Sunday, December 15, 2019

An Article by Sisk - OITNF: Furry Life in Prison

ORANGE IS THE NEW FLUFF: Furry Life in Prison

“Mommy!” A short, bald Chicano squeaks as he glomps me from behind. Others in line with us stare in confusion, annoyance, and a lot of other descriptive words. Even more heads turn as he makes cute animal noises, then pants like a happy dog. Is this a fur-meet at the local theater?

Nope! It’s prison!

I can’t say this is what I expected when I was sentenced. Meeting furries in the wild has always felt like the Internet sprung a leak, and when those furs are in prison the whole experience takes a turn to the twilight zone. It’s as jarring as finding a phone booth on top of a mountain, and I can legitimately make that comparison, because I really did find a phone booth on top of a mountain once! Granted, our numbers are small, but we exist, taking things one day at a time in the Meadows Unit of the Eyman Prison Complex in Sunny Arizona.

Meadows is one of several medium-security protective custody yards dedicated to housing sex offenders. Due to the nature of many sex crimes and the type of people who commit them, sex offender yards are considered “easy” as far as prison experiences go — inmates in here joke that Meadows is a “retirement home” — though no prison is without danger, especially if one sticks out.

For me, being a transgender woman on a male sex offender yard crowds out all other concerns. Dodging predators aside, I’ve never felt the need to bring up my involvement in the furry fandom unless asked. If I did bring it up unprompted, inmates would give me a blank stare, shrug, then move on. The few who have heard of us give the standard line of, “Oh, those guys who have sex in animal costumes?” Given where we are, though, fursuit sex is ordinary compared to that creepy old guy on the yard who pays young inmates for baggies of their semen. For what purpose, you ask? Not even the angels know for sure.

Thus, my experience being a fur in prison is a personal one. For others I’ve had the chance to observe and talk to, it hasn’t always ended well. Sometimes that’s their fault; other times it couldn’t be helped. That’s just how it goes in prison. Boo. 

Sometimes A Golf Pencil Is All You’ve Got

My small notoriety in the fandom comes from me being a webcomic artist, and, more recently, from a few other things as well. I eventually decided to violate my probation a few years ago be going online in the face of a lifetime, court mandated ban on my internet access. The wisdom of that decision is arguable, but the loss of my online life was so devastating that I attempted suicide shortly after I was sentenced. That most definitely was a mistake, and after taking almost a month to recover, I concluded that if things were bad enough to die, then they were bad enough to live.

I lived, and did some of my best work with my webcomic, “Ask Keis”. I also helped a lot of people both online and off. Then I learned that ex-wives can be really vindictive. In short, getting into a heated disagreement with a vindictive spouse while they have the leverage to see you thrown in jail is a bad idea. HOMEWRECKING: NOT EVEN ONCE. (I joke).

That I thought the gamble was worth it says how I feel about my connection to the furry fandom. It’s easy to scoff at that, and say it’s just cartoon art and stories, but when you’ve been neck-deep at the bottom of the Geek Hierarchy for two-thirds of your life, all of that becomes you. So when a judge points at you and says your very identity must end, that’s as terrifying as an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. That’s what made me want to die, then want to live.

This is all a lot of words to say that I am my ability to create art and stories that those inside and outside the furry fandom can enjoy, and because this connection still exists even while I’m in a dreadful place like this, I still exist. As long as I still exist, I can do some good in this world, and I have my fiance to thank for that. He works hard to not only build our future, but to also keep my online presence alive.

Working my craft in here is not easy, though. Prisons are negativity vortexes that are fed by an internal culture incompatible with external society. If you think your work environment is bad, try concentrating on a drawing while someone is getting stomped a few bunks away for not paying his debts. Depression is highly contagious, and as of this writing, I’ve been struggling with it for a while. Sorry about that.

On the flipside, being an artist in prison is like being an artist in the fandom: it bestows a special status. There’s no shortage of inmates wanting custom cards or other crafts for their loved ones, and every prison has a thriving, policy-violating tattoo industry. I can neither confirm or deny that my art has made it onto people’s bodies, but I do have an advantage when it comes to stuff like birthday cards for kids. Children are natural furries, so it works out great for the both of us, because I really like drawing fluffy things.

