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VA DOC - What You Need to Know Finding your way around the VA Corrections System - everything you need to know about VA DOC.

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  #1  
Old 04-23-2011, 01:45 PM
szcunane szcunane is offline
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Default VA rehab/programs - do they exist?????

Okay - -my son has been in prison now for 4 months (city jail and processing before that) .. . . .Not ONE counseling session - -NO programs available, no classes, no nothing, etc. (oh, wait, he has learned to play dominios! - yipee! I guess it's true about VA being a warehouse - put them in, let them rot in front of a tv, send them out - -never having rec'd one ounce of "rehab" . ..

so, do any of you have loved ones getting any "rehab"??? just curious.
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Old 04-23-2011, 02:34 PM
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Is he in the jail or a state DOC facility? Most jails have very limited programs, nor do they have counselors for anything much but work release. They are run by the city/county and generally hold pre=trial and short-term offenders. They do hang onto state inmates until DOC transports them to a state facility. If he is at a state prison and through intake, he should have an assigned counselor who will develop a treatment plan. Many DOC programs, like re-entry, are timed to release dates.
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Old 04-23-2011, 03:55 PM
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There is a program at Indian Creek. It is a behavior modification program, as they call it now, for re-entry, but is a substance abuse program.

My boyfriend was at a prison before this for 4 years, and at about 2 years left on his sentence he was transferred here for reentry. Having been at another prison, he considers this to be a "day care" because most of the guys there have never been to another prison before, and are sentenced directly there to complete the program. If someone refuses to do the program, they will lose their good time and be transferred to another prison, so basically the incentive to do this program is to come home earlier.

The guys are required to attend various classes daily, obey ridiculous rules (like no spitting in the sink, they have to spit in the toilet?), get a job cleaning bathrooms and working in the kitchen, and they get drug tested often. The inmates who are at higher phases have jobs in writing the lower phased inmates up.

My boyfriend does not have a drug problem,and was sent here for "reentry" and is just completing this program to keep his good time. They no longer call it a substance abuse program and refer to it as behavior modification because they are sending people here who do not have substance abuse problems, but are young and DOC feels the program would benefit them. If anything, he is around a bunch of guys who do have drug problems, which has made it worse on him because he has always stayed clear of those types of people, and it has gotten tot he point where he won't even drink coffee because he hates how people fein for it on a daily basis and he relates coffee cravings to crack head cravings. That might sound crazy to you, but people who live all together who have addictions, will cure one addiction with another, and they go crazy for, COFFEE.

I could go on and on and on, but yes, there are programs, but they must be either sentenced directly there to the program, or have about 24 months left on their sentence in order to go to indian creek. There is no one there with more than 2.5 years.
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Old 04-23-2011, 06:25 PM
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Is he in the jail or a state DOC facility? Most jails have very limited programs, nor do they have counselors for anything much but work release. They are run by the city/county and generally hold pre=trial and short-term offenders. They do hang onto state inmates until DOC transports them to a state facility. If he is at a state prison and through intake, he should have an assigned counselor who will develop a treatment plan. Many DOC programs, like re-entry, are timed to release dates.

He is in a state facility (4 months now)- - and the counselor walked into the unit ONCE and said - -I'm your cousnelor . . .and then absolutely NOTHING - --rumormill says (not via my son but at DOC -- that couselor is lazy, sloppy and doesn't do anything -- I believe it). My son is in for 20 (armed robbery) - -so I guess what I'm picking up is that until he is closer to getting out he is in there just to watch tv (oh, in the day room . .because there are no tv's to buy ) and take a walk outside, eat . ..waste of a life. I love my son, I hate what he did -- - and I am not impressed with the DOC system - they spend about $50,000 per inmate a year to run a care facility -- - -our tax dollars at work. I heard of one inmate that got 6 years for rape and murder of a 16 year old (read it in my local paper) - - -how reassuring to know if he is good, he'll serve what 4.5 years, get no counseling, no help - - -ridiculous. I guess I should give up any hope that my son will be okay - that he might have a life someday- -sometimes, I can't help but think he'd be better off dead than just sitting around wasting his life. No wonder so many VA inmates come out mentally disabled and go on to welfare and food stamps. . .thanks for answering, I'm just very frustrated, sad and I guess, as people say, "it is what it is." . . . I hear about programs in other states . . .oh well . .good old VA! sorry for rambling. this is a nightmare that gets worse each day.
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Old 04-23-2011, 06:30 PM
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There is a program at Indian Creek. It is a behavior modification program, as they call it now, for re-entry, but is a substance abuse program.

