This week I received the most consequential and worst news since I’ve been down. At the start of Sept. my case manager, O’Hara, did my annual reclassification and put me in for transfer to “LCC/OCC for programming” as he was instructed to by Special Services who told him I was high on the waitlist for the iHelp program. At the end of Sept. I was informed that the DRC (Director’s Review Committee, which approves all transfers) had denied my transfer. They, of course, did not provide a reason so I went to O’Hara and asked him what was up. He eventually got back to me and said that they must not have seen that I was supposed to start the program soon so I should file a classification appeal and he would attach a copy of the email he had been sent telling him to put me in for transfer to LCC/OCC for programming. I filed the appeal at the stat of Oct. and then waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, last week I wrote O’Hara and our Unit Manager, Oltroge, and ask them what was up. I still haven’t heard back from them but I this past Tues. got a letter stating that my appeal was denied on the 22nd of Oct., 2 weeks prior. There was no reason given and my copy of the appeal form had even been torn in half so I couldn’t see what my unit manager had written in support of my appeal.

Why is this the most consequential and worst news I’ve received since being incarcerated? The program, iHelp, takes on average 2.25 years to complete (NDCS says it should take 18 months but their own quarterly data for the past 3 years says differently) and I have just under 3.5 years until my first parole eligibility date (PED). I had hoped to finish iHelp with enough time to go to community corrections before my first parole hearing because they like to have people go through community corrections to transition back into society. Now, I will have to wait another year before I can be reclassified which means I’ll have 2.5 years left and there won’t be time to get to community corrections before my PED so it is likely the parole board will not parole me at my first date but will send me to community corrections for a while. Bottom line, this delay is likely to increase the time I am incarcerated. That is pretty bad news.

Because of this news I’ve been as depressed as I’ll let myself get for the past few days. I wish there were something I could do about it but there’s no appealing the appeal, and, of course, they didn’t even say why I was denied so I can’t refute their reasoning (because there is none). It’s particularly frustrating that one part of the bureaucracy is contradicting another, but I’m not even supposed to know about this Special Services, or that they said I was high on the waitlist, so how can I get them to advocate for my transfer? *sigh*

It’s also frustrating that my parents and McK don’t seem to recognize the magnitude of this denial. My mother was upset that I was taking the time to explain what was going on because she was busy with visitors who were staying over. I’m getting lots of support from everyone in here, but I had hoped that my family would want to fight to get me out as early as possible. I’ll do what I can from in here but the system doesn’t listen to those who are in it. *grrr*

Last night as Toastmasters I gave a speech and I chose to make it on Reframing, a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy skill. It helps you to break out of a negative thought cycle/spiral by looking at an issue from a different perspective. I gave a couple of examples of how I had used it in the past and then told everyone about the denial of my transfer and applied Reframing to that. It is not all negative that I’m not moving. I am back in a cell with Jeff, my cellie from F gallery for over 2 years, and we get along great. I’m on a very quiet gallery which makes it easier to read and to make phone calls. I get to continue with Toastmasters, which they don’t have at LCC or OCC. I can continue beading, which isn’t allowed at OCC. I may even get to use my Intentional Peer Support (IPS) training and help others here. There’s no IPS at LCC or OCC.

IPS isn’t exactly taking off here at TSCI either though. The Associate Warden in charge of programs, Cruickshank (who’s father is the Warden at OCC), is slow rolling the roll out of the program. She is still only allowing staff referrals for IPS meetings, rather than allowing people to request a meeting themselves. This is causing a lot of frustration from people who want to meet but don’t want to go through staff to explain why. Of course, the fact that the main facilitator, Club Manager Gigstad, left her job for a position in the private sector (though still working with the formerly incarcerated) has thrown a kink in the scheduling process too. The TSCI staff at large also don’t seem to be aware of the program either. A buddy from F gallery, Wheels, went to holding twice this week and saw the sign that AW Cruickshank posted there telling people they could ask to talk to someone from IPS. When he asked he was told by the Ltn. that the program wasn’t available in holding…even though there was a sign posted right there on the wall. Wheels told me about this on Wed. and yesterday (Thurs.) he went on suicide watch. I guess he’s still been asking to talk to me because someone did try and get me yesterday evening to speak to him but I was at Toastmasters. Maybe I’ll see him today. I hope he’s ok, though it’s never comfortable to be on suicide watch. They strip you naked and put you in what we call a turtle suit, sort of like a straight jacket, and lock you in an unfurnished cell. I wonder if they would have taken Wheels’ wheel chair too?

I have been doing a lot of research and work fine-tuning the legal arguments for my 191 law suit. I sent a letter to the Inspector General with the arguments and asked him to take a serious look at it. I hope he does because a law suit will waste a lot of time and energy on my part and on the state’s part. We’ll see