WOOHOO! Today I received notice that my transfer to LCC (Lincoln Correctional Center) was approved. Actually, at the last Toastmasters’ meeting last Thursday the guys from A/B congratulated me on getting my “bus ticket” but I hadn’t received notice. As it turns out, my approval had been here since last Wednesday so I guess someone had seen it and it took till today for them to deliver the paperwork to me. Now I wait till they come to pick me up which can take a while. Sometimes it takes a week, but my neighbor has been waiting for over 2 months and I’ve heard that a guy in C/D has been on the transfer list to LCC for 9 months. I just have to be ready to go whenever they come for me so I’ve started downsizing my property.I gave away some extra bead storage containers I had and I’m creating a mental list of whom to give what to. If I’m lucky they will tell me the night before after lockdown and I’ll be able to sort and pack by morning, leaving stuff with Jeff (my cellie) to give to people. If I’m not lucky I’ll find out at breakfast and I’ll have a couple hours to pack.

One of the biggest challenges and lesson from being incarcerated is learning to manage and accept change that is out of your control, which is most change in here. I have to prepare to move to a new facility at a moments notice. Generally, you try and settle in and develop a routine to make time pass more quickly but if you have to be prepared to pack and move you can’t be as settled as you’d like. Also,I will be going to a different facility where I’m not known and I don’t know most anyone else. Imagine your first day at a completely new high school, except the other “students” might seriously hurt you if they don’t accept you. Changing prisons is exceedingly stressful and risky, but I’ve got to go to LCC sometime to take the program NDCS is requiring me to do. Being back in Lincoln to make it easier for people to visit will be nice too. The Inspector General’s annual report also says that the new warden at LCC, hired from out-of-state rather than from within the NDCS ranks, has been implementing creative new policies. I’ve heard they have an incentive program for positive behavior, like allowing someone to order outside food once a month if they don’t get write-ups. I look forward to seeing what programs and policies they are trying. I hope the new warden won’t bar me from practicing taiji like the previous warden had while I was at D&E (which is attached to LCC).

Speaking of Inspector General Koebernick, I’ve read his 3rd annual report on NDCS. Dad has been great at sending me research materials and being my middle man in contacting officials. After reading the IG’s report I sent him an email through my dad to express my concern that NDCS is rigging the calculation of overcrowding so they won’t have to declare an overcrowding emergency in 2020 as the law requires if they are over 140%. NDCS is skewing the number lower by pooling the men’s, women’s and youth facilities. They calculate one number for all of NDCS but if the women’s or youth facilities have open beds you can’t move men there to address overcrowding in their facilities, the beds aren’t fungible. So NDCS is hiding the true extent of the overcrowding and by building additional women’s beds, which don’t help the actual overcrowding in the men’s facilities, they will fudge the numbers and avoid declaring an emergency. I had dad send the email to the IG Sunday evening and the IG replied within 10 minutes completely agreeing and suggesting I send the email to state Senator Ebke who is the chair of the Judiciary committee and the Prison Oversight (LR 127) committee. Dad forwarded it to Sen. Ebke and she replied within 30 minutes saying she would bring it to the attention of the LR 127 committee at their meeting this Friday. Only in Nebraska can you email 2 high level state officials on a Sunday evening and get them both to respond in 30 min. or less. *chuckle*

I am planning on writing an article on the same topic for the next issue of the Nebraska Criminal Justice Review (NCJR) if the new editor ever replies to one of my dad’s emails. This will also be the topic of my next Toastmasters speech next week. The speech is supposed to focus on research skills and I certainly have researched the topic. I’ve read every one of the 3 annual reports from the IG. I have almost 3 years worth of the NDCS Quarterly Datasheets that show the population per institution and their overcrowding calculation. I even have data directly from the IG via email on how many people in NDCS are parole eligible which is important if they declare an emergency. My speech may be a bit dry but it will definitely fulfill the research objective. *chuckle*

My last Toastmasters speech was quite a success. The objective was vocal variety so I told a childhood story of taking a photo of capivara (tapir in English) and getting cloths-lined. Stories allow for a lot of opportunities for vocal variety and being a personal story the audience really connected with me. I still don’t think I won the Best Speaker award because the guy after me gave his Research speech using different voices to depict different roles in a meeting. His character acting was decent and would have worked great for the vocal variety speech but his speech actually didn’t explain the roles very well and had very little actual research. So even though I nailed my speech objective and he didn’t, he made more people laugh so he’ll probably win more votes. Luckily, I’m more interested in actually giving the better speech, not winning a popularity contest. I’ve also confirmed with our Toastmasters volunteer, George, that I can finish my Competent Communicator certification by delivering my last 2 speeches outside of the club. LCC has a Gavel Club, but that’s sort of an unofficial Toastmasters club. They aren’t Toastmasters International members so can’t get certificates but it will work for me to finish my cert. I have already finished the Competent Leader cert. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to work on any of the Advanced Leader or Advanced Communicator certs unless I can convince enough guys at LCC to sign up as Toastmasters Interntional members. It takes 20 to charter a new Toastmasters chapter and the first 6 month fee is $65 for new members. That’s a lot to ask for people who earning as low as $1.21/day or roughly $25/month. Maybe we can get donations to cover the initial fees again because once chartered we only need to maintain 8 members from year to year. That may be a big project for me to work on once I get to LCC. I also offered to “work” for the IG in any capacity he could use. I had offered before when I thought I would be at NSP but then I ended up here at TSCI. Not being in Lincoln, the IG couldn’t really use me but once I’m at LCC I’ll be back in Lincoln. I even offered to just proofread his reports as I noticed a couple of errors in this year’s. *smile*

I have also started on 2 long term objectives to improve conditions for us in NDCS. The first is to try and get them to increase the $1.21/day minimum payrate. The accounting dept. here claims that rate was raised in 2010 but people who have been in the system longer than that say that NDCS actually used to pay better. I’m trying to do my research since the Admin. Regulation (AR) that established the payrate was originally created in the early 1980s and wasn’t modified until 2009. So either the accounting dept. is correct and the pay rate was changed in 2010 or it’s been the same since the early 80s. Either way, it’s due for an update as the canteen prices continue to increase annually. My second long-term objective is to get NDCS to reduce the price of photo tickets. They charge $2.50 for every photo we want taken in here at visiting or other places. $2.50 seems exceedingly steep when I would estimate that the ink costs maybe 50 cents at most. The camera and printer are purchased using Inmate Wellfare Funds, which comes from profits from canteen and soda sales, so we pay for those already. These are both NDCS wide policies so they will be exceptionally hard to change, but I’ve got at least 4.5 years to work on it. Maybe I can be such a pain in the ass to the system that they insist on me paroling at my first possible date. LOL!