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The Mental and Financial Woes of Prisoners
By Jerome Andrews, Prisonersolidarity.org
March 6, 2006

A man who is in prison, who was on good terms with his family and friends before being sent there, needs those people to be there for him mentally. They might correspond with him, or have their phones set up so that he can call once in awhile.

Men are looked at as being strong individuals in society. Most men, in fact, are strong individuals. But once a man is incarcerated several factors affect him. The lifestyle he used to have has changed dramatically. He now faces time, the threat of other prisoners, the threat of prison officials, and the intense and never ending stress caused by worry about family and friends out in the world. Multiply all of that stress with the weight of twenty-foot fences and cramped cells (which in truth are bathrooms with a bed!), and under these conditions a man can only be so strong. Even those who are strong last only so long.

So if you read this and you have a relative or friend who is in prison, write to him and tell him that you love and miss him. Let him know that you are doing okay. Accept his phone call! By ignoring or keeping your distance you are adding ingredients to the recipe for "a broken man," "a violent man, "a suicidal man," all of which are better known as a disaster.

Now, there are times when the family and friends of prisoners cannot help out financially. This is due to the State of Ohio and the Department of Corrections coming up with ways to extort the prisoners. They have been doing this for years. I'm in this situation and will paint a clear picture of what is going on with my finances.

I was placed in a position where I had to choose between the being seriously harmed by a corrections officer or doing what was necessary to eliminate the immediate threat to my person. I chose to put the breaks on all attempts, both present and future, to cause me physical harm. Because of this situation I became a defendant facing close to nine years if found guilty by a jury. So I pled guilty to eliminate the chance of that happening. I thought that having one year tacked onto the end of my sentence would be the end of it, but it wasn't. Now I have been ordered by the Ohio Attorney General's office to pay $7,795.52 to the Ohio Crime Victims Reparations Fund.

Now, when people go to the zoo they don't go with the intention of hitting a lion or bear upside the head, because they know that this is dangerous. The same applies for the relationship between correctional officers and prisoners. When it's decided by a person to go ahead and hit the lion/prisoner, anyway, everything that occurs after that has happened despite the fact that the person knew better.

I have to pay for another person's ignorance with more time and money, which is wrong. The fact is that the State of Ohio does not care about what really happened, they just see another opportunity to get more money! Sometimes they even know that a crime was not committed.

This is going on in every prison in Ohio. If a prisoner cannot pay or does not pay on time, an order is issued to the prison to take all but $10.00 from the prisoner's account, as well as any money sent to the prisoner by family and friends that exceeds $10.00. The prisoner then becomes what is called a state baby. A state baby is a prisoner who relies on the State for $17.00 to $18.00 per month depending upon where and if the prisoner works. In my case, and that of other men who are imprisoned at OSP (Ohio State Penitentiary), we only receive $9.00 a month for state pay or $16.00 a month if the prisoner is lucky enough to be a porter. Those with a porter position must be able to handle the constant scrutiny of the correctional officers. This injustice is happening out in plain sight. If only the people of society would look, and recognize and cry out against it!

I understand that in some cases the Ohio Crime Victims Reparations Fund is on the up and up, but that's only when an actual crime has been committed. Now when a crime has not been committed, it is wrong and a cold smack in the face toward those who truly need help and toward the justice system. It's extortion in disguise!

--
Jerome Andrews, # A 354-184
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd.
Youngstown, OH 44505

Jerome Andrews
is an artist and writer. He plans to become a businessman and reconnect with his family, friends and society upon his release from prison. His release date is September 29, 2006.

When writing to Jerome, please send him a pre-embossed stamped envelope so he can promptly answer your letter. He is not permitted adhesive stamps, that is, regular stamps.
The following link offers tips for writing to prisoners:
http://www.prisonerlife.com/tips.cfm

Contribute!

If you'd like to contribute letters, articles, artwork, or educational materials to this website, please contact us at:

Prisonersolidarity.org
P.O. Box 422
The Plains, OH 45780
OR submit your guest column to:
prisonersolidarity-owner@yahoogroups.com

You may contact Jerome Andrews directly by writing to him at the address listed above.