After spending the last eleven months in the county jails of Kenosha WI (9 months) and Racine WI (2 months), the real adventure had finally begun. At 5am on Tuesday, February 11, I was awakenened by the guards saying, “Perino, pack your stuff. You leave in 45 minutes.” I gathered all my personal items and threw them in a plastic bag, said my goodbyes and was out the door by 6am. There were a total of six of us that went to downtown Kenosha where we would wait for an hour in the downtown jail and pick up another guy and a girl before heading to O’Hare Airport to either board the con-air airplane to go to Oklahoma City or take a shuttle to a nearby prison. No one knew where they were going at the time, but waited anxiously to find out. It took us about an hour to get to the airport. And when we did, unfortunately, the Kenosha officer got the wrong memo as to what time we were supposed to get there, as we were 2-1/2 hours early. So instead of sitting cramped in a van for 2-1/2 hours waiting, the officer made a few phone calls and was able to find a local federal immigration holding jail to feed us and keep us while we wait. When we arrived there, the 7 other inmates all received bag lunches. But unfortunately, they didn’t have one for me, so they gave me a huge deep dish, Chicago-style pizza slice from a local pizza company. And let me tell you, it was amazing! It was my first taste of freedom in 11 months. It was a sign that God was definitely looking out for me.
After being there for 2 hours we loaded up and made the short drive back to O’Hara. The plane was there waiting and shortly after found out our destinations. The girl, another guy and I were all going to get on the plane and fly to Oklahoma City to stay at the Federal Transit Center for a few weeks until our prison was ready for us. I found out that I would be going to Yazoo City, Mississippi. It’s a medium security prison. Even though my points are at a camp level (minimal) security prison, I’m going to a medium for the time being because the state judge in Wisconsin decided to give me more time on the same charges, which is way more time than needed; and they are to run consecutive to my federal time. The federal judge indicated that any additional time given at the state level should run concurrent to the federal time. That doesn’t seem to be happening. God has a plan and that’s all I need to know. So yeah, basically I got placed in a medium security place because I’m considered a very mean criminal, and a huge threat to those placed in a low or camp. I know, go ahead and laugh and say this is ridiculous. I trust God is all I can say. I would love to be placed in a lower facility, so please continue to pray that this will happen.
I boarded the plane – I was actually the last one to get on the plane. When I got on, Man! Many of these guys were the worst of the worse, going to super-max prisons. And most everyone had sleeves of tattoos all over them (I guess I have to get some now J) and shiny, bald heads. It was definitely a sight I won’t forget. Good thing I haven’t shaved in two months and have a mountain-man beard so I didn’t look quite so innocent.
I got to my seat which was the second to the last seat on the airplane. I was sandwiched between a heavy guy and a thin guy. The heavy guy’s name was Rail, whom I’ll talk about shortly, and not sure the name of the thin guy. I actually didn’t say a single word to any of them in the airplane. I found out Rail’s name later on. We got some food and water on the plane and were allowed one bathroom visit. Oh, everyone was cuffed and shackled the entire time, so it was ideal, comfortable conditions.
Before I knew it, we were there. As soon as we got there, we were searched once again, filled out some forms, changed from our street clothes (which was the first time wearing them since the day of my arrest, and I had to donate them, so I’ll never be seeing them again – guess I’ll have to buy some black pants and black shoes when I get out. Can’t wait to go shopping!) to khaki pants, white t-shirt, and blue slip-on shoes. Then we were placed in a bull-pin room like herded cattle, where we waited for about 2 hours to be put in a dorm. When my name was called, there were about 20 of us, with one of them being my seat partner in the airplane Rail.
We were then split into groups of 10 to go into two separate dorms. Rail and I both went into the same dorm and happened to be next-door neighbors in a dorm with 59 cells for a total of 120 people. When I got to my cell the first thing I noticed was a Bible and Max Lucado book on my cellie’s (roommate’s) bed. I said a quick thank you to God and a few minutes later my cellie came walking on. His name was Dink and we hit it off right away with a big topic of conversation about God and our faith life J. After settling in, I finally went over and introduced myself to Rail since we both thought it was neat how we basically we were together every step of the way in our journey. So we got to talking and one of the first things he said was, “I just want to find a good Christian group in prison and continue to grow in my faith.” I, of course, said “Me too.” We got to talking about our faith lives. He also told me that he gets a lot of devotional and Christian readings sent in from his people on the street. And I was like, wait a minute, me too!!. The I asked what prison he was going to, and of course you probably all know his answer because he said, “Yazoo City, MS” and of course I said, “Me too!” J We hit it off from that point forward, helping each other out with everything. Things have been OK here, better than county jail. The food is better and there is cable television, so I can watch ESPN again. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Oklahoma City. They say anywhere from 2-4 weeks, but of course it could be longer. I’m in no rush. All I have is time right now and more time to continue in God’s Word. Oh yeah….the second day I got here I found a Bible Study group. I just wanted to share this with you all and tell you that God definitely is watching out for me. His angels are going to be around me all the time…..I just know it. He is constantly putting other Christians around me every step of the way. If any of you are worried about my safety these next few years, don’t be. Leave the worrying to God. He’s got it all figured out, and a plan that is more amazing than I can imagine. In the end, “When He has tested me, I’ll come forth as gold.” Job 23:10
Please continue to pray. I look forward in seeing you all very soon. Love and miss you all! Craig