Delivering art in here gives me something I rarely got to experience on the outside, too, and that’s to see my clients’ faces light up in person. Being a prison artist also gives me something else: I get to be seen as just an artist. It’s my fault that I carry the furry artist label on the outside, but in here my art is just art, except for the few who lump my work into the “anime” category. I silently rage inside whenever that happens. Still, it’s a refreshing experience.

Ironically, what’s also a refreshing experience is the challenge of creating art with a minimal set of often sub-par supplies and tools. I don’t know what I’m wired this way, but I take pride in gnawing the tip of a golf pencil to sharpen it, because proper sharpeners aren’t allowed in isolated confinement. If even a golf pencil wasn’t an option, I’d fall back to my own blood. I’ve used it in art before, and I sure as hell will use it again.
opportunity for artists and teachers

It can’t be all tailpoofs and paw-prints in here, unfortunately. If you’re a furry artist who’s planning on going to prison, be sure to brush up on your busty human babes, angel wings, demons, skulls, and celtic knot-work.

…or you can, y’know, not go to prison. That works, too. Congratz if you’re on top of this. 

The Antithesis Of Furry Culture. Sort Of.
The furries that reside here don’t get much of a chance to socialize together. Meadows is split into East and West yards by a fence, and although there’s a central gate, movement across it is only allowed for limited reasons, and meeting fellow fluffs is not one of them.

An additional barrier is racial. Prisons are racism training camps, and suspicion can easily arise if inmates of different races mingle too much. Caution could be thrown to the wind, but I am unaware of another subculture that faced the same racial barrier, and lost: the Juggalos; fans of the Insane Clown Posse, and embracers of weirdness much like furries do.

Juggalos wanted their own “political” group in which they could manage their own affairs, but the established races shut that down quick. They couldn’t have members of their race ignoring edicts because they also held allegiance to another group. LGBT groups have also fallen to this political logic, and a furry group would surely follow in their footsteps. Whatever sense of community a furry was brought up to exercise, that must be left at the prison gate, and a new community beyond their control to belong to will be assigned.

That sounds extreme, but it’s a reality, and I have flirted with disaster on the previous yard I was housed on  when I spent most of my time with a guy not of my race, but who was the only person who hailed from the same Internet culture of games, memes, and shit-posting I was a part of. I don’t really know how I can put it any other way than it sucks. I’m doing some serious mental gymnastics to not walk out of here with a trained distrust for other races. My only choice may be to throw in with other-kin, and just hate humanity as a whole.

An unfortunate commonality between prison and furry culture is punishment of those who mess up. There is a fingersnap readiness to brigade and bully, and there are always a few inmates wandering around who have been put on “shine” — don’t interact with them; don’t help them. Trust is able to be rebuilt again, but never fully. History sticks, and instead of websites that list transgressions, prison uses an oral history, and memories are long. The only thing the online world lacks is the ability to punch people over TCP/IP, though I’m sure there’s an RFC working on that. That leaves prison one up.

Another commonality that is really a symptom aflicting modern society as a whole is the age of offenders. A lot of guys I’ve talked with in here were pulled in for crossing that barrier that decides who gets to vote, or get shot at by foreign armies. The depressing average seems to be 18-20 years, and a few were cuffed younger than that, and tried as adults.

All but one of the other furs in here fall in that early adulthood range for their offense. I, myself, was 23 when I committed my crime. It’s up to readers on how to interpret that information, thought the low-hanging fruit seems to be that young people are more prone to being dumb-asses. That drugs or alcohol were a factor of their offense lends credence to this hypothesis.

I sat with a fur recently, and discussed an uncomfortable subject. We wondered if the fandom was more prone to producing sex offenders than other subcultures. There’s not many furs in here, maybe seven or eight, but in proportion to the total yard population, that’s a high number. I’m in no position to investigate this, and although I have my suspicions, the scientist in me must fall back on the philosophical razor of Newton’s Flaming Laser Sword: Anything not settled empirically is not worth debating. Any sociologists out there are welcome to study this, though, and then piss off the entire fandom if it turns out to be true. 

Dramatis Fursonae

I’ll spare my readers the detailed biographies of every fur that is or have been on the yard, but a few notables do deserve paragraph space. Their experiences probably speak louder than mine.

