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  #1  
Old 12-08-2005, 03:51 PM
CINDYinIN CINDYinIN is offline
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Default West Tennessee State Penitentiary

Because each prison is a little different, I thought those of us with knowledge about phones, mail, visitation, quirky rules, etc. at a certain prison could post in each prison's thread to give new people some much needed information. Please post any information you have about WTSP in this thread.

Thanks!
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Old 05-29-2007, 05:02 AM
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Default getting transferred

It's been a while sence I have talked to you.I hope all is well.I have a question ? Why is it so hard to get transferred from WTSP( where my son is incarcerated) to a place closer to home ?We only live about 30 minites from Turney Center and it's 124 miles one way to WTSP , not only does the gas prices effect our visiting , but living on retirement makes it hard to swing it also. My son has 3 small childrem that we take to visit him . They have a very close relationship . It's hard and we do sacrafice so we can take the girls to visit . Isn't there a rule, policey ect. that applies to this applies to a situation like this ? Thank you so much , you're the only person who I can talk about this . I'm very much grateful for the knowloedge you have shared w/ me . You have a great day and may it be full of Gods many Blessings.

sjmmom
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:36 AM
CINDYinIN CINDYinIN is offline
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There are so many with the same problem you have. Unfortunately, Tennessee does not make it a policy to house inmates close to home. How long has your son been in? Perhaps he's eligible for an incentive transfer. He can try talking to his counselor to put in for reclassification. You can send letters to the wardens at WTSP and at Turney Center to try to appeal for a move, but it does not often work. Believe me, I understand your frustration. We went through the same thing with my brother for about three years. He was finally able to move, but it did take awhile.

Best of luck to you and your family. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:50 AM
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Default Wtsp

All I know is the people that work there are extremely rude and not very willing to give information. You have to be approved to visit just like everywhere else. When your man writes you and it's only 5 sentences long, that's because he had to stand in line forever just to use a pencil. Or at least that's how it is when they get STG'ed (Security Threat Group) Hopefully my man will be out very soon and I won't have to deal with this anymore....he's not supposed to be there anyway
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Old 03-16-2008, 07:00 PM
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Hello,
My husband is on the list for an out of state transfer from California. If anyone can tell me any information about this prison it would be greatly appreciated. Not sure if he is going here or Arizona or Mississippi. The rumor on the yard in california is as soon as the california guy's are gettiong off the bus the mexican mofia is takin them out or at least putting a hurt on them any informaiton on this would also be appreciated. thanks
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Old 12-29-2008, 09:50 AM
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Hi I am new to this site-not sure if I am where I am suppose to be, but I'll ask anyway. My pop just got transferred to WTSP from the county (where he spent 23 out of 24 hours in a two man cell w/4 people, NO outside time whatsoever) they took him on Christmas eve, a time we were scheduled to meet, no warning at all. How long before we can visit him? Does he have to have the global comm. or can he just call collect? It's been about 6 days-no one has heard from him. How safe is this prison?
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Old 01-05-2009, 09:20 AM
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MC is your dad at CBCX now? if they send him to Turney Center or South Central, he won't be all that far from you, maybe around an hour or hour and half drive. I will keep your family in my prayers!
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:21 PM
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Hi all, I thought I'd drop in and say hi. I just got released from WTSP on Dec 23rd, so I can prob answer any questions about that place, just ask. I AM SO GLAD TO BE OUT!

Rob
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Old 01-13-2009, 05:23 PM
CINDYinIN CINDYinIN is offline
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Rob-
Congratulations! I'm sure you'll be a great source of information for many here on PTO. I hope that we can help you too!
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:45 AM
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Rob thanks for joining. There are alot of people on here with loved ones in West TN. My husband is at South Central. PTO has been a wealth of information and support for me, and having someone here who has been through the prison system will really help us alot! Thank you!
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:08 PM
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Post Seeking Information!!

