Behind Bars We Still Find Joy By Felicia & Christopher

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our family, friends, and those of you that steadfastly read our weekly posts. We appreciate your dedication and time allowing us to tell our stories, and wish you abundance, blessings and happiness as we walk into 2023. No matter how difficult 2022 was, if you’re reading this God’s still with you.
If you can, we’d like you to listen to the song “Unfinished” by Mandisa, and pause for a moment to take in these beautiful lyrics. God will never leave or forsake you. Even in the darkest moments of life, he is always there. It’s easy to lose sight of this.
(Christopher): Life behind bars is difficult. It’s easy to forget that despite how bad we think we have it, there’s always someone worse off. For me, the holidays bring that into focus. I never lose sight of the good in my life. The holidays highlight the good things that we do for one another that we often miss at other times of the year.
(Felicia): I work at commissary here at Ohio Reformatory for Women. Currently creeping up on the 5 year mark of my sentence leaving me 12 to go.
We had a holiday party funded by our staff that manages commissary. She secured everything for us. We then prepared our meal and dessert, this on top of taking the time to shut down operations to allow us the free time to hang out and unwind.
(Christopher): I work with the dogs here and this year I gathered a few men together and prepared a holiday meal. Some were men in the program, others were men I respect and consider friends.
(Felicia): 3 other ladies and I stayed on an out count and prepared the meal. There was stuffing log, mac and cheese; strawberry cheesecake, lemon cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, along with sausage bites and cheese and crackers.
Our boss made an announcement thanking us for our hard work. She reminded us how everyone on the compound needs and relies upon us. She thanked us for being there and doing our part in making commissary operate.
(Christopher): My bunkie and I prepared two dozen 6″ tortilla shell pepperoni and chicken pizzas. Delicious! Using the microwaves I fried the shells to a crispness, each having been coated in a thin layer of olive oil first, and my bunkie prepared and placed the toppings.
We put sodas on ice and set up place settings at 2 tables in the dayroom. Anticipation growing the sweet aroma of pizza filling the unit.
(Felicia): I worked a number of jobs at home. No matter how hard I worked, never once was I thanked or recognized for a job well done. And yet, here in prison, a place you would never imagine there could be good, it has completely changed my life and outlook on mankind.
I work with 16 other ladies. Sitting there taking in their smiles and laughter, reminded me that things could always be worse. That even in the toughest situations, if we stick together everything will be okay.
I am surrounded by love and comfort. And I’m looking forward to spending 2023 with these women that I’ve grown to call my friends.
(Christopher): While we ate, 5 men all in the same situation of incarceration but each with their own personal struggles, I thought about how similar we all are.
All of us miss our families. While it’s tough for me I never lose sight that it’s even tougher for them. These men have children and families of their own. No matter how difficult life seems, I am thankful for the one I have. And in this evening I laughed and carried on with men who also, if not but for 30 minutes, forgot that they were in prison.
(Felicia): I am thankful that another year down is another year closer to being home.
(Christopher): One day at a time.Happy New Year to all!!

*Lettersfromchristopher is an advocacy effort highlighting incarceration in the United States.
Read more posts from this blog in the book “Behind The Wall: A Prisoner’s Journal” By Christopher Monihan. Available on Amazon in paperback and eBook.

Secret Santa by Scott Strothers

As I walked by a bookcase in the dayroom, I casually set down a mini-Butterfinger on top of it and walked away. Attached to the Butterfinger was a Post-It note with the words, “Free Butterfinger, Merry Christmas.”

Looking around the day room, I saw that there were only a few guys out there, and none of them were paying attention to me.

Continue reading “Secret Santa by Scott Strothers”

Surviving Another Holiday In Prison by Christopher & Felicia


So here we are. Another holiday season behind concrete and razor wire fencing. What number is this? I think it’s my 28th and Felicia’s fifth, but I’d need a calendar to tell you for sure. I often wonder, does it really matters at this point?

For me that’s 28 Thanksgivings, Christmas’s, New Years, holidays that used to hold special occasion and memory. Now I mostly recall snippets of a fond past.

Continue reading “Surviving Another Holiday In Prison by Christopher & Felicia”

We’re Free Again

So it’s the 4th of July. I feel more festive than usual, and I’d imagine all of you feel the same way for the same reason I do. We’ve been released from Covid Purgatory, that self imposed ”I’m a prisoner in my own home” quasi hades zone we’ve lived in since March 2020. And you all never thought you’d experience prison–ha! Welcome to my world.

The lifting of Covid restrictions has everyone dashing for vacations, buying cars and new homes. Funny what a year does thinking about the things you still want to do in life should this not be the Apocalypse after all.

There are so many staff at my institution taking vacations right now that it has been a boon for us dog handlers. I’m a handler in the staff dog program here and we have so many dogs with us right now that we’re drowning in K9 bliss. Funny how for the past year everyone wanted to be around their dogs, but now that everyone can actually go somewhere again Fido is sidelined. Ah, my gain though.

Another curious thing is  the number of staff quitting their jobs. They’re fleeing by the handfuls. It’s not just my institution either. It’s happening everywhere. I think it’s a combination of a tight labor market where better paying less stressful jobs are plentiful, and a realization after a year of pandemic that people want to do other things in life still. Who’s to say? All I know is that I’m sad to see some of the staff go. I might be a prisoner, but there are a number of good staff here. Men and women who have always treated us with dignity, respect and sincere desire to help.

I usually watch the fireworks from my window. I love the patriotic symbolism of the 4th. The town of London puts on a good show each year and I’m looking forward to what they do this year. Someone told me that Columbus, Ohio cancelled their firework display on account of pandemic concerns. What? Give me a friggin’ break. We can cram ourselves into concerts and sporting events like sardines again, but can’t watch an OUTDOOR fireworks event? Doesn’t make any sense. Does it make sense to you? At least I’ll be able to watch fireworks on television from Washington, D.C. If they cancel that one I just assume move to another country.

The holidays tend to be an adventure here. I’ve written about this before in the posts ”Cry Baby, Santa, and The Easter Bunny” and ”Groundhog Day”, but this year something odd has swept over the men. Everyone seems to be smirks and grins, which by it’s very nature would normally make me suspicious and leery. So what gives?

I think it’s because of the same reason all of you are in good spirits, lifted covid restrictions. Guys are able to workout again, move, play sports. Free to do as they please. The tension levels have dropped to near zero–unheard of.

I wonder if the past year gave guys pause and this can account for what I’m witnessing? I mean, experiencing covid sweep through my facility and watching men literally healthy one day, near death the next, gave me days on end of worry. I know it had to impact others, too.

I didn’t need covid to appreciate life, but the thought of possibly dying behind bars did cause me to frequently think of the things that matter in life. Of course, you all know this because I wrote about it. Anyhow, it all seems like a bad dream at this point.

As I write I can see from my window the fireworks show that just began at the nearby fair grounds. It’s quite a show for such a small county. I wonder if it’s bigger and nicer this year than last because of the pandemic? I guess I’ll never know.

We’re being served Angus burgers, hot dogs, potato salad and ice cream for the 4th of July. What? What the hell is going on? We never get stuff like this.

It has been a strange year, but I’m glad life is returning to normal.


Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day
By Felicia

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.

He ha

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.

Three reasons.

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)


By Christopher

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…

…Happy Father’s Day.

Christopher (Madison Correctional) (OH)