. But I am still excited to be here.

Morning brings full privileges of the job. Out of my cell. I’m always excited for mail. Thursday I get my radio. And Saturday I get the headphones so I can actually listen to my radio! Like I’ve said before, the small, petty things are all we have to be excited for. What we all hope for is anything that helps the time fly. Jobs, TVs, radios. Two out of three ain’t bad.

My first day on the job went well. I still have to serve my LOP so I don’t reap the full benefits, but I was out of my cell more than I normally would be. And I feel as if I got as much exercise as I would have if I had gone out to the ball diamond, what with all the stairs.

The person I replaced left because he got his acceptance letter from boot camp. It took nine weeks and two days to get his letter. He said he won’t actually be going to boot camp until March, he’s just leaving to be stored somewhere until an opening occurs. Any news is good news. My application was submitted five weeks ago. Reason dictates I should receive my acceptance letter in a month. We shall see.

A side note: Anybody that stays in a MN prison must attend school to get either their high school diploma or General Equivalency Degree (GED). Nobody can move from St. Cloud, including to boot camp, without one.

For me, boot camp will include six months of drug treatment. Four hours per day, six days a week. We also do work out in the community. Repair homes. Shovel entire neighborhoods free of snow by hand. Cut down trees, by hand. Use those trees to construct new homes and new barracks for future offenders. Learn to lead. Learn to follow. Look up the rate of recidivism. I’m sure it’s pretty good.

[ANNE: When I googled “Minnesota recidivism rates” I found an article titled, “Minnesota Leads Nation in Recidivism.” I hoped it meant we were the best at keeping people from returning to prison, but no. “…61 percent of prisoners released in 2004 were back behind bars within three years for committing new crimes or for violating terms of their release. The national average was 43 percent (based on 41 states reporting)…” Damn. But I’m sure Vince will be the exception.]

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