The requests from offenders have multiplied in the last week or so. Many of the requests are from people who have been gone for a while and are now back because they violated their community custody (aka parole). Things have changed since they were last here.
#1 request: "Please send me some Thanksgiving cards. I need 10 for my family and girlfriends." The chapel doesn't do cards anymore, I have to tell them. Order them from store--where, it's reported, they get lousy cards.
#2: "Please send me an address book. I don't want a piece of paper. I want an address book." Okay, truth is, we've been out of address books for a couple of weeks, so my solution was to make up a sheet of paper with address labels on it so people could at least collect all their information in one place. Once we got the address books back in, they could just transfer the stuff.
#3: "I want a rosary cross to wear, please." Do you want a rosary (with beads, cannot be worn) or a cross (wooden, can be worn). They are two separate items. Please indicate your preference.
#4: "My counselor isn't talking to me. I need to see you NOW ASAP." You and about 50 other folks. Take a number. Get in line. (Okay, I don't really say that, but there are moments.)
This one took the cake today: "I am an atheist. I do not believe in any religion. I notice that some of the food we are served here is kosher. You are infringing on my rights and forcing me to follow the practice of a religion I don't believe in. I want a diet with non-kosher foods. Please make this happen NOW." At least he said please. I wrote him back that I'd see him on Sunday and discuss his diet issues.
I was asked to review a Safety Plan and Calendar for the Holiday Season today as well. Sigh. Although the document was labeled "2008" none of the dates matched what was on the calendar. There were events listed that aren't happening this year, events that happened last year and no one has said they want to do them again this year, and somehow my name was on the spot that said, "Will provide inspirational thoughts and stories for the season." I think my first posting will be the list of 125+ friends and relatives of offenders who have died since January 1, 2008, with the note, "Be grateful you're on this side of the grass today."