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Coming Full Circle

3:28 AM

I don't remember my first Christmas in prison, in particular. What stands out for me are visits that I received around the holidays; one moreso than the others to date. It was the first visit I had with my Mom while I was housed at Unit 32.

Until the last couple of years Unit 32 was open, there were no contact visits allowed because it was a maximum security facility where death row and high risk prisoners were housed. When I had my first visit there with my Mom, they only allowed us one hour and we had to communicate via telephone, separated by security glass. Before that I had been housed at Unit 17, which is a much smaller unit - 60 prisoners compared to approximately 1,000. A big change for me and my family.
This visit was in December and Mom was telling me what they'd been doing. Mom always fills me in on what my younger brother and sister have been up to. Leah was 3 years old, just getting old enough to really enjoy Christmas, and Tommy was excited. They had been given some early Christmas "happy," including these hollow plastic candy canes filled with M&M's. Tommy had been eating his candy and it was almost empty. Leah had only eaten a few of her M&M's. Seeing that Tommy only had a few left, she opened her container, then opened his and- being careful not to spill any- poured half her M&M's into Tommy's container.

I couldn't help it. I cried. Some tough prisoner I am, eh? This December promises to be memorable, too. I hope to soon meet my nephew for the first time. I left my sister when she was a baby, and now I get to meet her baby. That will be a Christmas present to remember.

Merry Christmas from our little Marcus!

Wishing you all Happy Holidays. Take care, stay safe, and don't take your loved ones for granted. We thank all of you for your support and for caring. Love and light to you all.

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Wasted Youth

1:41 PM

When I came in the system, I was always the youngest prisoner around with few exceptions, until I was shipped off to Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in 2001. Often people wouldn't know how young I was unless I told them, and then they thought I was joking. Fifteen years later there is no "youth correctional facility" and I am around young guys (who are around my brother's age) coming into this system. It's an odd experience.

In prison, when you start associating closely with people, giving them advice when they ask for it or if you get them out of a problem... you become responsible for them. And having been locked up so young, I still don't see myself as the "old convict" these youngsters view me as. I have had to let my guard down a bit to associate with them and it is taking some readjusting on my part.

A couple of them in particular are lighthearted and upbeat, which I encourage. In prison, anything that might be slander against someone's "manliness" is avoided and considered disrespectful. These two joke about each other and it's no big deal. It's no-holds barred - gender, sexual preference, whatever. I overheard one say to the other, "Bitch, I need a hug." I couldn't help but laugh because I knew he was playing, but he wasn't. And no, neither one of these youngsters are gay.

I worry, though. I remember when I was at WGYCF, when guards and staff would comment that I smiled so much. After ten years of being harassed, moved from cell to cell every week around prisoners with mental illnesses that weren't being treated... I stopped smiling so much. It took me awhile to come back from that bitterness, but I've become even more introverted due to my experiences. Guys have commented that my face doesn't show emotions, that I always look calm. A lot of that is due to meditation, but prison has trained me to be less outwardly expressive. I worry that prison will affect these young guys as it has affected me.

I will probably be writing more about these kids in the near future, so brace yourself. They aren't politically correct. They don't care if it upsets you or if you're offended. Actually, that would amuse them no end. It's like being around a couple of Howard Sterns in training, so shocking people is always a plus for them.

Just a reminder: If you have a loved one in prison, the holidays are difficult. Support them as you can, and I hope they'll reciprocate. If you are reading this and are only involved on the fringes, send some prisoners a card and let them know they are not forgotten. They will appreciate it.

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About Me

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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