Sunday, February 27, 2011

Visiting Dodge Correctional Institution

My visitation on Saturday, February 26, 2011

(I decided I'd share a visit and possibly more in the future with the readers.)


  Today is my first day visiting “Jon Doe” at Dodge Correctional Institute ( DCI .) This is the first time I have ever even attempted to visit anyone in any prison system. This visit in particular has been overly anticipated.

  I have some rather large piercings that would set the metal detector off so I removed them before I left. This was a chore in itself. When the Dodge Correctional Institute was contacted about the piercings and the possibility of using a wand they said they “didn't have a wand” which I knew was a lie. The officers all use them while looking for contraband at any time needed, you even see them used by some random 'rent-a-security' at music events, but we all have to jump through hoops to get to where we want to be. I made sure I had the least amount of metal on me because, I guess, the rule is that you have three chances to pass through the walk through detector and if you fail, you have to leave the prison property.

  The drive up to Dodge Correction Institute took about as long as I expected. The snow was coming down harder and harder the closer we got. It doesn't bother me much, more of my worries are in others driving around me. It was pretty simple to get there. When you get close you see the watch towers, electric fence, razor wire and all. It is quite obvious you are at the prison. I then parked in the visitation area and went inside the lobby type building.

  Right when I walked into the building the buzzer on the metal detector was going off! It wasn't me walking through the door, it was another visitor walking through the metal detector who was setting it off. Then, they pulled out a metal detector wand and passed it over the guy. I obviously had thoughts running through my head (about them lying about not having a wand when they were directly contacted and questioned on the subject) but I just smiled inside and made a small quiet comment. They determined it was his fastener on his jeans. I assume at this time that they are trying to reveal illegal contraband because they told him he could not go in and instructed him on where he might find pants to buy locally that would pass. The other party in the same visitation, which I assume is his wife, had made it through and pleaded the case that they had never had problems before. By the looks of their age they were probably there to visit their son or maybe a relative or someone closer to their own age but I doubt older. No exceptions here, rejected, do not pass go, do not collect $200. I wanted to walk up and tell him a trick to pass through but I had already taken my own precautions to prevent something causing me from being denied, I didn't want something petty like that getting in the way of the visitation.

  After inside, you fill out a paper with the visitors info and inmate to visit, take a number and sit down. Yes, it felt like the DMV. When they call your number you go up and the visitors on the paper all show their I.D.'s. They then do whatever on the computer, I'm not catching some crazy charge for being curious but they are probably just checking to make sure everyone visiting is on the accepted list. Then you get your I.D. back and you are told to put all the extras you have on you in a locker. Next, you walk through the metal detector. I, as planned, passed right on through. After that you get a stamp on your hand. One which only shows up under a UV black light. I didn't exactly understand the reasoning to this at first. I suppose there is always the chance that someone, somehow, could sneak in without being approved. Next, I went through a door into another room where a guard was sitting behind glass and there was the black light right above me. After he glances to see that you have a stamp (mine just appeared at this time to be a rectangular smudged mess so I can't even tell you what it was) he buzzes you through the next door and I believe there was another door right after that which we got buzzed through.

  The last door led outside into a chain link fence hallway like thing to another gate, which someone, I'm assuming the previous guard, buzzes you through. On the outside of this fence hallway like thing are the electric fence lines. A lot like what you would see on a farm but I would guess they were at least twice the diameter. Probably more, this was just a glance at them. Also they were spaced quite close. Obviously, they do not want to make it easy to slide through for security reasons. I would say they were spaced evenly at about 8 inches apart, a body couldn't just slip through the lines as they are without getting a zap (I do not know what they run through these lines though I'd be curious on voltage and amperage just to get an idea.) The razor wire is still visible. Yes, I am definitely inside the prison walls but, we are now outside....

  I was a bit confused after walking through that last gate. I followed the path and there was a sign directing us to the visitation area. It went down a sidewalk along a road I assume they use to patrol and just plain get around the prison yard the easy way. I asked out loud but jokingly, “Where's the shuttle bus???” After a walk we got to the entrance. If I remember correctly we got buzzed in there too. I was a bit confused but assumed we were just on camera and our tax dollars pay for someone to sit and watch that camera and hit a button when they see someone there. Next is the choice of the stairs or the elevator to go up a floor. Just for others' information, if you are handicapped you are supposed to have an officer assist you on the short elevator lift. Then a door with a light switch. You turn on the light switch to have someone come and let you in. In my head I was thinking, “someone's wake up alarm was just turned on.”

