Thanksgiving in Prison

Jason Neff sent the following email — via CorrLinks — to friends and family members on Thanksgiving. thought it was worth reprinting.  We contacted Jason who kindly granted permission to share his heartfelt words.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love you and miss you all. Know that I’m smiling this morning. I am very happy, as strange as that may sound. It is hard to say I’m “thankful” for a 5th Thanksgiving INCARCERATED but I do acknowledge the many blessings over these last years.

Of course I am thankful to be alive, and wow, to have email-access to send (this) message! I slept well in a warm bunk last night. I have one of 5 cells of 125 that have an actual sink with a handle (the others require a constant button push, which provides a 3 second stream of water). I have even pre-ordered an extra tray for the Thanksgiving meal today, the best of the year (in the feds) for only 10 stamps. On and on I could go…

I have learned to accept what I do have and be thankful. I have learned that worldly things do not equate to happiness. While most of America is sold on the NEW, BETTER, FASTER, more, more & more approach, I have, perforce, come to admire a minimalist approach. Though most of my life I have never had to go without, I’ve never really done without, never been deprived of much. In fact nearly everything I could ever was handed to me all my life; probably somewhat to my detriment. And regretfully, I was never thankful or even recognized it. I’ve had time to reflect, to grow, to think, and to learn – for that I am indeed thankful. This experience is humbling and eye opening. I’ve been forced to learn many things. Also to rescind control to my captors and the powers that be, to learn to accept things I cannot control. (I’m told when to stand up as I’m counted like an animal throughout the day, herded through a line for “chow” at specific times, permitted access to a shower room at specific times, etc.)

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Another Exciting Day In Seagoville

By Jason Neff

I’m struggling this morning to not fly off the handle. As usual I’m beyond frustrated dealing with the incompetence, and ridiculous bullshit that is the norm in the Bureau of Prisons.

Counselor Bob De la Torre arrives at my cell pushing a cart with a box. He mentions my lawyer was waiting out front to pick up boxes of my legal work.

About a week after returning from the hole, I was given some of my property, but Lt. Montgomery would not permit me to have 2 boxes of discovery, claiming they were books, and I had too many already. When in reality the bag he thought was my property that contained several books belonged to another inmate who had returned from the hole over a month ago. It was his property which was never returned to him. Upon going through the voluminous disarray of my new property contained in trash bags, I realized it wasn’t all mine, and based upon the book selections another inmate helped me locate the correct owner, who was quite happy. Of course with property lists and procedure for securing property, one has to question how this is so commonplace. The guy mentioned when he returned from the hole, they had even given him someone else’s stuff and failed to return his property. The property given to him by SHU (Special Housing Unit, which is what they refer to as the hole, solitary, segregation in the feds) Property Officer B. Jones was random mail, and family photos of an inmate who had just left to prison that had been in the hole.

Anyhow, I went into my cell with this empty box provided from the counselor standing at my cell door, quickly stacked legal papers inside, added a photo album, stacks of pictures that were somehow mostly damaged through my transfer to the hole by staff, and a few stacks of envelopes and letters I’ve received over the last few years.

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