I just found, in a sealed envelope in a plastic tub in my attic, several legal pads that were part of the journal I kept during my incarceration.  I had mailed them home to Mom in 1994.  And since she knew what they were and respected my privacy, she did not even open the envelope, though I’d fully expected her to do so (and even included a short note to her).

I’m going through these to refresh my memory (though some memories seem to need no refreshing) as I write my book of memoirs.  While I’m at it, I’m thinking about entering the entire handwritten text into Microsoft Word for future convenience (and in case, god forbid, something unexpected would happen like the house burning down).  That’s a herculean task I’m not certain I’ll be able to complete if I want to get anything else done this year.  But as long as I am doing it, I figure I may as well post excerpts on my blog, both to sate my friends’ curiosity and to (perhaps) generate interest in my book.

Here’s a little context for the entry I’m about to post.

Summer 1992 – The crime for which I was incarcerated allegedly occurred.

October 1993 – After over a year free on bond, I was convicted and sentenced to 7-to-25 years in prison.

October 1993 to February 1994 – In the Lorain County jail, I awaited transfer to a state prison.

February 1994 to May 1994 – I resided in a state prison in Grafton, Ohio (Lorain Correctional Institution, a reception center where all new state inmates from northern Ohio are housed while they are classified and assessed before being assigned to a “parent institution”).

May 1994 to June 2004 – I served the rest of my sentence at the Marion Correctional Institution.

The following are my first journal entries upon arriving at the state’s Lorain Correctional Institution in Grafton (not to be confused with the Lorain County jail) in February of 1994.  Every word is true, although I tended to downplay my fear somewhat because I didn’t want family at home (who, for all I knew, might have read these words) to worry too much.  If I need to add anything for clarification’s sake, I will do so in brackets [like these].

Though these are my first journal entries in “prison,” I had written 309 journal pages during the previous four months while I waited at the county jail.  So this selection covers handwritten pages 310 through 312 of what I call my “Incarceration Chronicles.”


Saturday 19 February 1994
morning


Last Thursday, I went back to sleep after breakfast.  At 9:30, I was awakened and told to pack my belongings.  It was penitentiary time.
    I regret that I had to leave Anna Karenina unfinished. I barely got to say goodbye to Mike.  I wish I would have gotten embossed envelopes before I was shipped.  Now I must wait for them and a writing utensil until I get out of orientation and go to commissary.  Finally I got to write a free letter and make a phone call today.  I called Dad and wrote to Pam.  The guard will collect our letters tomorrow.  Mom is at Salt Fork with Ben.
    I nearly passed out while waiting for my physical examination yesterday.  They had me lie on the floor and put my knees up until I recovered.  I can get fillings and whatever else my teeth need at my permanent institution.  All they will do here is extract, if necessary.  I’ll wait.
    I fear a week’s worth of mail will be lost between the county jail and here.  Nobody has my new address; and I won’t be able to notify anyone [else] about my move for another week and a half.  Hopefully, Pam or Mom will file a change of address for me at the post office.
    I’ve been reading in my Bhagavad-gita As It Is (with translations and commentaries by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada).  I’m very happy to have something to read.  I’ve also been practicing yoga a little.  I really don’t endorse such escapes.  But, at least for the present, it helps prevent the onslaught of depression and self-pity.
    My new address is:

                John [B.] #284-742
                Lorain Correctional Institution
                2075 South Avon Belden Road
                Grafton, Ohio 44044

    I gave a guy ten sheets of paper to be able to use this pencil.  So I won’t be able to write, probably, until I can go to commissary in over a week.  I have to give it back to him sometime today.

* * *

Mon. 21 Feb. 1994
evening

Fortunately I was able to borrow this pencil from a guy who borrowed three sheets of paper earlier.
    We did nothing today, due to the Presidents Day holiday.  Last night, the nurse read our arms – I am negative for tuberculosis.  I’ve had a cough for the past several days; I know not whether it’s from exposure to the cold, smoke or both.
    Last night, I finally got to shower and call Mom.  Yesterday, too, I finished reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is and began it anew.  I continued in it today.
    My stomach has been cramped lately – probably from having to eat so fast.
    The breakfasts here are better than at the county jail.  The lunches and suppers are usually worse, though the spaghetti is better.
    I washed out my dirty underclothes in the sink yesterday.
    The beds are more comfortable here, though I miss the pillow I had in the county jail.
    Hopefully, by the end of this week we’ll be moved out of this reception housing.  Now I am in unit 3A, cell 223, top bunk.  I miss my bottom bunk.
    This place isn’t so bad.  If I only had my personal hygeine items, a writing utencil, stamped envelopes and some more books, I would be fairly satisfied.  When we are moved, I should be able to find a few books in the new pod; and we’ll be able to get commissary.
    From what I understand, my visiting days here are the first and third Wednesdays of each month.  I’m not sure of the times.  I hope the late session is late enough so Pam or whoever won’t have to miss work.
    At least here we can see out of our cell windows.  Though they are barred, we can even open them to get fresh air.
    Chris [last name expurgated], who Pam and I knew (and I couldn’t stand) from the downtown Elyria bars, was the officer who went through my belongings and strip searched me on Thursday.  How humiliating!  I am better than him, but he got to look down upon me.  At least he pretended not to know me and was polite.
    In the chow hall, I saw another officer we know, Debbie the dyke, from 1504.  She is a really nice woman.  Anyway, I was so embarrassed to be here that I avoided and pretended not to see her. I think she saw me, though.

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