  When the door is opened you enter a fairly large area of a wing in this prison maze. You are told a number to sit at. Each “table” to sit at consists of a small generic looking coffee table and a group of chairs. One chair is sitting on the far side, it is a dark brown chair with a number on it, on the opposite side are a few other lighter colored beige chairs. The dark one with the number on it is meant for the inmate and the other light chairs are for the visitors.

  On the coffee table like thing is a list of rules. One of them says the inmate is responsible for cleaning the table even though the inmate can't go and get anything from the vending machines during the visit, and in the end, has to be the first to leave. Nearly an oxymoron. It almost seems as they can't really leave their seat until the visitation is over. The obvious idea to me is they do not want any exchanges happening.. drugs, money, cell phone, whatever contraband... When it comes down to it, if anyone had half a brain, they could pass whatever when all the officer's were sitting in there area far off to the corner, joking, laughing, not paying any attention to anything other than their conversation. But, don't forget the two dome cameras on two of the four corners of this large visitation area. The people watching those probably catch most of the passes caught during a visitation. The officers on the floor were acting like the old kids on the playground during recess while in school. Please, if you call your job a profession, then act professional, otherwise just move out of the way for a person that is willing to be the professional that you are not.

  So when he came out he had just gotten finished with Rec. Let's just say when he went in he weighed around 170lbs and when he came to the table he said he had just weighed himself after Rec at 206lbs. I could see it when he walked up. He gained weight and it wasn't fat. That was obvious by how he walked, sat and composure in general. It probably helped that right after Rec he got a 2 hour visitation. Great time to relax! You may look at this and think to yourself that this person is already institutionalized and just preparing to hold his own. This was far from the case. Think, if the only free time you have during the day is about 50 minutes in a gym like scene you would probably make the most use of it. You can play basketball and hope that you become the next prison pro, you can play volleyball and try to place yourself in the US volleyball team and dream about the Olympics, you can walk your laps to work off calories during this time and talk to others walking. The only other choice is you can put the time to use and gain health through working out your body that you were probably neglecting before hand.

  The visitation went fast. Maybe because it was my first time in an institution that size and actually how long it has actually been since I seen him. It was a lot to take in. I caught myself just staring at him with my mind wondering numerous times. Anyways, it seemed like the short county jail visitation was comparable to this much longer two hour visitation at Dodge Correctional Institute which in reality was far longer. Time flew by.

  He had to get up to leave first for some reason. I could see a possible security reason but I had seen many much larger holes in the security. Then we got up and met an officer at the door who opened it with a large prison key. It was basically the same procedure going back through all the gates and doors. When we got to the “black light” we had to show our stamp again. This is where I started to understand the stamp more. For security reason's this would be a simple attempt at keeping inmates from somehow sneaking out with visitors. This security measure is definitely a weak one. As I said before, it was just a smudged mess which could easily be recreated. Just another measure to keep the average person satisfied when it comes to the security of the prison.

  I found myself immediately thinking about when I could possibly come see him again. The time just went by too fast, I haven't seen him in quite a while, he spends almost all day locked up so his visitation time is like a vacation from that cell... I was ready to go back to visit already yet I was just leaving from the first visitation.

  When we were leaving it was still snowing. It had been snowing the whole time. The roads weren't perfect but they weren't as bad as some people made it seem while they were driving down the same road. Even with these conditions, the ride seemed to just fly by. I don't know if it was all the thoughts inside my head or what... I still really don't know where the time went to this moment.

~ “3rd Party”

47 comments:

  1. Why dont you talk about the stupid, and thoughtless things inmates do to get themselves into prisons. And all the tax dollars spent on their "gym" (which is all they have to do, boo-hoo) their food and medical expenses, etc... (Thank you taxpayers, and victims supporting these thugs!) Instead of the people who put themselves in risk everyday, to keep OUR communities safe. Our correctional officers are amazing. Thank god we have people willing to do this VERY difficult job. -JoAnne H :-)

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    1. You haveNO IDEA what your talking about...talk about syupid people! !!!!

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    2. The fact that you used the word "thugs" just says it all. You sound angry and overly judgmental. My husband is in there, innocently, because we couldn't afford a lawyer and was mistreated by the "amazing" officers leaving his face needing stitches his first day. Your ignorance offends me, but that's all it is. I thank the author of this entry for preparing me for my 1st visitation. It's a comfort to know there are other out there...

