The last blog I wrote was in July. Since then, to say the least, my life continues on with this “great adventure.” I wouldn’t consider this adventure great by any means; it’s more like big, wild, scary, or unpredictable. As I write this, it is the middle of October in Wisconsin. A chill is most definitely in the air, the leaves are all starting to change colors, and a sub-zero winter is right around the corner.
Yes, I am in Wisconsin, sitting in Racine County Jail. As much as I wanted my messed up paperwork to be corrected at both the state and federal levels, and to be free, God apparently needs me to do a total of 74 months, and to finish my time in the dreaded county jail. I don’t think I will ever understand the judicial system. But I am thankful I’m in the home stretch….I think.
Unfortunately, this is the worst part of my entire time being locked away. I guess you can say your true character and attitude is built and revealed in county jail. As my Dad used to say, “It puts hair on your chest.” Well, I guess when I eventually get released, I’ll have so much hair, that I’ll be unrecognizable. J
To describe county jail a little bit, it doesn’t come close to what prison was like. Compared to jail, prison was like a 5-star resort with all-inclusive everything – whereas jail is like the slums of New York. It is completely night and day. And to top it off, I won’t be able to see the blue sky, the sun or even the green grass until I leave here, hopefully in May.
You see, I live in a windowless room with 36 other men of all ages, with only half of them taking showers or even using soap on a regular basis. In prison, one would get stabbed for not showing respect. In here, the word respect isn’t on anyone’s vocabulary. I could be taking a nap, and ten guys would be around my bed talking, screaming and laughing as loud as they could, just because they don’t care. This is a game for a lot of people, probably most of the people in here are under the age of 20, and it’s like a reunion when a new guy walks through the door. There are no shower curtains, no doors on the toilet stalls, and any cleanliness has come to a standstill. Although, I’m fed plenty here, slop (a mixture of everything) and bologna sandwiches are the norm. I use golf pencils to write letters, 2-inch toothbrushes to brush my teeth, and grocery bags that cost 20 cents from commissary to store my belongings under my bed. And speaking of commissary, one Ramen noodle costs $1.00, a bag of chips like the ones in a vending machine costs $1.50, and a candy bar costs $2.00. I sleep on a camping pad that sits atop a steel bed.
Am I painting a pretty good picture yet? But I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I put myself here for my stupid choices. Jail is supposed to be bad to prevent anyone from wanting to come back. I know I never want to see the inside of a jail or prison again. So take note of what I am telling you. You don’t want to be here!!!!
Thankfully, however, (yes, I guess you can say there is a good thing or two to write about), I got accepted into the trustee’s pod to work off some of my sentence. I tried to get into the work-release pod where I would be able to work outside of jail at a real full-time job every day. But finding a job while inside a jail and not being allowed to leave for interviews or drug tests put a halt to that option.
Instead, I work in the laundry room from 8pm to 7am…..11 hours a day…..7 days a week. I’m putting in 77 hour work weeks with no days off in the near future for months on end. Since I don’t sleep at night I take a bunch of cat naps throughout the day. And as I mentioned before, sleep is not easy to come by here. Basically I work 11 hours and sleep for only a few hours in a 24-hour period, and I’ll be doing that for the next 200+ days. It’s the price I pay to get my freedom.
I’ve been locked up for the past 67 months. Many times, probably more like hundreds of times, I’ve asked God, “Why is this happening to me?” It seems like nothing has gone my way since I first got arrested in January of 2012. I was supposed to be released in January of 2017, but then I was given a new release date of the middle of 2019…..that’s a huge difference – 28 extra months. I do my best to think positive, but it doesn’t happen all the time. Towards the beginning of my sentence I was upset, angry and frustrated. I constantly asked God, “Why?” But now I do my best to ask God “What do you want me to learn from this?” or “What are you teaching me?” After saying this over and over again, it started to become engraved in my head, and I’m able to turn negative thoughts into a much more positive experience. It’s tough to do, especially in this place. But God wants me to grow up spiritually. And He most definitely is using this time locked away to accomplish this purpose.
I like this quote by Rick Warren. God teaches you love by putting you around unloving people. He teaches you joy in the middle of grief. He teaches you patience in the midst of unruly inmates (I added that one J) God will teach you all these qualities throughout your life – and it will take the rest of your life. It’s a process. He will use all kinds of situations in your life to help you develop spiritual depth and become more like Christ.
I’m learning every day. I’m not the same person I was back in 2012, or even a year ago. I’m continuing to develop the qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. My road in life has not been easy. It continues to be challenged every day. But I do my best to trust God and ask Him what He wants me to learn from this.
On a side note…..I love mail. During my transfer from prison to jail, my address book was not able to come with me. I would love to hear from you all. If anyone desires to take the time to write, please include your address on your letter or card, too, as the mail room confiscates the envelope with the return address on it before I get it. Phone calls are quite expensive, too, so I won’t be able to call many of you either. But I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you all in the near future.
Craig Perino 99419, Racine County Jail, 717 Wisconsin Avenue, Racine, Wisconsin 53403