As I wrap up the “Fifty years in prison series, it seemed fitting the last article should be what life behind bars is like, according to Conn and other inmates that asked to remain anonymous.

The fact is, regardless of the side chosen and believed to be right by individual readers, I think it is again crucial in this final article to share the perception of the individuals who are currently living incarcerated or have been detained and released. I started with Billy, “What is a day in the life like Billy?”

LETTER FROM BILLY CONN
FEB. 20, BUNKER HILL
“A day in the life in here for me? Well, basically just trying to survive. There is no two days the same really. Sometimes it starts off ugly. In the mornings is a common time for trouble to start amongst inmates, So I am waking up to some drama most days. It goes down like that almost everytime the door opens. It may not be a stabbing or extreme but you never know in here. I usually get out of the cell at 8:00 am until 11:00. I usually get an hour workout. Then I am able to hang-out. Maybe store out some commissary. I stay out of the way. you never know whats next. I dont mess with guys that cant pay their bills. So, I dont have much problems. Maybe some politics. After count I get out for another hour and a half. Workout take a shower. Then we spend the rest of the day locked down. The bean hole is open so as long as someone is out we can do whatever we need to get done. Thats a normal day in here. Now for the last month or so. I have got back to work. Its really the only type of program I can do cause I have so much time. I have moved to a working dorm. Its alot more laid back. Not all the violence. On paper they say there are alot of programs here. There is only department of labor programs that i know. Basically you just do a job for four years for a four month time cut. There is supposed to be a drug program called rwi. Another one called plus. They are usually shutdown. I have so much time I have to wait about twenty-five years to do them if I decide to then. You can only get good time restored once under the new law. Everything is an A or B write up. It can be something that you have nothing to do with in here. Your bunky can get caught with something and you lose your time cuts and good time. I can only get two years time cuts under the new law. On a fifty-year sentence I have to do 37.5 years with good time. I can get two knocked off for programs.”

ANOTHER LETTER FROM CONN:
FEB. 20, BUNKER HILL
“Well just a few minutes ago the same as we were talking about happened. Trouble came to me. I am fine and nothing happened. It could have on the drop of a dime though. You just never know when something crazy will go down. I do my best to stay out of trouble. This is a crazy life. I wouldnt wish this on my worst enemy.”

The picture painted by Conn is undesirable, to say the least, so I began sourcing others to speak with to try to get a candid view of what the taxpayers pay for when someone is sentenced to an IDOC correctional facility.
Some of the statements (from those who asked to remain anonymous to avoid “repercussions):

“This place is like a war zone. By far the most dangerous place I have ever been. Probably one of the most dangerous places in the united states.”- anonymous

“This used to be known for a place to do your time. Now its known for stabbings. There is no such thing as a fist fight here. It goes down.”- anonymous

After Conn and others mentioned what seemed inadequate programming and rehabilitation, I asked him to be more specific on what he is offered and has been in the past.

“Yeah, i can only think of the two programs here rwi which is a drug program, and plus which is basically the same thing. Just a different name. D. O. L. Is department of labor. The one in my job takes about four years to complete for a four month time cut. Well there is g.e.d. but i have mine. I guess you can do college. It costs $8000 Most people wouldnt be here in the first place if they had that kind of money laying around. I sure dont have that kind of money. Its correspondence courses from a non credited college. So it really does no good as far as a job in the future. I dont think they have church here. There is no A.A. or N.A.. I would say if you looked on IDOC website it would say they have all kinds of programs. They dont. As far as I know thats basically it in any prison. When I was in prison in Ohio they had even less. I did go to college for two years in Ohio. I completed the cliff program in 2016 at the state farm. I was in celebrate recovery. Here we barely leave a cell the size of a small bathroom that I share with a bunkie. Like I have said, I think I should wait at least twenty five years before I get into any type of program. I am working a job. I have a really good job making 95 cents an hour. The most important thing to me is working and making enough money to survive. My minimum outdate is 2/27/2056. I will be lucky to live to see my outdate. So the most important thing to me is making the best out of the rest of my life.”

Next, I worked to track down success stories from some who had a different perspective of their time in Bunker Hill. I did not gain access to someone currently incarcerated. Still, I was able to find someone formerly incarcerated at Bunker Hill roughly ten years ago and shared some of the conversations I have had with Conn. Although he never claimed it to be perfect, this was his take.

