An intimate first person non-fiction storytelling experience about incarceration in the United States
Christopher is an inmate incarcerated in Ohio, in the United States. 2019 marks his 24th year of incarceration for the shooting of a police officer. He created this blog at the request of family and friends, and offers it to you as testament to realities of incarceration.
These stories and essays are true. They're about violence and corruption, kindness and love, redemption and change. Stories about life in a broken system.
Christopher is single and has no children. He plans to work with troubled youth upon his release in the hope that he may help prevent others from walking the path he once chose.
I watch guys continually come and go. Pulling 6-18 month sentences in a lifelong string of short prison stints. The great revolving door of American incarceration. It bothers me to see men stuck in criminal mindsets because of a system failing miserably at rehabilitation.
Every day I hear men yelling at wives and girlfriends on the phone because they won’t or can’t send them money, all so they can continue chasing that next high. Drugs are plentiful here. These men don’t belong in prison they belong in drug treatment programs.
To the average person today is a day to celebrate the man that helped give you life. Raised you to be the man or woman you’ve become. To thank them for everything they’ve done and continue to do.
While others spend today remembering the man that has become their personal guardian angel. That raised them, taught them everything that they know. Supported the family. Disciplined you when it was necessary, but has since passed away. Leaving behind memories of happiness mixed with a feeling of yearning to have just one more conversation go unanswered…
ion, one mo
re hug, just another moment.
To me Father’s Day is just another reminder of what was, will never be. My father is still alive, walking, living and breathing. Where is he? Your guess is as good as mine. Th
e last time we spoke was July 2018 shortly after I was arrested.
Does it bother me? Not in the slightest. Yes, I’m happy on Father’s Day, but not for the standard meaning. I’m not celebrating who he is nor what he has done for me or to me. I’m h
appy that I don’t have to be tortured with his presence. The uncomfortable tension that lingers on the air when we are in the same room. The unspoken events that have taken place.
s the ne
rve to claim he is embarrassed and ashamed of me. Why? Oh, for coming to prison. I’m his only biological daughter. Who does a normal girl call upon in a time of need or danger? Her father…
But my call
See I’m far from normal. The life I have lived, the things I have endured under my father’s supervision, makes him the last person I would call upon.
He allowed m
e to be robbed of my innocence in his home while he was shit faced drunk, pa
ssed out in the same room. Being raped while your father is present, looking over with tears in your eyes, seeing him passed out with no knowledge of what’s happening. Begging and pleading silently that he would wake up but never did, will change your opinion of the person you considered your own personal superhero once upon a time.
Two, he got so drunk one night that his own daughter became desirable and he got his rocks off while touching me at a very young age.
Three, I am of no importance to him. I wouldn’t even know where to look even if I wanted t
So with that being said, I want to wish all of you real men out there a happy Father’s Day. Thank you for understanding what it takes to be a father. While also wishing myself a
happy Father’s Day. Another happy day without my father’s presence. Another day passes reminding me that I survived and didn’t allow the hand he dealt me cause me to fail.
Felicia (Ohio Reformatory for Women) (OH)
Every boy has a superhero. Sports figures, actors, comic book characters–it doesn’t matter.
Every boy has his ‘Superman’. Mine has always been my father, but I didn’t always know this.
There was a time, I think, all those years ago in Las Vegas, that maybe my mother could’ve been my superhero. But Mom loved ringing slot machines and riffling poker cards. Even though she abandoned us boys for entire days at a time out gambling, locking us in our cribs and rooms, I still yearned for her. What child doesn’t yearn for his mother? What child isn’t quick to forgive?
My father is an amazing man. When he wasn’t around when I was a boy I didn’t understand. ”Where’s Dad?” I’d ask. ”He’s at work Christopher,” or ”He’s on a business trip,” was always the reply. His absence at my after-school events left me with feelings of loss. There was so much I didn’t understand as a boy.
But upon his retirement, upon the day culminating his distinguished career, during a ceremony surrounded by people that I knew but didn’t truly know until that day, all the past days of my life with Dad became clear. I understood.
Dad had never been absent. He was always there for me and my brothers, working tirelessly so that we three boys wouldn’t have to struggle growing up like he once did. Working to protect family and country. He was, the whole time, my real-life superhero. And like any true superhero, he hid his powers from those around him, never seeking recognition.
Last year I lost my younger brother John and his absence shreds all of us. Me because he was my best friend, Dad because he was his son. I see how it has injured him. I’m powerless to heal my superhero, lost in prison while Fate smirks.
You discover much in prison. Every day is a lesson. Most importantly, you discover what matters in life–family. There’s nothing more important, and I think this is why I’ve surrounded myself with those who don’t have family or a father like mine. Maybe it’s because I understand? Maybe it’s because I want to rescue others from the pain? Or maybe it’s because I’m terrified to lose what little remains of mine, and to be reminded through the lives of others I shall never lose sight of what I have? Honestly, I don’t know why.
Celebrate this Father’s Day, with your superhero while you still can. Love him, cherish him…
15 Minutes from pick up to hang up; a letter sent only to be received 22 days later; an email from an outside source, delivered to my in box days later…
Being in love while in prison, and your whole relationship is recorded and monitored. Love isn’t supposed to be hard. Loving him comes easier than breathing.
