View Full Version : Picking up your loved one at the Walls

06-08-2009, 12:40 AM
I was asked to post a little information about what it is like to pick someone up at the Walls, and a moderator told me this would be a good place to post it, so here goes...

That day has finally arrived. You've been anticipating it, packing for it, your mind is likely racing with a thousand different thoughts. Some of them are thoughts on just what you can expect, picking up your loved one at the Walls.
Before you go to Huntsville to pick up your loved one, check to see if there are ANY outstanding warrants, and try to either clear them up or find out if your loved one is going to be picked up and held on any outstanding warrants. There is no point in making a trip to Huntsville, just to watch them be loaded into a waiting sheriff's transport to be taken to another facility.
The day before your loved one is due to be released, call the Huntsville Unit and double check to make sure your loved one is still scheduled for a release, and that there haven't been any holds or that the date hasn't changed. Once you know it's clear and still on schedule for release, it's ok to go ahead and make arrangements to go on to Huntsville.
If you live a distance away, like we do, then try to get into Huntsville the night before and get a hotel room, so you can rest. It won't be easy to sleep, but you will get some sleep, and you can take a shower and be fresh for the morning.
My husband was being released on parole. Huntsville unit told me to arrived between 10-10:30 am. If your loved one is being released a free man, you will need to be there by 9am. The family reception and waiting area is across the street from where your loved ones are released. You may smoke outside on the grounds, and the reception area has air conditioning, cold water bottles, and a restroom. There are lots of trees on the grounds, so it's shady and cool even outside.
When you arrive at the reception area, someone from a church group that works with the prisoners and their families will welcome you, ask who you are there for, and what your relationship is. They will give you a check in sheet to fill out, just for their information. They will give you a packet on their ministry, and an 800 number for you or your loved one to call if they are having an exceptionally bad day. This group deals specifically with released inmates and their families.
Once you have given your paper back to them, then you take a seat, inside or out, and wait. You will see various County Sheriff's arriving and leaving with inmates in irons. These are releases who had outstanding warrants. They are brought out in irons, and immediately placed into whatever transportation the Sheriff's office deputy arrived in; car, van, truck. They are not allowed to speak with anyone, and you are not allowed to approach them. This will happen on and off and repeat all morning long, as each County picks up it's released men with outstanding warrants, or just general transfers to another County's facility.
A gentleman with the ministry, who was an inmate himself in the TX system, came to talk to all of the families waiting for loved ones. He explained that most of our men would have been either in transit, or in the Huntsville Unit for the past three nights. They may or may not have had a bunk to sleep in, they may or may not have been able to shower. So he explained that they would likely be suffering from lack of sleep, and not particularly fresh smelling, if they had not been able to shower. He advised that those who had been in for a substantial amount of time, would be overwhelmed, and not in any shape to make decisions. He also stated that we needed to remember that our loved ones kept a radically different schedule inside than we do out here. They wake and eat breakfast at around 3am. They have lunch at around 10:30 am, and dinner before 4pm. He recommended that the families take them immediately to some place close to eat a good meal. Once they had eaten a good meal, then you would be able to talk to them a little more. He also advised against putting any undue stress or pressure on them right away, because they would still be suffering a sort of shock from coming from an environment with no color, where every decision is made for them, to a world of choices and colors, where they could make their own decisions. He also advised that we all make use of that 800 number in the ministry packet, and call if we needed assistance, either us or our loved one. You could be referred to a group in your area, or someone would talk to you and help you out.
Then he gave us a rundown of the releases. Free men would come out first, from the center doors. Once they were all out and released, then a parole officer would come around and speak to each family and let them know any particulars. We were also told we could ask him any questions, and that nothing we asked could get our loved ones into any sort of trouble, so now would be the time to ask any questions we needed to ask.
We heard the prison whistles blow, and a stream of men came out the front doors. Your loved one will be dressed in whatever clothes the prison had donated to them, in the closest possible sizes. Chances are good, they are going to want to change clothes as soon as possible. They will have their belongings in plastic net potato sack. Most make a short business of the hello's and hugs and kisses, and then the families all leave rather quickly.
Once the free men have gone, and that parole officer comes around to see each family, and check off your loved one's name on his paperwork, he will tell you approximately how much longer your wait will be, and remind you once again that parole releases will come from around the side of the unit. We were told 30-45 minutes, and he wished us a safe journey back to Oklahoma.
We sat and waited, and then we heard a woman say "Here they come". We looked up and there was a crowd of men coming down the block, dressed in prison release clothes, carrying all of their belongings and their parole papers in their hands. Their belongings were in the same plastic net potato sack. Families greeted their loved ones, hugs and kisses were exchanged. Those that had no family kept moving on to the bus station. And then we were off, headed back home to Oklahoma.