Winter is a siberian husky punk rocker with gauged ears, a split tongue, and plenty of piercings, all which match his real self. Seeing him wiggle the two halves of his tongue independent of one another is disturbing and cool, and he’s chill with having his gauged lobes tugged on. That’s probably the best way to describe him: chill, except when he works in the kitchen, apparently. Then he wants to stab people. Winter’s former job on the outside was a porn actor specializing in BDSM. He’s willing to do a lot unless it involves midgets. He’s afraid of midgets. I felt it was inappropriate to press him as to why.

This husky is a recent member of the fandom, having joined two years ago. He’s taken to it fairly well, staying low key for the most part, but not afraid to bring it up in conversation as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Winter is not afraid to say a lot of things, actually. My first exposure to him was on the last yard I lived on (though, I didn’t know he was a furry then), and it involved him jumping atop an outside park table, pointing at me, and shouting, “You’re my next rape victim!” How charming.

Despite what most would consider a horrific introduction (including me), Winter’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of mellow, take-life-as-it-comes happiness is an island of positivity in an ocean of suck. I have yet to see the guy in a bad mood. I love having him around.

Winter has a tag-along called Blue Jay, a jackal convert from the anime fandom. In real life, genetics conspired against him to deliver perhaps the most unfortunate mole placement ever: on his filtrum, right between his nose and lips. The resulting effect is an emo-style Mexican Hitler, and we jokingly call him “Mexler” when we want to be dicks about it. Blue Jay rolls with it, a sure sign of immunity built up from years of teasing. Goddamn, what luck, though!

Blue Jay is an up-and-coming artist, formerly into pure anime, but Winter helped him to see his furry side in the past few months. On reflection, Blue Jay thinks he’s always been a furry, but just didn’t make the connection until now. After seeing some of my art, he’s hyped up for sergals, and has drawn a group picture of Winter, him, and me together as our glorious furry selves. I haven’t known Blue Jay for as long, but he’s similarly low-key from what I’ve observed, and I’m getting a fanboy vibe from him towards me. He’s amazed at how fast I can draw, but he doesn’t know how lazy I am between drawings. I think it evens out between him and me. Unfortunately, both Winter and Blue Jay are not of my race, so my exposure to them has to be limited. Boo.

Emerald arrived late last year, a full-fledged, green-furred sparkle wolf who also crosses over into the MLP fandom. This poor kid had absolutely everything going against him: he hit the yard with a snitch jacket — wherever he was before, he ratted out another inmate; he was utterly obsessed with the furry and MLP fandoms, and he let you know it; and he had a shrill voice that was even more intolerable to listen to than two cats making carnal love. Emerald also had the tendency to lie. A lot.

I consider this kid’s story to be a tragedy, though. Emerald — or Emmie, as I called him — had a lot of mental health issues, foremost being his autism. His obsessive babbling about ponies and wolf-kitsune crosses to anyone unlucky enough to be in earshot reminded me of my mentally handicapped sister, but replacing furries with movies. Emmie was mentally ten years younger than his actual age, and given his size and youth, he could’ve easily passed for a teen.

The yard heads banned Emmie from entering their buildings, and the youngsters harassed him constantly. Things got bad enough that he confessed to me he wanted to end his own life. I talked him down from it, but I knew the idea would remain. Emmie was facing four years — not a horrible sentence, but might as well be an eternity for a scared kid like this. Worse, several lifetime probation terms awaited him at the gate, and I can’t see him being successful with that. If Emmie somehow survives this fouryear gauntlet, her’s not likely to make it through the second, or the third, or…

My friend and I were his only support. We did our best to teach Emmie about prison life, made sure he had enough hygiene, swatted bullies away, and let hims play in our Pathfinder campaign to keep him away from the drama. We both saw the writing on the wall for this one, but we had to try.

And then one morning Emmie was no longer there. We would learn later that several inmates conspired to drive him out. The kid was easy to manipulate, so they set him up to do something extremely taboo, “caught” him in the act, and then threatened to beat the shit out of him if he didn’t bounce to another yard. So.. Emmie bounced.

Several days later, my friend and I were sitting on a curb, and our talk turned to Emmie, and the dirty way he was ran off the yard. He said something then that hurt to hear, but I knew was true.
“That kid is going to get raped.”

