Second Letter from Nick Sand

Nick Sand 35287-136
F.C.I. Terminal Island
Box 3007
San Pedro, CA 90731

Fall-Winter 1999-2000

Beloved Friends,

This last year of the millennium has drawn to a close here at Terminal Island in a soft and sunny way with cool nights and hot brilliant days. My weight continues to drop and the yoga gets better and deeper. They days, weeks and months pass in a painless blur as I approach the end of my first year here. There have been quite a few changes since my last letter, which have contributed to the delay.

I have been making frequent pilgrimages to the department that monitors sentences to remind them that I need my sentence computation completed. This has been delayed for a variety of reasons but has finally been done. Although I have been in about 3½ years now I have also gotten credit for old jail and prison time which reduces my maximum release date from 2011 to 2007. I have also now received a parole eligibility date of June, 2000.

My work with the roses was appreciated and I also received the meritorious good time award which gives me 3 days a month off my sentence the first year and 5 days a month for subsequent years.

Unfortunately my beautiful rose job outside had to be exchanged for an orderly job in the south yard preferential housing units as this was the only way to get out of "B" unit madness and get a "room" with a "door" and a desk and a nitelight for reading. Hallelujah!! So now I mop, sweep and polish a hallway for 1½ hours every morning. It's definitely a lower vibration job but I live in the south yard where I do yoga and it's much more peaceful and clean and beautiful than the north yard. This gives me space to plan and prepare for parole.

Even though there is a possibility that I will make parole I will not be able to get out due to my 5-year consecutive sentence for bail jumping, but I can ask for parole onto my new law sentence, effectively running them concurrently. This would be very good and possibly reduce my sentence to 2003. The chances for resentencing on the "new law" sentence or an outright dismissal of the charges has risen slightly as the appeals court has asked for oral arguments. The new law sentence has no parole provisions and makes all sentences continue for 85% of the time which in this case reduces a 60-month sentence to 52 months. However, resentencing could reduce the sentence to 12 - 18 months. There is also the drug program which is another 20 months, so there is some hope (of early release).

What militates against parole is the Canadian arrest, which looks bad since I took the maximum sentence to make the Canadian authorities look good, in turn receiving really no sentence at all in Canada, all my jail time credited to my U.S. sentence, and best of all, charges against three close friends dropped. In addition, the U.S. prosecutor has intimated to the court that I lived a life of unremitting crime for the last 20 years. This blank space of 20 years needs to be explained.

I have been working on achieving superior programming status: Good work, no incident reports, etc., etc. I have only to enrol in a course of higher education to complete this. For this I have been attempting to find a PhD program, which would look very good. Superior programming status will make them look twice before denying parole.

My steady devotion to yoga has resulted in a general interest in yoga and I teach it outside and also in the chapel on Tuesdays. The general attitude fostered in here seems to be a divide-and-conquer policy. All the races, nationalities and religions form hostile cliques in one of the mutually exclusive groups. I was told that I would have to make the choice and I stated that I would not. I was told that I would see. I make friends with everyone and greet everyone, even staff, and refuse to reinforce this vindictive illusion of separation. I am respected for this and slowly move through the prison greeting and chatting with everyone, and people of all colors greet me and put out friendly vibes. I have become a warrior of peace and friendliness and it is working. Even some of the toughest, ugliest types stop for a handshake or even a hug! Imagine that! Love works! In actuality, however, it is difficult not to let the cloud of negativity that prevails in society and is magnified greatly in here get one down, and I have to remember LOVE and to practice meditation regularly and remember to BE meditative all the time.

There is a small cadre of peace and love warriors in here, and outsiders say that we have a beneficial effect. The beauty of this situation is the opportunity to walk through this appearance of hell and transform it into heaven; to "see" through the veil of illusion and separation, of devils and violence, and transform it through friendliness into a land of angels. Sometimes, for no real reason, I am subjected to intense hostility and violent threats. I watch the flower of my being fold in on itself defensively and sprout thorns. When I catch my breath and remember what I am here for, I let the thorns melt away, open to LOVE again, beat back my fear and resistance by accepting the situation creatively, and target that person for smiles and greetings. At first I thought I would be thought of as an idiot and be scorned and threatened further, but lo and behold a friendly shy smile and a respectful greeting was the response I received. We seem to live in a prison of negative expectations that everyone is more than happy to leave. Everyone is just waiting for the other person to take the first step ...

