Journal Entry: Tammy Halling-12/26/2023

Journal Entry

I wrote a Christmas letter letting people know about me…sort of…

I am 55 years old and was arrested when I was 35…I have spent 20 birthdays in jail and prison. Aliceville is my 4th facility, and the worst, but I have no plans of changing institutions because as the saying goes “stick with the devil you know best.” It’s hard to readjust to a new prison. Everything changes and I mean everything. That “Home” song with the line “these faces and places are getting old”…that’s prison life for someone who has a long, long time. We want to go home desperately and the places and faces do get “old”.

My daughter is my co-defendant. She thankfully went home this year. She was 20 years old and spent her growing up years in prison. She will be 40 soon. She may never have a real life of husband, children, and unconditional love because of her long stay in prison. Then again she may surprise us all and do it all. I guess it will all depend on what she learned in prison and how badly she never wants to come back to a place like this.

As for me. I have a letter to write to Adams State on why furthering my education at my age will help me in the future. They asked for an essay. All I can think of for real is….seriously? Do they not know that education that teaches a job skill will lower recidivism?…. I will let them know my answer soon. If released from prison I will not be coming back. I will do everything in power to stay out and die a free woman. Even cleaning toilets for a living would be better than prison, so long as I am free. But I would really like to take the knowledge I am going to learn taking those Paralegal courses and Constitutional Law classes to help people that have been in my shoes. If I could just help one person I feel that everything I have done would be worth it….It’s how I feel right now as I help other people with their cases now.

I am currently on vacation. Today I am working on 3 compassionate releases, mine included. It will be my third attempt. I want to see people go home. The barbaric sentences that are given out scare me. In my unit, we have a young lady who is 18. She was transporting drugs and she received a 10 year sentence. She too will be growing up in prison. What do you think she will learn here? Not a lot unless she seeks outside sources. I have no understanding of the lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key philosophy. What do you achieve by doing that? What do you teach our children when you lock them up and let them grow up in the prison system? Hell, what do you teach our children at home when you throw away our key? It isn’t how valuable a life really is.

There is little programming on this compound. They give us a list of classes that are available but with 1500 plus women and only 25 to 30 seats available per class the wait lists are very long. It’s part of the reason that I decided to go outside the facility for my educational needs. But because I have been down so long I do have over 2000 hours of programming inside of prison. I have taken every type of class available. I have even taught a few of the classes. This is my community. that is my community service to others. Teach them something valuable so they can take that home with them instead of the prison politics that is taught behind the scenes.

So tonight me and my associates will be having a post-Christmas meal. We decided to do it today because the holidays are so busy. I am a very established prison cook and made cheese balls and a chocolate-covered cherry cheesecake…tomorrow I may give you all the recipe….we’ll see…everyone wants it and I have had people at my door half the day trying to see how I did it…..See still have a life even in here….