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    3. Everyone incarcerated, is not a thug. Maybe u had a bad encounter, I don't know. Or u just love to judge, everyone in these prisons may not be guilty!! Did you ever consider that?? What would u do if someone u knew or someone close to u ended up in prison?? Then they asked u to visit them, what next??

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    4. Tax dollars? Nowhere is it etched in stone that anyone needs to go to prison for even a minute for violating laws created by Republicans and Democrats. You're anger is misplaced. Corrections officers are ignorant and uneducated slime, worse than the people they are paid to watch.

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  2. Because, I chose to talk about my experience visiting DCI. I explained it in detail. This whole blog is give a general idea of the WPS and to be informative in this case as what they should expect. This is original content, not some statistic that I could go look up from handfuls of of sources abound.

    Maybe you missed the intentions here, maybe you just needed to vent for a personal issue or some other underlying reason. Either way, I welcome you to subscribe, follow and learn about this experience. Thank you.

    ~ "3rd Party"

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    1. I appreciate your note. I will be visiting my son there tomorrow for the first time. I wont be so nervous now, Thank You. I have numerous ear piercings as well and don't remove them, I hope they'll be okay. No underwire bra was a surprise! Can't imagine it would be appropriate to be braless, hey?! LOL. anyway, thanks again!

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    2. Thank you for your story it will now help me prepare myself for my first visit thank you so much

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  3. both of you are a bit touched

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  4. I'm not exactly sure how you meant to put that but in a direct sense, I would say yes. I believe "JoAnne H." probably has had friends, family, both or maybe just has a strong opinion in general. Maybe my description of my visitation may not have fit her views. I also suppose you could consider me being "touched" by the visitation in general.

    I call it how I see it and my description of my feelings inside are as accurate if not more than my description of the outside.

    Again, this is the real deal. What I went through as visitor and what other visitors should expect. Whether it is viewed negatively or positively in on your own discretion.

    JoAnne or persons amongst her party may have other views and are more than welcome to share how they have been effected or "touched."

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  5. um yeah i been 2 dodge..inmate a, on sum hood shit if u a gurl n u doin that u jus dumb!!!!im ah rather smooth type fella, my gurl korean so im jus sayin...brothers b on sum bullshit!!!better check his kid n background shit out asap

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  6. Where you allowed to kiss him after the visit was over? Where you allowed to touch him?

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    1. you get one brief hug and kiss before and after the visit, not touching during the visit

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    2. I an visiting my son for the 1st time and bringing his 2 and 3 year old children. Will he be allowed to hug and hold them during the visit? Because they are too young to know better

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  7. Is the entire visit non-contact? Or can you hug them when they come out? Kiss them when they come out? And before they leave again?

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  8. Are they all no contact or can I give my friend a hug?

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  9. thanks, if i can get to wis. i want to visit my nephew, who i just found out is at Dodge c.i. so thanks for the info!

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  10. Sorry for neglecting this blog. It is still not finished from J. Doe's writings. He is currently out and attending school.

    As far as Dodge... I am sure most anyone will have phone and/or mail contact before being able to visit and have your questions answered but for those wondering and for the future, you are allowed basically a greeting and good bye physical contact. That means a hug and a kiss on the cheek if you like. This happens right before you sit down and right after you stand up to leave. During the visitation the inmates are to stay seated. Visitors are allowed to bring in change for the vending machines. The visitors are the only ones allowed to get up and go to the vending machines. This is obviously to prevent anyone one from trying to pass contraband. Also, for those wondering, don't think your slick and buy a burger, microwave it, lift the bun to "check to see if it is warm" and throw... say.. some pills in there. You may only see 3 tinted camera globes on the ceiling and all the C.O.'s gathered in the far corner bullshitting and think its easy. During the time J. Doe spent at Dodge for A&E a woman was caught doing this and charge with a felony which will ultimately land her in about the same shoes. It's a horrible way to end a visit.

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  11. Also, dianne... you will need to apply to be on the visitors list. Nothing major, just write your nephew (writings from others outside to inmates means so much to that person. I remember waiting forever for my first letter when I was in military boot camp. I can only imagine what it is like for someone incarcerated to get mail) and as soon as he can write back he should be able to tell you if you can visit and send visitation forms if so. Technically it is only close immediate family during A&E until placement.

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  12. Thanks for all of the good advice...I have not been there but I plan to go in the near future...It really helps to know that you at least get to give a hug and kiss that is encouraging....
    I have never been to any jail or prison to see anyone or myself....I do feel kinda frightened....But I know of course God Will be with me and my family member...

