My departure from Monroe Correctional Complex was a rushed slipshod affair. I was not given a covid test before leaving, which seems like an irresponsible and downright dangerous oversight to me. Of course, they probably missed that considering they gave me 24 hours notice that I’d be leaving. However, it wasn’t so rushed that the male c/o’s who were transporting me missed the opportunity to give me one last strip search. Thankfully, due to covid, it was only down to my bra and panties. It was a special transport, so all my property was tossed in the back the SUV for the drive over. Amazingly, the DOC spending zero dollars to ship all my stuff is in no way preventing them from charging me 8 bucks a box after the first two. All in all I’m shelling out 60 bucks to keep the DOC from throwing away all my stuff.
The drive itself was uneventful, other than the c/o being a terrifying driver, going 75 in a 50 and nearly merging into another car, twice.
Even after getting out of the SUV and being handed over to the c/o’s at WCCW it still wasn’t real to me. I’ve been transferred to a woman’s prison.
The first and greatest shock I received was not being strip searched immediately upon arrival. Instead I was put through a TSA style body scanner. And other than the c/o telling me about a buildup of scar tissue in my abdomen (which kinda freaked me out) it was a vast improvement over the alternative.
Next was all the bureaucratic nonsense of entering a new facility. Clothing, medical, mental health, PREA screening, blah, bla-blah, bla-blah blah blah. Finally I was put in a cell and left alone. Alone. As in, without TJ. And I started crying again just like I’d started crying the day before when they told me to pack. The difference being, TJ wasn’t there to wrap me in their arms and make me feel warm, safe, cared for, and above all loved.
Their absence has made it more real for me.
A while later, feeling spent, I began to explore the cell. The graffiti on the inside of a prison cell and especially the graffiti on the inside of a cell door, can tell you a lot about the culture of a given facility. For example, the cells in Walla Walla are plastered with swastikas, the numbers 13 and 14 (which have been repeatedly scratched out and rewritten), clown faces, crowns, and various tag art made from the ink of flex pens. This accurately reflects the culture of Walla Walla which is seeped in gang violence, hate, and xenophobia. Likewise, at Monroe, there is some of the above, but far more instances of “so-and-so is a snitch” or a b-word, or a f**. This also accurately reflects the culture of Monroe, being a dropout facility and many people there working for INI.
Here at WCCW, the inside of RDC-A-103 has 4 instances of “Criminal Lives Matter” and 2 of “Black Lives Matter” all tagged/carved in different styles (suggesting they were done by different people), one anarchy A, a couple tags representing people’s hometowns (possibly gang related) and over 2 dozen tags along the lines of “A loves B” “A and B forever” or “I love you A”. This, I think, is a good sign. I believe I can find my way to something resembling happiness in a place where the thing which moves people to slowly and painstakingly chip through industrial strength prison paint is love.