Prison life: The good, the bad, & the nasty
By: Christopher Velthuysen (c)2017
There are many GOOD experiences I've gotten out of Prison, even though at low points in my life! Konross Correctional Facility and Alger Correctional Facility, have been my favorite prisons, and I've had the most memorable experiences at these two facilities because of: #1). The dog program, and #2 the available programming & recreational pursuits, (i.e., art, general library, computer games, etc.). The Dog program is great for (anyone) who loves dogs (as I do), and shows you care about someone else besides yourself, as you are (asked) to train the dogs for (adoption purposes). My dog was named: "Joe" after my favorite cousin who I used to play & hang out at his parents' house almost as much as mine! Joe was adopted in July 2015! He was a great dog that I felt privileged to train & take care of. This program is (great) for us (lifers) - juveniles; (who have been locked up their whole lives); as I still remember my step-dad Kent, when he got me and my step-brother Brian a Golden Labrador named "Sunshine"! She lived to be 11 years old, but in dog years; (77)! My Mom told me over the phone that they had to put her down (at the veterinarians). It was one of the bad/sad periods in my life, but I got over it by crying (I was 21), writing about it (poems & short stories) as well as talking it out & reliving the "Good Times" with friends & family.
Another of the Good & Bad situations about prison life is the (food) they serve. If you go to administrative segregation (the Hole) for a major class #1 misconduct - ticket (as I've been 7 times in 30 years), you're forced to eat the ("crap meals") the institutions' Chow Hall serves; but the difference is; you, as a ad-seg prisoner, cannot order food from the (store) nor receive (secure-paks) from Keefe Corporation, thus; you (cannot) choose what to eat, or add food to the depleted proportional content of the trays, (i.e. oatmeal, meat & cheese sticks, cereal, pop-tarts, donuts, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, peanut butter, cakes, crackers, pretzels, chips, vanilla wafers, condiments, popcorn, chicken, roast beef, rice, beans, cream cheese, candy, candy bars, or noodles), so it is a weight-plan I feel the Michigan Department of Corrections implemented years ago to ("cut back") on work for the staff personnel.
(The next bad experiences I've gone) through while trying to rehabilitate is: (lack of education)! After a (juvenile) lifer comes to prison he is told to get his (General Education Diploma) (G.E.D.) but the Michigan Department of Corrections doesn't (allow) [lifers-juveniles] any post-G.E.D. classes (except Ionia Correctional Facility) - where I received mine in: (history, business, accounting, and science); so we are forced to find (ways) to [pay] for post-G.E.D. classes or correspondence courses. In 2017, the M.D.O.C. offered college classes to inmates (again) (under the Pell grants), but (not) to (anyone) who is (not) within (7) years of their (earliest release date) E.R.D.; and so I along with (all) (802+) lifers in Michigan (cannot) qualify for the college courses [image of sad face]
This is a (travesty) and a (shame); because like me, who's about up to be (really considered) for a (public hearing) & (possible parole) in the next (2019), (2024), or (2029) interviews, will be just as (uneducated) as I was (on paper) as I was after my G.E.D.; which I received in 1994! (visits are next -) These used to be encourage a lot more (pre-2000) (visits are very vital) to (all) inmates, as they (keep/help) to maintain their family & friend. A prime way that (most inmates) lose their visits is distance: (prison-to-county) where they are raised or have family that still reside there. I, along with many inmates, used to receive weekly visits when below the Bridge (Mackinac); but since transfer in 2006 to the (Upper Peninsula), I have been unable to have visits from family or friends, as it is (too far) to travel, expensive, and both or most relatives are up there (in age) to be traveling this far. If it wasn't for the Chaplain here at (Baraga Correctional Facility) directing me to a (volunteer visitor) [Jehovah's Witness] that I requested; I'd have (no visits) as I did for (10 years)! His name is Fred Madsen. He's very nice! (Stopped coming last month). The next (bad) thing for (me & others) in my situation is (wages/stipends for work)! The average inmate/worker receives only (83 cents per day), worth only (22) days per month (unless you receive one of the rare (7-day) details), you'd receive only ($18.26) per month, and if you come to
(Ad-Seg) like I did in 2016; you are (indigent status) as you have (no) outside money coming in! I also have (institutional debts), as well as (court costs) that are taken out of (any money) received), so I'd receive only ($11.00) in general population anyway, so I have very little reasons to get released from the (hole) [Ad-seg], except I don't like the food the M.D.O.C. serves, and I want to go to my church services again, and talk on the phone!
