Silver Lining in Orleans Parish Prison

As my guy’s been to jail three times for a crime he didn’t commit, he’s learned the hard way you can always improve your attitude while being locked up. For him, that was essential for his mental well being while being incarcerated. In his 8-17 man cell the last two times, he’s tried to keep in touch with a single inmate in the cell with him.

This time it’s Barry, a surveyor for the last 20 years. That business has shrunk to almost nothing with the advent of satellite surveying. He made a good living surveying on and offshore for every major surveying company from here to Lafayette and throughout the oil patch. He’s been on unemployment for the first time in his career for the last 100 weeks and doesn’t know what he’ll do next.

He’s got some very good sandwich and vegetable recipes and has thought about opening a small sandwich shop. He’s kicked this idea around for over a decade. My guy hit it off with this guy from the get go and he started to tell him all about his unfortunate mishandled legal problems that landed in him jail.

Then he started in on the sandwich ideas and my guy immediately liked what he heard. Barry didn’t have the foggiest idea how to organize his ideas into an actual shop. My guy offered to help him with a mini business plan to get started and he accepted. He memorized his cell number which Barry posted cryptically on his bunk wall using toothpaste when he was transferred upstairs the night before he was released.  Inmates in receiving units receive no pencils, pens, or paper of any type except their booking sheet and the rules.  Toothpaste is used to write on the walls. It hardens and lasts, but can be washed off.

My guy called him when he was let go, but he never picked up. Then yesterday, he calls back and told him he has been sick since leaving the House of Detention and left his cell in his Mom’s car and didn’t retrieve it for a couple of days.

My guy was very happy to hear from him. He was his link to a good aspect of jail, the people, and making something good happen with another good person locked up like him – and that’s a real bond- was essential for him making a success out of his incarceration.

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~ by neworleansmusicman on December 8, 2010.

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