Sunday, March 1, 2015

#63 - How a Mormon Mom Handles Pressure in Jail (Journal from Feb. 27, 2014)

This morning I worked on the Plan of Salvation quite a bit.  2 1/2 hours seemed like 20 minutes.  I can count on two hands how many times I have spent over 2 solid hours submerged in Bible and Book of Mormon verses.  It's usually 20 minutes here or 30 minutes there.  It felt good to start off my day. 

Phones have been turned off because of girls (and guys) being transferred.  I still don't understand why it's such a big secret who is leaving, when, and where they are going.  I do know that word travels fast, even when it's not all accurate.  And that's not just in jail. 


This afternoon we watched Home Extreme Makeover.  Dani stood in front of the TV with her long, dark hair swaying back and forth for most of the show.  She cries sad tears with the families in the beginning when they are in dire need.  Then she cries happy tears when they reveal the new made-over house in the end.  The show is touching to me, but even more so to watch Dani watching the show. 

I have been continually intrigued with her and all she's been through.  There is such a great amount of good in her that it's hard for me to imagine her on the outs and how she got here.  Thinking that her tender heart must have stemmed from her earliest memories, I asked her what her first memory of her mom was. 

She didn't even have to think back.  Immediately she said, "I remember when I was about 5, I was kneeling down at the coffee table and I watched my mom get high on heroine."  She went into details that I could never even imagine.  I wanted to plug my own adult ears, let alone think that an innocent 5 year old could witness it first hand.  So impressionable.  Like a sponge to soak up the habits of her mother as her first role model.  It makes me physically sick to my stomach. 

I dared to ask her how her life went after that.  She said when she was 14 her grandparents picked her up from a meth lab, and her mom died shortly after that.  Her relationships with men, although she felt were normal, were... not. 

She told me of a fun 'game' she liked to play with some of her friends at the casinos where she's from.  They would enter the casino through different doors while communicating on cell phones, so the cameras wouldn't catch them together.  She would find a lady sitting at a slot machine with her purse sitting on the chair or the floor next to her.  She'd make small talk - ask for directions, if she's visiting from out of town, how the winnings are today, anything to get the lady's view in the opposite direction of her purse.  Then her friend would sit down at the slots on the opposite side and when the time was right, s/he would get up and leave with the lady's purse. 

Dani said she couldn't count how many credit cards she stole using this routine.  They just wanted the card, and then would stick the purse in a mailbox somewhere, to be delivered to the owner within the day.  In the meantime, they would print fake id's and rack up hundreds or thousands on the card before it was cancelled. 

Ok.  Wrong.  It's obviously stealing.  In her mind, it really is a 'game' and only that.  I wasn't ready for the mixed emotions of what she told me  she did with the money and how she justified it.  During one spending spree, she had her young cousin with her.  He was living with abusive parents, was short on food and clothes.  She used the stolen credit cards to buy him what he needed to get by for the next while.  That time, she knew the lady who was checking them out and she was sweating it that she'd be caught, but never was.  She talked about how she bought homeless people food, donated clothes to the needy, and helped those around her. 

Listening to her, I could tell that nothing I could say would change her mind or her path of justification.  I finally said, "I don't get it Dani.  How can you cry at Home Extreme Makeover and care about people so much, but then turn around and steal their credit cards?!"  She tried to explain that she didn't consider it stealing.  Those people would get their money back through fraud protection.  In her own words, "There was nothing lost over it and no one got hurt."  I pointed out that it did hurt someone - her.  She's in here.  She seemed to shrug it off as a fact of life. 

In the next breath she's talking about helping someone else.  It makes me want to know how she would have turned out with a good, quality set of healthy parents.  She has run around stealing, lying, cheating, and dealing for most of her life looking for happiness in all the wrong places - be it the only places she knows to look. 

I felt hopeful when she said she got a job at Deseret Industries, the church thrift store, and that she had a mentor there that set her up on a good path.  They offered to pay half her schooling to be a dental hygienist, let her shop the store for work clothes, and do whatever they could within reason to help her.  (Immediately I felt the urgency to clean out my closets at home and donate to the D.I.)  I don't know what went wrong, but she admits it was her fault that she quit that path, and my heart tried not to take a plunge, knowing the potential she could have fulfilled. 