Hey,

My name is Nichole and Im new to this site. Well I been a member since 08 but never really got on here because my man was still in county. He just recently got transfered to WTSP. He has to serve 5 years at 30%. We just had a baby and he hasn't even got to meet her yet. It's killing me. This is going to be crzy because I'm so used to visiting him every week in county and now it will probably be like once or twice a month considering the fact that I live in Clarksville and this prison is like 3 hours and some minutes away. It's rediculous. If anybody has any information on this prison please write me I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much!!
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:17 PM
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Welcome to PTO
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Old 03-03-2009, 03:57 PM
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My husband is at WTSP. What would you like to know?
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:13 PM
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Welcome to PTO! I am going to post an overview of WTSP soon that should help, I just have to make enough posts where I can post links!

Good luck!
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  #15  
Old 03-03-2009, 09:00 PM
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Default Overview of WTSP

I just got out of WTSP in December and thought I would post a bit of an overview for WTSP, since there are probably a lot of
people wanting info about it when their loved one is sent there for classification and I know how hard it can be to get info
from the prison system. First of all, don't worry, WTSP, is not nearly as dangerous as the rumors would have you believe.
If your loved one keeps himself out of debt (for tobacco, dope, gambling, even commisary), isn't in a gang, and isn't a
"hot-head", I doubt he will have so much as a shoving match while he is there. I was there for two years, and in that time
only saw three fights, and heard about maybe a dozen more, and only a couple of those involved anthing much more than wounded
pride. All of the incidents I heard about were because of the big three--money (debt), drugs, or gangs.

As for classification, it is a 30-day process where they interview you a few times, have you fill out -paperwork, take a few
tests, and have medical poke and prod at you. Classification is how they determine where your loved one will do his time, he
could likely be shipped again, and if he wants to be closer, now is the time to talk to the counselors about that. Where he
goes will depend on bed space, institutional records, and security score. The security score is based on a bunch of factors,
like institutional disciplinary record, charges, escape history, etc. Ideally you want the score to be 6 or less (minimum
security), that means he will get more "good time" and get out faster. He can also qualfy (must be under 10 years to go, no
warrants or holds, no escapes, etc.,) for minimum direct or minimum trustee, which would mean he can work outside the fence
and be housed at an annex. Anyway, once they classify your loved one, he will be moved within a day or two to another unit
(3, 4, 9, 11, or 12 if staying at WTSP, 10-A (transit) if going to another prison, or 10-B if he is staying and gets classed
direct or trustee).

If he stays there, WTSP is broken up into 3 "Sites" although they are all right together. Site 1 was actually the old Fort
Pillow Prison across the street, that is now empty. The MSC Unit (also called the Annex) is next door to the old prison and
is also sometimes referred to as Site 1, although it is actually part of Site 2 for admin purposes.

Site 2 & 3 are right next to each other, but are seperated by a series of fences and gates. When you come to visit, the
checkpoint building where you will sign in is betweeen the two sites and then you will follow a walkway to the visitation
gallery for which ever site he is in. Site 2 is the "High Security" part of the prison--4 of the Units are Max, Close, or the
Hole, and 2 units are Med security. All the units on Site 3 are Min/Med, although inmates in units 7 (classification) & 8
(protective custody & drug unit) are not allowed on the compound. I was never at site 2 (almost went to the hole over there a
couple times, but managed to avoid it), so dont' really know what it is like, but I think Site 3 is where most people would
rather be. Of course the best place to be is the MSC, which I was for awhile. You get many priveleges there you don't get
anywhere else such as working outside the fence (even in town for a couple crews), outside visits where you can cook out,
bigger rooms, and a lot more freedom.

As for visitation, only immediate family may visit during classification, and I've no idea why they do this, but it is a
state-wide rule. In fact, even if you can vist while your loved one is in classification, it would only be for 2 hours and
non-contact (behind glass), so isn't really worth a long drive. In order to visit your loved one you have to fill out an
application (for you and any children) and be approved (can take about 3-4 weeks, so I'd send it right away). If he is not
yet classified when they receive the application, they will file it until he is, just have him remind the counselor to have
those apps processed once he is classified. You can download the application at:
http://www.state.tn.us/correction/pd...tationform.pdf

while your at it, you might want to look at this:
http://www.state.tn.us/correction/in...nual-apr08.pdf

