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Inmate Classification. Part Seven.

A team of officers walked in our cell block for classification. Initially, I had no clue what was going on. All of us inmates gathered in the back of the open-spaced room to wait for our name to be called. I learned quickly that we were classified from our alleged criminal history. I was very nervous as I watched other inmates speak to their officer for assessment and move about for intimate pictures to be taken of them and their art (tattoos) on their body. I felt humiliated and was extremely embarrassed before my name was even called.

{"Objective jail classification (OJC) is a process of assessing every jail inmate's custody and program needs and is considered one of the most important management tools available to jail administrators and criminal justice system planners. An effective system of inmate classification will reduce escapes and escape attempts, suicides and suicide attempts, and inmate assaults.

OJC systems use locally developed and validated instruments, one at intake and another after a period of confinement, that identify the level of risk and needs presented by an inmate so that appropriate housing and program assignments can be made. The data generated through the classification process can also be used for operational, management, and planning purposes."}

An officer called my name, "Mims." I walked over to a small table, sat down and stared at the tall, muscular, black male sitting across from me. He looked very intimating. Although, looks can be deceiving. On the table was my paperwork of all my offenses past and present.

Officer: Mims, how are you?

Me: I am okay.

Officer: Take a look at your offenses. Make sure all the information is correct. If there is anything incorrect or if you need to speak to an investigator about any of the charges or about your case-now is the time to speak up.

Me: (I looked down at the information) It is correct.

Officer: Mims, I have been here too. One day at a time.

Me: (I started crying) I had a relapse.

Officer: Keep your head up. You can do it.

Me: Thank you.

In that moment, the officer gave me encouragement that I desperately needed to hear. I could tell he was sincere. God has a way of sending what we need in the exact way we need it. It was a little nudge for me to not give up. After, I walked toward an enclosed room where a woman officer stood with a camera in her hand. I stood against the wall until it was my turn for my delightful photo shoot. As I took off my top leaving only my ragged white sport bra on for all of my artwork to be on display. The odor from all the other women in such close proximity and the ghetto language made me sick to my stomach. I already looked like I had lost my best friend having red, puffy eyes from all my tears minutes earlier. I had one of my save me prayers after that event.

"God, will you please get me out of here? I will do whatever I need to do. I am sorry Lord. Please, help me."

The next day my name was called to line up with my plastic bin. I hoped that Amanda would be in my new "home" away from home. The realization that I did not have my home to go back to with my family was painful. Eric made it known to my mama. (He never answered my phones calls and blocked the number.) Although, I felt like he had no legal right to do that. The reality was he was pursuing all means to keep me away. I knew he would play dirty. He had already shown it two years prior with him being the reason why I had my first arrest. I carried a lot of resentment toward him for that. My other reality was that my mama and daddy did not want me either. No one wanted to deal with my chaos. My heart was full of bitterness. The truth is, they were doing what they felt they needed to do to keep me alive and seek treatment. They were not enabling anymore, and Eric was not going to allow our kids to see me in that state-of-mind. Eric was tired of cleaning up after my reckless behavior (I probably would have thrown my hands up as well). When I went away or did not come back home...he was the one that had to comfort our children and take care of them when I could not. He needed to detach from me and I from him for healing to occur.

Today, I do not place blame on them or anyone else for the matter. I understand them. Although, re-living some of the memories; I am vividly reminded of my highs and lows, the choices I felt others made that grieved me, and my own decisions that destroyed me and distressed them. Addiction does not discriminate. It affects the whole family involved. The good news is that as painful and hurtful our addictions, affairs, binges, and sinful behaviors are that we entertain...It can be forgiven and redeemed by our almighty God. Restoration is already available to us. That is what God does and who he is.

When I arrived, I so graciously received another body pat down. There were about ten of us girls lined up for our badge that had to be clipped to our uniform at all times. Amanda made it to my unit! I assumed I was in the non-violent drug offenses unit. I was surrounded by sick women; and I am not talking about physically sick or mentally...I am speaking about spiritually. However, I did feel like I was in a nut house but had a 'come to Jesus' moment when I recognized I was not much different. I had something in common with the girls around me; we all lacked love for ourselves.