My boyfriend was at a prison before this for 4 years, and at about 2 years left on his sentence he was transferred here for reentry. Having been at another prison, he considers this to be a "day care" because most of the guys there have never been to another prison before, and are sentenced directly there to complete the program. If someone refuses to do the program, they will lose their good time and be transferred to another prison, so basically the incentive to do this program is to come home earlier.

The guys are required to attend various classes daily, obey ridiculous rules (like no spitting in the sink, they have to spit in the toilet?), get a job cleaning bathrooms and working in the kitchen, and they get drug tested often. The inmates who are at higher phases have jobs in writing the lower phased inmates up.

My boyfriend does not have a drug problem,and was sent here for "reentry" and is just completing this program to keep his good time. They no longer call it a substance abuse program and refer to it as behavior modification because they are sending people here who do not have substance abuse problems, but are young and DOC feels the program would benefit them. If anything, he is around a bunch of guys who do have drug problems, which has made it worse on him because he has always stayed clear of those types of people, and it has gotten tot he point where he won't even drink coffee because he hates how people fein for it on a daily basis and he relates coffee cravings to crack head cravings. That might sound crazy to you, but people who live all together who have addictions, will cure one addiction with another, and they go crazy for, COFFEE.

I could go on and on and on, but yes, there are programs, but they must be either sentenced directly there to the program, or have about 24 months left on their sentence in order to go to indian creek. There is no one there with more than 2.5 years.
thanks for replying . ..I'm just really discouraged . . .can't stand any of this .. .wasted lives for sure.
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Old 04-23-2011, 07:04 PM
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Well it just depends on when the facility he is at has the classes open up, if he is scheduled to take a class it will happen, although there is usually a long waiting list to get into any class. So waiting for a class in not unusual. There are facility with education also, again a waiting list. There are facilities that have televisions that the inmates can buy, so that is different from facility to facility. It is just a waiting game when it comes to the DOC.
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Old 04-24-2011, 08:14 AM
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He can always do it on his own with correspondence courses.
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Old 04-24-2011, 09:30 AM
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this is a nightmare that gets worse each day.
and when you think its getting better it just gets worse
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:59 PM
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Is he in the jail or a state DOC facility? Most jails have very limited programs, nor do they have counselors for anything much but work release. They are run by the city/county and generally hold pre=trial and short-term offenders. They do hang onto state inmates until DOC transports them to a state facility. If he is at a state prison and through intake, he should have an assigned counselor who will develop a treatment plan. Many DOC programs, like re-entry, are timed to release dates.


it's been really disheartening . .. .I resent that they sit there and do nothing . . .he wasn't addicted to anything, so maybe that is why he is ignored. don't know. still nothing, I guess i should give up thinking they would offer something for him to do ---(don't they make license plates, like in the old movies? something worthwhile???

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Old 06-05-2011, 08:09 PM
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They do make license plates - in the Tag Shop at Powhatan.

On a more productive note, there are a variety of vocational programs spread around the prisons - masonry, painting & drywall, HVAC, plumbing, horticulture, auto body painting & repair, motorcycle repair, optical lens, cooking/baking, etc. In many of the trades exams to obtain state and national licenses are also available. Depends on where he is assigned, and all the programs are in major institutions.

School (both basic literacy and GED) is also available all all major institutions. And college classes are taught at several prisons.

All majors have programs in substance abuse, anger management, cognitive thinking skills and transitional programs. Most of these are also available at field units. There are also a couple of highly specialized programs - Cold Springs Work Camp partners with the US Forest Service and teaches the guys to fight forest fires, with quite a bit of specialized training. A recent releasee from that unit was hired by the Forest Service full-time as a hot spot fire fighter. Several of the prisons are involved in canine therapy/training programs. James River Work Camp trains guys to work with horses.

All majors also have various religious services/study programs.

And all prisons have jobs to apply for - unless the guy comes in with some highly specialized skill, they should expect to start at the bottom in a cellhouse job and work their way up.