The visitation is not bad, it's is in an area that is more like an airport terminal waiting area than a prison, and has a
play area for kids, vending machines for sandwiches and snacks, and microwaves. For the machines, you have to buy a debit
card to use, since money is not allowed in the visitation gallery (lock your purse or wallet in the trunk, just bring money
for the debit card machine, figure on $15 each, since the prices are a bit high. Don't load too much money, because another
prison's machine won't take that card! Your loved one will likely eat more than you expect since it is a nice break from
prison food. Also, when you visit, be careful how you dress, because they can be overly picky at times. It might be a good
idea to keep a change of clothes in the car in case they won't let you in with what you are wearing, I have heard of many
visitors having to make emergency trips to walmart so they can get in, and if you are going to drive several hours (my people
had to drive SEVEN!), I think you want all the time you can get. My visits where always from open to close on both days (sat
& sun 8-3), and they have limited visits fri night, but never had one, so am not sure how that works. On Holidays, they
often only allow you to visit one day, not both, so I usually didn't have visits then, since my people had to come so far.
There is a Super 8 motel that is in Ripley that is pretty reasonable if you stay the night. You are allowed to hug & kiss at
the beginning and end of the visit, and can hold hands during the visit, but that is pretty much it. You can sometimes get
by with more depending on who is working, but I would never risk losing visits over it, and you never know who might be
watching on the cameras. If your loved one makes it to MSC, you can have outside picnic visits after April 1st, which are
wonderful. They are completely outside the fence, you can bring food and grill out, sit under the trees, and it is much more
lenient than the main compound.

Other things about good ole WTSP (gawd I hated that place), you can send him stamps (up to 40) in letters, as well as photos
(no poloroids or nudity), if you want to put money on your loved one's books, be sure to use a POSTAL money order, any other
kind takes longer to hit the books, and they don't accept checks or cash. Once classified, you can order him a package with
a TV, radio, clothes, hot pot, all kinds of things:
http://tninmatepackage.com/

A TV is a really nice thing to have in prison, and they do have cable at WTSP, but not all prisons do. They have about 24
channels, and it costs $4 per cell per month (what a ripoff, but what are you gonna do!) Don't order anything if your loved
one is in classification, since he is not allowed to have a package in classification, and I think they made a new rule that
you have to wait 90 days, but am not sure. I was classified at Brushy Mountain, and stayed there the first year, and they did
packages different than most places. I was on package restriction by the time I got to WTSP, so never got one there. The
place you have to order from, Union Supply, has a monopoly so their prices run a bit high, but are not just way out of line.

The phones at all TN prisons use Global Tel Link, and the cheapest way is to put money in his phone debit account (10%
discount), by sending a money order or cashier's check directly to them, I am not sure of the address, but it is posted in
several places, and in the handbook, so your loved one can give it to you. Phone calls get expensive in a hurry so you
probably wnat to work out when and how often he should call, depending on what you can afford.

I know it is a hard thing to have a loved one in prison, I know I'll spend the rest of my life making up for what I put the
people who care about me through, but be as patient as you can, most inmates are struggling with addiction and/or mental
illness and need your love and help, just don't become an enabler for them, and that includes while they are in prison. Drugs
and alcohol are easily available, so if he starts asking you to send money to other people (will probably say it's for a
debt, buy something, etc.,) or going through a lot of money on his books, he may be trying to pay for his drugs. I managed
with God's help to stay clean and sober the whole time, and I would encourage you to remind your loved ones there are
programs to help.

All TN prisons have pretty good volunteer ministries for christians, less so for other faiths. At Site #3, their is an AA
meeting ever Friday night, and it is as good as any outside meeting I've been to. Every so often they will offer a "Life
Without a Crutch" class in the units, that is not bad (and might help with parole). There is also a drug treament program in
Unit 8-B (Therauetic Community), that is a 9-12 month program, but I don't think much of it. The staff is totally
unqualified, and there is actually more drug activity in that unit than any other. When I was in the program, I actually saw
someone nodding off with a needle in his arm out in the open in the pod! The TC is a good idea in theory, but the excution of
it is horrible. On the bright side, if you can stick it out in that program, it greatly increases your chance of making
parole (if not succeeding on parole), and they will let you transfer to pretty much the prison of your choice upon
completion.