But what is hard are the dark days. When you have an overwhelming need to feel your man beside you, to feel his arms around you. Nights waking up in tears and reaching out for him, only to be reminded where you are and where he is.
When you’re at home you call or have a conversation with your significant other, and you think nothing of it. But when you’re both incarcerated, you hold on to the few moments that you get in real time. You replay the phone conversations in your head. Hearing each others voice helps ground you, reminding you why you continue to wake up every day and continue to push forward. I smile at the most random moments and thoughts of him–his pictures, letters, cards– help get me through til our next phone call.
His letters are my most cherished possessions. Knowing he lingered over these same pages, spent hours touching the same piece of paper, letting his thoughts find its way on to the page, makes me feel as close as possible to him within the circumstances.
There are years and miles between our release, but I’ve never felt closer to or wanted anyone more than I do him in my entire life. Before him I was going about my time in autopilot mode. Just breathing and stumbling around. Once he came into my life I woke up and started to live again.
In a place where negativity can consume your entire existence, discovering someone that makes you happy can feel too good to be true. He not only makes you happy but understands the true meaning of TIME, incarceration, and what it takes to walk through this journey. Yearning for the same things together.
You begin to grow with that person, lift each other up on the harder days, discover other ways of communication. Exercising your mental creativity on how to get to know each other physically, sexually and mentally. Discovering you’ve found your purpose for being in prison. You’ve met your soulmate and everything begins to make sense.
Nowhere in our sentence (mine or his) does it say we aren’t allowed to be happy. This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life, and I’m in prison with 13 and a half years to go. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. My love is being recorded and monitored, as I tell all.
I think everyone discovers, as a matter of due course in life, that reality sucks. We’re birthed into this world–by no choice of our own, mind you–and thrown into the madness of life.
”Good luck kid,” says Mother Nature, ”you’ll be lucky if you make it.” And with innocent eyes the child replies to this statement of fact, as all children inevitably do, with blind love and optimism.
And so, one endures and from time to time suffers in life, but none so much as prisoners do. ”The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering”. Ain’t that the truth. But this quote would be more accurate if it were ”The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering, lest you die first.”
Perfection? I’ve often wondered what Master Eckhardt meant by that. Isn’t perfection in the eye of the beholder? Must I really suffer to perfect the things I yearn to master?
As a prisoner I move to and fro in my cage like the hamster whose world he can see in totality. Unlike the hamster, I am aware. Yet, we prisoners share similar lives as with our hamster brethren. We blindly march from point A to point B. Forever marching to nowhere, the chow hall, the yard, the cell block–everything repetitive, and like the day before. I’d argue with Meister Eckhardt I suffered not in perfecting that.
Behind these uncaring walls suffering thrives. Men wither beneath the calloused hand of time. I see, yet don’t notice, for my mind has conditioned itself to filter the misery from the visual.
And so I go about my days passing by the sick and forlorn, the mad and aggrieved. I see not the man who cries when he thinks no one is looking, nor do I take in the aggrieved voices of the suffering. I stopped seeing and hearing years ago.
Does it really matter? After all, from suffering speeds perfection. Eventually these men will perfect what they seek. Some seek to extricate themselves from fading relationships, others seek a way out from the talons of pain of having lost loved ones while imprisoned.
I’ve suffered and I’ve submitted beneath time’s cruel claws. I’ve long since perfected. So I wander about within my cage content to pursue the things that matter to me, intentionally blind to those who haven’t. A hamster in it’s little world.
And like the hamster we prisoners exist until we don’t. Perfected in the end.
Christopher (Madison Correctional Institution) (OH)
Brutally Honest By Felicia (Ohio Reformatory for Women) (OH) Forward By Christopher (Madison Correctional) (OH)
Few jails across the country are properly equipped to handle female prisoners. I know this because I’ve heard from female prisoners in 22 states. There’s no consistency. This is in stark contrast to the widespread standard states adhere to when handling male prisoners. Why is this?
In part 6 of this series ”From County Jail to Prison’‘ Jennifer in WI wrote about the dehumanizing journey she endured while being shuffled from county jail to county jail. I wish I could say that her experience was unique, but it isn’t.
What comes to mind when you hear the word jail? Some Hollywood image perhaps? Consider what doesn’t come to mind and you’ll be closer to the truth.
Brutally Honest By Felicia
If I asked 100 people ”What comes to mind when you hear the word jail?” maybe 5 would speak of the female population. Sadly, those in jail, and those who run them, would answer this question similarly.
Women have been punished, disciplined and locked up for just as long as men. So how come we are forgotten when blueprints are being drawn up for these facilities? When procedures are being put into motion? And what about necessities for mother nature? They’re often nowhere on the list of supplies.
We have all of these ”ME TOO” movements, campaigns bringing awareness and giving women a voice. But what about the women behind bars? On a daily basis there are vulgar comments made to women just like myself, men undressing us with their eyes, coming into our shower and bathroom areas–not all, but some–making you feel like it’s more for their own curiosity and pleasures. What about us women feeling like we have to allow these men to have their way in fear of a trip to the hole? Or fear of retaliation? Where is our voice?
So the next time someone asks ‘What comes to mind when you hear the word jail?”, really think about it. What if your daughter, mother or sister was locked up? Would that change your opinion on how things are for women behind bars?