And the classes/programs are assigned by release dates. Not everyone can be in programs at the same time, and preference has to go to the guys who are being released first.

Oh yeah, a guy has to rehabilitate himself - no one else can do it for him. Hopefully during his stay at a DOC facility he will be able to enroll in programs that will be beneficial once he is released. But all DOC (or anyone else, for that matter) can do is give the guys some tools - it's up to them to open the toolbox when they get out and are confronted with the reality of everyday life.

Don't give up, there actually is quite a bit of programming available in DOC.
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Old 06-06-2011, 09:38 PM
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They do make license plates - in the Tag Shop at Powhatan.

On a more productive note, there are a variety of vocational programs spread around the prisons - masonry, painting & drywall, HVAC, plumbing, horticulture, auto body painting & repair, motorcycle repair, optical lens, cooking/baking, etc. In many of the trades exams to obtain state and national licenses are also available. Depends on where he is assigned, and all the programs are in major institutions.

School (both basic literacy and GED) is also available all all major institutions. And college classes are taught at several prisons.

All majors have programs in substance abuse, anger management, cognitive thinking skills and transitional programs. Most of these are also available at field units. There are also a couple of highly specialized programs - Cold Springs Work Camp partners with the US Forest Service and teaches the guys to fight forest fires, with quite a bit of specialized training. A recent releasee from that unit was hired by the Forest Service full-time as a hot spot fire fighter. Several of the prisons are involved in canine therapy/training programs. James River Work Camp trains guys to work with horses.

All majors also have various religious services/study programs.

And all prisons have jobs to apply for - unless the guy comes in with some highly specialized skill, they should expect to start at the bottom in a cellhouse job and work their way up.

And the classes/programs are assigned by release dates. Not everyone can be in programs at the same time, and preference has to go to the guys who are being released first.

Oh yeah, a guy has to rehabilitate himself - no one else can do it for him. Hopefully during his stay at a DOC facility he will be able to enroll in programs that will be beneficial once he is released. But all DOC (or anyone else, for that matter) can do is give the guys some tools - it's up to them to open the toolbox when they get out and are confronted with the reality of everyday life.

Don't give up, there actually is quite a bit of programming available in DOC.
my son is in protective custody - so I guess that means he is not entitled to any programs - so he is safe, but he will not be offered any programs -- guess that's the way it goes. a trade off - you get to not be beaten everyday of killed by other inmates or vegetate mentally. he made a horrible choice with his crime, and basically his life in "on- hold" for the next 17 years - buried alive, at a cost to taxpayers of $75,000 a year. waste of a life. Sometimes I think he should have just killed himself - -probably easier on all of us -- am I bitter, yes . . .am I angry, yes? and I frustrated? yes. it sounds like you are well acquainted with the system . how do you find out info? what resources are available? how do I find out about correspondence courses? how does an inmate get approved to take them? how does a mom survive all of this? how will my son come out of this sane? holed up for years. little interaction with people. no activity, no work, everything I read says that my son will come out emotionally, mentally impaired (most men going through this type of imprisonment come out disabled). this is not why I had a child --and I hate it. I try to encourage him, give him things to read . . .I am heartbroken and hopeless. sorry, I rambled, if you have any words of encouragement or wisdom,please share them . . i need them.
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Old 06-06-2011, 09:50 PM
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They do make license plates - in the Tag Shop at Powhatan.

On a more productive note, there are a variety of vocational programs spread around the prisons - masonry, painting & drywall, HVAC, plumbing, horticulture, auto body painting & repair, motorcycle repair, optical lens, cooking/baking, etc. In many of the trades exams to obtain state and national licenses are also available. Depends on where he is assigned, and all the programs are in major institutions.

School (both basic literacy and GED) is also available all all major institutions. And college classes are taught at several prisons.

All majors have programs in substance abuse, anger management, cognitive thinking skills and transitional programs. Most of these are also available at field units. There are also a couple of highly specialized programs - Cold Springs Work Camp partners with the US Forest Service and teaches the guys to fight forest fires, with quite a bit of specialized training. A recent releasee from that unit was hired by the Forest Service full-time as a hot spot fire fighter. Several of the prisons are involved in canine therapy/training programs. James River Work Camp trains guys to work with horses.

All majors also have various religious services/study programs.