For me, the best thing to keep me on track was God's grace and the volunteer ministry. I know many stories are
told of the "jail house conversions", but give your loved one a chance and encouragement and most of all, your prayers, and
while you are at it, say one for me--I may be out, but am struggling with employment and other issues! I will certainly pray
for everyone in prison and their loved ones, and wish you all well. If you have any other questions, or updated information
feel free to private message me, I may not know, but at least I won't guess like most prison staff do!


God bless,

Rob
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Old 03-05-2009, 07:21 PM
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thanks for the info my husband is there he was the trustee until last month when he got lost in the woods. well anyway i really thoght it was nice when i went to visit him during the summer and we grilled out and he got to play with our daughters all day. glad to hear that u are out of there though.
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Old 03-05-2009, 08:26 PM
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Yeah, the outside visits really are great. Don't feel bad, I got kicked out of the MSC myself in April of last year, did the last 7 months in Unit 11. What is his name, I may know him?
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Old 03-17-2009, 09:14 PM
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My fiance' was just sent to WTSP two weeks ago. I need as much info about it. I would like to know more "inside" things like what life is like on a day to day basis...
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissSRD View Post
My fiance' was just sent to WTSP two weeks ago. I need as much info about it. I would like to know more "inside" things like what life is like on a day to day basis...
I don't know if you saw my "overview" on the first page or not, but you might want to check that out for general policies and what not. As to what life is like on the inside, I don't think there is an easy answer to that one. Not to sound flip, but it is one of those things that you just can't fully understand unless you've been there. The other thing about that is every one's experiences will be a bit different, so I could only speak to my experience. Since he is just arrived he is still in Unit 7 (classification) for the first 30 days, so there is not very much to do while still in 7.

Having said that, I will try to give an overview of an "average" day while I was in there. I usually got up about 6 AM and fixed a cup of instant coffee in the hotpot, read from my Bible, and maybe caught the weather on the news. At 6:30 am they "pop" the doors. The doors have a button in the cell that will allow it to open when the pod is not locked down. Many of us would jam a toothpick into the button to keep it pressed so when they take us off lock down, the door will open immediately (you can here the mechanism buzz when it opens). Depending on which unit is going first to breakfast, and whether or not I am going (many mornings it was so awful, was better to do with out). I would then either head to the chow hall for breakfast or grab a shower. To get to the chow hall you walk across a huge grassy field (have to stay on the sidewalk though, wouldn't want a petty write up for walking in the grass). Depending on how quickly you walked (many people practically run to chow!), you wait in line anywhere from 5-15 mins to get a plastic tray (think school lunchroom), with usually some frozen eggs form a bag (they put the whole bag in boiling water to cook them--yuck!), some hard bread they call "toast" and some bland grits, oatmeal or Cream of Wheat. After breakfast I'd head back to the pod, grab my stuff and get a shower before work.

The showers are tiny little enclosed rooms with a window in the door. We always put our towel over the door to cover the window, and you can lock it from the inside to keep somebody from getting to you while most vulnerable (much better than Brushy where the showers are in the open at the ends of each walk!). After showering I would sit around and chat with friends waiting for "school call." The way WTSP is set up is called controlled movement, you are not supposed to leave your pod unless you have a written pass or they make a call out, such as "chow call", "med call", "school call", "church call", etc., I worked as a Teacher's Aide in the vocational school (at least at the end, at one time I was at the annex and worked as a clerk a the lawnmower shop and later on the community service that works in town). Usually school stated at 8 am, but this could vary quite a bit since they sometimes took a long time to do make the call or might forget altogether. When they call school they tell you which classes are off that day, and that list is normally about 1/3 of the teachers (must be nice to work for the state!). If my teacher was out it meant a long boring day in the pod, if not, I head to the school building, which is right next to the chow hall.

At the school building we had to run the gauntlet of Ms. Winbush and the metal detector. Ms. Winbush is a crabby, evil thing that worked the school building door,and was hated by all (teachers and other staff included). She would seemingly at random decide what you could or could not bring on any give day (Bibles were a big no-no in her book!), and she would try to push everyone to the point that they'd step out of line so she could send them to the hole (her one and only joy in life!) You have to take off you belt, take keys out of your pocket, etc., to get through the metal detector which was always set way to sensitive, in fact you often had to take off your coat because of the metal snaps. Once through , I head to class, and breathe a sigh of relief that at least one day I won't be quite so bored. My job entailed, printing sign in sheets for each day, and preparing absentee reports, count slips, grading tests and so forth. It usually only took maybe an hour to get all the morning paperwork ready (if you have ever heard that inmates run the prisons--this is part of what they are talking about--the teacher I worked for didn't' even know what all paperwork was required, and certainly couldn't do it on his own!) and then I had to go take it the school office where a run in with Winbush is always likely. Even knowing I am a teacher's aide and have to go in the office to make copies, get supplies, turn reports and so on, she'd always want to harass me for being in the office.

