Life in Prison

Prison is a huge profit center, but who actually reaps those profits remains a mystery to me.  Taxpayers foot most of the bill which pays to house offenders, feed, clothe, and to cover material costs associated with medication and treatments.   On average it costs $30,000 per year to house a health offender.  In Virginia, there are roughly 30,000 to 40,000 men and women behind prison walls, with about 15,000 being women.  Most people say offenders have it made in prison, as the saying goes “3 hots and a cot”.  This statement couldn’t be farther from the truth! For facts about Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women click here.

I get asked a lot about my life in prison.  Mostly about what goes on in here that people on the outside wouldn’t know.  I also get asked about my release date.  I wanted to use this website not to just talk about my conviction, but also as a platform to tell what really goes on behind the walls of a Virginia women’s state prison.  Most people associate prison life with “Orange is the New Black”.  “Orange is the New Black” portrays glamor and freedom that’s not a true reflection of what goes on in prison.  Federal prisons referred to as “club feds” are known for housing white collar criminals like high ranking officials.  They receive better medical care, food, more freedom and for less time than state prisoners.  Had most of the state offender’s charges been elevated to federal charges, most would have already been released.  The U.S. houses more offenders than any other country.  When you’re convicted and sentenced in other countries, those prisons help offenders learn skills they need to survive once they’re released.  The sentences received by offenders in other countries are far less than those handed down in the U.S.  Second chances are afforded to almost everyone, even those convicted of murder.  This is not the case in the U.S., especially when it comes to a Commonwealth state, like Virginia.

For instance, I was sentenced to life without parole, yet many people ask me, “When is your release date?”

The easiest way to explain the sentence I received is to compare it to the death penalty.  The difference between the death penalty and life without parole is, the death penalty provides your date and time of death and a sentence of life you wait to die.

So many agree that giving life to a person who acted in self-defense of my son is excessive when compared to those who commit acts of violence in cold blood and receive less time.

I’m appalled that the State of Virginia holds less regard for children who are beaten, poisoned and murdered than the abusive men who beat children and women, where the woman acts in self-defense of herself and her children.

Wouldn’t you rather live next door to a woman who took a life of an abusive man over a woman who murdered her own children or someone else’s?

Living in prison is a struggle each day.

I have had the same job for the last 5 years and receive about $48 per month.  I am responsible for paying for my medication, doctor, dental and eye visits, personal hygiene, stamps, paper, pens, clothing, phone calls and email to stay in touch with loved ones, and food outside the 3 meals provided.  As you can imagine I never have enough to cover what I need.

From the commissary inmates receive on a weekly basis:

  • 2 rolls of toilet paper
  • 1 bar of soap containing lye

Everything else must be purchased from the commissary by the inmate themselves.

Commissary Price List 1

Commissary Price List 2

The property the inmates receive on a weekly basis:

  • 2 sheets
  • 1 pillow case
  • blankets are replaced every 4 months

The following items are exchanged to each offender quarterly are:

  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 3 chambray shirts
  • 3 panties
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 3 bras
  • 1 towel
  • 1 washcloth
  • 1 pair of shoes (with no support)

Everything else must be purchased from the property department.

Personal Property Order Form


Could you live on $48 a month?

-God Bless


Please read the article below detailing the long term effect of incarceration and place yourself in Donna’s shoes.

Long Term Effects of Incarceration

The article below references implications for people who experience post-prison placement.  Very enlightening.

Implications for Post Prison Placement

Miscellaneous Documents Relating to Prison Life and Its Struggles, Legally and Otherwise

Judge Resigns After Rape Accusation

Michigan Lifers Report

Preventing Eyewitness Error

Exploring Connection Between Brain Injury and Criminal Behavior

Misc articles relating to Prison Legal News