Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.
Inmate names are changed.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
McCracken County Jail, Spring, 2008
Christie has been denied drug court for her nonviolent drug-related charges, and issued a 24-year sentence. Her treatment denial was based on one of three counties wanting her to do time, rather than engage in the rigorous monitoring of drug court.
Drug court is not a joke, nor is it a get-out-of-jail-free card. The person must be employed, and available for drug testing on the spot, at any given time of the day or night. The person calls on the telephone, twice a day, to report to a counselor. In-court meetings are required, as are, I believe, twelve-step meetings. Drug court is time-intensive, and heavy with documentation. In order to be considered suitable for drug court, the candidate must plead guilty to her crime, and must agree to serve a lengthy sentence if, for some reason, she fails to follow the rules to the letter.
Here are ten essential components of drug court, from wiki:
<blockquote>The 10 Key Components
Drug Courts integrate alcohol and other drug treatment services with justice system case processing.
Using a non-adversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety. Participants must waive their due process rights to a speedy trial and sign a pre-emptive confession before being allowed to participate.
Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the Drug Court program.
Drug Courts provide access to a continuum of alcohol, drug and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.
Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and other drug testing.
A coordinated strategy governs Drug Court responses to participants compliance.
Ongoing judicial interaction with each Drug Court participant is essential.
Monitoring and evaluation measure the achievement of program goals and gauge effectiveness.
Continuing interdisciplinary education promotes effective Drug Court planning, implementation, and operations.
Forging partnerships among Drug Courts, public agencies, and community-based organizations generates local support and enhances Drug Court effectiveness.</blockquote>
Drug court is notable in the inmate community for what happens to inmates who relapse. They can end up serving more time than they ever possibly imagined, more time than killers, even. For this reason, some inmates who truly want to get clean and sober, but who have a tendency to slip and slide during this process, will choose to do the time instead. I have seen some spectacular drug court failures. Inmates who get served out on a sentence behind drug court failure consistently report regret.
There are also some wonderful drug court success stories. Here is the site with more information
. People who successfully complete the rigors of drug court often become mentors in the recovery community.
Shortly after Christie was denied drug court, she was shipped to prison, and while I was happy that she was going to a better place than the jail, her departure broke my heart. Never in my adult life had I been close to women, but in this disaster situation, I came to love Christie (and Tina) like sisters. Later on during my incarceration, after my fake release
on parole, Christie, Tina and I will spend time together in prison, at PeWee Valley KCIW.
I cried when Christie left. Such is the nature of incarceration. You exchange the most intimate details of your lives with each other and then....poof. They're gone. After a while, you learn not to get too close to anybody. People may think that you are arrogant, but really, it is a simple matter of self-preservation.
After Christie leaves, I keep to myself and write. This morning, I did some standing-in-place exercises. Then I read Wisdom 3:1-12. For breakfast we had eggs, one slice of toast, cream of wheat, sausage and half a banana. I write everything down, inane, meaningless stuff, to keep from coming apart with grief. For lunch we had chicken, one slice of bread, corn, peaches and cole slaw.
Harry is screaming for help from his isolation cell and I am having difficulty focusing on my notes.
One time, Christie and I fashioned chess pieces out of scavenged paper scraps from the cell. We drew a chess board onto the steel table with a bar of soap, and then we played chess. That made my day.
A while after Christie departed, she wrote me. Inmates are allowed to write each other, but I have not been allowed to contact Christie since my release on parole (I asked my officer about this). I miss her, and so I have her letter, and I read it over and over, even now.
She starts with: "What the hell? How come you haven't wrote me yet?"
I have an answer. The answer is, it is just too painful. All of this. It's just too much.
Anyhow, I did get a kick out of her description of some of the men who responded to her trick ads:
...some interesting individuals- one in Oregon, NM, Colorado, Maine- is very interesting. He is a marathon runner. Speaks Italian and French- very smart. One from Texas. He looks like he came straight out of that movie "Revenge of the Nerds..."
In prison, Christie, Tina and I discussed Frog Gravy at length. This memoir would not exist without these two wonderful women. Disaster brought us together. Disaster taught each of us a little more about love, and how it feels to lose something that matters to you. It is probably safe but sad to say that disaster taught us each a little more about being women. And I am grateful for the lesson.
[cross posted at froggravy.wordpress.com]
note: 'trick writing' refers to incarcerated women who respond to ads placed by men seeking a pen pal relationship. These relationships sometimes lead to long-term relationships or marriages. The men sometimes send money to the women (money on her books). This financial support can be substantial- and that is why the practice is called 'trick writing.'