The subject changed and she started talking about one of the other inmates that has been trying to better herself while she's in here.  Dani made a comment as a whole about 'us inmates' all being the same, and then quickly backtracked and said, "See Krissi, you're on a whole other level than us.  But she's not.  She can't act better than us when she has the same drug addiction, the same alcohol problems, the same s*** that we are going trough.  She's not better than us!" 

On one hand, I appreciated the compliment that she didn't see me as 'one of them,' but at the same time I wanted her to feel her worth.  I am no better than her in God's eyes.  And because this particular inmate is trying to work to be better, does not make her 'better' than Dani either.  This life is not a competition on who can be better than the next person.  God's love is unconditional.  He doesn't love me more than He loves Dani.  He doesn't love the inmate anymore now that she's trying harder, than when she wasn't.  What He can do is share more of His blessings with her, and as she works and makes an effort to do better, she will feel His love more easily - not because there's more of it, but because she's closer to Him in her heart.   


Mail came today and in it was a Readers Theater play from a friend of mine.  I laughed to myself when I opened that envelope.  How could I get the girls in here to do a Readers Theater?  The thought of it makes me laugh just writing it.  It may not end up as a performance, but it gave me another oomph to pursue the talent show.  I have started pointing out things - like when one girl breaks out in a dance across the concrete after a phone call home.  I say, "Hey, you know you could save those moves for the talent show."  I usually get a laugh like, "Ya right!"  I've made similar comments on hair styling talents, crocheting, singing, and dancing.  Every once in a while I catch Rachel out of the corner of my eye shaking her head and smiling, and (I'm sure) thinking how crazy the idea sounds.  I don't even care - and sometimes I smile back at her and remind her that she should be finding a talent too.

After one of these comments I made, Dani turned it on me.  "What are you going to do for the talent show Krissi?"  I hadn't really thought about it, as I was having so much fun finding talent in the other girls.  I shrugged my shoulders and, being completely naïve, asked her if she had any ideas for me.  (Did I really ask another inmate that?  Have I forgotten I'm in jail?)  She popped off immediately and said, "Yup!  I've got the perfect talent for you!  I can teach you to twerk!"  I laughed it off.  Real funny.  But then a couple more joined in.  "Ya, let's teach her how to twerk!"  One of the girls turned up the music on VH1 a couple notches and another girl got up off her metal seat to show me how it was done.  I felt my face get red.  Embarrassed and flustered. 

By this many days down of my sentence, I was feeling more confident in how to handle these situations, but this one caught me off guard.  I shook my head.  I shuffled the playing cards in my hands, trying to ignore what was going on around me.  The words entered my mind that I have repeated as a young women leader at church hundreds of times, "We will stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places."  (I thought - Really?  Now?  In jail?  With other inmates?  I just want it to be easy to stand as a witness.)  A few more girls started in 'twerking' and showing off between them how low they could go.  They were so busy dancing among themselves that they kind of forgot about me, which was great... Until one of the girls turned to me and said, "Just try it!" 

Something about an inmate in stripes - however sweet and wonderful they are - that when the words come out, "Just try it!" I just don't trust it.  I shot Rachel a look across 2 tables.  She was smiling at the possibility of me trying it out, and maybe enjoying watching me squirm a little bit.  I raised my eye brows at her like, "Help me out!"  In true leader fashion, she gathered her words and said, "Guys...  Seriously...  Mormon mom of 5!  Don't think you'll get her to twerk."  They all agreed and boo-ed the idea of quitting on me, but I didn't even care.  They all took their seats or went back to their cells, at the simple comment from Rachel.  The music turned down a few notches and I dealt myself a new hand of solitaire and breathed easier, laughing at finding myself in these situations. 

As I have thought about the peer pressure I endured, I wondered what would happen if I 'cracked.'  Would they have pushed me to do more - pass notes, take things out when I go, hide things for them?  Would they loose respect for anything I've stood for while I've been here?  Like Dani said earlier, "You're on a whole other level than us," would she still have felt my standards?  And if I gave in, would I have been a very good representative of the Savior?  Maybe I'm overthinking this little dance move, but I think it's the little things that shape bigger things.  In all times.  And in all things.  And in all places.  I have worked so hard to love these girls as they are, to learn from them, to teach them, to do whatever crazy mission I have in here.  Twerking is just not in the plans. 

What also made the difference was the choice girl I am able to call my friend.  Rachel, although she thought it was funny, could read my embarrassment and 'help' signal with just a raise of my eyebrows.  Like I have said over and over, her communication skills and reading people are beyond exceptional.  It was a friend that bailed me out.  When it could have been easier to join in and laugh, she saw my struggle.  She came to my rescue.  Another inmate rescued me today.  I never would have seen that one coming.  It's a testament to me of how important friends are - dare I say, even in jail?  I know these girls have many trials and live different lifestyles from me on the outs, but for the time being, they are clean and fully aware of the opportunities around them.  Today Rachel took charge and helped me wiggle out.  For that, I am grateful. 


Enough of this roller coaster of emotion.  Between Home Extreme Makeover making me all mushy inside and hearing the things Dani had to endure as a little girl, and the test to see if I would twerk, a phone call home was overdue.  When Jason picked up the phone, I smiled at the simple sound of his voice.  Then I  immediately heard Bryer in the background saying, "Hi Mom!"  (giggle) "Hi Mom!"  (giggle, giggle - over and over)  I know that laugh and those words all too well - the smile that spreads over her face so big that she can hardly relax her mouth to put her lips together to form the word 'Mom.'  I talked to her for a little bit in between giggles.  Jason put me on speaker so Bryer could still hear my voice while I talked to the other kids.  Piper told me she earned Citizen of the Month for the character trait Honesty. 

It was enough to hear Jason's voice.  And then my sweet girls added to it.  To hear Piper's example of honesty just finished it off and melted me.  Had I been home today to hear her news, it may have been different.  In here, I sit.  Locked in jail - because I too have been honest.  Like Dani saw her mom's example, has Piper seen mine?  I can only hope that she would stay strong.  Be honest - even when it's hard.  I pray that my family - and especially my kids - are not negatively effected by all of this.  I got off the phone, barely holding back tears, until I could make it to my top bunk.  As bad as I need to hear their voices, it just kills me inside to know I'm not there.  Back to the scriptures for comfort, needing what God could say to me.  I looked up the key word 'comfort' and found the verse, "For the Lord will comfort Zion, he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord.  Joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody."  In this dreary jail, I needed to know that it can be a place like Eden.  Joy.  Gladness.  Thanksgiving.  The voice of melody.  Mmmm.  That sounds good. 


A few of the girls today were complaining that there's no smoking at this facility anymore.  I remembered back to when I made my very first call to reserve a bed here and the guard on the phone assured me that they would not allow me to choose this jail solely on the idea that I could smoke - because that was no longer accepted.  Um, no.  I don't smoke.  That wouldn't be a problem, I assured her. 

I asked the girls what made the difference and they said it all happened about the time the new sheriff took over.  Knowing the sheriff, and impressed with the change, I asked what other changes have come about.  They listed off a bunch of positives.  He brought AA back in every other week.  They said another leader was passing notes and they had the program removed.  The girls pointed out that there's no guard on duty at Bible study and church services now.  They also have a lady coming once a week to help with GED or miscellaneous classes the girls can help lead.

Although I haven't been a fan of this sheriff's office in the past for originally filing charges against me, I am happy to hear all the positives under the new leadership.  I'm happy for the girls - who stay a whole lot longer than I do - to have ways to better themselves.  I so badly want them to be able to progress, and these single chances throughout the week are opportunities to do that. 


A friendship has been growing between Kris and I.  She's the one with the cochlear implant and makes me laugh every. single. day.  They way she talks about her kids.  How involved her husband is.  How she likes to stay busy in here.  I will miss her.  Today she said when she gets good news from one of her kids at home she tells them, "I'm so proud of you, I'm gonna lick you like a happy dog!"  And then she imitates how she grabs her grown son's face and licks him from chin to cheek.  Man she makes me laugh! 


