Dec. 21st, 2003

Just got back from Pendleton where I visited my incarcerated brother. It's a small population - about 1400 inmates, and the guards were friendly to us. Security is tight but the place isn't the dungeon I'd imagined it would be. H- is 19 years old now. He was in good spirits; he kept saying, "I've got less than 5 to go." He's already served a year and a half of his 5 and a half year sentence. My brother said that recently a guard was beaten by one of the inmates - he described it as "the most horrific thing" he'd ever seen in his life. But the inmate is loose in the head, serving out the rest of his days on some murder charges. He got upset because the guard told him to go to bed. My brother and the other inmates in the area could only watch from their cells.

It was weird to look at my brother in his prison blues; he looks so much older just from when I last saw him in July. Part of it is that he's still growing and developing. But I feel like prison is making its mark on him. I feel badly because I'm not writing him much. He wants handwritten letters and I'm so accustomed to typing. Maybe I should send some typed letters, some notes and card, and then longer handwritten letters on occasion. Just to keep him in the loop. Letters and visits are a prisoner's only real connection with the outside world.

He is reading Socrates right now. He spent about 10 minutes telling us about this conspiracy theorist's book called, Illuminati 666. He just finished a biography of Fidel, and he read Isaac Asimov's Foundation series again.

Part of me still can't believe he is in this place. How did this happen? But he acknowledges, "I was stupid." He isn't a criminal; he was just a dumb 17 year old trying to steal pot so he could make his rent payment. If only he'd asked me for money. If only I'd checked in with him more often and made sure he was okay. But that's all in the past. I can just be a better sister to him going forward.



December 2013


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