I had my annual reclassification this past weekend and the case manager (Domino) put me in for a transfer to LCC (Lincoln Correctional Center out on West Van Dorn). I had been trying to meet with the Unit Manager (Oltroge) for over 3 months to discuss my reclassification ahead of the actual review and when it became clear that he wasn’t going to see me before then I wrote him a kite explaining that I had been classified for LCC last Sept. but that it was denied at some higher level (apparently the DRC, Director’s Review Committee which approves all transfers) because then weren’t moving PC inmates from TSCI to GP at LCC at that time. When I saw people being moved to PC to LCC not 2 months later, I asked to be put on the waitlist to go too but he had told me to wait till my reclassification this Sept. Since last Sept. I had also been told I have to take the iHelp sex-offender (SO) treatment program which is only offered at LCC so I wanted to be put in for a transfer once again. He actually read the kite before my review and told the Domino to reclassify me for LCC. Now I just need to wait and see if the DRC denies me again this year like they did last year. This time I have the “advantage” of needing to go to LCC eventually for the program that is only offered there but they could say that I have time before my PED (parole eligibility date) so I can wait. I give it about a 50/50 chance that I get approved.

The main reason I’ve been trying to get to LCC is that is it back in Lincoln which would make it sooooooo much easier for people to visit me. The yard there is all GP even though they have 1/2 of one gallery that is the highest level treatment program for SOs. What’s the logic in that??? And I have heard that they have an incentive program for good behavior where they let you order outside food occasionally if you’re write-up free. Well, I haven’t had a single write-up since I came to prison so I think that would be good for me. The down side is that the facility is older (from the 70’s) so the cells are smaller and I would have to move back up to a top bunk until my cellie left. Also, Dugger, a friend who was on F gallery before he was sent to LCC to take the program, just got in a fight there and sent to the hole. I don’t know all the details yet but it seems that he and another guy in the program were being hassled by some GP inmates and it became a fight. That’s what happens when they only offer the SO program on a GP yard. *sigh* I’ve also heard rumors of SOs are also forced to pay “rent” to GP inmates to be allowed to stay on the yard. Well, I won’t be paying any rent nor will I fight anyone but if either issue arrises I will definitely explain to NDCS that making SOs be under threat on a GP yard to take a program that is required to earn parole is NOT offering “adequate access or availability” to programming as they are required to be in NE statute. Unfortunately, if that happens I’m sure it wouldn’t be resolved before my PED came and went so I would at least miss my earliest possible parole date.

I should know within a few weeks if I am going or not but if I am not transferred to LCC then I could put in to move to OCC (Omaha Correctional Center) because it is a lower custody prison and it would be less restrictive than here … in theory. I don’t think I’ll ask for that though because I’ve heard that OCC has more politics than it used to and people get beaten up there for being SOs too. So I’d probably stay here for another year. On the up side they don’t stop me from doing taiji, the cells are bigger and I have a bottom bunk. *smile*

Last week I also started leading a yin yoga class in the dayroom of my gallery on Friday mornings. Tomorrow will be our second session. Danny, one of the latino guys, has been injuring himself with his very intense workouts so he asked if I’d show him and his workout crew how to do the yoga that I do every day over count. Last week I just introduced them to the asanas (postures) that I’ve worked into a flow that can be done on a prison bunk. We only did them for 1 minute last week but this week I’ll up that to 1:30 and work our way up to at least 3 min. per asana. There were 4 students last week and I think there will be a couple more this week. Eventually it might be most of the gallery. *chuckle* So if I have to stay here at least I’ll be able to continue teaching them yin yoga unless the admin. decides it’s some sort of gang activity and stops us. *rolls his eyes*

I was talking with a kid named Lynn recently and he was saying how he wasted his chance to learn when he was in high school because he was too busy getting high and in trouble. He wished he could go back now because he’d be more motivated to learn. I told him that he didn’t need school to learn. I asked how he thought I had learned to do bead weaving. I didn’t know anything about it before coming to prison but I spent 6 months reading every book the library here had on the topic and now I’m doing what I consider pretty good work. I also go to the library 1-2 times a week now just to read Scientific American because I’m always curious about new scientific advances. So, if he is really motivated to learn he should choose a subject and go research it at the library. That is the great thing about humans, we can gain knowledge on something without even having to have an expert present to explain it (though that can make learning easier, for sure). No other animal on our planet has learned to pass knowledge (or culture, as the literature calls it) on by anything other than direct example. Some rudimentary forms of language may exist among other animals but none has a written or “permanent” form. That is a significant part of what has made us the most successful species on the planet…for better or worse (weeds are successful too). As you might have guessed, Lynn has not started studying his favorite subject on his own yet. *sigh*

