RETURN TO SENDER/UNABLE TO FORWARD…
I gave a hoot when I saw the envelope, you can tell its letter for you, and as I set the mail down…my heart skipped a beat .. a yellow sticker means he’s not there. What the hell??? I just talked to him a week or so ago and he did not tell me he was going anywhere or pulling chain. So…ok breathe, breathe BREATHE!!! My head was throbbing from the sudden rise in my blood pressure. Now what? Hold tight, I know he’s going to call.
It’s 4:18 am, I’m looking at the label and I notice the stamp. Stamps are my way of sending a message of the contents. Good news gets a celebration stamp; need you to pay attention gets a Ray Charles stamp; giving you inspiration gets a Maya Angelou stamp; talking about your music gets a Jimi Hendrix stamp, this one had an Althea Gibson which meant he was getting encouragement to beat the odds against him. Hmmm, didn’t I send this in February? This date line says March…what the hell? It’s not opened or resealed, I used a security envelope and the seal is not broken.
10am and still no call….I go to the post office to ask about the label and the clerk tells me the label came from where ever I sent it to. Ok…I check the phone … no missed calls from him. I feel my anxiety rising because now I’m wondering what is really happening. The last time I talked to him “they” seemed to be trying to give him a case that would affect his parole eligibility. I wondered if he was alive…SHIT!!! I feel my pulse racing… Don’t go negative, slow down and breathe, 3pm and still no call. He told me they were on annual lockdown, no alerts had been posted to the website and there were no reports of violence at any TDCJ unit on the news. and I haven’t missed any calls from him.
My eyes popped open at 5:54am and I calmed myself and later called the Post Office that would have placed the return label. The clerk explained that a return label that states “unable to forward” means the inmate is no longer at that unit. The return initiates from the prison unit. Now before I call the warden…”Good Morning, I need to verify that an inmate is present at your unit”, one transfer same greeting, and I give the second clerk the TDCJ ID and name … “yes Ma’am, he is here”. “Your current records indicate that he is physically there ?” “Yes”. I was relieved, but not settled.
The first thing that I felt was that something was wrong. In 2016 it is not unusual to hear of a young Black or Latino, woman or man, or someone without proper psych medication dying in police custody. How many do you think are dying in prison that we don’t know about? You ever have a Loved One whisper to you about a body they saw being transported, someone dying with no attempt made to administer CPR, tell you how the guards didn’t do anything when someone had a seizure or see someone freak out because the medication required for that individual was not administered correctly? Have you ever been in a visitation room and saw someone with stitches at the throat, still red and obvious, working there? I asked what was up…
Yeah so that damn yellow sticker had me twisted… When my LO gives me permission, I will post a pic and I’ll want to know how many have had the same thing happen and what you did. I’m still in the process with this one and will share the results just understand that my baby’s safety comes first. The unit is currently on annual lockdown.
How do you find information to help you navigate the Texas Criminal Justice System? I have two recommendations and your participation will be required, so what is your level of activism? I can tell you nothing can be done if you do nothing. You need to know who to call if there is an issue that needs attention. If you are a mother, father, daughter, son, wife, husband, sister, brother, cousin or good friend of someone who has residence within the Texas Criminal Justice System, and you are concerned about your loved one, Texas Inmate Family Association () is a great resource. If you are all of the above and you have an Activist spirit, Texas Advocates for Justice (TAJ), headquartered in Austin, TX may be the vehicle you need to be trained to express yourself effectively.
Texas has the highest mass incarceration level/rate in America, what are you going to do to change the statistics?