We got Emmie to let on a little of why he was in prison. We didn’t twist his arm too hard about it, but from what little he spoke of, I can guess what happened: Emmie had a furry boyfriend who was underage, and he got caught sexting him. That’s upsetting, y’know? Arizona might have well sentenced this kid to death, or worse, and for that.
…Give me a few moments. That was a tough one to write about…

There are some other personalities I could cover, but for the sake of brevity, I will skip those whose main claim to fame is shoving shampoo bottles into orifices not explicitly recommended on the label, getting busted for mailing out furry porn, or pissing off enough people with their entitlement to get several visits from the Fist Fairy. Amidst that chaff, however, is the story of Dez and Llewynn, and their story is one worth telling.

My first encounter with Dez was in front of medical. The transgender woman had just arrived, and was slated for a two month run before going back out on probation. She was speaking to another trans-woman, and dropped that she was waiting for her legal paperwork to come in, because
one of those papers had a drawing of her fursona on the back of it. This was a blatant fishing attempt, but I couldn’t help but look at the sky and groan.

Dez is actually the first known furry I met in prison. She is a cat-jackal hybrid, a self-labeled sociopath, and skilled “cyber-warrior”. Dez considered herself to be untouchable, and carried herself as such, surveying the prison landscape with the aloofness of a cop. In fact, she claimed that one day she wanted to work as a corrections officer. That’s probably not a good thing to say when you’re wearing orange.

While not as obnoxious as Emmie, Dez made sure to put her furriness on display, much to the chagrin of others. She drew pawprints on her shoes and arms, like tiny kittens had stepped on an ink pad, and then walked all over her. Dez would also meow and make cute gestures while waiting in line for meds. At on point, she wore her ID lanyard like a tail until the cops chewed her out for it.

This is the weird thing, though: As much as you hated Dez, you still wanted her around. That is a terrifying power to have, and before long even my friend, who had threatened to deck Dex for starting an annoying cat chorus, came to like her.

I think half of it was that the yard had never seen anyone like Dez before. Usually, inmates get checked in the chin for not leaving their freak at home, but everyone was swept into this surreal spectacle of a trans woman pretending to be a cat. Two inmates were so taken by this display that they became furries themselves. Dez was a furry virus slowly infecting those around her.

One of those converts would come to call himself Llewynn, choosing to be a femboi fennec with a massive, floofy tail. He is the one I described glomping me at the start of this essay. He would could to be an even grander spectacle than Dez.

Dez and Llewynn eventually hooked up. The relationship was highly exploitative, and even dangerous. Her untouchable attitude, and her expensive wants and vices did not endear her to those wanting payment, but Llewynn was smitten by Dez, and he made it his personal mission to protect her. Her debts became his debts, and her attitude became his problems. The fennec took a lot of punches because of Dez. For a time, it seemed like every new day brought a fresh bruise. He fought back valiantly, but the regularity of battles demoralized him, and Dez showed no sympathy to him, nor did she express a desire to change her behavior to spare him the violence.

Despite this, Dez retained her magnetic pull, not just on him, but on all of us. We picked up her mannerisms, like faux-sneezing cutely when our nose is touched. I have never acted that murry-purry in real life; prison has ruined me.

I did try to pry Llewynn away from her, but since they both weren’t of my race, the options were limited. Llewynn wouldn’t listen to what advice I gave anyway. She was, depressingly enough, his first real relationship. I could do nothing except watch.

As we all ticked over to 2018, Dez went back out onto the streets. Llewynn was crushed, and spent nearly two week indoors. When he did come out he would howl, forlorn. Fennecs aren’t really known for that, but I let it slide. I was relieved Dez was gone for Llewynn’s sake, but standing in line at medical wasn’t the same anymore. That ambivalence is scary. Dez is one of the worst people I have ever met in person, but a small part of me wishes she was still here.

I may get my wish: we had friends keep tabs on her, and about a month and a half into her probation, she made a violation, and was sent to jail. Apparently Dez flipped out and assaulted her probation officer. As stupid as that was for her to do, I totally get why she did it. WITNESSED.

Even if she doesn’t come back to this yard, Dez’s legacy will live on for a long time. She changed people, including me. She also brought Winter to my attention, and Winter then went on to make another convert. For better or for worse, Dez is responsible for giving furries a foothold in prison, bringing them together (as much as prison life allows), and expanding the ranks. Furries are now a subculture here at Meadows, alongside the races, the nerds, the comic book/manga enthusiasts, the pagans, the Juggalos, and so on. Yes, Dez is one for the history books. Goddamn cats.