Another good friendship that has formed is with Tuck.  We sit and pray together at every meal and are in a habit of reading scriptures together at night before bed.  We have asked the other girls if they want to pray with us.  We get anywhere from 4 to 10 of the 16 beds available in here.  She pointed out at lunch today that she still obeys what her mom taught her - don't drink out of other people's cups, don't talk openly about sex, and don't eat off someone else's plate.  She talks like she just came from church, but then also talks about her guy friend that I worry isn't a healthy relationship for her. 
I can lead her to uplifting books in the library, read scriptures with her at night, have prayers and gospel discussion, but I can't make her change.  I've helped her arrange weekly clergy visits in here too and they give her reading assignments, but it's up to her to do it.  Even in here she can make choices to change - get up early, read on her own, change her language, etc.  Rachel too.  But most of the time they choose not to.  That's the hardest part - is seeing the potential and wasted time in here, when they are waiting for all the 'changing' to happen once they get out.  Maybe it's easier to spot in other people, but I'm examining myself too and taking inventory of where I need to change and not wait to do it for an easier time or more convenient place.     


I can't count how many pens I have gone through while I've been in here.  I keep them safe until they have been completely run dry.  At home we have oodles of pens and can't find a single one, but in here my 1-2 pens are so important that I just don't loose them.  They are the life to my journaling and my sanity.  I usually carry mine in the pocket on the front of my stripe top.  Last time I was here I was stretching in the rec yard and my pen fell out of my pocket.  I didn't realize it until I was locked back inside.  It took a lot of courage - and a full day to gather it - to ask the guard on duty if he found my pen.  He said he'd bring it back on the next shift, and then I was gone when he returned.  Loosing a pen has never been so sad. 

This time, I decided to try to be more bold about asking for my things.  I was supposed to have yarn sent in while I was gone the last time, but it didn't come on time.  I mentioned it to Rachel and she knew I was trying to get up the nerve to ask the guard.  When they made rounds the next time she blurted out, "So if someone had a package delivered here, would it be automatically brought in to us, or would we have to request it."  Not feeling ready yet to talk to the guard about it, I was glad that Rachel opened it up for me to get an answer.  We tag teamed through the conversation with the guard, as she helped me gain courage to open my mouth.  After the guard left she said, "Now that wasn't so bad, was it?"  I admitted that it wasn't, but I still didn't like it.

Then she pointed out, "Ya, but I saw earlier that you made strides with your Bunkie."  Wondering what she was talking about, I looked at her puzzled.  She said, "Ya, you stood up for yourself and asked her to leave when you had to use the bathroom."  Embarrassed that Rachel had noticed, I realized that was the first time in 27 days that I had asked for privacy, and not just worked around my Bunkie's coming and going.  We laughed, thinking how insignificant that would be in the 'real world.' 


I needed some good news today - my kite (paperwork) was delivered approving my Good Time!  It cuts 5 whole days off my sentence for being a good inmate!  So by the end of my week here, I will be down to 7 days left!  5 days.  FIVE DAYS!  Five days more I get to spend with my family.  Five days less that I won't be an inmate. 

I won't be an inmate.

Oh I never expected that thought to sound so hard to comprehend.  Maybe it's like a missionary when they realize they only have a few weeks left for the work they were sent to do.  Or the last weeks of pregnancy before a new baby rearranges everyone's schedules.  Now I feel like I am grasping at time to do what I need to be doing.  Have I made it all worth it? 

I received a piece of mail today that said, "Pretty soon this whole nightmare will be over."  As I read it, I got defensive.  In the beginning when our kids were taken away from us, it was a nightmare.  Being separated from my family for 7 days at a time - yes, nightmare.  Spending money on attorneys and witnesses - nightmare.  But this - loving and teaching and reading scriptures with these girls.  Not a nightmare at all.  Even pressure to twerk.  (Laugh)  Not a nightmare.  Just a big giant way God has helped me through a rough patch.  Having Him with me so intimately for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Will that change when... I won't be an inmate?  I don't think I want to give that up. 


