Oct. 11, 2012

Hello Everyone

by Donald Tinsley (author's profile)



"Hello Everyone",

Today is August 30th and all is well here in the joint. I'm gonna start my first blog pg off by talking a little bit about the prison that I'm at right now. I'm in a very mellow prison called CMC, California Men's Colony. It's a real old CA prison. It's a prison that's very hard for any inmate to get to. I did the first 13 years of my life sentence at a place called Pelican Bay, which I'll tell you all about later. For now though, I'll tell you how it's been here for me since I got here.

I got to CMC on March 26th of 2009. The day I got off the bus from Pelican Bay they took my $90.00 dollar Nike shoes from me because they were the color black. They told me that CMC inmates were not allowed to wear shoes that were black. My options were to donate, send them home at my expense or simply just throw them in the trash.

I let the asshole guard have them. He then disposed of them. He then gave me a pair of flip flops, shower shoes/sandal type and then walked me across the prison yard to a dirty cell with no power in it.

For 3 days I sat in my cell while the guards brought me my food and escorted me to the shower. On the 4th day several guards came to my cell with a sgt. They pulled me out, took me to a small holding area for questioning. The first thing they did was ask me my name and prison # number. Then they made me take off all of my clothes, cavity check. They then checked all my tattoos for gang tattoos, which I have none. I don't believe in gangs.

I was allowed to get dressed and then asked was I going to attack anyone at CMC or was I going to keep my hands to myself and program here. I said I would act right. They had to ask me these questions due to the prison I came from and the charges I'm in prison for. Again, I assured them that I would be a good little convict, that they wouldn't have any problems out of me.

The guards told me that if I attacked anyone at their prison that they would put me in the Hole and ship me back to Pelican Bay and no one wants that. Later that day I was allowed to go to the yard. When I first got out to the yard I was watched very very carefully by all staff.

There were 2 inmates here that I knew from Pelican Bay. They gave me some coffee, soaps, toothpaste and writing paper. These items were to get me by till I was given my property that I brought with me from Pelican Bay. A few days went by and I was given my property. My TV, cosmetics etc. That night I was moved to a cell with power, which was a relief. I could now plug in my TV and start to get comfortable here at CMC.

When I got my new cell I was given my own key to my cell door. In all of the years I have done time I had never seen a prison where you had a key to your cell. I couldn't believe it, I could actually get in and out of my cell without asking or waiting on a guard to open it. After I cleaned up my cell, disinfected the walls, toilet etc then put my property away, hooked up my TV, that's when I started to feel comfortable.

After I got my cell hooked up the way I liked it, I went and got a package form to mail home to my family. I'm allowed 4 30 pound packages a year. My brother/sister in law orders me their packages. I have been in prison for 19 years, going on 20, and my family has always sent me my packages. They are the best family anyone could ever ask for. I'm very grateful, blessed. I love them with all of my heart.

That night I filled out my package form with the items I needed first then the ones I wanted. I got the form and a letter out in the mail that night. When you get to a prison yard one of the first thing you do is order your package so when you get it you will have your own stuff and won't have to ask for a free hand out. No one in prison likes someone who just asks for coffee etc for free, it's just not cool.

Around a week after I got to CMC, I got my package from home. Now it was time to go find me a cell mate. Before staff just puts anyone in my cell. The search was quick, I met a guy named Scot. He is an artist, an amazing artist at that, he done my profile pg on this blog. Scot is a lifer like myself. So we both have that in common. He also has "been down", locked up for 13 years and so he knows how to do time.

You see, my friends, when you choose a cell mate in prison you must choose very wisely. He is the person who you need to trust with your life. After all, he could cut your throat while you're sleeping so you might want to pick a cellie who you can trust. I was real lucky getting Scot for my cellie. He has turned out to be one of the best cell mates I've ever had.

Throughout this post I will talk a lot about Scot due to he is a big part of my life. Before I go on about CMC, I want everyone to know that I've lived with Scot for 3 years now. When you get a good cellie in prison you keep him if possible. It makes both of your lives at least bearable in here.

The first couple of years here I didn't have a job due to the inmate custody level. What that means is if you have a lot of years to do they make you a certain custody level. I'm Class B custody, which means I'm not to be trusted in their eyes. I'm not to be trusted to work in certain areas of the prison. All of the good jobs with inmate pay go to inmates who have the short prison sentences.

When I did get a job it was a janitor job - no pay. Although I'm in a good prison to do time at, they won't allow me a decent job with pay. After 2 1/2 years here I got a job on the yard crew. That is a very bad job. I pick up trash, dump trash for $2 a month. Here is the worst part though. When I was sentenced to life the judge also gave me restitution. That means that the prison takes 55% of any pay I get for working in prison. And if anyone sends me $ from the streets the prison will take 55% of that as well - so I won't have anyone send me $. I won't allow the state of CA to take over half of any $ that's sent to me.

