DOZENS of tiny screens illuminate the early morning hours of a Tuesday in February. A large group of men are exchanging messages with loved ones while waiting to be disappeared on a bus. Many have forfeited their sleep to send their goodbyes, families and prisoners alike.
The arrival of a 3 A.M. makeshift breakfast increases the rate of 150 heartbeats, informing them all departure awaits. The journey ahead, unclear in length — the final destination still yet to be known.
Though the phones have been dead for the last six hours, several are hopeful and check them again. Collecting the wishes we stuff in our pillows will have to wait until we’ve traveled the distance: Tonight our heads will lay in another timezone, far removed from support and systems of betterment.
The expense will arrive at our loved one’s communities as we return to them unprogrammed, in further need of Correction. Compensation will be inadequate as a six-month course that fails to balance the effects of long-term interruption. And it will be missing altogether for the cost of remittance — a silent, unspoken depletion of pocket.
As our taxpayers feed families in other populations, we’ll wait years to be sent back worse than we left.
We know all of this before our extraction: We’re not the first to go and we won’t be the last. With history our guide –and accurate with facts — our politicians still lobby that all this is sane.
Breakfast is finished, the carts have arrived. Our tired population answers calls as a herd: “Cram into the unit one-door-over and prepare yourself for further instruction.” “Hurry-up and wait” is a commonly issued order.
Up to five at a time funnel through the door, the empty beds left behind will be filled with a song.
Through the next door over there’s no room to sit. I’m with hardly any room to stand, holding the box of my prioritized needs: Shoes, shorts, media player and a pillow, plus a few books and food items I have yet to indulge.
The room full of men are all dressed the same, save for one very specific, awkward exception: My white T-shirt is not like the others — with a touch of black marker I’ve made it a tux. It’s an inside joke for similar minds: a clear indicator I’m ready to party.
The crowd, a mixture from several institutions, is overflow from every walk of Corrections, all told of the madness by which we were picked — apparently, we’re suspected of docile.
Many sketch out, strange to each other. Some buddyup for the strength that doesn’t come with a number. Looking around I finally recognize some faces — the faces of those lost in another Higgins email:
MSG FROM IDOC – T.Higgins02/08/2018The Karnes County Correctional Center (KCCC) is owned and operated by the GEO Group Inc…located 59 miles southeast of San Antonio in Karnes City, Texas…550 bed medium custody facility…currently houses 300 male and female detainees from United State Marshals Service as well as detainees from Karnes, Bexar and Hidalgo County Sheriffs Departments. The facility administrator is Warden Barry and his second in command is Major Martinez.Karnes County Correctional Center810 Commerce StreetKarnes City, TX 78118 Phone Number: (830) 780-3525Fax Number: (830) 780-4057This will be a short term assignment (approximately 4 months in duration) after which our inmates will be transferred to a long term out-of-state facility that has not yet been selected…personal property limited to… a 16 x 12 x 24 clear storage bag. [T]he remainder…will be stored and transferred directly to the long term facility…all feeding done in the housing units. A large and well stocked library and law library…three large paved recreation yards…restricted to 50 inmates at a time…facility offers no programs…DEPOSITS:…Money will be…transferred to the receiving facility to post to inmate trust…timing of those transactions is not yet known…PHONES:Inmate phone services…provided by Global Tel*Link Refunds…obtained by calling Inmate Calling Solutions (ICS) at 1-888-506-8407 or writing: ICSolutionsAttn: Customer Service, Refunds2200 Danbury StreetSan Antonio, TX 78217 Funds on debit accounts will be transferred to Global Tel*Link by ICS within fifteen days of the transfer from IDOC. How long until…funds available…I do not know…JPay…not…offered at…location… Inmates…encouraged to spend down…media account before departure…all funds on…JPay…subject to forfeiture…for this out of state transition any remaining funds or stamps will remain on the account until the inmate is returned…If an inmate is released…unused media funds…subject to forfeiture…JPay services will not be available…Any content…lost or corrupted out of state is non-recoverable…until… inmate returns…Failure to sync the player before transfers are made will render the player inoperable after 30 days…Contact visiting is provided using seven tables.
The hours pass again and we’re collected in small numbers. In no rush to sit shackled and wait, I avoid being harvested until the last group.
We’re taken to a room, stripped, searched, detected for metals, and then issued what we’ll wear for our trek to the border: A paper jumpsuit, briefs, socks and a tee, with shower shoes and shackles have never felt worse.
I manage to keep my contraband tuxedo, excited at the thought of new-captor impressions.
I’m escorted outside by a combat soldier whose insignia bares the mark of Corrections.
Shuffling towards the bus, through an anonymous unit of pain, multiple chuckles escape from facemasks. “Check out the guy in the tux.” I know in my heart I’m already a hit. All that’s left now is convincing the others.
Placed on the bus, it’s wait for more hours. Our caravan is preparing to hunt for the News — by staging what will look like an impressionable blind.
Two lucky souls are rushed off the bus before the wheels have their chance to try and make a move. It’s unclear who they know or what they can prove, but it’s “Good for them,” regardless.
After an hour’s wait is a twenty minute drive to the airport, where we find camera crews lining the runway. This is the moment they’re waiting to capture: Forty Hooded Killers With Ten Thousand Rounds Quell Potential Uprising from One Dozen Dozen Obscenely Good Behaviors.
Our plane is being held by Mercs Incorporated. They have happier faces than those under the hoods. Or maybe it’s that they’re not anxious to kill us. Either way, it’ll be another hour before we board the plane.
One at a time we’re removed from the bus, coached up the stairs, and guided through an entrance to our seats on the bird.
I’m doing my by best to scan the airport windows. My friend’s son is here, somewhere, making his way to his Grandma’s. His mom had said he hoped for a wave. I wish I could see him to bless his heart.
His dad passed a few years back. Both our trips today are effects from the loss.
It’s now my turn to board the plane. I’ll have to make up for missing his wave and convince him the high-level security was strictly required: Because when it comes to holdin’ down good ol’ Uncle Pat…