Exiled to Louisiana

By Jay Regas, prisoner of the drug war

I remember each occurrence as it took place when my children changed from infant to toddler, to adolescent, to teenager and then young adult. With the four eldest children, those incidents blurred by unemotionally as the way things were supposed to be. By the time my youngest daughter, Fara, came along, ten years after the youngest of her four older siblings, I cherished each of little Fara's maturing moments - despite much regret about missing so much with the older children.

When Fara was a little girl, I used to get her down, tickle her, kiss her all over her face and lick her ear until she said, "Angle worms are pretty," which meant that she gave up, surrendered, had enough. "Please Daddy, angle worms are pretty!" She was 13 or so when I heard, "Dad, I'm too grown up to play like this." I still remember that day with regret.

I have recently learned that the Bureau of Prison plans to ship me to a brand spanking new prison in Pollock, Louisiana. I, along with a couple hundred other prisoners from the West Coast, am being shipped 2000+ miles southeast because we are model prisoners. It's our reward for behaving ourselves and to use the Bureau of Prison's term, "we're programming." Like they don't have folks on the East Coast to fill their new joint? I'm not happy about it, and I'm not alone.

Lompoc, California, is a difficult enough destination for my children and grandchildren to visit. Pollock, Louisiana is beyond difficult. My greatest concern is Fara has a little girl of her own now, and I have known the joy of having my granddaughter in my arms, laying her little head on my chest. It makes this move far more punishing than my emotions wish to assume. I will loathe every moment, even though I only had minimal moments I was able to spend with my grandchildren at Lompoc. Now I will not be able to cherish their company at all, as I am exiled to Louisiana. And if I can ever be returned to the West Coast where I belong, will my grandchildren still be of an age where they will be comfortable sitting on my lap with their little heads resting on my chest?

Arbitrarily transferring well-adjusted prisoners undermines the efforts of those who are pursuing the goals set forth by Bureau of Prisons' policy -establishing viable work ethics, mental stability, responsibility, education - by uprooting them from their ongoing constructive functions and depositing them 2000 miles from their families. This is not in the best interest of an individual prisoner or their family, a goal stated in BOP policy.

(Jay was transferred to Louisiana after we received this letter - editor.)

The Razor Wire is a publication of The November Coalition, a nonprofit organization that advocates drug law reform. Contact information: moreinfo@november.org
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