Prisoner #97A6595 aka Michael Alig had every reason to believe that he would be released from prison this month. He had served 14 years on a 10-20 year sentence, completed a six-month mandatory pre-release drug program, and was just waiting to see if his “good time” credits were going to be restored. It was pretty much a done deal. He had even gotten an iPhone, lined up a camera crew to document his return to civilization, and was busy fielding interviews and job offers. Then… well, let’s let him explain what went wrong:
15 october 2010
well so by now youve heard the news. i…honestly, i cant describe the way im feeling right now. sort of…numb, i guess. i knew something bad was about to happen, because on my way to lunch yesterday an officer stopped me in the hall and said, “the superintendent wants to see you after you eat.” the superintendent never meets with inmates one-on-one…unless its something bad. i just knew…it had something to do with my release date.
so after i ate another officer told me to go wait in the gym until they called for me. i sat on the bleachers for about 15 minutes, they called my name and walked me to the mental health office (another not-so-good sign). my therapist was waiting there, and she took me into a back room where, sitting around a table, were my counselor, the superintendent, and the deputy of programs. on the table was a white sheet of paper, folded in half and stapled shut. well, by this point i was expecting the worst.
“its my release date, isn’t it,” i said to my counselor. “its not what I was hoping for.”
my therapist sad, “no, michael, it isnt what you were hoping for. but its not as bad as you may be thinking it is.”
of course, i was scared to un-staple the papers. there were two white sheets filled with all kinds of numbers and dates and abbreviations. shaking, i looked at the second sheet and zoned in on the following sentence: “TAC recommends to restore 6 years of good time. inmate completed drug program. release on new c.r. date for 30 november, 2010 with no further disciplinary reports.”
in other words, they had granted all of my good time back and my date of release was to be next month. in the middle of the sheet were two boxes where the superintendent could either confirm or modify the decision. He had marked “confirm.”
at the bottom of the page were two more boxes, where the state commissioner in albany could either confirm or modify the decision. he checked “modify,” then wrote, “restore 3 yars of good time, making new c.r. date so November, 2012. Schedule for reconsideration in October 2011, with continued positive adjustment.”
in layman’s terms, this means the time allowance committee and the facility superintendent signed off on my release date being next month…but the state commissioner in albany basically vetoed their decision. this is something that happens so rarely, that it wasnt even considered a possibility. everyone in the room was as shocked as i was.
so…thats that. im going to need some time to really process this…before I can say how im feeling. i dont think its completely set in yet, emotionally. i guess im sort of getting used to being disappointed in here. it comes with the territory. theres no real use wallowing in self-pity, and im trying not to. im trying to keep my mind occupied by other things, i just ordered a bunch of new art supplies and esther sent me a few pages of my book yesterday. but every once in a while ill remember something…think of another ramification of me not going home (how am I going to support myself financially for another year? medical situation? what about the documentary? the postcard book? etc, etc)…and ill get a sick, sinking feeling in my gut that turns into a panic attack. i know it sounds crazy and irrational to say that im thinking about killing myself. and of course, im not going to do it. but how can I help but let it enter my mind? i realize ive been here now for nearly fourteen years, so you would think im sort of used to it and that another year wouldnt matter that much. and yet…it does.
Anyway, write me an encouraging letter if you can. Id really like to heard what you think about all of this…