Archive for the ‘Jail’ Category

a new follower, and a mention to JWC

February 14, 2011

Good news today! I got a new follower to this blog! One that I met through a mutual friend – JWC. My last blog mentioned playing cards with Carmine. After 240-C, I went to 60, and my new card partner was JWC.

 

JWC reminded me of Carmine in that he liked me enough to play cards with me, but I think he preferred to be on the other team in bid-whist. Other than that, JWC probably had absolutely nothing in common with Carmine. Carmine took pride in his life of crime. JWC was, what the career criminals called, a “Citizen”. And I was too. Individuals that had lived a regular life, and then, one day, ended up in jail.

 

 

I won’t talk about JWC and his case other than the fact that I know he got a bad deal. And that is from someone who got a bad deal. I guess I have not mentioned about my own charges. A real life of crime.

 

I admit, there was a simple assault in New Hampshire. And domestic violence is a serious offense. However, in my “defense” I would point to two marriages and many other relationships where there was no domestic violence. Sometimes, it takes two to tangle. In addition to that, the charges in NH were dropped.

 

My greatest crime, according to society, was a violation of a restraining order. When my girlfriend got back to Massachusetts, she took out a restraining order. I violated it with an apology, in an e-mail. Yes, I know that it was against a court order. However, it was not threatening, and certainly was not worth two and a half years, for someone who had no previous record. To me, it was an example of a justice system that thrives on overcrowded jails and does not give any regard to justice.

 

Maybe more on that later. Again, thanks to my new follower, and to Kerri. I think the blogging is working. Maybe the dreams are going away?

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Playing Cards With Carmine

February 13, 2011

If I ever have a book about all of this, my current choice of titles would be this one.

I met Carmine on the 240-C block. I was there for my six months of pre-trial status. Carmine was the “original gangster”. Lots of guys in jail called themselves “OG”, standing for original gangster. Carmine was the real deal. He had never been in jail before. He would tell you that, then quickly follow it with “I broke the law every day after I turned 18, and twice on Sunday, but I never went to jail.”

 

Now Carmine was 65, and with the lifestyle he led, he looked 85. And someone had ratted him out, and he was in bad health and he was dying. Still, he carried on, fueled by the hope that one day he might get his revenge on the rat.

 

I found out that Carmine likes to play cards. One of his games was knock Gin. He would go out, he would not just say “Gin”. Instead he would say “Carmine’s the name, Gin’s the game.” When I played him, sometimes I would win, and I would say “My name is Chris, and I like playing cards.”  He tried to explain that I mixed up the saying, until he realized I was trying to give him a hard time.

 

I liked the pace of our card games. I know sometimes I slowed Carmine down, but I like to think I play a “thinking game”. Carmine would try to speed me up singing “What if tomorrow never comes?” Sometimes, actually more often than not, there were pauses in the game. We would try to resume, and Carmine would say “Now where were we, besides Middleton?”

 

Carmine was Catholic, but it was more in his OG kind of way. Not the kind of Catholic who actually was worried about things like actually going to Church. Carmine knew I was Catholic, and he knew I worked in the Chapel. He would give me a hard time whenever I went to work for the Protestants, as if I was a traitor or playing for the other team. He would also give me a hard time when I went to play for the Protective Custody groups. However, he never was so upset that he stopped playing cards, so I think we had an understanding. I would go to the Chapel any opportunity that I had. And when I was on the block, we would play cards.

 

We would also play “bid Whist” which is a card game I never heard of until I got to Middleton. Not surprisingly, Carmine often chose not to be on my team. Still, I figure he liked me enough to be the opponent, but not the teammate.

 

Carmine lived off the canteen. He would usually give away any food he got from the state. He did keep the desserts. Sometimes, other inmates would bring their desserts like someone would bring a gift to the head of the mob. Carmine thought the canteen had everything he needed, except missing one thing. He said they needed hookers.

 

I often asked Carmine for advice. He had been through a divorce, I was going through mine. He knew I was worried about my kids ever coming back. He told me that his kids did eventually come back, and they always admired that their mother never said one nice thing about him, and yet he never said a bad word about their mother. At least, he never said it to them.

 

In some ways, it felt like I was in a retirement home. Just passing the time playing cards. At the same time, I always enjoyed the time playing cards with Carmine.

Kerri’s Idea

January 20, 2011

Credit Kerri – or blame Kerri. I’m not sure which to do just yet.

 

I woke up calmly after another dream about being in jail. Sometimes, when I wake up, it is not calm. I do think it is ironic, sometimes in jail I would dream of being free, and would wake up very disappointed. And now, in freedom, I sometimes dream of being in jail. And it is not disappointment that I am free that wakes me up, rather disappointment that it still occupies my subconscious brain.

 

Kerri simply said “write about it, and see what happens.” I can’t imagine why someone would want to read about what happened in jail. Maybe getting it out will get it out. Please get out of my brain. There must be something better….

 

So here it goes…

George Is Gone

January 18, 2011

I did not notice until Jonny the Jew asked me if I had heard from George. I looked at my phone, which I’ve had for five months, and George is not in the phone. Then it hit me, George is gone.

George was my boss. As chaplain in Middleton, he was in charge of the Protestant services and I was in charge of the music. George was much more than a boss, he provided spiritual direction. He also provided food. There’s an old saying in the zoo, “Don’t feed the animals.” At least in the zoo, I think the keepers feed the animals, and certainly the food is better than the grade F meat in Middleton. George went against the rules, but some rules need to be broken.