Since the M.D.O.C. doesn't allow myself, or any lifers into almost (all) the (vital) rehabilitational programs that are available. I took it upon myself too (enroll) into a (sex addicts anonymous program) (that is available through a correspondence course). They are the International Service Organization of Sex Addicts Anonymous, Inc.; and they were (founded in 1990). My first letter came to me on August 24th, 2017, and it said:
Thank you for your interest in Sex Addicts Anonymous.
We are a (twelve step program) of (recovery) [based] on the principles and traditions of (Alcoholics Anonymous). The only requirement for your membership is a (desire) to (stop) addictive sexual behavior.
Enclosed is a (brochure) about the (SAA program) and a (copy) of each (literature catalog). Upon your request, we will send you (one) copy of each SAA item on it, (free) of charge. You may also request a subscription for our (newsletter) called: "The Outer Circle." Though we do (not) offer (pen-pals), we do have (SAA members) who have (worked) the steps and are willing to help others who want to stop addictive sexual behavior work through the steps and find recovery.
If your (desire) to stop addictive sexual behavior has led you to a willingness to (work a program of recovery), please write and let us know you would like to be added to the (list) of those wishing an SAA inmate letter writer.
Please be careful what (details) you disclose in your correspondence as your letters may be seen by authorities.
While you are in prison, we (don't) provide specific information about meetings on the outside, but upon your release, we will give you information about meetings near where you will reside.
At this time, just call: 1-800-477-8191.
Yours in recovery,
ISO of SAA, Inc
This is also the nasty we will (not) discuss at this forum but only to interested parties who correspond to me at:
Baraga, MI. 49908-9204
This program will help me greatly while I'm in prison as well as when I'm released, (as someone used to tell me), you cannot teach an (old dog new tricks) but you can (recondition) the way he thinks by just starting to train him (all over) again! Humans are the same, in that we do (most) (bad/sins) out of (habit and wrong desires); so we need to retrain ourselves to learn (new, good, habits); that are beneficial to our (God/Jehovah) given bodies! If you have (wrong) sexual behavior, write to: International Service Organization of Sex Addicts Anonymous, Inc. P.O. Box 70949 - Houston, TX 77270.
The Prisoner (marriage requirements) are also a (Good thing) that the M.D.O.C. provides us inmates while incarcerated, and even though I haven't used this service before, (as I haven't found anyone to marry or write who is interested in marrying a prisoner), I have talked to other inmates/prisoners who have married a loved one in prison, and most of the ones I've talked to had nothing but praise for the (service) that the M.D.O.C. provides, so I like to write to you about it!
In the M.D.O.C. Prisoner Guide Book, there are many useful rule standards, programs to get involved in, people who run the prison. Where you are housed and various other tidbits of information that is useful to (all) prisoners, and this is other where the (rules for marriage) are located.
I will share them with you!
Rule #1) Have your fiancée check with the County Clerk to see what they require
Rule #2) Locate a minister to perform the service. (usually prisoners use the prison's chaplain).
Rule #3) Fiancée may bring a plain gold wedding band (with the receipt) showing the cost to be ($75) or less.
Rule #4), #5), #6). Fiancée sends the chaplain a (letter) stating it is her desire to get married. The letter should include her full name, address, and date of birth. This must include copies of divorce decreers (if) either party has been previously married. Your fiancée will be allowed (two) guests besides the minister/chaplain. Guests must be on your approved visitor's list.
Rule #7) Visitors' and Prisoner's (attire) must meet the posted visiting rules. Any restraints required on a prisoner's visit will apply for the ceremony. and Rule #8) the prisoner & fiancée will be allowed (one) brief kiss & hug only at the beginning and end of the service.
My next (Good & Bad) experience has to be the Michigan Parole Board. In 2019 - November will be my (5th) time seeing the Parole Board, as a (Juvenile Lifer), I'm (very) frustrated with what the Parole Board considers (important) to them, while my achievements are secondary.
Even though I need (the majority) of the Parole Board votes to advance to a (Public Hearing), (6 out of 10 votes); this is (hard) to receive. I have received (3) votes in 2014, and I really thought I had a (real good) chance at parole; as I was (10.5 years ticket/misconduct free), (2/3rds of my programming completed), (my G.E.D. completed and a (+4) probability of parole). I was (denied) with (no interest). This time around, I have been having organizations & others who I correspond with (not) family, to (write letters of recommendation for parole). I've also written a (letter) to the Parole Board (asking) who my (Successor Judge) is, so I can write him/her and (ask) for a (recommendation). I also will continue to earn certificates and place them in my (file) with the Parole Board. I have (earned three) since 2014, and have just completed and await another one. (Bible Correspondence Certificate).
