jPay Message #333

My bunkie finally got his date from the parole board; he goes home next week. Im happy for him (although im uneasy about who may replace him). Hes been down since ’03, I was in junior high. He’s never seen a smartphone. I just let him know that it’s a totally different world than the one he left, but he already seems to know that. I think he’s a little nervous. After all, he couldve already been home, had not his first parole interview gone so sideways. Granted, it was with King, who’s the biggest asshole on the board, infamous for never letting anyone feel like they have a shot at going home soon. King also likes to dive into your criminal history and institutional record, and then make sweeping generalizations about what a piece of shit you are, and how convictions from over a decade or two ago still define today. Ive watched tough ass dudes leave their interview with King, not exactly crying, but wanting to. Anyways, my bunkie apparently told King to suck his dick (swag) when he began his you’re-a-menace-to-society spiel, and walked out the room. He got an 18 month flop in return.

Seeing other prisoners go home is actually a psychological boon, a reminder that there’s an end to this nightmarish limbo. I didn’t always feel that way. In county jail, where people routinely come in for a week and are out by the weekend, I found their brief incarceration annoying and unfair. Worse still, I saw a half dozen or so break down, start crying, and bemoan how their life is all fucked up because they were sentenced to 3 months and then a month of inpatient rehab, all the while I knew I was facing years in the joint. I wanted to smack the dumb luck outta em.

At higher security level prisons, watching another prisoner leave on parole is extremely uncommon–in 8 years, you’d see only 2-4 guys go home at best. It’s such a rarity that there’s a common ritual for the day before you go home: all your homeboys swarm up around you and then pummel the shit out of you (well, technically you’re supposed to fight back), kinda like the opening scenes of “Ant Man.” 

While that’s cool and cinematic and all, there’s a huge drawback to paroling from a level 2 or 4 prison. As a rule, it’s best to keep your exact release date to yourself, maybe with the exception of sharing with bros you’re close to, until you’re a couple weeks from the door, and sometimes not even then. Some guys start acting funny if they know someone is going home; they’ll try to bait the parolee-to-be, treating him like a bitch, wanting him to react and “jack rec” (yard-speak for doing something rash, like scrap, that’d result in a parole suspension, if not a full revocation). This dynamic is amplified in higher levels, where there are guys doing double digits and lifers, who literally have nothing to lose. They’re institutionalized beyond redemption, “burnt” as its called, from doing so many years, that they resent the fact someone on the rock is going home.

My ERD (earliest release date) feels so far off in the future I dont know even what it is exactly. I dont know wanna think about it. Although Im not really stoked about getting a new bunkie, I am happy for my current one to be going home soon. I just know that, when my other cubies start seeing the board, it’ll almost be my time.

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