I’m proud of Llewynn. However unhealthy his relationship was with Dez, Llewynn stood his ground where lesser men (or furs) would have fled. This little femboi fennec held onto his new furry identity in an environment that can easily respond violently against it. If there’s anyone I know who has been through real “fursecution”, it’s Llewynn. Out of all the people on this yard, I admire him the most, and I wish he didn’t face the decades of prison ahead of him. I wish he could have a second chance.

I asked Llewynn how he felt about being a furry in prison. “It sucks”, he replied, “but I wouldn’t want to be anything else.”

I feel the same way. 

The Tail End Of Things

As of this writing, I have approximately a year and a half to go. What happens after that is an ominous question mark. The #Justice4Sisk and #SaveOurSisk campaigns garnered a lot of support, but brought out a lot of powerful enemies, too. Most of their advocacy centered on me, but they also paint a bigger picture of a felon’s life — the lives of sex offenders especially. It’s easy to forget that criminals are still human, and it’s just as easy to look the other way from how cruel and damaging prisons can be, both physically and mentally. What’s hardly thought of at all is the swath of destruction wrought not only in the lives of victims’ families and friends, but also in the offenders’ loved ones. When offenders lose everything, the pull of their criminal past strengthens, and these men and women who are have the greatest need of help to stop a destructive cycle are the least likely to get it.

I heard what happened to RC Fox. I won’t condone what he did, but neither will I condone what the fandom did to him. It’s been a joke for as long as furs have been around that our main export is drama, but whenever you maliciously harass someone, online or off, you’re acting like a criminal. You’re acting like a convict.

The furry fandom is all about fantasy. We get to tell stories about, or imagine ourselves to be, anthropomorphic animals, often in an idealized way. If we’re going to do that, then we can go one step farther, and rise above what humanity does to each other.

We’re halfway there, I think. Furries have created a racial diversity inspired by nature, and in that diversity is a near totality of acceptance of different species. It’s still fantasy, but it’s remarkable that a wolf and rabbit can fall deeply in love with each other. It’s normal, not only to the happy couple, but to their peers as well.

We can still be better. Remember, we have to convince geneticists that creating real anthro animals is a great (if not extremely far fetched) idea. Don’t mess this one up for all of us, guys.
–Farrah “Sisk” Barney


Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sending Books

There have been some interest in sending books to Farrah while she is at Eyman. There are restrictions, but the process is not difficult. As long as the correct shipping address is used, only a few details will differ from ordering yourself a book.

Individuals cannot send books directly. All books must be ordered and shipped from a recognized publisher, distributor, or authorized retailer. Unfortunately, no third party vendors are allowed.  The books must be shipped directly from the company they are ordered from. Amazon Marketplace, Barnes & Noble, and e-Bay are all considered third party vendors. Amazon has reportedly been very inconsistent, sometimes orders from Amazon are accepted – but only if the order was shipped directly from Amazon, and even then there is no guarantee. Consider Amazon  a last resort.

Walmart is listed by AZ DOC as an example of an authorized retailer, and Farrah has received books shipped from Walmart. If a book is not available from Walmart, or you do not wish to do business with Walmart, you can go to most major publishers and order the book through them. Farrah has received books ordered directly from the publisher.

Selecting a book

All books are reviewed by facility officials before they are available for pickup. The purchaser's name, address, and the book title are recorded. Books send without that information are rejected automatically. For the most part, just use some common sense – most mainstream novels are fine. If you are a little uncomfortable with AZ DOC knowing you sent a particular book, think twice before sending it. A more complete list of restrictions will be included in the last section.

When selecting a book, you need to check several things before placing an order. The book must be either soft-cover or paperback. No hard-cover books are allowed. The book must be new, not used. While the regulations allow for used books under some circumstances, the chances of a used book getting through are very slim.

While it may be a nice gesture, do not include a bookmark with the order. Bookmarks are not allowed and will be removed from the package and discarded.

Make sure the book is coming directly from the business you are ordering from. Double check, it is important.

Please send one book at a time. Farrah is not allowed to have more than 10 books at once, and several of her books are reference books that she wants to hold on to. Sending one book at a time will give her a chance to finish one book before the next one arrives. She is a fast reader, and the books you want to send may be small, but you are not the only person sending her books.

