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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fly Right Inc. Lands at WCCF

May 12th saw the Fly Right, Inc. ministry making an appearance at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. Though the weather didn't cooperate for the event to be held outdoors, Mr. Jim Harris made the best of it by bringing everything indoors, into the facility's gym.

As the prisoners filed into the gym, we were greeted by music, the sight of some RC aircraft, a few very nice motorcycles and the smiles of Jim Harris, his wife Fredia Harris, as well as volunteers Angela Pennock, Raul Arismendez, and Ryan Cook. Some of the prisoners had met them at a previous event, but even new introductions felt like they were reestablishing old friendships. After the first groups finished arriving and everyone was settled in, the show began.

Though indoors, Mr. Harris made the most of the limited space by flying the three small, remote controlled aircraft: a plane, a helicopter, and a quad-engine hovercraft. Before flying each one, he explained the basics of that particular craft, how it operates and some of his personal experiences with them. Some of the prisoners noticed that he spoke of things they could relate to, and they commented on it. Mr. Harris responded, "Just wait and I'll tell you the rest of the story." As a grand finale, Mr. Harris landed the helicopter on his wife's outstretched hand.


After he'd finished the aerial demonstration, Mr. Harris allowed the guys to pass around the plane and helicopter. As they were passing around the aircraft, Mr. Harris began recounting his story. It's a familiar story on many points to those who have been in the system. Peer pressure, trying to be cool, early drug use leading to other things. Finally it proceeded to crimes, being on the run from the law, becoming incarcerated... But Jim wanted to share what made his story different. When he was at his lowest, Jim found strength and salvation in Jesus Christ.

Jim wrapped his message up and invited the guys to split into groups with Fredia, Angela, Raul and Ryan. Each shared their own experiences as Christians and invited the men to take the step, make the decision and come to know Jesus as their savior, as well. It was an event I enjoyed and I really appreciated the volunteers -14 in all- for coming into the prison to spend time with us. On the way back to my housing unit I was running a little late, though it was a fortuitous thing. I got a chance to meet three more of the volunteers: Mr. Timothy Craddock, Mr. David Pose, and Ms. Cinnamon Falk. To all of you who visited- thank you.

On a final note, to anyone who reads this- Fly Right, Inc. needs a Spanish interpreter. They have some opportunities to reach those of the Latin community but need someone who can interpret while they are speaking. If you or someone you know might possibly be interested, you can contact them at: JimH@Flyrightinc.org or by calling them at (877)369-3778



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Monday, May 28, 2012

A Change is a'Comin'

In response to a recent post request I will try to update you, my Constant Readers, as to what has been happening here at Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. You might have noticed from the lack of posts during the past few months, things weren't great. Fights, stabbings, almost constant lockdown throughout the entire facility. And that's why Mr. Raymond T. Byrd was brought in as the new warden.

Since January, Warden Byrd has been working to bring about the changes necessary for the facility to operate as it should. Part of that is a change of the guard, so to speak. There have been many terminated from their jobs, demotions, a restructuring, many under observation, as well as new guards trained and hired. As one of my associates is fond of saying, "Mr. Byrd runs a legit business."

One of the things I've had to adjust to is "going back," which is our way of saying that we have to go to the dining hall to eat our meals. The only prisoners in general population that eat their meals on the pods are the ones on Protective Custody units that aren't allowed to go to the dining hall. Mr. Byrd sent down the order, so that anyone else who wants to eat has to come to the dining hall. Makes sense.

There was recently a contest held to determine the cleanest and most well-behaved pods in the entire facility. The winning pods got to participate in a "fun day" on May 5th where we got to spend the morning outside, play baseball, volleyball, and listen to music (that the staff picked). They fed up burgers, hot dogs and chicken that they grilled right there. We also got treated to single-serve ice cream. The food was in addition to our regular three meals. That day was Cinco de Mayo, so we got some good Mexican fare. Really enjoyed it, myself.

On May 12, Fly Right, Inc. was here at the prison. For more about this event, click here. A Christian ministry, they volunteer to come into schools and prisons. This was the first such event I've had the chance to attend since being incarcerated and I'm grateful for the experience -that Chaplain Speight arranged it, Warden Byrd okayed it and that the volunteers came into the prison.

The changes are coming at a steady pace and I will be keeping you all updated. Here at WCCF I've noticed they aren't attempting to keep guys in long-term segregation, locked down indefinitely. I'll try to find out what's been happening down there. If you have any specific questions, please leave them as comments on the post and we will answer them if at all possible. It takes a few days for me to get the messages from my loved ones and then get a response in the mail, but it will get done.



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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mississippi Package Program

It's that time of year again for the prisoners in Mississippi: time to order packages. For all those unfamiliar with this, twice each year MDOC allows the prisoners in the state to order (or have ordered for them) food items up to a total of $100 per prisoner (before adding sales tax) from Access Securepak. The first opportunity of the year to order packages begins April 30 and ends June 11 -this is called the Summer Package. The second opportunity begins around November, ends in December and is called the Holiday Package.

THERE ARE 3 WAYS TO PLACE AN ORDER:
1) Online at- www.mississippipackages.com
2) Via mail by sending a completed order form and payment to-

Access Securepak (MS)
10880 Lin Page Place
St. Louis, MO 63132

All mail orders must be postmarked by June 4, 2012 and delivered by June 11.
3) Phone- (800) 546-6283

PAYMENT:
Access Securepak does not accept personal checks. Orders will be accepted when accompanied by cashier's check, money order, or credit card (MasterCard, Visa or Discover). They also accept debit cards, prepaid credit cards or cash advance cards. When paying by credit card, be sure to include the card number and security code, expiration date, card holder's address and phone number. If the prisoner has the funds on their account, they can have an institutional check cut for the proper amount and order their package that way. A 7% sales tax is applied to all products, as required by the State.

SHIPPING & HANDLING:
$3.95 shipping and handling for all orders.

LIMITS:
$100.00 maximum limit per prisoner. Multiple orders for the same prisoner will be combined into one package not exceeding the limit.

DELIVERY OF PACKAGES:
Each facility will receive one shipment each week, beginning May 7, with the final delivery by the end of the week of June 19.
If you attempt to order a package for your loved one on Access Securepak's website and encounter problems, don't panic. You are not alone in this. If the prisoner's name isn't showing up in the Access Securepak's database or if they say anything about a dispute involving the prisoner's account, the solution is simple. Have the prisoner mail the completed form to you, and you can then mail it in with the funds, directly to Access Securepak. Or you can have the funds deposited in the prisoner's inmate account and them the prisoner can send the form in on their own after having an institutional check cut for the correct amount.

*Be sure to give Access Securepak permission to substitue items in the event of a backorder. Your loved one will get their package sooner and they often substitute items with something of greater value.

CUSTOMER SERVICE QUESTIONS:
To check the status of an order 24 hours a day, call 1-800-546-6283.
Customer Service Hours- 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday, and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST, Saturday.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can call Trish Jolly, at the Pearl, MS Office at 1-877-420-1576 or 601-420-4100.

Click here to read Steven's thoughts on the package program and and find out what he recommends.


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About Steven

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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
WCCC
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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