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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Just marking time

As I've said before, I don't want this to be "just another inmate-wife blog". That's why I don't blog about the minute details of what we deal with on our journey, and why I throw in my handcrafts and other stuff now and again. I'm more than just an inmate's wife, just as hubby is more than an inmate or defined solely by his crime. We're individuals who just happen to be in this situation together at the moment.

But some things keep rearing their ugly heads time and again, and right now it's the phone situation. It's funny sometimes when I find myself explaining it to someone else, as I did this morning to a good friend, and I find a justification or partial explanation in what I'm saying as I say it that I had not fully comprehended before. In case you didn't already know, TDCJ inmates had a phone system installed around 2 years ago, but there are strict conditions of use, the main ones being:

Inmates can only call those who are
  • on their visit list
  • registered with the phone company and have a landline in their name
  • resident in the USA (excluding Alaska and Hawaii)
To start with, the number of minutes per month was also strictly regulated. Then it went up to 240 per month, and now it has just become "unlimited". However the other conditions still apply.

This means that a TDCJ inmate can chatter away to their heart's content with a US penpal they have never met and possibly have only exchanged a couple of letters with over the course of a few weeks, yet I cannot talk to my husband at all under any circumstances except if I can get there for a visit, when we have been married for almost 6 years and I knew him before his crime. Tell me how this is fair.

But what I was explaining to my friend earlier is that TDCJ are not discriminating against hubby. He can use the phone system just like any of the other inmates in general population can. The issue is, I am discriminated against because of where I live. He has registered, has recorded his voice, is in general population and not Ad Seg or on Death Row, so in the eyes of TDCJ and the Texas legislators I am the one in the wrong because I live in the wrong place. And why should they care? They have provided what TIFA and other advocate groups asked for; a phone service.

We've dealt with it for the past 7 years since he moved from county jail into TDCJ and we'll continue to deal with it, but sometimes things happen that would be much simpler to deal with by spending just a few minutes of real-time talking. Right now, his mum is dying, and there are things we need to discuss and work out, but we have to do it through letters that take around 10 days to cross the ocean. Tell me how this is fair.

No, tell the Texas legislators that it is NOT fair. Please.

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