Finally, if the book is rejected, it may not be returned to the sender and you may not be refunded. Please, do not spend more than you would be willing to just lose.

Shipping the book

AZ DOC will not accept books sent through a private shipping company. Do not select any method other than the US Post Office. The shipping address for Eyman is a PO Box, so this should not be a problem.  If the site does not specify a shipper, you can check with customer service before ordering. Special instructions may be required with the order. Please check. Dover publishers, as an example, requires the order comment section have the inmates name, id, address and a statement requesting the book be shipped via US MAIL.

If mail is sent from overseas, make sure it will be handled by the US Post Office when it reaches this country.

The order must include a receipt in the package with the book. That receipt must include the title of the book, the name of the company it was purchased from, the name of the purchaser and the billing address. Major retailers, including Walmart, include an acceptable receipt.  If using a smaller retailer or publisher, you may want to check with customer service before placing your first order.

The address the book is shipped to is very important. The address must include Farrah’s legal name, her DOC id number, and the unit she is housed in. The order of the unit name, and the PO. Box is not critical. The name of the facility is optional.

Eyman, Meadows unit
PO. Box 3300


PO. Box 3300
Eyman, Meadows unit

have both worked in the past. The following is an example of the shipping address I have used to send books from Walmart. It should be easy to convert this layout into the forms used by other businesses.

If you have met the requires laid out so far, Farrah should eventually get your book. Please remember that each book must be inspected and reviewed before it is available for Farrah to pick up. The review process will take some time. Delays of a week or more are not uncommon.

If your book is rejected, Farrah will only get a short form telling her a book was received and rejected. She will not know what book was rejected, and she will not know why the book was rejected.

Final Notes and Recommendations

Farrah will not be told who sent the book. She is only told that a particular book has been approved and is available for her to pick up. So, if you send her a book, please send her a letter or card letting her know what you ordered. The letter or card does not need to be long, and she loves hearing from people – and if you tell her what you ordered, she can get word back to you that the book arrived.

Farrah has been shipped the following books recently,
Armada by Ernest Cline
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Mathematics for Nonmathematicians by Morris Kline
along with an art book for drawing furries, there are several and the specific title is not known.

The following books will be sent in the near future,
Robogenesis by Daniel Wilson
Artemis by Andy Weir

Farrah tends to prefer hard science fiction, not fantasy or even science fantasy. She does not care for military science fiction either. She has also requested books based on game franchisees like DOOM or Elite: Dangerous. A formal list has not arrived yet. If you would like any specific recommendations, all you need to do is ask Farrah. Include a few suggestions, if you have any. She loves getting mail and will reply when she gets a chance.

Content Restrictions

The full details are available in AZ DOC department orders 909 and 914. Religious materials are covered by a separate set of regulations, which will not be included here. Religious books are available in the prison library, you do not need to send them.

All items are reviewed for content, and may not include the following:
  1. Material that describes or depicts anything that could aid or incite any resistance
  2. Instructions for sending or receiving prison contraband
  3. Any depiction or description of street gangs, hate groups, terrorist organizations, et.
  4. Pictures or instructions regarding the function of locks or security devices
  5. Instructions or promotion of drug paraphernalia, or the manufacture of drugs or alcohol
  6. Content promoting racism, religious oppression, or racial superiority
  7. Martial arts or self-defense training manuals
  8. Pictures, descriptions or instructions for the sale, manufacture, concealment or construction of any weaponry. Simple pictures or broad descriptions of a weapon would not be grounds for rejection. Describing how a zip gun was put together, even in fiction, would be rejected.
  9. Detailed descriptions of computers, electronics or communication systems. Neuromancer by William Gibson would be perfectly fine, but Hackers by Steven Levy would probably be rejected
  10. Anything involving ciphers, codes or cryptography
  11. Anything involving intelligence gathering, or investigative techniques. Works of fiction are fine, but nothing approaching actual police or military procedures. Sending anything describing or instructing in the use of military procedures could be considered a violation of the law
  12. Anything promoting violence
  13. Anything sexually explicit
  14. Instructions on the sale, manufacture, concealment or construction of tools
  15. Any content that could cause a health hazard, fire hazard, or disruption facility operations

All items are reviewed according to these regulations, but the reviewers are allowed flexibility. Use your common sense. Mainstream mystery novels, science fiction, or spy novels like Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne, are fine.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Looking Ahead: Facing Future Obstacles

