My Parole Board Did Not Go As Planned
Sitting in a waiting room in anticipation to be seen next was nerve racking. The parole board was in session and my turn was coming up. These people would decide three things for me.
First, if I was eligible for the next custody level from Minimum to Trustee. Second, if I would finally get a detail change to the barbershop. Third, and most important, if I would be approved to go home early on parole. Rehearsing what I might say to the parole board when asked, really wouldn’t help much. It seemed as if I always choked under pressure in these situations.
A door opened and an inmate came out. He headed towards the exit and left. Not much expression on his face. No telling how many times he had done this before. It was my first time and I just couldn’t shake the anxiety.
“Inmate Mike…” Someone from inside the room beckoned me.
In military fashion, I marched into the small room that looked like all the other rooms in the DB, drab and cold. There was a table with several military personnel seated behind it. They were all wearing their BDU’s and looked very intimidating. There was a lone chair in front of the table facing the board members. This is where I would sit once I was told it was okay to do so. When I was positioned in front of the chair, I stood at attention and stated, “Inmate Mike reporting as ordered, Sir.” Normally I would salute but this was a privilege that was revoked from military inmates. The senior member of the board, who I believe was a Major, said, “Have a seat Mike.”
Sitting at attention, not sure how this would all go down, I didn’t move and I didn’t speak unless spoken to. Even though I was an inmate I was still in the military. These guys took protocol very seriously. Due to the gravity of the situation, I didn’t want to seem disrespectful or that I had lost all military bearing.
The fact that I was guilty, serving my time and at their mercy had me expecting a stern and condescending environment. The weird thing was they all seem genuinely pleasant. They started to ask me some questions about how I ended up in the DB, what my family was like, what had I been doing during my confinement, the classes I was taking. Then the questioning changed to future plans, what I wanted to do upon release, how I was going to refrain from going down the same path, what steps I had in place to ensure a successful re-entry into society.
Trying to answer every question carefully and with some thought, I believe I told them everything they wanted to hear. There was only one issue. When I told the board that I wanted to be moved from the mess hall to the barbershop and if that didn’t happen, then I would attend cosmetology school upon release, one of the board members flippantly said, “Cosmetology school? You just want to be around all those girls, don’t you?” This really bothered me. Maybe he was trying to be funny, but this was my parole board. This was my future and he was making jokes. My countenance changed and I fired back, “No, Sir, I want to cut hair. I’ve been doing it since high school and it is my passion.” They looked at me a little strange, like I didn’t know how to take a joke. Maybe, it was nerves, or that I was being sensitive, but I just thought it was inappropriate under the circumstances. Other than that moment, the board went pretty cut and dry.
When, they were done questioning me, I was told that I was dismissed. After I got up out of the chair, I stood at attention and said, “Thank you, Sirs.” Then I left the room in the same manner as the inmate before me: not much expression on my face. I wasn’t really sure how it would all pan out and I didn’t really think I said anything that impressed them.
The decisions about my custody and detail were provided fairly quickly. Shortly after the board, maybe about a week later, I was notified that I would not be going to the barber shop. Instead, I would be staying in the mess hall. This was the third request to change and the third denial. It just wasn’t in the cards for me I guess. As far as custody, I would be staying in Minimum for at least six more months. In six more months, I would be eligible for another custody hearing. Not sure if would ask again for the detail change. Custody change, I would be asking for.
Some of the people that I associated with in building B-6 had moved up to the next custody level. After Minimum custody was Trustee and once you made that, you got to leave the prison walls and move out to the Local Parole Unit (LPU). Those who went out there made it sound like the most peaceful place on Earth.
The decision about parole took a little longer. So, I was resigned to waiting once again. This was something I was getting good at, but it was not by choice and I hated it.
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