So far CMC is the best prison I've ever been at but they won't give me a good job. There is hardly no violence here and I really like that but I wish I could get a job with decent pay. When I tell you about my time at Pelican Bay then you'll see how good I have it here at CMC. There is a few bad things about CMC. The cells we live in are so small that you wouldn't believe it. The cells are like 7"12, imagine that? Oh yea, 2 men live in this small area.

There is a lot of high profile prisoners who have been here for years. Some of the famous Manson Family were here. They send like CA sheriffs who get sentenced to prison. Judges, politicians, people like that. It's easy time here, people. This place is different from your normal joint. There isn't any politics which is like there's basically no one running other inmates.

You can do your time here and no one else will tell you you have to do your time the way they say to do it. I'll explain more in detail when I tell you about my time at PBSP, Pelican Bay State Prison. Look, people, this is my first blog post and it's already 6 pages so let it be 6 and I will write more later.

Talk to you later



Replies (12) Replies feed

iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 8 years, 7 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
wow speachless, I can't wait to read more Donnie, thanks for sharing!

Jess from Florida!

Donald Tinsley Posted 8 years, 5 months ago.   Favorite
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iThinkB4uAct1981 Posted 7 years, 10 months ago. ✓ Mailed 7 years, 10 months ago   Favorite
Donnie: I apologize as I have not been back online for a LONG TIME! You responded to my comment on 11/07/12... SORRY FOR THE DELAY! I haven't read the rest of your posts but I plan on catching up on them tonight when I get home. (I am at work right now)

I couldn't imagine living a life where I have to LITERALLY watch my back 24-7... being in fear of getting brutally attacked or killed. That is so scary. That sucks that you had to go through that! To always have to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut??! Really? What a powerful statement. Makes me realize how good I have it. Here I have been in a bad mood at work for the past 2 days... upset because I am having issues with my boss. Then I read your response and boy does it put things into perspective! My issue seems petty compared to the shit you have been through! Yikes! Praying for you homie!

Yours Truly,


Donald Tinsley Posted 7 years, 8 months ago.   Favorite
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Anne Posted 6 years ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 12 months ago   Favorite
Hi Donnie!
I was actually reading your last post, but it seems like you have so much to tell so I found that I needed to start reading at your very first post to get a clue about your time behind the bars. So that's why I comment on this old post of yours. Hope you don't mind. :-)
That being said, I will read through every post - it's kinda like a diary, or a book, and I can't even imagine how you manage to get through every day without going crazy.
Please keep on writing, expressing your thoughts and feelings are a healthy way of easing your mind. I will follow. :-)

Donald Tinsley Posted 5 years, 5 months ago.   Favorite
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Anne Posted 5 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
Hey there Donnie!
Oh my god, your answer to me was posted Nov.9! I'm living in Europe, but I probably could have walked it faster by myself! haha. ;-)

Well, I have to admit that I haven't got to read every post of yours, as I'm having some health issues which stops me lifting my phone. I couldn't find that you're having access to emails via JPay either.
Wow, 22 years is quite some time! I'm crossing my fingers (and toes.. tehee) that this elderly parole bill passes, it's about time something is done about this. But I so hope that you're doing ok, despite where you're at, and that you manage to stay strong and positive. I'll keep you in my prayers! Never give up! :-)


Anne Posted 5 years, 5 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
Oh, hello again - I forgot to say that I did check your friends blog. He haven't posted anything lately, latest was actually Dec 2014 - but you're absolutely right, he has some really awesome art work! I'm just saying WOW!!


Donald Tinsley Posted 5 years, 3 months ago.   Favorite
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Anne Posted 5 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 5 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hi there Donnie, and thank you for getting back at me. And a Happy New Year! lol :-)
I was surprised that it took so long to get an answer from you, but that's ok anyway - I think Between The Bars are doing a great job no matter what, even it takes a long time. Lots of inmates are posting to this site, and Between The Bars are just a company with volunteers that are doing this on their free time outside their jobs, family and whatever. I mean, at least they're doing something for you inmates - it's quite awesome. It's a way for you to reach out to the outer world, and without this you wouldn't had anything. Some inmates even have an email option, how awesome isn't that?! Well, unfortunately, I found that California is one of the state's that does not have this option, among a few other states - too sad actually. But I'll try to get back at you when I'm able to.
I'm sorry, english is not my language, so please apologize if my spelling is wrong or if the sentences are looking weird.. hehe, hopefully you'll understand what I mean anyway.
You take good care now and keep your head high! :-)


Donald Tinsley Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.   Favorite
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Donald Tinsley Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.   Favorite
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