Tonight we had a special Toastmasters’ meeting. Instead of the usual 3-4 prepared speeches and then a few impromptu table topics it was a full night of table topics. Table topics are short (1-2 min.) impromptu speeches on topics that are assigned by the Table Topics Master who chooses each speaker at random from the group. It was an interesting night, especially because most table topics are silly/humorous. I really wanted to be chosen for the topic “Give a motivational speech to a sloth.” I would have flipped expectations and tried to motivate the sloth to go even slower, to be the best darn sloth he could be, to perfect his essence. But I didn’t get picked. *pout* I was the Toastmaster, the person who usually introduces the prepared speakers but tonight my job was to randomly choose the 4 Table Topics Masters who then choose the speakers. It was a fun evening and the best part is that having filled the Toastmaster role I have now completed the Toastmasters’ Competent Leader certificate. *cheer* I’m glad to get that done because there isn’t a Toastmasters club at LCC (yet) so if I get transferred I won’t be able to finish the certificates. I need to get as much done while I am still here. Now I just need to do 4 more prepared speeches and I’ll have finished my Competent Communicator certificate too. I’m currently scheduled to do my last speech in Jan. but I’m going to try to get it done sooner. Of course, once I get to LCC (if I get there) I will try to start another new Toastmasters chapter but I’ll have to find at least 20 other guys who are willing to pay the Toastmasters International membership fees of $45 every 6 months. That’s pretty steep for guys who typically earn at little as $25/mo, or $10/mo if they have to pay child support, and that has to cover all their hygiene and food needs. Our volunteers from Toastmasters on the outside have been working hard to raise funds to help guys cover their dues here but we’d have to start all over at LCC. At least the beaded jewelry I donated raised some money at the fundraiser auction a few weeks ago. *smile* I’d have to make a whole lot of jewelry to cover a full new chapter. *chuckle* I’ll just focus on finishing up as much as I can while I’m still here at TSCI and IF I move to LCC I’ll work on that then.

09-27-18 Fri update

Well, they took our microwave again! The memo says “After reviewing incident and misconduct reports for the month of September, the warden and I have noted a significant number of reports for homemade alcohol, intoxication and/or substance abuse. Because of the numerous safety issue this can and has caused, the HU #1F microwave is being removed for a period of 30 days beginning 9-28-18, with the last day being 10-27-18. It will be returned on 10-28-18.” So once again they are punishing the entire gallery for the misbehavior of a few. I have repeatedly tried to point out that collective punishment actually increases the risk of inmate-on-inmate violence because they are basically asking us to “regulate” each other but they don’t seem to care. I submitted another grievance tonight that reads:

I am requesting that the TSCI admin cease its pattern of using collective punishment as it fundamentally fails to improve safety.

Over the past 18 months the microwave has been removed from F gallery 5 times. Each time it is justified by, as the most recent memo put it, “safety issues” concerning alcohol, intoxication and substance abuse. The microwave has nothing to do with these infractions so its removal is purely punitive and does not directly improve any of the “safety issues” raised.

As a matter of fact it actually directly increases the risk of inmate-on-inmate violence. The rationale behind collective punishment is either that you don’t know who in the group is guilty or because you wish the group to “regulate” itself. As you use the number of MRs (misconduct reports) to justify the collective punishment you obviously know the guilty parties so your intention must be to have those who are not involved enforce your policies on those who are. You are actually promoting and sanctioning inmate-on-inmate violence. Even if you call the microwave a privilege, taking it away from everyone, instead of punishing the minority who are involved, is counter-productive to improving “safety issues.”

If you are truly concerned with safety issues you should step up enforcement of violations of alcohol, intoxication and substance abuse. Punish the minority who violate those policies more significantly. Maybe bring in the drug dog more than once a year. Don’t punish those who aren’t involved expecting them to do your job for you but with violence.

As this pattern of collective punishment has continued for the entire 1.5 yrs I have been here I will continue this grievance process until the admin. recognizes the counter-productive nature of collective punishment. Simply returning the microwave will not end my grievance. Please let me know when the admin. acknowledges that collective punishment is counter-productive to institutional safety and ceases to use it.