A while ago on NPR I heard this quotation:
As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.
While there is a criminal element, I am of it.
While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
– Eugene V. Debs
That is the kind of activist spirit I intend to have for the rest of my life. *smile*
Big news here. This past Friday I went to my annual parole review in front of 2 members of the Parole Board (PB). It went very well. I was EXTREMELY nervous before going in but once it started I relaxed and it became a casual conversation. As one point the member leading the questioning asked me what taiji was, because I had said I practice it to handle stress. I explained the best definition I had ever heard was that taiji is meditation in motion (from Master Chen Man-Ching). When he said he might have to look into that I suggested he could look up a group that practices in Papillion or the Lincoln Taiji group. So it was very casual and conversational. Later that day, I ran into a reentry specialist, Harlan, who had been in the back of the room. I asked her if they had said anything after I left. She said the guy doing the questioning had commented that he was really impressed with how well spoken and polite I was but the PB chair had questioned whether it was just an act that I was putting on. As Harlan knows me from the yard they asked her opinion and she confirmed that the way I presented myself to them is how I am every day. I had even convinced her to start doing yoga which she now does regularly with her kids so she has a good impression of me.
They set a parole “hearing” for me for 3/2023. Setting a public hearing, instead of a review, means that they are considering paroling me at that meeting. It is also a public hearing where people can submit written testimony in favor (or opposed) to my parole and a few people are allowed to testify in person. I hope to have McKarious and my parents testify at the hearing but all are welcome to send in written statements. *smile*
A big benefit of getting a hearing set is that I can now be classified for Community Custody (CC), commonly referred to as Work Release. However, you must do Work Detail, doing road crew or grounds-keeping for state buildings for instance, until you are within a year of your hearing. Once you’re within a year of your hearing, you can start working a real job in the community through Work Release. I also have to go through the classification process, which can take a month, and wait to get transferred, which will probably take 6-9 months. So I will probably remain here at OCC for a while yet.
There are 2 CC facilities, one in Lincoln and a smaller one in Omaha. I told them I would gladly go to either one. I will parole to Lincoln and have friends and family there so it would be good to go there and reconnect with my support network. But, I could also go to Omaha and take advantage of educational opportunities at Metro Community College (MCC) here. MCC has a Google IT boot camp I would like to enroll in to refresh my tech skills and they also offer a Paralegal program which I would like to take. Also, the CC facility in Omaha (CCCO) is less crowded, and has less “politics” and violence. But I know several people who are doing just fine in Lincoln (CCCL).
I am also just finishing up a refresher training in IPS (Intentional Peer Support). I was certified in Tecumseh and helped launch the IPS program there but they didn’t have it at OCC when I got here. The Mental Health Association of NE finally decided to bring IPS to OCC and asked me and another guy who did it at Tecumseh to join in their training and to participate in the launch here. That will give me something to dedicate myself to while waiting for classification and transfer to CC.
I’m still leading 2 yin yoga classes each week and, even though the guy I taught taiji to over the past year left for CC, there is a new guy who wants to be taught so I’ll keep teaching taiji. I also am preparing to present oral arguments before the NE Supreme Court in my 191 good time lawsuit. I even wrote a rather detailed and well researched letter to state senators arguing against building a new max/med. prison, so I am keeping busy with activism too.
I hope to start making journal and forum posts more frequently now that I’m done with programming and have a hearing set. Take care and be safe.