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The Long-Distance Race of Incarceration

I was excited to hear my husband's voice this morning when he called. I waited through the recording as I have for the past four years, saying the call is coming from a federal prison, and the person calling is an inmate. By the way, inmate is a dehumanizing word, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons loves using it at every opportunity. After I pressed 5 to accept the call, the voice on the other end, which is usually cheerful, sounded like a defeated man's voice.


My heart immediately fell to my stomach as I knew something was wrong. Chris told me that his case manager had just informed him that he was denied home confinement. My husband qualifies under the CARES Act for home confinement. Chris was on the first list that came out as a candidate to come home under Attorney General Barr's directive. My husband only has three months until he is due to be released. We are not merely looking to get him home early; we want the opportunity to save his life with his recent cancer diagnosis.


A tidal wave of exhaustion and defeat came over me with this news and hearing my husband's spirit broken. I felt like I was drowning, and for the first time, I felt like I wanted to give up. I can't even get my sick husband home for him to have an opportunity to live. At this moment I felt all my advocacy work was for not, every house payment I have made so we could live our peaceful life was for not, every plan that we had made for his return was for not. I wanted to escape, maybe even run away for a while. I was not equipped at that moment to take on all the frustration my husband was spewing. I wanted to yell, "This has been my sentence too." You see, spouses of incarcerated citizens do the time right alongside them.


We go into this knowing there will be sacrifices, but we don't know until we are in it the toll it eventually takes on us financially, emotionally, and physically. I feel like, and I think I can speak for most people with loved ones incarcerated that we are in a long-distance race. Four years ago, the race seemed daunting, and the finish line seemed unreachable, But I knew every day we would be closer to that finish line. I managed to get through the first night of my husband's incarceration by willing myself to sleep and saying tomorrow will be " A Day Closer" to my husband coming home.


At the beginning of this great long-distance race, one cannot foresee all the hurdles along the route. There are many small obstacles that seem like big roadblocks in the beginning because we are new to this maddening game called incarceration and our opponent The Federal Bureau of Prisons does not play fair. One must be an excellent strategist and a hell of a survivalist to compete against the BOP. Most of us, or at least I did, believed that my husband would be treated like a human being while incarcerated. Yes, he would lose his liberty during incarceration but not his dignity, spirit, and certainly not his life. Keeping our loved ones alive and well is the biggest obstacle in this race.


Four years ago, I would never have thought I would be needing the jaws of life to try and release my husband from the claws of The Federal Bureau of Prisons to save his life. My level of exhaustion is indescribable, but the fight within me is even greater. The BOP will not win this match.


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A Day Closer is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that provides resources for people incarcerated and their families. Our mission is to keep families intact.

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