Archive for the ‘Inmate Art’ Category

I’ve been out of the loop for a while. Very busy with Gina’s Team plus more surgery just last week. More anesthesia brain. Typing is a challenge. Trying to rest but I had to send this out.

We do a lot of meaningful things at Gina’s Team. One is greeting women at the gate upon release with a big hug and a “Welcome Back.” Diane Bondurant, a graduate of our GAT program (Gina’s ATHENA Team), was recently released. She is a talented and intelligent woman as well as a creative artist. I asked her to write about the day of her release to give you a peek at those first hours. Here is her version:

                                Over the Fence and Into Reality

Sue Ellen maintains that being released from prison is like being shot out of a cannon blindfolded. She is absolutely correct. Regardless of how much time you’ve done, your release date approaches rapidly and no matter how much you have tried to mentally prepare for getting out, there is nothing you can imagine that is even close to the experience of getting released from prison.

When you are released from prison, prepare to be awakened the night before your release at all hours of the night. Between 10-11pm, the guards will bring you bags for your property, inventory your property, allow you to go back to sleep and then wake you up prior to 4am count to cart you down to Complex where the real release processing takes place. . Prepare to be up for at least 24 hours straight.

The general rule of thumb is that you need to give back everything that State Issue gave you originally or you may be charged for missing items. Anything you purchased that has ADC on it can go to anyone you choose-so donating your sweatshirt , those comfy sweat pants or that beanie to someone is ok-they don’t inventory the clothing you bought. You actually just leased it, but let’s not split hairs! The rest of your stuff will be listed on a property sheet and transported to the gate at complex to await your arrival.

After 4 am count, you will be transported to complex to await the processing that is to come. Drop your stuff at the strip shack and park it; it will be awhile. In about an hour, you’ll be summoned into the center of the complex to take your exit pictures, receive meds (if you take meds) and then will be allowed to sit in the complex courtyard (smoke ‘em if you’ve got ‘em-if you’re a smoker bring some cigarettes with you from the yard) to wait for the financial end of things to get under way.

About  2 hours later, you’ll be summoned to another room, given a packet that contains your exit ID and your debit card that your salary and savings account monies have been transferred to.  The officer doing the debit card activation allows everyone in the room to activate their debit card and then we’re all herded out to the gate area. If you were fortunate enough to get clothes sent in to you via a catalog (LL Bean, Land’s End etc.), you will be handed the clothes that were ordered for you and will go to the strip shack to change.

If you had relatives send you clothing, you will be handed whatever outside clothing DOC picks for you and be told to wear that out of the gate. You will then have to go down to the next building and pick up the clothing you were sent at the main property window.

Although you protest about the outfit you are handed, you know that you would walk across hot coals completely naked to get the hell out of Perryville. You accept the outfit (regardless of how it looks or fits) and you change into the DOC provided white vinyl skirt and hot pink stilettos in the strip shack. (Seriously, you wonder where some of those clothes come from.)

You stand in front of the gate with your storage boxes in front of you, waving to  people who are picking you up. The nightmare in orange is almost over. The gate opens slowly and you see friends, loved ones, or people from designated agencies sent to pick you up. You heave a sigh of relief. There is nothing like the joy you feel when stepping over the threshold from prison into the parking lot. It is awesome, overwhelming, and frightening at the same time. Parole or probation, be damned- being granted your freedom is a zen moment, and you will be called upon to make some BIG decisions. Only YOU can make the decision to go and rebuild a better life for yourself or to return to a life that will ultimately return you to Perryville. You are at the spork in the road, and only YOU can make this life choice. Here are some helpful things to remember:

  • Don’t be afraid of a job search- feel the fear, the anxiety, and do it anyway!!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – be grateful (and say so) when people provide it.
  • Give back! Give of yourself, your time, your talents, your money and your possessions to others-it will return to you tenfold
  • This is an abundant universe and the Creator will always take care of us-just ask!


Read Full Post »

Most of you know that from July 2002 to March 2009, I lived in a cave, a grey and brown cave of razor wire, concrete and dust. Inmates in Arizona prisons have no access to computers or the internet. While the world was exploding with cell phones and websites, I was reading about it in TIME magazine and OPRAH. 

As a free woman, the world of social media, websites, and computers both dazzles me and gives me a giant headache. I love it and yet, it overwhelms me. Today I felt both dazzled and overwhelmed. The culprit was a gentle giant named Max Sandoval. Don’t you love that name? It sounds like a secret agent or a gourmet chef or perhaps an haut couture fashion designer. Actually, he is the guardian angel who volunteered to design a web page for my book, The Slumber Party from Hell. He knew I was desperate and pathetically challenged. If I do it myself, it will be finished in 2020. 

Max gave me a mountain of assignments. He has created the site. It’s actually up and you can visit, BUT there are a lot of holes. Max needs copy. That’s my job. On the site, there is a big black square for pictures. What kind of pictures? I lost all mine years ago when I lost everything else. I have a brainstorm. I’ll use the pictures that were part of my presentation at IGNITE Phoenix called “The Art of Creativity in a Prison Wasteland.” You can actually go to You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHGaZQAkn5g to watch it. I consider that magic. In it I compare art from the Great Masters to inmates’ art. Most people don’t realize how many talent people are behind bars. The art astounds them.

On my prison journey I met some very talented artists. Some of them are right there in that big black square. Not all of them are from Perryville; some are from other prisons. You can find some beautiful original inmate art on http://prisonsfoundation.org/art.html  One inmate said, “Art stretches the imagination, jumpstarts creativity and focuses the mind.” It can be an integral part of rehabilitation.

Consider the great masters and the work they have inspired behind the wires. At the same time, consider my new website. There are hundred of hours of work in it already and many more to come. While you’re considering, be gentle. Remember I was in a cave for a long time and the Blogosphere is blinding. And while you’re at it, consider my book, The Slumber Party from Hell. It’s a bird’s eye view of what prison is really like. You know you’re curious.


Read Full Post »