Notes from the Land of Oz

A Tax on Tea

When my daughter Rebecca was in fourth grade, we studied New Hampshire history. The family made field trips to historic sites throughout the state. We visited the New Hampshire State House, cooked colonial food, and acted out historical plays. It was a good review for me too.

Cliff Died in Prison

Cliff died in prison back in 2002. He was just 47. Lung cancer turned his prison bid into a life sentence. I guess I knew Cliff. We met the day I moved into a cell with him in the Hancock Building.

Warden's Recommendation

I didn't know what a mittimus was before going to prison. By then, my future depended upon one. A mittimus is a warrant for commitment to prison, describing the conditions for incarceration and release. In 2002, the mittimus for my first sentence stated that I was sentenced to the New Hampshire State Prison for "not more than 7 year(s), nor less than 3 1/2 year(s)." I was also ordered to be "of good behavior and, comply with all the terms of this sentence."  Before my minimum parole date, I would have to go before the parole board to find out if I could begin serving my next sentence. The parole board would, presumably, decide whether I had been "of good behavior," as my mittimus stated. But how would the board know what my behavior had been?  I found out from fellow inmates that the prison administration supplies the parole board with a synopsis. That synopsis would conclude with a Warden's Recommendation.

Cancer Treatment

Every couple of days I would pass Mark in the hallway of the Hancock Building where we both lived at the New Hampshire State Prison. He was a quiet, nervous appearing, 54-year-old man with a salt-and-pepper mustache. I sometimes stood next to him in the noon medication line. His hands shook as he took his anti-depressant. Just a year prior Mark was on his way out of prison. After doing 5 1/2 years, he got approved for reduced custody and transferred to the Minimum Security Unit in preparation for parole. He never made it to the streets. 

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