As Amanda and I patiently sat for further direction she told me, "I already made it known... nobody messes with you." I was unsure how to answer her when she went gangster! Then she began to curse about another girl she knew in the unit and would "beat her ass." I told her to calm down. All of sudden, the environment felt cutthroat. And the guard was an unfriendly, egotistic lady that I envisioned was the last to be picked for kickball in grade-school and had a strong vengeance and overkill for dominance and control. My name was called, and I was directed to my cell.

I prayed, "please let it not be someone crazy. " I walked into my new space. My new small dungeon consisted of a steel bunk bed, toilet, sink, counter, and... a small Mexican him/her woman named Maria. I introduced myself as she said, "no hay ingles" no English. I said, "okay" and made my bed on the top bunk. All I wanted was to sleep away my time until my court date. Maria was an interesting character. At first, she annoyed the hell out of me by her ritual exercise routine. She heavy breathed and it irked every nerve in my body! She began to speak more after she realized I was not a threat and was not going to narc on her for her letters she passed daily to her girlfriend. That annoyed me too along with her five-year-old artwork. she drew the exact same pictures over and over again. I know, I sound like an awful human being, but I am only speaking my truth from my experience. Not only was I in lockdown twenty- three hours out of the day because the pandemic, I made a phone call to my mama that sent me over-the-edge. She told me, "Eric has a lawyer. He is serving you divorce papers in jail. I just want to give you a heads up. It is over. You need help Hope. You will never see your children again if you do not. They will make sure of it."

Two in a half weeks earlier, I was home with my family. Two months earlier, I was on fire for Jesus and never envisioned I would relapse. When I made the poor decision to shoot the shot in the car on Mother's Day, I would have never fathomed I would have ended up in jail with absolutely nothing. I lost everything that easily. One lapse in judgement, one lapse in character, one lapse in the obsession and everything was gone that I loved the most in a blink of an eye. It is disturbingly wicked. I hung up the phone cursing Eric. If I could have blown up something...I probably would have in that moment.

(I learned shortly after, my new bunk buddy had multiple felonies for arson including first-degree. She never wanted to tell me why she was incarcerated. I snuck one day and read her paperwork she kept hidden underneath her pillow.)

Rage is what I felt with deception, and I was terrified he would take the only think keeping me babies. After I said a million and one f*uck bombs and cried, I was more than ever determined to get out and get better or die. It was too much for me to handle. I walked out to smoke a cigarette. Girls steadily yelled to conversate with the men next to us. I despised it. I told them, "Shut the f*uck up." I usually was quiet. I also kept to myself only talking to one girl. (Amanda and I had free time at a different time) So, I found another friend who was an ex-stripper from Myrtle Beach. But on this particular day, I was at my whets end; tension was high, and I blurted exactly how I felt. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. (A bigger size black woman who I had a small conversation with when she asked me if I stole from Walmart in which I laughed and said "no") Spoke up and said, "don't mess with that white girl." I walked back to my cell and laid down. Maria asked, "are you okay, Esperanza?" I replied, "No. I will be okay. how are you so content and happy in here? I am f*ucking over this place and my f*cking husband! He is sending divorce papers in here. How f*cked up is that? Two weeks ago, we were f*cking fine! I f*cking hate him." She listened telling me everything will be okay. I did not want her sympathy or anyone else's.

I wanted a new life and wretchedly wanted answers. I had a conversation with God and asked him how could he let all this happen to me? I wanted to know why he did not intervene. Why, if he loved me, was he letting me suffer? And why did this happen again when I had reunited back to my husband and babies. Have you ever had similar questions? Maybe in a different context but I think we all have or will reach a moment in our lives when we ask God, "why me? Why all the agony when I believe you work miracles?"

Jeremiah 29:13

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

I wanted a genie to come in and make all my wishes come true. I wanted a genie to erase my past. I wanted a genie to do the work for me. God is not a genie that grants wishes upon our requests. In my mind, I thought; if I had my family back, I would remain sober. The problem is that Eric and I was continuing to sweep issues under the rug. It is what I refer to as "playing house." God did not create us to settle for mediocre lives that are not joyful. Eric and I had no foundation which makes this restoration even more powerful.

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