I also continue to write to: Cure-Lifelong at: 665 W.Willis Street, Ste B-1, Detroit, MI 48201-1641, and MI-Cure, at: P.O. Box 2736, Kalamazoo, MI. 49009-2736; To (talk) about the Parole Board. what I will do when released, etc.
I have enclosed organizations I have found (very) helpful in my rehabilitation as well as my sanity.
1) Comforting Hearts Ministries, INc.
P.O. Box 743
Rahway, N.J. 07065
2) Coalition for Prisoner's Rights Newsletter
P.O. Box 1911
Santa Fe, NM. 87504
3) Prison Legal News
P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth, FL 33460
4) Prison Health News
1207 Chestnut Street - 2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 10107
5) Prisoner Express
127 Anabel Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
6) Michigan Creative Art & Writing Contests
1801 East Quad/701 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 4109
7) Adams State University Prison College Program
Office of Extended Studies - Jim Bullington -
208 Edgemont Building, Suite #3000
Alamosa, CO 81101
P.O. Box 1022
Norman, OK 73070-1022
9) Aleph Institute
9540 Collins Avenue
Surfside, FL 33154-7127
10) Anthroposophical Prison Outreach Project
1923 Geddes Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
11) Compassion Works For All
P.O. Box 7708
Little Rock, AR 72217-7708
12) Prison Mindfulness Institute
P.O. Box 206
South Deerfield, MA 01373
13) Rock of Ages Prison Ministry
P.O. Box 2308
Cleveland, TN 37320
14) Set Free Prison Ministry
P.O. Box 5440
Riverside, CA 92517
The last topic I will discuss in this forum, is my getting closer to: Jehovah God; Our Heavenly Father. I would like to shape some of my (beliefs) and (what) drew me closer to Jehovah in prison, that I would of (never) of done out in the streets.
A correspondent sent me this article in 2015 - and it (has) brought me closer to my Heavenly Father Jehovah; let me share it with you.
Forgiveness & Justice
We are raised in a world where justice is demanded! Even the secular world quotes the Old Testament by saying "an eye for an eye" they believe that this is the definition of justice. We have theologies, mindsets, and political views, but Jesus Christ, His life, His teachings show us a (new way)... Jesus Christ is Justice!
The Lord has spoken to me for years about the importance of forgiveness. But yet, I still and deep down, in the core of my being, a desire for this justice. Not His justice but mine. My belief system, although not intentionally, had been formed on a very rigid religious system that very much believes "an eye for an eye". I was completely absent of Grace, Love, Compassion, and True Forgiveness! Because I had formed my small-minded (views) on forgiveness around what the world thinks and (not) what the (man)...Jesus Christ taught. A wrong requires (justice), it requires someone to pay...of course I didn't realize I thought this way. (We) sinners seldom do! Until our beliefs are confronted by this crazy thing called life. In a moment of (darkness) in my life, when I had been hurt, depressed, angry, I picked up this book by Joyce Meyer, called: "Reduce Me to Love!"
From the Holy Bible: 1). John 138:34-35; "A New Commandment I give to you, that you (love) one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35. By this (and will know that you are my (disciples), (if) you have "love" for one another.
John 3:16 - for God so loved the world (us), that He gave us His only begotten son, that whoever (believes) in Him should not perish but have everlasting love.
I Corinthians 12:13 - For by (one) spirit (we) were "all" (baptized) into one body, whether (Jew) or (Greeks), whether (slaves) or (free) - and have (all) been made to drink into (one) spirit.
Galatians 5:6 - Forin Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision awaits avails anything, but "(FAITH)" working through "(love)".
Galatians 5:22+23 But the "(fruit)" of the spirit is : Love, Joy, Peace, Long Suffering, Kindness, Goodness & Faithfulness, Gentleness, & Self-Control. Against such there is (no law).
These are my favorite Bible verses! These speak to me; and even though I (fall flat on my face) (a lot); I pray that Jehovah forgives my short-comings and continues to love & guide my life.
In closing, I always thought my (sins) brought me to prison, but Jehovah has shown me how it was (turned) into Good! I came closer to Jehovah!
Peace to (all) of you,
Write me letters!
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