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  13. How far away is Dodge from Milwaukee?

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    1. can you tranfer money from county to dodge

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  14. Another question please tell me how to send money to inmate? I was told to send Western Union but I do not know the details...I KNOW I have to know the inmate# and facility name...But how do I do this?

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  15. There is nothing to be frightened of while visiting. Some of the hoops to jump through are irritating. For instance, I had to remove body piercings that are rather hard to remove due to the gauge. I did see a person get turned away because his snap on his jeans were setting the metal detector off. The woman there was polite and helpful and told him where a walmart was nearby and to just go buy some cheap sweat pants. Let it be known... the metal detectors are very sensitive. Underwire bra's alone set them off. Plan ahead and you should have a fulfilling visit ;) (Well as fulfilling as a visit to prison can be.)

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  16. As far as not knowing the details of the inmate you are trying to help... I.. well.. am a little confused. You obviously have not spoken or written them or you would have this information. I hope you are not being taken advantage of as some inmates try to do to others during incarceration (sorry to hate on the hustle for those that are in but I just speak the truth.)

    http://offender.doc.state.wi.us/lop/ is the wisconsin inmate locator though. http://www.wi-doc.com/ also contains most information on anything from facilities to policies.

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  17. Oh, and one last thing. Dodge Correctional Institution is in Waupan, WI. About an hour to an hour and a half depending where in Milwaukee.

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  18. Thank you for this blog. It is helpful to me because I will be visiting a relative soon.

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  19. FYI im thinking of doing a shuttle bus from milwaukee to dodge, waupaun, & fox lake around christmas time. 20 bucks per person to get on for a round trip. if any1 might be interested or have some ideas you can email me at bestdamdriver2@yahoo.com

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  20. Thanks for all the info, I too will be going to visit a relative soon at Dodge. I also have never been to a prison. it all sounds a little scary, but worth it to see my relative!! I am very glad to hear that I will be able to hug him. I have been writing and encouraging other family and friends to do the same. I hope it helps my relative. We are devastated over his incarceration.

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  21. I went to visit a close family person here at DCI a couple of weeks ago. After reading reviews I was a "bit" afraid to go, I thought I do NOT want this hassle. Well the drive up was interesting itself, I drove by a pasteur of cows just chillin', and all these windmill like thingies at one point (like a scene from a scary movie) I thought I wouldn't want to live near all these damn things, whatever they are! Interesting though I wanted to pull over and take a picture, but I didn't.

    Anyway the visit, I get there to DCI, Had my bag of coins (for vending), and my ID (only) GO in used the restroom to the left of me. Went up to check in with the guard, Had to take my coat off, take my belt off, (I had hair pins in my hair, that I purposely left in, to see if the metal detector would pick up on them as I'd read that it was so sensitive) anyway I got through the metal detector NO PROBLEM at all.

    The ONLY problem I had (or thing I DON"T LIKE IS THAT) the address on my DL is an old one, so I put down my current address on the visiting slip, so the guard told me that when I came to visit again I need to have my current address on my DL (which will cost me to replace), my thought was What F'n difference does that make?

    Anyway Got my hand stamped (twice) she forgot she did it the first time already, was giving directions on how to get over to next bldg to the visiting facility. I did it, again NOT a problem at all, I had to leave my keys and DL in a locker at the first entrance (NOT A PROBLEM) it was locked and I had the locker key and it was FREE so NO sweat off my back. Sure I had to walk OUTSIDE to get across to the visiting bldg but it was NO big deal it was simply "crossing a street" but not really. (PS they have a change machine in the lobby if you forget to get change before you get there.

    The visit was easy. He came down and we hugged, we sat for 2 hrs and talked, I got up got him snacks and sodas (pops) OH I wanted a picture and he didn't request that before he sat so I went up to the guards and told them I wanted to take a pic and he didn't know that I would and forgot to ask so they said he could come back up and sign up for a pic so he did we took a pic at the visit before I left the pics were ready (decent and only cost $1.50 each we took two, one for him to keep and one for me to take with)

    at the end of the visit they came over told him visit was up, (we knew it as we were keeping track of time. He got up, I gave him a hug, he left then I left)

    There was NOTHING hard about it. At the end of the visit I walked back across the way, Showed my hand (you know that black light) got my things from the locker and left