And all prisons have jobs to apply for - unless the guy comes in with some highly specialized skill, they should expect to start at the bottom in a cellhouse job and work their way up.

And the classes/programs are assigned by release dates. Not everyone can be in programs at the same time, and preference has to go to the guys who are being released first.

Oh yeah, a guy has to rehabilitate himself - no one else can do it for him. Hopefully during his stay at a DOC facility he will be able to enroll in programs that will be beneficial once he is released. But all DOC (or anyone else, for that matter) can do is give the guys some tools - it's up to them to open the toolbox when they get out and are confronted with the reality of everyday life.

Don't give up, there actually is quite a bit of programming available in DOC.

oh . . .I do agree that it is up to the inmate to do what he can to help himself . .I just wish my son would be given the chance to have some tools to work with, He has asked his counselor and the chaplain for some help - -the chaplain (although very nice) won't even do a service in his area (only a couple of guys - -so I guess their souls aren't worth his effort) and hasn't even given him communion when he asked. (he put on a nice program at Christmas for the other inmates) . . hmmm . .
hope you see this is a hard wall we are facing. and I already told you what I heard about the counselor. who knows maybe he will move out of protective custody someday . . . .although the thought of that scares me. The good thing is that my son is trying to just take it one day at a time. I think we are in a lose-lose situation. don't you agree?

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Old 06-07-2011, 10:08 AM
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I kind of disagree with some of this, the DOC does not use the inmates to the best of the ability. My fiance' has a trade, worked years at it...tried to find a job at both facilities in his trade and can't. Now wouldn't it save so much money, to use the inmates talents instead of hiring out. Oh, not to mention giving the inmate a sense of purpose!
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:59 AM
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I kind of disagree with some of this, the DOC does not use the inmates to the best of the ability. My fiance' has a trade, worked years at it...tried to find a job at both facilities in his trade and can't. Now wouldn't it save so much money, to use the inmates talents instead of hiring out. Oh, not to mention giving the inmate a sense of purpose!

I agree with you there . . . I know I was ranting in my post - - having a tough time tight now. I guess what is practical and humane isn't always what matters. Unbelievably sad.
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:53 PM
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my son is in protective custody - so I guess that means he is not entitled to any programs - so he is safe, but he will not be offered any programs -- guess that's the way it goes. a trade off - you get to not be beaten everyday of killed by other inmates or vegetate mentally. he made a horrible choice with his crime, and basically his life in "on- hold" for the next 17 years - buried alive, at a cost to taxpayers of $75,000 a year. waste of a life. Sometimes I think he should have just killed himself - -probably easier on all of us -- am I bitter, yes . . .am I angry, yes? and I frustrated? yes. it sounds like you are well acquainted with the system . how do you find out info? what resources are available? how do I find out about correspondence courses? how does an inmate get approved to take them? how does a mom survive all of this? how will my son come out of this sane? holed up for years. little interaction with people. no activity, no work, everything I read says that my son will come out emotionally, mentally impaired (most men going through this type of imprisonment come out disabled). this is not why I had a child --and I hate it. I try to encourage him, give him things to read . . .I am heartbroken and hopeless. sorry, I rambled, if you have any words of encouragement or wisdom,please share them . . i need them.
Why is he in PC? Was he threatened and put himself there? Or new and unsure of what's going on, so put himself there? No treatment programs are available in PC or Seg - the guys have to be in gen pop and able to get to classes. They can take correspondence classes and as far as I know can take them from any school that provides them. They do have to pay for these themselves. If he won't enter the population, then he is not going to be able to accomplish much other than the independent study. If it's his choice to be there, well that is a decision only he can make. And he may change his mind over time once he becomes more accustomed to the prison routine. Oh yeah, FYI it costs about $22,000 a year in Va to house an inmate, not $75,000.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:01 PM
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I hear you onedaycloser, but the problem is numbers. For example, DOC has a gazillion guys who were barbers on the street or who completed the barber school and got their state license in DOC - but there are only a finite number of barbering jobs available. It's obviously great if guys who are skilled can work in their field in DOC, but the main focus to to try to see that guys have viable skills to take with them to the street. tell your guy not to give up, he may still fall into a job in his field.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:03 PM
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And actually what you see in DOC is the same thing you see on the street today. We have people in prison and on the street who cannot find work. Hope it improves for everyone.
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Old 06-08-2011, 08:26 AM
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Sure, DOC offers classes, and all those things that you mentioned, which is great, and better than nothing-- but sitting around on a waiting list for one of them, or sitting around waiting for a job to open, or to move up, is pretty much what they do.