 

I continued to see George for a while after I got out. He tried having a monthly bible study for a while. Then he finally got fired from Middleton, apparently he went against one too many rules. But he got a job right away preaching in Nursing homes, and once again I was able to provide music for him. I did that for three months until I left Massachusetts for good. Then George gave me a memorable gift, my first guitar.

 

I talked to George several times from Virginia, and tried to get him to come down to officiate the wedding. It didn’t work out. Now, as Kerri and I approach our first anniversary, I’m realizing that George is not in my life. Kerri says it works that way sometimes. I’m reminded about a priest, Fr. Kevin, that I met at Christmas in 1991. He helped when we found out the Sarah had Spina Bifida in February 1992. He visited her in the hospital after she was born in August. As her first birthday approached, we wanted Kevin to baptize Sarah, and that’s when I realized Kevin was gone, never to be heard from again.

 

God works that way sometimes. He sends his angels to help us through the toughest times in life. Sometimes we never get to say good-bye or really than them for all that they did. Sometimes they just fade away.

 

Good-bye George. Thanks for everything.

The Free Jailbirds

January 16, 2011

Chaplain Christenson,

This morning at the Good News prison ministry breakfast, several people spoke about what they do as part of the ministry. Later, the idea was suggested to send some of the comments to you in an e-mail. I have put some friends on copy that are active in prison ministry in Massachusetts.
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My name is Christopher Corazon and I teach piano in Virginia Beach and other towns, I also drive for the American Red Cross. My wife Kerri and I attend Holy Spirit Catholic Church. I am in the music ministry and visit the sick, Kerri teaches religious education. We are both in the band “The Free Jailbirds” (although I might point out Kerri has never been in jail)
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It was wonderful to be at the breakfast this morning, and hearing the stories of those involved in the prison ministry. It meant so much knowing how much their volunteer work can change lives. I know this even though I did not experience their work in Virginia Beach, but from what I know from what I experienced in Mass.
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I was incarcerated in Essex County Jail in Middleton, MA from January, 2007 until November, 2008. Looking back at that time, I think about Joseph in the book of Genesis. When Joseph was in prison, he was given an important trusted role in the prison. I know that when I did my time, I had the best job in the jail. After only 2 months I was placed in charge of music in the chapel. I was still “pre-trial”, and it was uncommon for pre-trial inmates to have a job, but I was given it because of my musical ability. I worked for the Catholic chaplain and the Protestant chaplain (in Essex, there were two separate offices, while in Virginia Beach there is one office working together). I am Catholic, but it was an additional blessing to be able to serve in all of the services in the chapel. The chapel became my home and my refuge.
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We had a bit of a “rock sound” and one of the volunteers gave us the name “The Jailbirds”. When Jerome joined our group, we switched to more of a blues sound. After we got out of jail, we decided to change the name, as there already was a band called “The Jailbirds.” It wasn’t the most creative, but we just changed it to “The Free Jailbirds”. Once I was asked if we would change it, that perhaps keeping the name “Jailbirds” was too negative. But I like it, we are Jailbirds, and Jesus makes us free.
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Two Bible verses: One was given to me from a volunteer in Middleton. Joel 2:25 “God will restore the years the locust has eaten”. When she said that to me, I was at a point in my life where it seemed like I had lost everything. Now I have been out for 26 months and I continue to see how God continues to fulfill that promise. (and in the most recent news, Kerri and I will welcome our son in June)
The second verse could be the creed of everyone in prison ministry, Matthew 25:36 “I was in prison, and you came to me” (and as another note, our son’s middle name will be Mateo)
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The Free Jailbirds music is available at myspace.com/thefreejailbirds, or if anyone wants a CD send a request to me at pianochriso@hotmail.com

Back in Jail

March 9, 2010

I went back to jail yesterday. I left on November 13, 2008, in a transfer from Essex, MA to New Hampshire. The cop transporting me was picking me up a week for a trial and thought he could transport me directly to jail. The sheriff in Cheshire County told the cop that I still was entitled to a bail hearing. I walked out of the court room. When I returned for the trial next week, I walked away again and did not go to jail in NH.

When I went to jail yesterday in Virginia, it was for orientation as a volunteer. As part of the application, I had to write a faith statement. The statement….

From my youth, my belief in Jesus Christ was an important part of my life. I went to the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School and went to church everyday. As a young adult, I spent some time in discernment thinking about becoming a priest. I enrolled in the seminary at St. John’s in Boston, but left when I decided that was not the right calling in my life. I did eventually do some graduate work at the school of theology at Boston College.

There were two major challenges in my life, one was the birth of my daughter with Spina Bifida in 1992, and the second was when I had some legal problems and personal problems in 2006. When I had problems in 1992, I knew to stay close to God.  James 4:8 says “Stay near to God, He will stay near to you.”

I did not have the same wisdom in 2006. As a result I spent some time in Essex County Correctional Facility. While I was there, the volunteers made quite an impact on me and helping me study the Bible and in praying. One volunteer said that he used to read the Bible and think it was a history book. Then he thought the stories sounded like people he knew. Then he realized that the Bible was about him. I started to identify with characters in the Bible. Joseph in Genesis was blessed while he was in jail. I am not trying to say I was unfairly jailed like Joseph, but within two months, I was given a job in charge of music in the chapel. Very soon, I realized what  a blessing that was. I also could relate to Peter, who at times was loyal to Christ, but denied Christ at the most important time.

Another volunteer gave me a verse from Joel 2:25 that God “will restore the years the locust has eaten”. I do not have any firsthand experience with locusts, but I do know about losing years. And in the time I have been out I have seen the many ways God has restored my life.