Journal Entry: Shane Andrew Smith-01/03/2024

Journal Entry

Family Ties:
In thinking about your first post of the year, our family story is more of a story of maintaining and growing our family relationship than rebuilding. While the foundation for rebuilding is being laid now during incarceration, for my family, the actual rebuilding will be when we are back together again. Each family dynamic is unique and luckily for me, my wife and son have been nothing short of saints! Not to mention all the other members of my family along with a handful of friends I consider family. They are my reason and my everything and our family has grown stronger through this situation. We e-mail every day, no matter what, no matter if it’s a good or bad day, and we talk every night (aside from a phone outage). I think being consistent and constant with communication is definitely the key. Every week, I write them both a note or card and send it. I also make sure to write my mom, dad, sisters, and others letters every so often. It’s worth spending some commissary money on stamps and cards, paper and pens. And we all know we have the time. Also, we have found that expressing our emotions and feelings honestly is the only way to navigate this family’s “unfriendly” environment. We take advantage of visits at least twice a month and spend hours together getting our junk food fix and bonding. The BOP will tell you that they are interested in keeping families in touch with each other, but it’s not sincere. At least at this institution, they haven’t approved a social furlough for over two years since I have been here, including times when inmates met the furlough program statement criteria. Even for funerals of inmates’ parents. But if we dwell on what the BOP does or doesn’t do, then we’d be going down a rabbit hole that everyone knows is a waste of time because the BOP will not change. What matters is how we handle ourselves with our families. Use the minutes and time we have on the phone, computers, and letters to stay in contact with family. Remember birthdays and holidays and reach out to them for a “just thinking of you” time. Always express your love and appreciation for your family and always stay positive. It’s love and positivity that the BOP can never take from you and it’s love and positivity that will see you through and help you to be and stay a strong family unit! At least that has worked for me and my family and I pray it will for you and yours.

Shane A. Smith