As of writing this entry, Farrah has 13 months until release according to her ADoC prison profile. However, SoS believes (pending confirmation) that Farrah's release date will be pushed to 15 months, as she received a prison violation for refusing housing to avoid being raped/harmed by her bunk mate. Regardless of release date, things are going to be rough for Farrah, her family, and her friends when she finally walks out of prison. The SoS team has been conferring with legal counsel to see what, if anything, can be leveraged or modified, but if nothing changes, expect the status quo for Farrah to be as follows:

  • Farrah will be released, not as a free woman, but on intensive probation.
    • Intensive probation can cost up to $1,000 per month depending on the restrictions applied.
    • Intensive probation will likely include:
      • GPS ankle monitoring.
      • Daily meetings and frequent searches with police.
      • Submitting a daily itinerary outlining where Farrah will be, when, and why?
      • Asking permission and reporting to the APD for each person she meets.
      • Requiring permission for any electronics prior to possession.
      • Restriction from internet use to include smart phone possession.
      • Restriction from travelling outside of Maricopa County.
      • Curfew that restricts her from being out when the sun isn't up.
      • And all normal restrictions under regular probation.
  • Farrah will not yet qualify for interstate compact, and she will have to serve her initial probation in Arizona.
  • Farrah will have to pay restitution for the legal costs of the hearings she received both prior to and during her stay in prison.
  • Farrah was robbed of everything in January 2017 after she was jailed in December 2016.
    • She lost all of her identifying papers, drivers license, birth certificate, social security card, and bank cards.
    • She also lost her car, all of her clothes and shoes, her phone, art supplies, physical artworks, cards, and gifts the she received over the year that she was living in AZ.
    • Finally, using her stolen bank cards, the perpetrators cleaned out her bank accounts.
  • When Farrah is released, she will have nowhere to go and nothing but a set of loaner clothes and orders to register with the probation office within 24 hours.

It's critical that Farrah gets what she needs to meet the orders of probation. Failure to comply with probation or restitution will result in an added prison sentence of up to an additional 3 years. If this happens, it will not remove any standing charges, and Farrah will have to start intensive probation over again. This cycle can continue indefinitely until she complies. Here's a short list of what Farrah will need to comply with the basics of probation:

  • A residence with an address in Maricopa County.
    • Must be approved by the APD.
    • Can be a house, apartment, or rented room.
    • Must be at least 500ft away from schools, parks, and churches
      • Depending on the reviewing officer, distance restriction may also include gun stores, adult stores, and shopping malls.
    • Must not have firearms in the residence.
    • Must not have porn or adult items readily accessible.
    • Must not have marijuana or other illegal substances.
  • Employment.
    • Preferably fulltime, but part time work can be argued for compliance if fulltime is unavailable.
    • Preferably no computer use. If computer use is necessary, the place of business must agree to have the systems audited by the APD.
  • Reliable Transportation.
    • A bus pass would suffice as long as she can get to and from work, therapy, and PO visits.
  • Therapy.
    • Farrah has been barred from returning to her former therapist (no loss).
    • Ultimately, the APD will decide where Farrah will attend sex offender therapy, but there are ways to leverage this decision towards a better option.
  • Money (as much as we hate to say).
    • Farrah will be immediately required to pay off her legal fees and registration fees for probation.
    • There are no payment plans and these fees are rarely waived.
    • Failure to pay will result in additional prison time.

Please note that the above information isn't a request for money; it's meant to paint a picture of what we and Farrah will face at the time of her release. That said, if you have contacts, knowledge, or anything you're willing to offer, it would go a long way in helping us keep Farrah from additional punishment.

Thanks to modest donations from friends and family, SaveOurSisk will be able to repurpose our Patreon as a savings account from now until Farrah's release, at which point we will donate those saved funds to cover some of the item illustrated above. We want to give a massive thanks to everyone who has been contributing Patreon for all this time. Keep it up! Every little bit helps; especially now.

We will keep you updated as things develop.

--SSG Ops.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Message From Sisk: Always Be True To Yourself

Our world is host to many toxic, dangerous environments for transgender individuals, and among them, prison is one of the worst. Chances are, if you are transgender and sentenced to prison, you will not be sent to a prison that matches your gender. The best you can hope for is that the prison staff and your fellow inmates will be supportive, but that is rarely the case.