“I empathize with this guy on a level most can’t. I lived that life and ate in the same cafeterias and played ball in the same rec centers and used the same showers. So take what I say as someone who was around lots of these guys for lots of years with lots of screwed up backgrounds and thinking distortions and I know their M.O.’s. And in many ways, I am one of them. Yes, I have had lots of success out here but I have had help too. And yes, many get out without help. I do not think he is offering you an honest take, or, perhaps a truly balanced view on his experience inside.The system is replete with problems from its sentencing disparity, it’s lack of quality intake/psychological analysis, its lack of budgeting for real impactful programming and trained program staff, and it’s one-size-fits-all re-entry programs, but, he would not be there if he had made better choices. And he sounds like he has had not one or two but several chances. He almost left the system no choice but to max him out because the shorter sentences wasn’t working. However, I believe on day 1, with his given drug history, he should have been in every program available for drug rehab. Aa a matter of fact, I am wondering did he complete any programs during any of his incarcerations? That tells a lot about a person’s self pity (world is to blame) vs their acceptance of responsibility and will to change.”

After hearing completely different viewpoints, I chose to research the things I could and provide answers that are available.” Sentencing – Conn was given the maximum sentence allowed for his charges under the law after he was found guilty in Dearborn County Court for a Felony 2 dealing in Methamphetine amount of 10 or more grams and was found to be a habitual offender. According to Indiana State law, the sentence range for a F2 is 10-30 years with an advisory sentence of 17.5 years. The Habitual charge sentencing guidelines are between six and 20 years, meaning if Conn had received the lowest sentencing on each charge, he would have been sentenced to 12 years.Miami Correctional Facility has the following programs and statement listed on their website:*During normal operations the below list of programs are offered to offenders who meet participation criteria. For the health and safety of all, some programs may be restricted or temporarily suspended.The Indiana Department of Correction offers a wide selection of programming, courses, and activities based on both facility and offender need, as well as available resources. Listed below are a number of current programming opportunities available at the facility. While some are led by staff, many are volunteer-driven. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities, please visit our Volunteer page. For more information on these programs and/or a complete listing of the programs the IDOC offers, please visit the IDOC Programs page.

Thinking For A Change
•CLIFF Indiana Correctional Industry Products (ICI)
•PLUS Graduate Program
•Inside Out
•DadsSubstance Abuse
•Ivy Tech Community CollegeGRIPU.S.
•Department of Labor Apprenticeship
Programs
•Barber Shop
•Landscaping
•BuildingMaintenanceRecycle and RecoveryHouse keeping/ SanitationGrace
•CollegeABE/GEDHorticulture/Landscape
•DesignBusiness TechnologyCollege

IDOC has canceled all-volunteer programs due to COVID-19.The IDOC website also states the following regarding programming.“The Indiana Department of Correction advances public safety and successful re-entry through dynamic supervision, programming, and partnerships.”
I reached out to Rick Rosales, who works as IDOC, for a statement on current programs but received a bounce-back email stating the email listed on the IDOC website did not exist. At the time of publication, I had not found a different email.

The current cost to house IDOC inmates. Currently it costs an average of $52.61 per day ($19,202.65 per year) to keep an adult inmate incarcerated in the State of Indiana.

Having shared this series with readers, I hope it will spark questions in each one of you, such as:
• what is available in IDOC for true offender rehab?
• What is your opinion of rehabilitation and thoughts on how it can be accomplished?
•Is the disparity in sentencing too broad?
•Do you believe your taxpayer dollars are being used properly when considering the department of corrections?
•Should our government profit off the judicidal system? The statistics don’t stop with what I have shared and I encourage readers to perform research on the topics they find most important and found interesting. Resources: •in.gov/idoc/•in.gov/idoc/find-a-facility/adult-corrctional-facilites/Miami-correctional-facility/
•inecomordering.com/catalog/menucatalogpages/ (for information on commissary)
•www.in.gov>courts>supreme>annualreports (2018 offers the judicial system revenue, this number may surprise you).

Next week, series two will kick off; “A personal view of mental health”