Work and illness

by Linda Field, CCWF
Normally if you work, you can get credit for time served. For every day you work you can get a day off your sentence, earning half-time. Each month you work, you get 2 days of e-time, time you can be excused from work and still be on half-time.
If you are sick, you have to have two things to be excused from work: 1) a lay-in from the doctor and 2) accrued e-time. When you are sick, it takes 3 or 4 days to be ducated to see a doctor or a nurse and you may not be seen even after waiting 3 or 4 or more hours on the day you are ducated. If you do not get a lay-in or do not have enough e-time, the day turns into an A-day, a day not counted towards your 1/2 time, even though you did not work not through a fault of your own.
Thus women with determinate sentences stay longer, some several months, some much longer, than their sentence justifies. And if you have several sick days, they can write you up (give you a 115), by which they can add more time to your sentence or inflict other punishments.
As a lifer, in order to parole you have to have vocation completion, a proof that you have a vocation in which you can get a job on the outside. I studied dental technology for two years. After those two years I found that there is no completion offered. It is only a feeder program for Prison Industry Authoritys dental program to produce partial and full dentures for prisoners. The work for PIA does not count towards a vocation completion. In addition, the prisoners have to pay full outside price for those goods, which we make at very low cost.
When I became very sick, the doctor said I could work one-half time. I asked to work in office services, the only vocation program I can perform with my disability. I was told, we dont do part time. They would not split one full-time position between two prisoners. So they told me they would totally disable me.
In the meantime, there is no way for me to have a vocation certificate. And now, without being able to work at all, I cant get any certificate.

Do prison work regulation conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? We will explore this question in a future issue. -Editors