Well hello, my forward facers. I’m super excited! So welcome to my official very first podcast. Originally, I was going to have this one be where I tell you about me and my business, but then I figured that there would be no need since all that’s on my website. I would much rather just jump right in and give some real-life solutions to some real-life issues. So, here’s what we’re going to talk about. In jail or prison, the term count time is meant for several reasons. One for the facility to count and keep track of all the inmates and make sure no one is missing. Two, the Census Bureau counts prisoners as residing at their place of incarceration to determine the relative populations of the states for congressional reappointment. Three, for local legislative reappointment, and determining funding for federal grants that are based on population or demographics. And lastly the reason we all know–to degrade, harass, and make inmates irritated and uncomfortable. I’m going to tell you how to, from this day forward, stand up, and REALLY be counted.

So, lets jump in. So, during in an official count every prisoner is required to return to their cell or bunk area, stand, and be counted. These counts happen 3 -4 times a day and at various inconvenient times. However, after a while you can get use to it, and you try to just work it into your schedule. Sometimes there are emergency counts that are unplanned.

Next, I mentioned the counts pertaining to the Census. These counts are not stand-up counts, and usually require each prisoner in their housing unit to be noted as in the housing unit and requires you, the inmate, to briefly go to your bunk or cell area and wait for the CO to mark you as being present. The point of the census count is to ensure prisoners who have jobs or are supposed to be in school are where they should be. If the census count is requiring an account of all prisoners, those not in school or job assignments will be locked in their cell while all prisoners are counted. This is known as a “lockdown” but that’s a whole other episode that we’ll get to later.

I also mentioned legislative purposes. Briefly this means, by law legislative districts and voting districts must be of equal size. Where the conflict comes in is whether prisoners should be counted, especially if the facility houses lifers or those sentenced to death; thereby, never having an opportunity to vote. These counts are done on paper after the official counts have been tallied to provide detailed counts of prison populations to help states and localities decide on their own whether to exclude inmates in drawing up boundaries of legislative and other voting districts.

I know, pretty interesting huh? To think all this is going on behind the scenes when all you really see is the last reason that I talked about, which is the reason that’s unfortunately the reality of a day in the life of an inmate. Sometimes guards have a lot going on in their personal relationships, such as being powerless or some form of abuser, their partner may be a narcissist, or wields power over them, attempts to exert influence in indirect or passive-aggressive ways, such as withholding. Sometimes guards have financial issues. The average yearly salary for a correctional officer in the state of GA is only $21,000 to $28,000 a year. The physical requirements are something you probably never really considered because of the intimidating body language they walk around with. Did you know they must do 8 push-ups, and 16 sit-ups in a minute, and a 13-minute mile, and they must have good hearing and good vision. No one considers the intellectual stress, as they usually must have obtained an associates degree within 5 years and a bachelor’s degree within 10 years. The only real guidance they have are the pastoral counseling provided to them if asked for by chaplains. So once you really take a look at everything, its really easy to see why some of the guards could easily come to a job where they have what they perceive as superiority over others; they control the movements and freedoms of others; and perhaps it’s a place where they can feel in control, physically strong, at a financial advantage, and at an educational advantage over the you, the inmate. So, the next time you feel yourself getting angry or irritated at the thought of count time, whether you’re incarcerated now, or thinking back, I want you to just consider its probably not about you at all, as much as it is probably about them. I don’t want to miss the group of officers that just come and do this part of their job, simply as, this is part of the job. They do their count and move on.

So now I want to tell you how to put all this behind you and “REALLY” stand up and be counted. And it starts with not worrying about how others count you and start concerning yourself with how you count you. And you have to count yourself as number one. When I first got out of prison I was worried about counting as a mom, would my kids ever see me the same? Would I ever really count as a woman in society or would I just be an ex- felon in their eyes? I was counting the few dollars I had and how was I going to make it on that. My dad was aging fast and dealing with severe health issues and I was counting the days to get back to care for him and my family. And the counting goes on and on and on. Trust me, I know. Then all of the sudden, it hit me! I remembered the greatest commandment. “Love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. And love your neighbor as you love yourself.” I knew how to love God with all, but guess what? It was that second half– love myself! Did I really know how to do that? No, not if I was counting all these other things first. So, I started putting myself first. So, if you truly want to stand up and be counted. You stand up and put yourself first. The way you do this is to stop and look at where in your life someone or something is being counted before you and write it down. You need to really take the time to make a list. Write it down! If you have the least amount of time in your schedule, then you’re not first. If it is work first, then write that. If it’s your partner who comes first, then write that, and if it’s the kids schedule, or the television, or Facebook, or sleeping, or whatever it is– write it down, then look at it. Then one week or one month or whatever time it takes, make the change. Write down what the change could be, and how you can change it.

For example:

My Day What I could change How I can change it How It counts me first

12 hrs. to, during, and from work less hours dedicated to work Get a closer job eliminating the drive I’m less stressed. Get stronger emotionally

5 hrs. of sleep get a least 7-8 hours of sleep Turn off the TV and go to bed earlier I’m well rested. I become healthier

3 hrs. of tv watch less tv, maybe read limit tv to two hours I gain knowledge from reading something beneficial

2 hr. with family spend more time with my loved ones used that time I saved from less tv I grow in my relationships and have more happiness

2 hrs. getting ready for work and bed spend less time getting ready for work Lay out my clothes the night before I become more organized and peaceful

So, lets just briefly recap. We talked about the reason the facility is counting you, which is to account for all inmates being there in the facility. The reason for the count is also for census numbers to capture the numbers of individuals in programs and school, so that they can continue to receive funding, for legislation to capture the number of people in a community for voting and political purpose, and unfortunately for some individuals to feel better about themselves at your expense; and of course for some CO’s its just part of the job.

So, ladies, my question is, Who Counts? Yes, you have to do the work. Don’t just think about it, don’t just write it down, but do it. No matter how long it takes. Make the changes little by little. I promise if you stand up and count yourself first. YOU WILL STAND UP AND BE COUNTED! That’s exactly what I did. Until next time, thanks for joining me here. where we “Face Forward, and Move Forward”

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