FRIDAY’S 4 o’clock news in Boise coincides with an inmate count at the Idaho State Correctional Center the day it’s announced that a group of inmates will be transferred to a county facility in Texas. A Correctional Officer appears with a cart outside my door immediately after the news brief. “You’re adios’ed amigo. Pack it up.”
I’m given ten minutes to pack the comforts that have made a concrete slab my home for the last two years. My cellie helps fold my laundry and wrap my cords. Everything must fit into two large boxes. The cart loaded, we hug goodbye. And wish the best in luck.
A new cellie is already outside his door, waiting to move in his things. He’s not just new — he’s brand new. He’s also young and short. But not too weird looking. “He might be alright,” speculating. It’ll figure out.
A bag of coffee slides from under the door of a friend I’ve made upstairs. It’s the same bag I loaned him just before count. I’m told not to run up there to grab it but I don’t care enough to listen. “I swear, I’ve got the worst luck,” he says, smiling. Asshole.
A few more goodbyes, a couple chucked deuces, and one last wave to the chorus of voices. My belongings are carted off the unit to the tune of It’s Been a Pleasure to Know Me.
I’m the only person I see on my tier leaving. Some volunteered to go, but they’ve all been chosen to stay.
The CO wants smalltalk while I’m en route to staging . “Blah, blah, blah, personal preferences.” I have no interest.
I’m delivered to an open dorm, temporarily housing 80 confused inmates. Many are suspect: fit the bill of certain crimes. I don’t mingle well with heinous populations. Glancing around the room, I’m checking boxes.
Uncertain of the protocol for this peculiar situation, I find my bunk and my neighbors. They’re reasonable enough in appearance. But as to their status, I’ll forego the inquiry — I’d rather not to know at this juncture.
Idaho Department of Corrections Deputy Warden, Tim Higgins, somehow materializes before us. He aims to placate the crowd he’s amassing. The promises he makes he can’t know to be true, and will soon be discovered as blatantly false. His apparent confusion is not of much comfort.
A few in the crowd — familiar with Tim — are not at all shy when they call him a liar. Our majority sleeps, yet to understand: His job is to get us on airport buses while bypassing any question that might incite resistance.
The jumba-lie-a we’re served is right off the menu. A message arrives while he speaks — the written propaganda makes as much sense as his verbal:
MSG FROM IDOC-T. HIGGINS2/08/2018PATRICK IRVING From:Tim Higgins, Deputy Warden, Contract Prison Oversight UnitDate: 2/7/2018Re: Notification of upcoming transfer to Karnes County Correctional Center in Texas. Idaho prison and county jail populations have experienced continued growth to the point of capacity, making it necessary to begin moving offenders out of state. Please be advised that you have been selected for out-of-state placement at the Karnes County Correctional Center (KCCC) in Karnes City, Texas. You have been carefully screened and found to meet all of the requirements for this transfer. It is our goal to make the necessary transition to the new facility as smooth as possible. Sometime in the very near future, the IDOC plans to move approximately 150 inmates to KCCC, with additional groups following in the future as bed shortages occur. The initial transfer will be by airplane and will take place in the next few weeks. A separate fact sheet provides information and details about the facility. This is a short term transfer (approximately 4 months in duration) that will take place while we review proposals and select a long term out-of-state facility to house up to 1,000 Idaho inmates. The 150 inmates being transferred to KCCC will be moved to the long term facility once the contract is finalized and the facility is prepared to receive them. We do not know at this point where that facility will be located. We understand that many of the inmates selected did not volunteer for this out-of-state transfer. Idaho Code 20-237 specifically allows for the state board of correction to house our offenders in non-departmental facilities when it is necessary. If there are reasons why you feel you should not be transferred out-of-state please let me know when I meet with you. If your family has concerns with this transfer, please ask them to visit our constituent services web page that is located on the Idaho Department of Correction website or contact our coordinator Ammie Mabe at (208) 658-2134, email@example.com.RespectfullyTim Higgins Deputy Warden,Management Services
Even if we plan to use the next few weeks to petition our transfer, we’re encouraged to prepare our things immediately. But not everything is coming with us. “We have one small box for you to fit the items you’ll want with you the next four months — while you wait for transfer to another facility. Your property will follow you the day that transfer takes place. It’s only four months, okay?”
Inmates selected for transfer are given priority visitation for the remainder of their time in Idaho. “I’d have your family here tomorrow,” are the whispers of guards.
A final game of Scrabble with Mom, our last photo taken together, and the push for one more everything-is-fine face. 150 others do the same — only theirs with wives and children.
I entice Mom into fronting some media credits. “I need Vietnam War songs — to help me get in the mood.” She funds them immediately.
Ammie Mabe does not answer calls from our family. Our concerns of ongoing medical treatment, program involvement and in-progress release preparations won’t have time to find an audience.
The phones shut off Monday night, meaning we’ll be moved in the early hours of Tuesday, February 12, 2018. “That Tim Higgins is full of shit, man!”