Just like the world on the outside, prison denies trans people their identities, or otherwise forces them to hide their identities to avoid severe risk. Guards will intentionally dead-name trans inmates and use incorrect pronouns. Trans people tend to be a running joke among other inmates, and are often isolated from socialization. What's worse is that, more times than not, trans inmates must face the majority of their sentence in administrative isolation for their own safety.

All of this is still true today, and fortunately, a fight for acceptance is happening both in prisons across the United States as well as the outside world. Farrah is a part of that fight, both inside and out.

"There are a lot of people in this world that you can betray, but if there is one person in this world you should never betray, it's yourself." --Farrah (Sisk)

For those who are unaware, Farrah is a transwoman (post HRT) who has been confined to a male prison yard in Arizona. She frequently writes to us about the deplorable conditions she faces daily. However, she continues to thrive in such an oppressive environment by holding on to her identity despite the hardship, and in a recent letter, she encourages you to do the same. Today, we share that letter with you:

Remember to always fight for yourself. You know who you are, and you deserve to be that person on the outside just as much as you are on the inside. You may not be all the way to where you need to be, and that's okay. These things do take time, especially with all the hardship the world can throw at you.

I wish I could describe the glee I experience when I hear about the people I know out there who are exploring their true identity. There can be a lot of risk stacked against such exploration and sometimes it can take a fuck-ton of courage to stand up to that risk and say, "You know what? This is who I am, and this is who I'm going to be." And so when I get news that someone is affirming their identity, changing their name, starting hormones, or even just changing their look, it's a huge deal!

I'm on a journey of my own here, and I'm growing to be a stronger, more assertive person. That's the person I am on the inside, and that's the person who is going to get me through this. Through both my journey and yours, it's the little things that make all the difference.

That's a wonderful thing, you know? You have no idea the true scale of how much the little stuff matters. Like pronouns! Being acknowledged as female is a little thing that reinforces my identity, and solidifies it to the point that I have a trustworthy foundation to build my self-esteem upon. Someone referring to me as "him" has zero bearing on what I can do as a person, but all those little paper cuts can, and do, add up to a lot of misery, not being acknowledged as who you see yourself as, and transgender men and women have turned away from or even lost their lives due to no one wanting to see them for who they are. They never had a chance to build a foundation of identity because those around them made them second-guess even building a foundation in the first place. Others wanted them to build their foundation upon a place that their soul and mind could not support, as if they were building on sand. And that's a big fucking tragedy.

Thankfully, I'm a stubborn bitch who doesn't know any better, and though I'm in a hyper-masculine environment, I not only refuse to let a place as dangerous as prison impinge upon my identity, but I also refuse to "take advantage" of the fact that I'm female, because, although in some weird strategic sense that might be a good move, it's not who I am either.

I dug in, and people took notice. Not everyone uses female pronouns with me, but for the ones that do, it's an outside step for them. A few weeks ago, I had a guy comment to me that out of all the "transgenders" on the yard, I was the only one that he actually thinks of as female; this is a guy who is squicked out by the idea of trans people. And he's not the only one. There are others who use female pronouns with me, and not for the other trans women here.

Why? Who the fuck really knows. Everyone says because I act like a woman (whatever that means), but I didn't run around the yard demanding to be recognized. I just was, and it's a decent hypothesis that I earned that by not compromising who I am. Some stuff is subject to politics, some stuff is necessary to compromise on, but an identity is not among them.

In short: just be you. It's okay to nervous about stuff, but never ever think for one moment that you can't be who you are on the inside. Others may be against you, the world may push back at times, but you are your own person; you are you, and that's the most important thing, the part of yourself that you should never betray. If you dig in for your identity, I will always support you, and there are thousands upon thousands of others out there that will accept and support you too.

Please keep exploring who you are. Go out there and buy some dresses, get a manly haircut, or whatever suits you. If you need to change your name to a better fit, do it. If you need to start a dialogue with a gender counselor to find yourself, do it.

Don't make excuses. It's never to late to start this journey. You CAN be the person you feel like, whether that person is the manliest of men, the sweetest of women, or somewhere in between. It doesn't matter what you started as. All it takes is that first step forward and dedication to yourself.

You can do it!

--Farrah "Siskmarek" Barney