03 May 06
My Sister in Tears
8:01am Two guards delivered breakfast: pancakes, hot cereal, syrup, peanut butter, an
apple and milk.
“Did you get your visit yesterday?”
“No.” I said. “I spoke to the DW and she said we're going to be locked down for a few days.”
“Damn. That’s rough. And they came all the way from England, right?”
“Yes. The trip cost thousands of dollars, and they only came here to see me.”
“You should see if DOC will pay for the trip.”
“We’ll see what happens. I’ve got visits until the weekend. Maybe we’ll get off lockdown by then.”
8:47am “Dog 11, stand by for a special visit. Get ready.”
How the hell did that happen? Perhaps the DW reconsidered. Maybe they came down here and pled their case. I’d better hurry up and get dressed.
9:05am “How did you manage to get in?” I asked Dad.
“I called down here, and they said it was approved. DW Wallace must have given her permission.”
“You must have felt frustrated when you couldn’t get in yesterday.”
“It was terrible,” Karen said. “My stomach was in knots. I was throwing up all day.”
“We saw it on the news on Monday night,” Dad said. “A reporter was standing in front of the prison, and as soon as he mentioned Santa Rita, I thought, bloody hell - it’s going to be a lockdown and we won’t get in.”
“What did the news say?”
“A woman guard was held hostage for six hours by a prisoner who demanded to be transferred to Montana.”
“Any weapons involved or did she get hurt?”
“He had razor blades but he didn’t hurt her.”
“It’s a good job nobody got hurt. Last night it looked like a scene from Star Wars in here with all the storm troopers wearing protective gear. Did the news say how it ended?”
“They told him,” Karen said, “they’d move him to Montana, so he gave up and they moved him alright: straight to SMU [Special Management Unit] in Florence.”
“Perhaps he was doing a copycat of the Morey standoff, because one of the prisoners involved – Steven Coy – got transferred to Maine. He raped a guard and a kitchen worker, and he got seven consecutive life sentences plus one-hundred-and-fifty-two years. But if he was already serving life, the additional time means nothing.”
“Well, we got in today,” Dad said.“We’ve only lost one visit, so we didn’t do too bad.”
“How’s Mum taking it?”
“We told her we’d try and get in today,” Dad said, “ and that if we weren’t answering the hotel phone, that means we got in. So by now she’ll know where we are.”
2:30pm Visit ended.
“Do you think I should ask Officer Rossini whether we need to call the prison before we come tomorrow?” Dad asked.
“If they let you in today, you should be all right for the rest of the week,” I said.
“That’s no guarantee. We’d better ask,” Karen said.
We approached Officer Rossini.
“Officer, do you think we should call tomorrow before we come out here?” Dad asked.
“Let me call the DW and find out.”
A few minutes later, Officer Rossini emerged from her office with an uncomfortable look on her face. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the DW said no."
“No what?” Dad asked. “That we don’t need to call or we can’t have the visit?”
“That you can’t have the visit.”
I felt sick. Dad and Karen looked devastated.
“I’d like to speak to the DW,” Karen said, tears welling in her eyes.
“Let me call her again. Actually there she is. Maybe she’ll talk to you in person.” Officer Rossini hand signalled the DW who came through security doors and joined us.
“Thank you very much,” Dad said,” for allowing us to visit today.”
“You’re welcome,” DW Wallace said.
“Is it not possible for us to come tomorrow?” Dad asked.
“The prison is going to be locked down for the next few days while we do our investigation. I spoke to Jon, and I was able to give you today’s visit, but tomorrow’s not possible."
Dad and Karen both started to speak at once.
“One at a time please,” DW Wallace said.
Karen broke down. “I’ve not seen - sniff – my brother in two years – sniff-sniff. That’s all I am here for – sniff – just this one week – sniff-sniff – to see my brother."
“We’ve had this trip planned all year,” Dad said. "We’ve come five-thousand miles at considerable cost, just to see Jon. All of these visits were approved by the prison, and we’ve already lost one visit.”
“Which visit did you lose?”
“And when do you go back to England?”
She thought for a minute and said, “Right, here’s what I’m going to do. I’ll authorise tomorrow’s visit, but if anything, and I mean anything, goes wrong on the yard during the visit, we’ll have to send you home.”
“I understand that,” Dad said.
We thanked the DW and after she departed, we praised our luck. We said goodbye.
After I was strip searched, the guard asked, “Did you have a good visit?”
“Yes. It was great. It’s just bad timing with this hostage situation.”
“That guy was crazy pulling that stunt.”
“I understand you have security procedures to follow.”
“Yeah, but you shouldn’t be punished 'cause of one idiot.”
“I think the DW sees it that way. We’re lucky she’s kept some of the visits going considering what’s happened.”
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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood