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Going to the board of prison terms is a paradox of feeling and emotions. My mentors tell me to be truthful and you will be fine, but when you do tell the truth it gets questioned.

Five of us put our lives on the line to clean up areas after men who test positive for COVID. We are part of a special COVID strike team, on-call, 24-hours a day.

I love working and it’s a way for me to give back to my community, the staff and the men in blue, yet it comes at a big cost. Working in the hospital is nice at times, I personally believe that the nurses are doing the best they can under the circumstances.

Recently, I was informed that every move that we make is made by some outside people that have never worked in a prison, which is ridiculous in my opinion. Things are constantly changing which creates a headache for the staff, which makes it worse for us. It has been taking up all of my time which I should be devoting to my upcoming parole board hearing.

Stress, depression, anxiety, gratefulness, hopeful, gratitude, and humbleness. These are just some of the feelings I’m having while preparing for the board to see if I am found suitable to go home.

I can’t have any write-ups on my record and I’m walking into the hearing with one. I got it for getting on the payphone to call my mom. I could not sign up for the phone that day because I had worked a 14 hour day, plus I had cleaned ten cells for people who had tested positive for COVID. So I wanted to hear my mother’s voice, that voice that’s comforting, that voice that will tell me it’s going to be ok.

Now I’m consumed with worry that the board won’t see how I’ve changed since I was 16 years old and how I am accountable and responsible. I do understand that they are the gatekeepers and need to be sure that the person they are letting out will not harm anyone ever again. Still, I personally find it stressful going through the process and I’m scared. It’s a roller coaster of a journey. Still, I feel good about my chances of being found suitable to go home.

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