I finished my next step in The Plan of Salvation - Death 

Genesis 3:19 - In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Alma 11:42 - Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.  It states that we will pass through physical death, but that it's only temporary.  Because of Christ we will be reunited with our bodies later. 

Alma 12:24 - And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.  The phrase 'probationary state' hit me.  I am on probation - by law - right now.  So I found symbolism in what that means in the big picture.  Right now I am being asked to live a certain way (which really is not much different than my normal) in preparation for being off probation, which in the big picture would be the time to meet God.  Those things I do or don't do on probation will affect how I feel when I meet God again.  Will I feel guilty for things?  Will I be happy to see Him?  Will I have gathered as much knowledge and understanding as I need?  Will I have done the things He's asked of me?  Those mistakes I have made, have I repented and made them right? 

Anyone who has lost someone close to them knows how painful death can be.  It's the memories, the relationships, and that sting of them not being there to call on anymore.  In the most touching family tributes I have witnessed, I've been impressed with those that celebrate the person's life.  Endings are sad.  And death is a very real end - but only temporarily.  It's ending this chapter that their body and spirit were together on this earth.  But just like their spirit lived before this earth, it also lives on after this life.  At death, the body and spirit are separated.  The body is buried in the ground, but the spirit lives on.  And that should be celebrated.  As I have worked on this section of The Plan of Salvation, I have felt so strongly that these things are true.  It's not just a Band-Aid to put on a wound when someone dies, by saying their spirit lives on.  It really is true.  What happens next in the plan is even better than that! 


  1. Krissi, I've just recently been made aware of your blog and it has been a wonderful opportunity to read of your experiences. I can only hope that if I were in this situation I would handle it as thoughtfully and spiritually as you have. The fact that you have taken this situation and are striving to learn from it and grow from it is truly incredible. You are an example to me to look at the glass half full instead of half empty. Thank you for opening yourself up to all of us so that we can learn and appreciate and see the positives we can all make out of situations that are challenging at any level.

    1. Thank you so much Coreen for you thoughtful comment. I am blessed to hear how you have been touched.

  2. Dear Krissi,

    How can I thank you for recording your experiences? For submitting to this trial with dignity and faith and perserverance? This horrible crime you were falsely accused of--and for which you were falsely imprisoned--has made a difference in my life. I saw a link to your blog on "All my Lemmony Things", one of my favorites. And after I started reading I got hooked. I almost stayed up the whole night reading from start to finish!! Your story, you and your family's lives and most of all, your testimony have been so uplifting to my soul. I am so thankful for your insight, the light of Christ that shines through your life and words and for your positive spin on your jail experience. It was lifted me and helped me gain perspective on my own challenges. I too was falsely accused of child abuse via a string of extremely unfortunate and insidious events. The accusations were heartbreaking. I think this is why I relate so well to your story. To have been falsely accused of something so heinous, something you can't even imagine committing, is life-altering and life-shattering. You have given me hope. That good things can come of trials. That endurance to the end is truly that. Enduring is hard. It's not fun, it's not a just the basis of a well-churned 15 min talk in church, but a true stretching of our soulds. I'm thankful for your attitude and it's lasting effects on the girls you met on "the inside" and this blog of yours. I wait eagerly each week to read your new installment. I truly, truly, TRULY hope you will continue to blog after your jail experience has ended. Thanks for being you. Good luck to you, Brier and the rest of your family!!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Dawn! I am so sorry to hear we have a connection in this. It breaks my heart to know of others who have been falsely accused. I am so happy to offer some sort of hope. I love what you say, "Enduring is hard. It's not fun, it's not a just the basis of a well-churned 15 min talk in church, but a true stretching of our souls." It really is putting into practice all the things we know. Thanks for the vote of confidence in blogging beyond my jail experience. It's something that's been on my mind. ;-)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Celeste. ;-) I always enjoy hearing who is hanging in there, still reading. Hugs to you!

  4. I’m not a Mormon but find this article enlightening. It gave me new perspectives, which I can apply to my own challenges. You’re right about taking a step back and trying to first read the situation before reacting—something that seems obvious but most of us cannot do. Rather, you provided ways to make it easier and actually fall through with the plan.

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds