Journal Entry: Gary Goulin-02/13/2024-I’m Here!

Journal Entry

I’m Here!

After a nice big breakfast and a tearful good-bye to my husband, at about 11:00am on 2-13-2024, I entered the front door of my new temporary home – FCE Englewood. I was sad and terrified, but these feelings soon went away.

I was greeted at the door by a very nice and respectful officer: J. Terry. Officer Terry took me into an intake room where I had to undress completely. It was very respectful – no orifices were probed or looked at. He examined the materials I came in with – my release plan, $400.00 in cash, my medical reports and all my prescription medications. He gave me a receipt for my money and said the money would be applied to my commissary account. He provided me with a brown T-shirt, blue slip-on shoes, a pair of socks, underwear and Khaki pants.

I then met with an intake nurse who reviewed my medical history, took my medications, and turned me back over to Officer Terry. I asked him if my wedding ring was allowed, and I was pleased to hear that it was. That was so important to me, as I wanted a part of Sandy to be with me at all times.

I was brought to my bunk – it was the upper bunk in a 4-person barracks-style setup. I was located close to the shower and bathroom area which was very convenient. I didn’t have to walk down a long hallway.

I met my bunkmates – two were younger (maybe 30ish) and one was an older gentleman around 70. I was also close to a younger guy whose locker was filled with all kinds of stuff (mostly food) that people desired. He was the local 7eleven, and the currency is postage stamps. That’s the money around here. 5 stamps for a can of soda or chips, etc.

Anyway, he and my 2 younger “roommates” were hysterical. Their interactions and the things they talked about were so funny. They were very friendly and welcoming to me.

There were prisoners who served as a welcoming committee. They provided me with some essentials (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, water bottle, bowl, silverware, razor) that I would need prior to making my first commissary purchases. They showed me around the education center – it was very impressive. The library was huge, and contained a lot of DVD’s for self-

directed, adult continuing education. There is an online law library. The welcoming committee also showed me where the “chow chow” hall was located, and gave me some pointers on proper etiquette – where to sit in the chow hall, how to address people, etc. I inquired about phone calls. Apparently they are still allowing 510 minutes/month for calls. I will hopefully get my phone access soon. It appears the lines are not too long for the phones or computers.

Meal times are a bit different: Breakfast is around 6am, lunch around 10:30am and dinner around 4:30pm. Lights are out at 9pm, though people still stay up and chat. I saw lots of people reading after 9pm. One of my first purchases will be a reading light, so I can read after lights out.

Most everything closes at 9pm. Such as the library, gym, etc., as they are staffed by prisoners and everyone must be in their room at 9pm for a count. There is also a count at 4pm where everyone also has to be in their room. Other than those 2 times, people are free to do whatever they choose. Some people sleep until noon, others watch TV all day, some just socialize or play games on their tablets. Some reportedly spend all their time in the gym. Most prisoners are required to work a few hours a day.

I’m still trying to figure out how things work. I know that I need to develop a daily schedule. As soon as I purchase workout gear, I want to visit the gym daily. I want to spend time reading, as well as, taking some of those adult continuing education classes. I already see there is one to learn Spanish and I would like to take that and become more fluent. Also, once I am more familiar with the institution, I would also like to become part of the welcoming committee. I would love to pay forward the kindness that has been shown to me.

Just a few miscellaneous thoughts: First, FCI Englewood is literally located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The scenery is quite gorgeous. Right now, the hills and mountains are snow-covered. The building itself was built in 1938 – it’s showing its age. It’s very industrial but not gross or disgusting.

Most importantly, I feel safe here. Many, many people are here serving the same crime as me. While I didn’t disclose my crime, people seem to know. We stick together and no one seems to bother us or care. As long as you stick to your own group you’re fine. For example, things here tend to be racially segregated. I could never sit at a hispanic table. Sad that it’s this way in 2024, but it is what it is. I stick to my own group and they are friendly and welcoming.

Last night was my first night here, and today I woke up for the first time in years without anxiety. Instead of my countdown to something bad (incarceration), it is now a countdown to something wonderful, which is the return to my beloved family and friends.