In-processing (Click to tweet)
The next four weeks would be taken up by in-processing and I would be subjected to a battery of tests. Psychological, academic, aptitude and medical. These tests were used to determine my custody level as well as the rehabilitation programs that I needed to take to be released from prison, or to be eligible for parole. They would also help to determine what skill set I had and which work detail I would be assigned to.
I had been cutting hair as a hobby for four years and so I really had my heart set on the barbering program. You could obtain your barber license through the state of Kansas and would have tons of experience from cutting inmates hair all day long. Military regulation haircuts were still enforced in the DB, because we were all still in the military.
They also had some indoctrination classes on how to navigate the DB: rules, regulations, laundry, education, operations, counseling, work details, etc. The sessions were about an hour long and about forty different departments all had something to tell us, followed up with a question answer session for each one.
I did everything they asked, took all the tests, answered all the questions and signed all the forms. Five tubes of blood and shots were given during the medical examination.
I had my picture taken and was issued a laminated badge, color coded by custody level and the domicile I was assigned to. I was currently in maximum security but would most likely be elevated to medium custody because of the number of charges, and length of sentence.
I was assigned a registration number that started with a letter. This letter identified which branch of service you used to be in. A for Army AF for Air Force N for Navy MC for Marine Corps and CG for Coast Guard.
My number was A74780. It was on the badge and was ink stamped on everything I was issued. It was used in my mailing address, and written on anything that was my personal property. This number was my identity and the badge was my key to moving around the prison. The badge was also looked at twice a day during a face to face, prison wide, head count.
During in-processing I started to meet some fellow inmates that were also new to the DB.
Two soldiers that were stationed near Frankfort Germany had been charged with an entire field of marijuana worth 3.3 million. They stumbled onto the field, took a bunch of the plants and filled up their duffle bags. They told some other people about it and ended up getting turned in. They were convicted for the entire field.
Another inmate was an Air Force Captain who had been AWOL for nine years. He had been living in a wealthy friend’s home the entire time, being careful to never use his identity. He had just been existing in quiet seclusion for all that time. I believe his mother was sick or died and it prompted him to come out of hiding and turn himself in. Because he was an officer, he came directly to the DB with no wait. This was standard for all convicted officers no matter how long the sentence was.
A third interesting inmate came in convicted of treason. He was a soldier that had been selling secrets to the East Germans. They were going to give him the death penalty but he managed to get a pretrial agreement for forty years. My five years seemed much shorter.
During rec time which is about one hour a day, I did have the opportunity to make collect phone calls. I mostly called family because they would accept the call. My grandmother did not want to talk about my situation around other people, so I had to call when she was all alone. I think she didn’t know how my grandfather would handle my situation being a veteran and all.
I was able to talk to my friend from high school again. His dad mentioned, that if my family was still in Germany when I was eligible for parole, he would be willing to give me a job and a place to stay. That made me feel pretty good but I had a long way to go. Things could change.
Once again, having the last name Mike really singled me out. Because it was such an odd last name guards would call me to do stuff when they couldn’t remember other inmate’s names. Mostly it involved cleaning something. On multiple occasions I was asked if my first name was Mike as well as my last name. It got really old being the guy to remember in this place. You really just want to blend in and not be noticed.
If we weren’t in a briefing, or being tasked to do some work, we just sat in our cells. Being bored out of my mind I looked for anything to keep me sane. I saw a rack of books on a shelf that had been brought down from the library. So I started reading. I had been reading my Bible but I had a lot of time on my hands and so in addition to that I read a novel a day, for every day that I was down there. The ones I remember were “It” by Steven King, “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by Jon Irving and a couple of Dean Koontz books.
The boredom was maddening but it paled in comparison to what some of the other inmates were dealing with. Yesterday, on the 23rd of April, an inmate hung himself in maximum security. I guess some people could not handle the pressure of being here. It was pretty depressing to hear this news. I don’t remember his name or what his crime was, but his pain was over with now.
This made me realize that I needed to do something positive with my time. My chapel youth group leader from Germany and I, had been corresponding with each other and so I decided to write a letter to the kids that he was mentoring. I started to think about what I could say to have them never end up in a place like this.
I write a letter to the youth group.