We did take the gentleman's advice, and fed him (my husband) right away. He had changed his clothes in our vehicle, so he wouldn't feel completely out of place in the restaurant. We went to a Mexican restaurant in Huntsville, and while we were eating, some CO's came in. My husband immediately averted his eyes, and seemed a little nervous. But we got through lunch ok, and he did feel much better after having had a very good meal. He ate like a horse. Expect your loved one to order lots of food, and to eat most of it.
We did some shopping on the way home, and again, my husband seemed a little overwhelmed by all the choices, and all the people in the stores. He was not in there that long (10 months), but it was long enough to make him a little overwhelmed.
Expect your loved one to sleep a lot, and keep what may seem to you, some strange hours. My husband has only been home for a few days now, and he sleeps a lot, and feels guilty about it, because he feels he should be doing "more", although he doesn't know what "more" is that he should be doing. You will need to reassure him that everything is fine, and that he really will be ok.
What your loved one will need/want immediately: Underwear, socks, a change of clothes, shoes. Your loved one may request that you bring more, mine did, but we were needing to travel into another state. Plan to feed them, even if it's snack food if you live close. Chances are good they will want something to eat. My husband said that most men inside, if you ask them what they would like, will say a good salad. Mine craved fresh fruit and vegetables. He could get junk in there, but not what he considered good food.
Everyone will want to see him, try to take it slow. Mine immediately called everyone from my cel phone to let them know he was on his way home with me. We've been seeing a friend or two over the weekend, but we have a larger party planned for the end of the week, when he's had time to acclimate and is up to a crowd of people.
I hope this information helps someone to better know what it's like from our side to pick someone up.

gods mercy
06-08-2009, 12:57 AM
congrats on the home comeing!! thank god my ,man aint in tx, i remember all to well there way of releasing you !! its horrible,, well good luck and god bless your family !!!

06-08-2009, 03:34 AM
I am so happy for you and Henri! You can finally start this new, much better, chapter in your life together. And Thank You so much for your wonderful detailed account of the day from "our" side. :thumbsup:

06-08-2009, 08:59 AM
Congrats! Thanks so much for the info from our point! Goodluck to you both and God Bless!

06-08-2009, 12:09 PM
Thanks for sharing. My hubby has already told me to forget eating, we're going straight to the hotel! lol But, he's been in for over 17 years so far, so I'm sure it will be overwhelming for him. He says he doesn't want to go anywhere for awhile, just work and home. Please keep us posted on how he's getting acustomed to the outside World. When he feels up to it, maybe he can start posting stuff and give us a view of what it's like inside. Good luck to you both!

Dillon's Wife
06-08-2009, 12:17 PM
Awesome post! :)

06-08-2009, 06:53 PM
Thank you so much Day! I'm super excited for our turn! :p

06-08-2009, 11:49 PM
Something I completely forgot to mention, and it could be critical - if your loved one is on medication, expect them to only get 10 days worth of their meds, so you will need to make them an appt with the family Dr. ASAP. Henri does have prescription meds, so I did need to make him an appt with our family Dr right away so he does not run out of his medication.

06-09-2009, 02:17 AM

That was an excellent post and very accurate. I'm glad you can understand what emotions a new releasee is experiencing and how the transition can be a shock.

I wish you and your loved one well and pray that Oklahoma will treat him kinder.

06-09-2009, 02:57 PM
Mark - Thank you for your post, and thanks to everyone else who read, responded.

It is critical, I believe, that we do understand what our loved ones are going through when they come home, and have patience. Henri is still easily overwhelmed and tires easily. I believe it is due to the change in schedules, and the fact that he is now free to come and go as he pleases.

He asked me last night if it was ok for him to go off with one of his friends for a couple hours. I replied that he wasn't in prison anymore, why would I object to him going to spend time with his friend? He said he was just wanting to make sure I was ok if he went and had some "guy time" with his buddy.

However, I would be upset if he wanted to go run around with the guys all night, drinking and whooping it up, while I sit home with no idea of where he is or what he is doing. But that's not who he is anyway. He's not a horse's a** like some of the stories I see on here.

06-09-2009, 07:59 PM
Henri values you and the place you have in his life. He wants to make sure that what he does will not upset you. That is far, far better than some of the other stories I have read from spouses of releasees.

But, yeah, after being in prison for a while, you develop a habit of asking permission to do ANYTHING. No quick and sudden moves, either.

The stamina will come back eventually. That was a big deal for me as well. Being locked in a cage for 23 hours a day sometimes, you have to learn to dial down your natural energy level.... or you would go insane. That takes a while to get back to normal.

06-09-2009, 08:05 PM
reading your post i felt like i was taking the journey with you. Thank you.

07-21-2009, 03:54 PM
wonderful post!!!



07-27-2009, 02:31 PM
My husband comes home in September after being incarcerated for 17 years...I wonder how overwhelmed he is going to be? I have approximatly 35 days to go...

07-27-2009, 03:11 PM
thank you soo much for the post I soon will be coming upon this day in 42 days and i had no clue of the thank you