    SO a good word of advice I think I could give is: Know the address on your drivers license or state id and that is the address you put on your visiting slip. (old or not) Bring change UP to $15 in a sandwich bag, (Not like they counted the money anyway though)--again they do have a change machine in the check in lobby-- and prepare to enjoy your visit. IT was nice, family orientated, Not loud just families visiting their loved ones. Nice vending snacks to choose from, microwaves in the visiting rooms in case you want to get a sandwich and heat it up... OK that is all

    12.20.12

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  22. My friend just got sentenced to 42 months in prison, and its been a week and he hasnt called me yet which is unusual even though I transferred the money on my phone from one facility he was at through Inmate calling solutions to Dodge. I didnt know it was temporary thing at Dodge? Is this just a prison where convicts go until they figure out which WI state Prison they are sending them too? How do they decide? Are they allowed to make phone calls right away? Im in a different state and I put money on his books through western union but I have no idea if he even received it. Any info?

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    1. they decide ware the inmate goes depending on the crime\centence, if they had a po violation such as bad piss test, and got there po revolked, then dodge will send them to a AODA filicity or something like that, it could be in Wis. or a neighboring State, depending on space. .

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  23. I'd like to thank you for this blog there are so many families and friends out there that are scered of going to visitations, and this re-cap was just so very good for them, and my self, though I will not be allowed to go visit in dodge, i am not family, but this sure helps others

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  24. This is a great inspiring article. I am pretty much pleased with your good work. You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging.

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  25. I certainly appreciate all the feed back, my husband was just convicted and I wanted to know ahead of time what to expect for visiting there. How long after sentencing does it take for the county jail to move an inmate to Dodge?

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  26. I was a correctional officer once in my life! I pity them... they are just as bad as the thugs you speak of. Its quite pathetic if you ask me. Locking people way is a piss poor excuse for helping someone else. If the taxpayers didn't pay for prisons where would an offender go? Oh wait let me guess... kill em? What if that was your son or daughter? Put a bullet in their head? People digust me! Preach of God and forgiveness but yet exile others for being a sinner. Dont make a damn bit of sense to me.

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  27. I never realized that all of the prisons in the wiDOC are pretty much the same (minimum is different, though.) this is exactly what I went through with my husband 3 years ago while he was at pdcci (prairie du chien) also, the question about how ling before a transfer from county jail to state, anywhere from a wk to 6 months it really depends on when they get enough inmates to send at once and when they feel like it really. My husband sat waiting about 4 months once and this time was only a week and a half.

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  28. Why is my son sentenced to this maximum place, he says it is for testing then he will be retransferred. He got 2 years he says on no new charges how can I fight for him

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  29. Does anyone know how I can get the phone number to put money on my phone so an inmate can call me

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  30. Does anyone know the phone number to put money on my phone so an inmate can call me

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  31. Does anyone know the phone number to put money on my phone so an inmate can call me

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  32. Does anyone know how I can get the phone number to put money on my phone so an inmate can call me

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  33. Thank you; very helpful article. Just visited Dodge for the first time. Wish I had seen this first.

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  34. My son goes tomm. How long before he can call me? Can he write to me and send applications right away? I'm so scared and worried for him. I find myself longing just to have any contact with him just to ensure he is okay. This has to be the hardest thing I have ever endured. About how long before I can visit? I have so many questions and concerns. This blog has helped. Just knowing and hearing others stories helps my heart. Is it true that he will sit in cell for 23 hours a day everyday while he is there? Thank you ahead of time.
    Brwnied7

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    1. yes its true 23hrs a day locked up like an animal makes me sick

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  35. I personally have been to prison and have met some of the most amazing and genuine people ever in my life. I am glad that someone has written about their experience because sometimes family or friends are scared to visit. Being formerly incarcerated a visit was one of the best and most looked forward to things I had. It gave me the hope I needed to get through some of the hardest time in my life. I am not a thug nor a violent criminal, I made a poor decisions in my life and have learned from my mistakes. Everyone needs someone, visiting is one of the best things you can do for your loved one.

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  36. Thank you for the help. The system is broken. Two people commuting the same crime can get very different sentences. Visiting my grandson soon. Not the experience I thought I would in my lifetime. Must keep close tabs on loved ones incarcerated. I do not trust anyone. During the past year I have lost all faith in law enforcement and our justice system. It's who you know or how much monry you have. If you put money in an inmates account almost 45% is pulled by the state to pay down inmates fines and set some aside for when they are released.

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