Greetings from the Texas Underground. Some recent changes have occurred in my 12’ x 9’ world that I’d like to share with you all. I want to apologize first for not writing regularly and the lapse in time between updating everyone. I’ve filled numerous folders with countless pages of failed writings. After two years, writer’s block and I have begun to go our separate ways. The inability to convey my thoughts properly is absolutely debilitating.
So. I’ll begin with my interview three days ago with the Unit Classification Committee. After 13 years in “Safekeeping” I’ve officially requested to be reclassified and return to General Population. Approval was granted on the unit, and now I await an answer from the State Committee who will soon vote on my request. If they agree to remove my safekeeping status I will immediately be removed from Protective Custody and begin my adjustment in, well, unprotected custody. Yeah, some heavy shit, huh?
Let me explain my reasoning. At one time Safekeeping was an environment of guys from all walks of life. From former police officers and judges, to high profile cases and mass murders like the infamous Elmer Wayne Henley. Mixed within, also, are inmates most likely to be victimized by more aggressive offenders. I fit somewhere inside the chaos and recognized the sense of security “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” insanity provides. Over the years, Safekeeping has dwindled considerably. Many were shipped to other units or placed in Administrative Segregation.
I’ve been able to establish myself over the years beyond Safekeeping’s limitations and held jobs not previously offered to those in Protective Custody. Not to mention the radical change in dynamics of prison life in general. With the addition of thousands of cameras, the influx of men with beards and boobs, and the fact that there’s more transgenders in Population than there ever was in Safekeeping. In hopes of making my own transition, not the kind that requires hormone therapy and training bras, but the leap from the Bachelor’s degree to getting my Master’s at the School of Hard Knocks.
To be completely honest, as my 40th birthday approached I needed to take some greater leaps and challenge myself. For what it’s worth, these changes will empower me … and I desperately am in need of that.
Meanwhile, I recently completed a vocational trade in Masonry. 450 hours of brick, mortar, and steel-toed boots. The experience was eventful, to say the least. When I started telling guys the course was required now for parole because “Trump wants that fucking wall built, guys,” the little rumor went rampant, unit-wide. Everyone got a good laugh when I confessed to the fake news. We blasted some great music and escaped the madness from the main unit. Prison becomes a constant blur of mundane existence. It takes shit like bricks and wheelbarrows to jolt the spirit and enjoy the moment for what it’s worth. Plus, it helped that I talked the instructor into allowing us to have a graduation and cook a big spread. I am officially certified in masonry and I can Jon more build a fucking wall than I can jump over one.
Currently, I’m about 60% through my Automotive Electronics Vocation trade. Ok, I don’t exactly get under any hoods or lay on that thing with the wheels to inspect under carriages. But, when it comes to running diagnostics on the caps and listening to XM Radio, I’m a pro. I’m a lot less mechanic and more technician. Continuing the rumor mill tradition, I couldn’t help telling a few guys that the Throw Mama from the Train guard who makes our life miserable, has had a breathalyzer installed in her hoopy because of recent DWIs. This Old Bar Fly went ballistic when she heard about her car. There was definitely a sense of uncertainly in her fury that was wildly rewarding. But nothing is as bittersweet as getting behind the wheel, opening the sunroof, and imagining being on some highway somewhere else. Free again, carefree and unchained. The moment is priceless and the return to reality is devastating, but it is what it is …
Well, I guess this is where I’ll wrap things up. I’m grateful for the opportunity to write you tonight. Not only does it allow me to have a voice again but also the ability to help knock down the many walls we build around ourselves. I hope you continue down this road with me. I’m continually under construction and a man who’s unwilling to succumb to the treacherous weight of my world, although I often feel way too close to its edge.
My ultimate purpose and greatest reward would be for your own freedom to take on a much deeper meaning … While I continue to learn that TRUE freedom is found deep within our souls … and something not even the flames of incarceration can burn.
Keven James, 9/18
PS: Just this morning I was informed that I am now classified as General Population. They approved my request. I was told to pack up my property and that I’ll be moved very shortly. You’re the first to know. Keep me in your prayers. And stay tuned …