They have a rule in the vocational school that the teacher's have to be relieved before they can go to the bathroom, or leave the classroom for any reason. It is also a rule that all staff should have a functioning radio to call for help if needed. Since the teacher can't leave, when his battery in the radio went dead, he'd send me to the office to get another. For months, this was never a problem, then suddenly Winbush, decided to make an issue of it, and I would have to try to sneak down there to get a battery! It's not like the teacher gave me the radio itself, so shouldn't' be security risk--lol. Of course, his radio usually sat on my desk and I'd listen for anyone that was calling for him while he was teaching class, so it is not as if I didn't almost always have access! I put all this in just so you can see some of the petty garbage that we have to deal with. It really isn't the big things that drive you nuts, it is the 100 petty things every day. Once I finish my work, I could read or play pinball on my computer (yes, an inmate had computer access, but most didn't, I had a good job), of course if Winbush or the Teacher supervisor came in I'd quickly switch to a report or something so they wouldn't' know I had games on the computer.

The morning session of school went on until count cleared when we went to lunch. Count was always a pain in the school, since we aren't' in our cells at the 11 am count, we are considered "out of count", so a list of everyone in class had to be filled out and signed by the teacher, and if some one left class after it was filled out, I couldn't' cross the name out--oh no, a whole new list had to b e filled out, and by some weird rule it had to be hand written, not typed!? During count they made us stand in two rows (maybe so they wouldn't' have to take shoes and socks off to count!?) while they counted. Once they announced that count was clear we headed to lunch and had to repeat the ordeal at the metal detector, wait in line for 5-15 mins, and then stay in the chow hall until it was time to go back to school. They were supposed to allow 30 mins, so the teachers, get a full 30 min break, but it was often longer we would have to just sit there. Once they told us it was time to go back, we had to clear the metal detector for the third time and then go back to class. My afternoon paperwork only took 20-30 mins at most unless it was a test day, so that mean more games or sometimes I'd write letters and print them out. School ended at 2:30 pm (long "work" day, huh!) and we pass through the detector for the fourth time and head back to the pod. About once a week they would have officers waiting outside the school for another search, sometimes that was a pat-down, sometimes a strip search.

Most days we would have yard time after school until the 3:30 lock-down, but I wasn't much for yard. Four pods (512) men share a yard that is about the size of an average suburban back yard (maybe 1/2 an acre or so) was just a little too crowded for my taste. They have volleyball and basketball out there, and not much else. Mostly it is a time to talk and wheel and deal for dope, liquor, tobacco, etc., During that hour I'd usually shoot the bull with a few friends at one of the tables in the pod, or maybe play a little rummy. We are locked down from 3:30 until 4:30 for another count, so this time I usually watched TV or took a nap. Once the doors popped at 4:30 again, we'd either go to chow, or if I had the stuff to cook we would cook our dinner. Prison cooking could be a whole series of articles unto itself, but we actually came up with some pretty good concoctions. I would usually spend the evening either in church (we had services every night usually from 6:30-8, I went once or twice a week) or I'd talk with my friends, walk laps, call home, or play cards.

8:30 is lock down for the night, and after that I'd usually watch 2-3 hours of TV and go to sleep. This is just my experience and different people would do their time very differently, also this routine is subject to big upheavals at any time due to shakedowns, lock-downs, a fight somewhere, etc., Truthfully, the best days are really the most uneventful, since any change in prison is usually for the worse, not better.

Hope this gives some kind of idea that day-to-day life sort of becomes routine, in not normal after a while, and that the time can be what you make of it. I can't really tell you what Unit 7 is like, never having been there. I was classified at Brushy Mountain, and that is a VERY different environment.
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Old 03-18-2009, 12:42 PM
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Rob, although my husband is not at WTSP (he's at South Central), i REALLY appreciate and thank you for your detailed posts! i think in general the same things happen at all the prisons, same typical daytime schedules, etc. Were you in RDAP? I'm assuming that you were. My husband is in RDAP and just started the 2nd phase. He thinks its a joke, but he's sticking with it for parole reasons. Thank you for helping every one here. Your "insiders" info is great!
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Old 03-18-2009, 01:38 PM
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I did do the drug program at WTSP, they call theirs "Therapeutic Community" not RDAP, and I think the treatment model is different, and that program is also a joke. I didn't finish it, I got kicked out for political reasons--I was standing up for our right to have Christian services, and angered the director who wanted no such thing so they said I was trying to "manipulate" staff when I tried to find out when I would graduate and used it as an excuse to get me out of there. I was angry about it at the time, but think it worked out for the best. I ended up getting a ruling in my favor on a grievance that went all the way to the commisioner, ensuring that the director would not be able to prevent church services in the Unit, and feel good about standing by my principles even though it probably caused me to serve another year and a half to flatten out. Now I don't have anyone to report to and can just concentrate on putting my life back together, plus I was able to spend my first two weeks out of state (something no PO would have allowed) visiting my family in Denver.

I would tell him to hang in there if possible though, I know the Parole Board puts a lot of stock in these programs, it is such a shame they don't do a better job considering all the federal grant money they are eating up. I know from experience that most of the inmates in the program at WTSP have no interest at all in making a change, but for those few that do, they should try to have a better program. I know for me personally, the AA meetings they have on Friday nights did a lot more for my sobriety than anything in the program, and ironically, the board doesn't give any real creedence to AA attendance.

Last edited by RobTheGreat; 03-18-2009 at 01:43 PM..
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Old 03-18-2009, 03:29 PM
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Wow, a guy standing up for church services!!! Way to go Rob!!! I'm impressed!!! Nice guy! Was wondering if you were on parole or not. Glad you got to travel and see family! How did you like Denver? Lots of snow while there? Sounds like there is a lot of petty stuff. My guy says they pick on you when they're in a bad mood for all kinds of petty stuff, or if they just don't like you. And some times they just make up stuff to get you in trouble when you really didn't do anything. Must be hard. They need to let them blow off steam somehow, instead of having to keep their mouths shut and keep it all in. All that does is make it all come out on another inmate or employee. Just makes it worse for themselves. They should have a bunch of punching bags or scream rooms! LOL At least out here we can smart off to someone if we want, or even tell them off good. Stay good, and stay out!!! I think you'll make it! Good luck!!!
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Old 03-18-2009, 04:41 PM
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I'm no Saint, but felt it was something I needed to do, and it probably appealed to that rebellious part of me to "buck the system"! No I am not on parole, I expired my sentence, so I don't have to worry about all the petty nonsense in "the system". The petty nonsense isn't just part of the system, IT IS the system--lol, even staff will tell you that it is all petty.
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Old 03-31-2009, 02:08 PM
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Thank you Rob for all the helpful information. My husband was transferred to WTSP yesterday from county. He is in Classification now. I haven't heard from him yet, but I'm sure he's going through all the paperwork and evals now. I did have one question if you could answer. My husband has a nerve damage problem in his face that he has been going on medical furloughs in Nashville to see specialist like Neurosurgeons, etc. Where do you think they will assign him since he has some extensive medical test and treatments he needs to take?
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by MissinMyMan25 View Post
All I know is the people that work there are extremely rude and not very willing to give information. You have to be approved to visit just like everywhere else. When your man writes you and it's only 5 sentences long, that's because he had to stand in line forever just to use a pencil. Or at least that's how it is when they get STG'ed (Security Threat Group) Hopefully my man will be out very soon and I won't have to deal with this anymore....he's not supposed to be there anyway
I am new to this site, but I was wondering if you could help me with some questions about west ten state pen? My husband calls me and writes every once in a while,but I am having some trust issues. He says he goes to church every day, ????/ He seems to be too busy but i don't know why/ I am ready to file for divorce because of some pretty nasty things I have heard about what men do to men in there. Can you elaborate for me if all this is true or not?
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