I would like to know the ratios, of how many classes are offered and how many spots are available-- to the number of inmates total. My boyfriend signed up for a half dozen classes at DMCC, and during his 18 months there, a spot never opened for him. So he starts over again at the bottom-- with a job, ect. I wouldn't expect him to sign up for classes and start the following monday, but 18 months? Cmon. His annual review, he got credit for the fact that he was "waiting" on a spot for classes to open up-- that blows my mind.

Not to mention, the racism he faces every single day from Co's to fellow inmates-- no offense to anyone. Its the system-- I get it, but don't tell me that is FAIR. You can try to say that it does not exist, but until you live it, you have no understanding of how it is.

If DOC offers A B C and D-- How many of these do they offer, and how many of these classes are actually in arms reach for these guys. I can't imagine most people feeling very encouraged to rehabilitate themselves when they do not have the tools or the means to do so-- or they do, but they have no control over them.

On inmate "request" forms, they are supposed to be ANSWERED by the facility within 10 days, i couldn't tell you how many request forms he has filled out that just never seem to come back to him.
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:40 PM
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Why is he in PC? Was he threatened and put himself there? Or new and unsure of what's going on, so put himself there? No treatment programs are available in PC or Seg - the guys have to be in gen pop and able to get to classes. They can take correspondence classes and as far as I know can take them from any school that provides them. They do have to pay for these themselves. If he won't enter the population, then he is not going to be able to accomplish much other than the independent study. If it's his choice to be there, well that is a decision only he can make. And he may change his mind over time once he becomes more accustomed to the prison routine. Oh yeah, FYI it costs about $22,000 a year in Va to house an inmate, not $75,000.

The figure I was given came directly from the Commonwealth Attorney - cost of PC . . year he entered system . . ..2010. Guess it's good to know CA doesn't know everything! (not much of a surprise).

VA PO2 as a parole officer I do realize that you may have info that will help us . .but you certainly must also understand the frustration we face -hearing different info from different people -- - - I love my son, hate what he did, am thankful he is in a good facility. so, I know I have something to be thankful for. I don't have the money to pay for correspondence classes . . . .I wish VA system offered some hope . . .maybe someday. What do you think of the VA Cure group? helpful? informative?

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Old 06-26-2011, 07:05 PM
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You have come to the right place. Here we have all made the journey you are taking now. Just remember nobody walks alone. On those days when you just don't know how you will get through we will be hear to listen, so that you will have the strength to support him. I find that the Serenity Prayer helps me keep things in perspective. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and remember to breath. I want to suggest that until he can get in some kind of educational program, that he use the library to read. Reading can change his day. Once again we are here for you.
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:07 PM
szcunane szcunane is offline
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Originally Posted by aah View Post
You have come to the right place. Here we have all made the journey you are taking now. Just remember nobody walks alone. On those days when you just don't know how you will get through we will be hear to listen, so that you will have the strength to support him. I find that the Serenity Prayer helps me keep things in perspective. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and remember to breath. I want to suggest that until he can get in some kind of educational program, that he use the library to read. Reading can change his day. Once again we are here for you.

Some days I feel like a foreigner in a foreign country - -so much I don't know - - never really wanted to know. My son does read a lot and I am learning that I just need to get through this one day at a time. I wish there was a how-to book for all of this. I admit sometimes I surprise myself with my ranting, my anger, my sarcasm . .so unlike who I really am . ..without God I couldn't do this.
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Old 06-27-2011, 08:49 PM
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dwfighterva dwfighterva is offline
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Oh trust me, I have ranted, raved, and been so mad I could spit nails. I have also been in tears with the helplessness and frustration of it all. But the thing is, each day you wake up, it is one more day to scratch off the calendar. Each night you go to bed it is one less day you have to serve. I used to count how many Mondays I had to get through. You do what it takes to make it one day at a time. Soon the days are a week, the week is a month, the months are a year. Unless he is serving LWOP, he will come out. Focus on that.
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