It’s my first week in prison and I thought it would be helpful to give you a lay of the land, so you know what to expect. First of all, this letter will probably get to you before I’m able to call or email. My Unit Counselor is out this week and I need her to set those accounts up for me. Maybe next week, at least so I’m told. Even then, be prepared, I only get 300 minutes per months and they cost from 6 to 23 cents per minute, depending on who I’m calling. Also, none of my calls can last longer than 15 minutes. It’s how the system works.
I’ll need to budget minutes between you, the kids and the rest of the family. Don’t worry, we’ll get into a rhythm and figure it out. Sadly enough, you can’t call me. I know that will be tough. Just email when you need something and I’ll call back as soon as I can. I’ve heard that you can reach out to the prison Chaplain in case of a serious life or death emergency. God, let’s hope it never comes to that. Some places have video calls, like Skype, which cost around $15.00 per call. I hear we might be getting that soon. Who knows. It’s kind of expensive though, but it might be a nice treat, now and then, should the option become available.
You can always email me but only through the prison email system called Corlinks (for you, but oddly enough Trulinks inside the prison). I first need to send you an invitation, which will probably land in the Spam box of your email account, so please keep an eye out for it. It will have a link for you to click on. You then set up the account and may (or may not) get notices when I email. I hear the system is kind of quirky. There’s an App you can buy for $7.00, or so, per year that supposedly helps resolve this issue and enables you to text via cell phone. Please note, emails can also take an hour or longer to be sent and received as it goes through the prison’s internal review and security process. By the way, I’m technically not allowed to sign up the kids through this system since they’re under 18. It seems counter-productive, though, to actually keeping our family together through this ordeal, so we’ll ignore that rule. It seems that most inmates do.
I have no ability to forward emails, copy or paste, add or receive attachments, or any other typical functionality you’d typically expect, so kindly bear that in mind. I know that makes things tougher for communication and my ability to help the kids with their writing assignments, but it is what it is. Some of my emails may be shorter than you’re used to. It costs 5 cents per minute. It may not seem like much but it will add up, especially over the length of my sentence. Ugh! We have no access to the internet, by the way, nor computers for that matter. I’m told some prisons do, on a very limited basis, for things like classes in Autocad or creating and printing out resumes.
Maybe you can sign me up for a newspaper so I can keep on top of what’s going on in the world. They still print those, right? Please mail me pictures of the family when you get a chance. You need to limit them to 25 at a time and they’ll need to be on photo paper. Pictures printed on normal paper will be returned to you, as will any cards from the kids with buttons, glue, glitter and the like. You’ll need to keep those things simple. Also, I know you love to share books and magazines you’ve read with me but those will need to mailed directly to me from a retailer like Amazon or whatever.
I’ll need to get some supplies from commissary to get started and keep me going. We get to shop once a week. I know things are tough financially but maybe you can get your parents to help out. My dad has offered to lend a hand. I’ll need the basics like vitamins and all of my toiletries, plus I’ll need to supplement the food. I was starving last night after dinner, the portions were so small. It’s kind of hit or miss. My mornings have been rough so far, they don’t even serve coffee. Can you believe it? I’ve been bumming some here or there just to get by. I’ll also need a mug, bowl and plastic utensils. Funny thing, we’re not even allowed to have a plastic knife. At a low security Camp. Crazy.
Remember the sneakers and watch my lawyer told me I could come in with? Complete waste of time. They’re being sent back to you along with my medication. It seems that bit of legal advice was suspect. I’ll need to replace those items and get some shorts for going out to the recreation yard. All they let me keep were my glasses. Oh, I almost forgot, pen, paper, envelopes and postage – I need to buy those too. I’ll also need to repay the person who was nice enough to let me send this letter out.
I’ve put you and the kids on my list for visit but please let our friends know to expect a form in the mail. I hope that’s not too embarrassing for you. They need to fill it out and return it to my Unit Counselor. Her name and address are on the form. I’m sure some won’t feel comfortable enough to come, I understand. The visiting times are limited and there are certain restrictions. I’ll send that info to you when I get it. Well, enough for now hon. I miss you all terribly. Give the kids a big hug and kiss from me.