Incarcerated: 22 years
Housed: Taconic Correctional Facility, Bedford Hills, New York
Diane: What is the hardest part about being incarcerated?
Felicia: Not seeing my family.
Diane: Tell me about your family; who is that?
Felicia: My father is very supportive. I have siblings- my brother and my sisters are very supportive.
Diane: Do you have any fears about your family or your loved ones?
Felicia: My dad, he’s old. My fear is that he’s going to leave me while I’m incarcerated. He’s hanging in there. I want to say he’s doing pretty damn good for being 82.
Diane: Can he come visit?
Felicia: Yeah, my father is mobile, he’s not in bed or in a wheelchair. He drives and works.
Diane: How often do you see him?
Felicia: I used to see him every month, but now I see him every two months. Two-three months.
Diane: Do you have any message for anybody? Jennifer Fecu, who connected us?
Felicia: She’s my buddy. She’s wonderful, amazing and inspirational. She’s the reason I want to go further in life as far as education and things like that because she’s very big on education.
Diane: How did she inspire you to go to school?
Felicia: Jennifer does not give up. She keeps going and going and going and that’s what I love about her.
Diane: What have you learned about yourself that has surprised you?
Felicia: I’m starting to like school. At first it was… well school’s not for everybody. It’s really not. But I like school.
Diane: Tell me about your typical day?
Felicia: To start my morning, I take a shower, turn my music on and fill my hot pot. Then, I start my morning program, which is the yard. I go out and pick up the trash until we are locked in for count at 11am. When I come out, I use the phone… everyday, normal stuff.
Diane: Do you have a particular routine before you go to bed?
Felicia: I read and I pray.
Diane: What’s your cell like?
Felicia: It’s where I get peace of mind. I can tell the officer, “Lock me in.” And they lock me in. I’ll just be in there doing me. Whatever it is- homework, listening to the radio, crying, whatever I want to do. I put my curtain up on the window in the door, so no one can see in, and I do whatever I want.
Diane: Privacy is rare in prison. I only know a couple of people that have a cell to themselves.
Diane: Is there something you would like to do when you’re released?
Felicia: I would like to get into doing hair, because I like doing hair.
Diane: Are there any kinds of classes like that in here?
Felicia: Yes, they had cosmetology , but the lady stopped coming so they stopped giving us the program.
Diane: Are you allowed to have any hair products?
Felicia: We can have blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons…
Diane: What kind of music do you like?
Felicia: I like R&B, rap, and some country.
Diane: How do you make food?
Felicia: On a hot plate. We share them and sign up for a slot.
Diane: What do you like to cook?
Felicia: My favorite is fried chicken with tuna salad.
Diane: Do you actually get chicken on the bone?
Felicia: Yeah, but it’s not that good. It’s a Banquet, it’s not real chicken- it’s processed.
Diane: Is there a particular food you miss?
Felicia: Chinese food.
Diane: And you haven’t had it in 22 years?
Felicia: Actually, in Bedford Hills, the maximum security prison I was in across the street, they do a ‘cleanest unit contest’ and we used to get Chinese food or McDonald’s…. but this was back in the day, I don’t think they do that anymore.
Diane: Has being incarcerated made you value something more deeply?
Felicia: Yes, my freedom.