Coming to Federal prison has been different than I thought it would be. The first surprise, or disappointment that I faced was not being designated to the camp.  FCI Dublin is an all security prison, meaning they house many violent offenders. Yesterday there was a fight on the yard and we all watched from the unit as two young girls really beat each other up. In almost every case the violence is a direct result of the women having girlfriends and yesterday was no exception.  The two girls were fighting over the same love interest. I realize the women come to prison broken, and facing so much time is a hopeless prospect and many feel that the hill to climb to get out is too high and I wish there was more of an opportunity for rehabilitation and more positive influences and leaders. The way the women turn to each other shocked and upset me when I first came to prison.  I try not to focus on it because I can’t change it, but I do believe that it’s become an epidemic, at least here. One of the ways the women profess their love  is by tattooing their girlfriend’s name on their body, often it’s on their necks. When I see a new tattoo on a young girl’s neck I feel so bad that they have made such a permanent decision at such a temporary, unhappy time in their life.  It’s hard to be a witness to such things and the emptiness that they feel is so powerful!

My family at home is sometimes asked what the status is with my case so I will give an update:  I filed a motion to vacate my guilty plea based on the conditions in which I plead.  The judge has ordered the prosecution to respond to my motion, then my lawyers will be responding to their response prior to the judge deciding on the motion.  It is my hope that I will return home and be allowed a jury trial, or be able to plead without being coerced.  Of course I will keep you all posted on what comes next. Filing the motion was extremely painful for me to relive because the trauma and pain I experienced preceding my guilty plea was intense.  However, I have found peace and purpose in my suffering through serving others and that burden is being lifted.  I realize that I made many mistakes in real estate investing but never the less it was always my desire to let a jury decide weather or not I actually broke the law. My trust in the legal system has been greatly diminished ,to say the least.  I continue to work to have and keep a positive attitude.  I know that my Father in Heaven is in the details of all things, and I have been greatly blessed and comforted through all of this. I am also waiting on an answer from the BOP that would allow me to go to a camp, I don’t know yet what will come of that but I will keep you posted.

My former Bunkie, Karin and I recently started a voluntary support group meeting in the rec yard on Friday nights.  We have 2 twelve step meetings a week and both of them offer points or credit to the women attending.  This means attending will make them look better to their parole officer when they get out.  We call our new meeting, the Dublin you don’t get any points but you might get healthy and happy meeting.   Long name and effective program 🙂  Last week a group of us sat on a cement pad next to the track and went around the circle sharing our burdens and victories with each other and it was so beautiful!  Prison can be a hard place to be vulnerable and share the feelings of your heart. When it was my turn I said, “I can’t really describe the feelings that I have right now but this is a perfect moment that I know I will call sacred one day.”  There was a slight breeze and the weeds were golden, the birds were singing and as the sun went down the razor wire seemed to disappear and I felt truly free. It was a moment of perfection.  I don’t know if I have ever felt more free? Freedom of the heart is powerful and I told the group that I loved them and have so much hope for all of us!” It was a moment that I will always cherish!

Every day I miss the kindness and love I was so freely given to me and my family in our community in Utah.  We really do live in the greatest place on earth! I had another really cool experience last week with the most unlikely of people. I was having a hard time sleeping after our 9:00pm count so I stepped outside the cell to eat a granola bar. My roommates were both asleep and I didn’t want to wake them. My neighbor came out of her cell too and asked me how long I had been in prison. I told her for almost a year and she said, “Is that all? It seems like you’ve been here a lot longer than that! You’ve gotten a lot done in a year.” I laughed and told her no one ever accused me of not getting things done. Then she said “You know you don’t really belong here but I think it’s cool that your here.”  I laughed and said, “Was that supposed to be a compliment?”  She said, “The thing that I like about you Portia is that just being around you makes people feel better about themselves. You don’t really belong here but you fit in really well and it’s cool.”  I told my neighbor that was probably the nicest thing anyone has said to me in prison. This woman and I would probably never cross paths in the free world and even in prison we had a pretty rough start. It was this same woman who was leading the charge a few months ago when I was being bullied. If you would have told me a few months ago that I would be having that conversation with my neighbor I would have laughed but our Father in Heaven is a God of miracles.  As always I am grateful for your love and support.  I have a great deal of love for the women in prison and hope to continue to serve in some capacity even after I get home. Many are desperate for hope and good leadership and it’s an honor to be their friend.