Prison Squirrels, Smuggling and Bartering for Food in Prison – What a Joy.

Portia Louder photo in prison
Photo of Portia in Prison

Well, I’m sure the pictures make Federal Prison look like a lovely place with palm trees and green grass.  They do keep a small garden for photos in the back but I can assure you the whole compound doesn’t look like this 🙂 I must say that I am very grateful I am here rather than county jail.  It’s not a bad place as far as jails go 🙂 Being so far away from our Families is the hardest part.  I feel very blessed because when I look out my window I have a tree, and every morning I wake up to the sound of birds singing.

Today “B” and I went to the chow hall to eat.  We usually eat outside on the metal benches because it gets so hot and loud inside.  There are squirrels, geese and many different types of birds on the compound.  

Of course, the inmates love the animals and feed them, and the staff is continuously upset by it.  The animals are fat and well fed and hang out by the Chow hall patio.  I have personally had a squirrel chase me back to my unit because I had bread in my hand.

This is an example of what the prison squirrels are like, they come right up to you.

Today as “B” and I were eating our lunch a squirrel came up to our table begging for food.  “B” and I don’t pet them or feed them because they could have diseases and in prison good hygiene is everything!  We tried to shoo the squirrel away, but he was determined.  He jumped up on the table and started eating from my tray, then he tipped my water over and started drinking it off of the table.  I wish I would have had a camera 🙂 All the inmates went crazy with laughter. It was fun!

Bartering for Food

Food is so different here.  As soon as we get our trays the bartering and trading begins 🙂 A nice black woman walks around asking if anyone will give up their onion, while another friend is hustling for fruit.  That’s how she supports herself in here.  She trades the fruit for commissary,  and that’s how she gets her hygiene.  

The prison doesn’t issue soap, shampoo or deodorant, so if you don’t get help from the outside, you have to find a way to hustle.  I eat mostly tuna fish sandwiches because protein is hard to come by, I buy the tuna from the commissary, but they don’t sell bread because the Women will make hooch with it.  (Hooch is a very sour smelling alcohol made from yeast, fruit, and sugar and then fermented) I bring my bread back from the kitchen to make sandwiches.

Taking Bread – Big No, No!

I almost got in trouble for bread.

The first time I brought bread back to the unit, I walked in with it in my hand.  An officer asked what I thought I was doing?  I told him that I was going to make a tuna fish sandwich with my bread and asked if he’d like some.  He said,

“Mrs. Louder, you can’t have that bread.”

He informed me that I could get punished for that.  So an inmate standing close by  told me that I needed to bring the bread back, “on the sly.”  She showed me how to wrap it in a napkin and stuff it under my armpit so I wouldn’t get caught 🙂

The problem with that is obvious, who wants to eat bread that’s been tucked in their armpit? Some inmates sew pockets in their clothes using dental floss as a string to help them smuggle food back to the unit.  I find it all interesting and somewhat entertaining.  Ah, the life of an inmate.

Letter I wrote Chad Today

Sweet Chad,

Chad & Portia Louder

I didn’t even notice it was the 24th of July yesterday 🙂 Not celebrated in CA.

I’m glad little CJ is feeling better.  So delighted to hear how well Sadie is doing!  I put more energy into Jackson while you were away in Montana and regret that I didn’t spend more time with Sadie.  I know she is AMAZING, I love that little Rock Star!  I miss CJ’s sweet tender spirit, and I miss your calming influence.  I am doing pretty good, and it helps me a lot to write 🙂

Thanks for sending me updates, it makes me feel connected to you guys.  I am so blessed to have the assurance that you are all safe and have the gospel as well as many people who love and support you.

I am going to run my photography class as an ACE course first, but there is potential to make it a much bigger program, it could be a real blessing to so many women!  It can provide a great income without college as a requirement.

It’s kind of cool that the BOP is so behind the times when it comes to technology 🙂 It makes it easier to teach the basics and build from there.

Sometimes I feel like we live in a bubble or commune.  No phones, no internet, many of the benefits of modern life can become stressful and cause people to live such a fast-paced life while isolating them from the close physical connections that are so vital for happiness.  I think I will be able to reach out to more Women and hopefully give them something to fight for, maybe a reason to live a moral life. That is my hope 🙂  

Relationships in Prison Despite Being Married

I love you Chad, I probably don’t tell you as often as I should how great you are!  From the moment I first saw your smile (An image that I frequently recall that is seared in my heart), I have loved you.  There is such goodness in you.  You are such a strength to our children and me.  You always make me feel like a queen; I love you for that.

Another Woman arrived here a few weeks ago who has been married for 20 years and has six kids.  She only has to serve a year.  She has been telling us how strong her family is.  Last night she was passionately kissing another woman here, one of the boy/girls? I was shocked at first then brought it up with another inmate that has been here for a while.  I asked her how many women come here, married, and get involved with other women. The inmate said,

“Almost everyone.”

WOW “B” and I were shocked and appalled!

The inmate told us,

“It’s just what people do here, and the new girls want to fit in. It’s hard to take a stand against it because you get somewhat isolated if you don’t play the game.”

Thankful for My Support Group

Thank you for your support. It helps me more than you realize.

About 80 percent of the women or more are in and out of these weird relationships.  I understand the need for companionship, and it is probably unfair of me to compare because I have such an active support group.

Some need commissary, and that’s a way to get it.  I guess I want to create an alternative that offers a better way to live.

It is unfortunate to see the effect these same-sex prison relationships, and transgender issues have on the poor class of society.  Seeing it in such concentrated form is eye-opening and sheds light on our Father in Heaven’s plan and why it is the plan of happiness.

I Love You Chad,
We will talk soon,  your inmate wife 🙂

As always I love your comments, Thanks Rocky for being so supportive!

Rhonda, you are AMAZING. I love you so much! To “B”s family, you should be so proud 🙂 She is a Woman of integrity and kindness. She is also brilliant.

To Karin’s friend, when I told Karin you were looking for her, she broke down in tears.  She is so excited to hear from you.  Thank you all for joining through the ups and downs.  I am very blessed to call you all my friends!!!