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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Seductive Musings

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ramblings on prison


The Colorado State Penitentiary, where Sophie gets reacquainted with Marc.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your responses below. Sorry I didn't get back to you individually, but Christmas and then work had me busy. Plus, I have a deadline hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles...

But Bo brings up something very interesting, a topic that SueZ brought up from a different angle in a private email to me. Bo points out that she doesn't feel sorry for people like child molesters who are in prison. SueZ asked me if I would feel sorry for the men who attacked me with switchblades if they'd spent Christmas in prison.

And the answer to both, I guess, would be that I don't necessarily feel sorry for people just because they're in prison. The men who attacked me got two months — two lousy months — in jail before being deported on a deferred 2.5-year prison sentence. (That means that if they were found back in the U.S. again, they'd automatically go to prison for 2.5 years. If not, they were free.) I, on the other hand, was sentenced to five years of post-traumatic stress disorder, which included an inability to sleep at night (they broke in just after midnight) and terrible nightmares and depression. I still have trouble sleeping, and it's been 20 years.

Not really fair, is it?

As for child molesters, you can read Ride the Fire to get my own personal experience with that. Again, the harm is lifelong.

Do I feel sorry for them when they go to prison? Nope. In fact, a part of me wants to watch them being force-fed their own genitalia on live television. Violent offenders belong in prison, some of them belong in prison forever, child molesters and rapists especially.

But most people in prison aren't violent offenders. Most are in there for drug-related charges and crimes relating to mental illness and poverty. I do feel sorry for them.

However, my biggest issue with prison isn't so much that people are there; it's what happens while they're there that bothers me. Inmate violence and abuse by correctional officers is a real thing. I write about it in Unlawful Contact as fiction, but it's not pretend. Rape, beatings, gang activity, mutilations, medical neglect, and other forms of abuse are only too real, and the government should not be in the business of sentencing people to death-by-broomstick.


A very posh, upscale jail cell. Most aren't this nice.

Among women in prison, despair is such a real problem. Most of them are mothers, and the overwhelming majority have done nothing violent. Drunk driving, not having car insurance, narcotics abuse, theft, forgery — those are the crimes the women had committed that I met while I did my 24-hour stint as an inmate. One was there for assault, and she was newly pregnant with a 3-month-old baby at home. Her boyfriend had done the assaulting, but she'd been with him at the time. She cried and cried and cried about wanting to go home to her baby, and she had no idea when she'd be able to leave again.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here...

As we get nearer to the release date for Unlawful Contact, I thought I'd do a series of posts about my 24 hours in jail. Call it "Pamela's Prison Diary." (Makes me sound like a badass. LOL!) And then I'll tell you all about it, from the moment I was "arrested" and cuffed through the strip search to the morning, when I was released and debriefed by the jail captain. Sound interesting?

I'll even try to locate my mugshot. I look like a frightened 2-year-old in the photo. Was I scared? You bet your bra, I was. It had dawned on me at some point how ridiculously stupid I was to think going to jail was a good way to get a story.

HA!

One last thing: This past year, on the 20th anniversary of the attack, I had LibBAY, KrisTAY and SueZAY with me. We were supposed to commemorate the event somehow. That's what I wanted to do, anway. Some sort of observation of that terrible, terrible night. What did we end up doing? Laughing our butts off, drinking lemoncello, and sleeping very deeply (at least I did). And you know what? That's probably exactly the right way to commemorate a night of horror — with a night of fun and close friends. Those men wanted to ruin my life by raping me in my own home. But who had the last laugh?

Thanks to my Gangstas — I love you! — I had the last laugh.

11 comments:

Ronlyn said...

I was going to say...that sounds like the perfect way to mark the moment of your survival.
(((((((((((((hugs))))))))))
Prisons are crazy places. Working in mental health currently I've been exposed to a tiny bit of the mental illness that runs rampant. (One of the dr's I work for volunteers at the prison) Back in college (when I was thinking of becoming a lawyer when I grew up) I visited a couple prisons. Frightening. I can't imagine voluenteering for a stint. :)
Compassion is something that I continue to work very hard at. Sometimes it's easier than others.

Ronlyn, I need your phone number. Have you checked your email lately!?!?!?

P.

Cheryle said...

Well I agree that was a perfect way to spend that particular day!

I am interested to see what your stint in jail was like. It would scare the heck out of me. You are way more bad a$$ then I could be to do that for a story. Guess that is why I read about things instead LOL!

JennJ said...

I'm glad that you and your friends were able to turn that horrid anniversary into something good and fun that's the best revenge to a bad or horrifying memory.

I have to say I forgot to mention that like some of the others there are some offenders I feel in no way sorry for like the ones mentioned ANYONE that hurts a child or abuses someone weaker than them is just sorry to no end. Also the violent psychic killers need to stay right where they are behind bars where they can't hurt anyone else. I don't feel sorry for those sorts at all they get only a very very small portion of what they reslly deserve in prison I think.
I like you feel sorry for the ones that are there for minor stuff and stupid mistakes that ruin their lives. It's a sad thing.

I can't wait to hear more about your adventure behind bars. You are one gutsy woman I tell you that girl. And you know I never really relized how small some of the cells are it's like a cracker box the one you pictured in the post before I for some reason I guess movies and television pictured them as being roomier than that. Holy cow that's tiny to stay in day in and day out.

Debbie H said...

As I said in the last post, our justice system is really screwed up. Get the wrong judge on a bad day and you will be his whipping boy or girl, as it may be.

I would love to read your prison diary. That's as close as I ever want to get though. It's kinda like watching tornadoes on TV, but I don't want to be in one.

Ronlyn said...

I love chatting with you Pammy!
And I can't wait to hear more about the Chronicals of Golidlocks in jail! *G*

Much love from my clan.

Ronlyn, I love it! Goldilocks Goes to Jail. That's too funny, and, as you know, rather appropriate. Hugs to your kids. Fun to chat with you, too.

Cheryle, I will whip these notes into blog entries soon! Thanks for thinking I'm brave. Stupid is more like it. ;-)

JennJ, yes the cells are absolutely tiny. And if you're in two to a cell, as most inmates are, you share a toilet that is not only visible to each other but also the guards. So every time you have to go to the bathroom, you do it -- whether it's #1 or #2 -- with your cellmate only a few feet away, enjoying the sight, sound and smells right along with you. Try to imagine that....

Debbie H, you are so right. Pity the person who comes along when the judge says, "We need to make an example of (fill in the blank)..." I could go into prison demographics, but this blog is perhaps not the place for it. You read my column (when I write it), so maybe I'll touch on this there one of these days soon (if I ever get time to write it again).

This comment has been removed by the author.

Somehow I posted the same thing twice. Dinnae ken how that happened. This bloggery is tricky!

<3
P.C.

Sue Z said...

Thanks for the nice comments PC. I was happy to be a part of your milestone. I had no idea that you had finally gotten a good nights sleep while we were there. That was a great weekend all the way around.

I am looking forward to Pamela's Prison Chronicles. I can't beleive that you did that. I don't even think that I would have enough courage to do what you did.

Love you, GB!!

Yes, I sure did get a good night's sleep. Between laughing myself into exhaustion, drinking lemoncello and sipping sangria through a straw (we won't even mention M&M dispensers, okay?), I was worn out in a very good way.

Love you, too, my PGB!

P.C.

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