Sometimes it seems not to matter how you see it as much as how you look at it ...

Some weeks have gone by now and it is a few days before the full moon and the winter solstice. This has always been a poignant time of year for me as my energy always follows the light and the weather. Today was quite warm and balmy with no wind and a soft hazy sunshine. The last month or two has seen my energy decline and I feel totally lacking in motivation ... sliding down into the trough of the year, wondering, as I surrender to the abyss, if the wave of life will ever lift me up again. Nevertheless, as I float reptilian in this peaceful dark jungle pool recollecting the decades of turbulent and fascinating adventure, screaming down the face of the breaking wave of these last decades of a crescendoing millennium, I find myself grateful for this hiatus in my mythic-heroic journey through the battle of light and dark whose gauntlet I picked up long ago and have never been able to put down. That distant light of truth and love casting its beam on this junk-strewn landscape of mind and modern times has dragged and driven me forward, dredging every last erg of energy to catch that next wave on the journey to silence and nothingness. This is a beautiful moment now alternating between a busy mind and floating in waves of scintillating energy. I have earned my reward of solitude and monasticism. Here, I rest for awhile ... listening to the distant sounds and moaning metallic plaints on this lonely industrial strand, surrounded by the calls of myriad foreign languages of prisoners captured and brought here from every place on Earth to lubricate the cogs of this strange machine.

It is now the middle of January and I survived the solstice and the new year doing lots of yoga, meditation and intense hot sweats in the native sweat lodge here, singing and praying for the realization of Gaia and Everything's interconnectedness. The light returned and the next project of preparing for parole begins.

As I begin to look at the situation here and understand how this system propagates itself I see some underlying principles. Most of the people here are abandoned by their friends and families. Some who are not don't realize what a difference they can make. The bureau of prisons does not like to have much exposure as this is essentially an arbitrary kingdom. Moreover, if they hear nothing from the streets they are not motivated to do much. As I was chatting with the warden last month he suggested that I get letters from influential people. The best would be politicians, congressmen or people on judiciary committees. Next would be doctors, professors and people with media involvement. Finally, for those without these qualifications, and this is quite important, are people who are caring, supportive and loving, who offer assistance, shelter and employment also. If they see this they realize that this person has some outside influence and could be bothersome to them if they act in an arbitrary manner. For example, they are required to respond to letters and inquiries, especially if neglect could result in a reprimand or a law suit. They want to maintain their insularity and invulnerability so if they see a lot of support they are inclined to act in a more responsible way. If they see a situation that could result in their having to do more work they will try to avoid it. It's subtle, but very much there.

In part I am putting this part of my effort to win my parole by asking people in here (prisoners) how they have successfully dealt with parole. Also the warden, and my consultant Lois Franco, who has been doing this work for decades, both as an employee of the B.O.P. and Justice and the parole commission, and lately as a private consultant for people caught in the system who need help in navigating the bureaucratic technicalities. She is a warm and friendly person who is quite able, intelligent and helpful. From her and other sources I have put together an instruction list for people kind enough to write to the parole commission on my behalf. I have finally gotten copies of all the letters written for me and they are quite beautiful. I will send copies of these letters back so that you will have an aid in addition. I beseech your help as this important part of my parole effort could cut my time in prison by as much as 5 years.

There are a number of points that should be included in your letter:

  1. Tell who you are, how you fit into the social matrix. This is a good time to discuss your accomplishments, qualities and social influence through your friends, job, books you have written, etc., etc.
  2. How did we meet and spend time together? What were the general circumstances?
  3. What was I doing during the time you met me and during our friendship?
  4. How did you see me? What kind of a person do you see me as?
  5. Include all the creative activities in which I was involved, my attitude in life, positive actions toward others — helping, loving, non-violent, etc., etc.

Offers of support, a job, a place to live, all would create a powerful impression. I'm sorry I would not be able to accept this in reality as I have that covered but if you can see clear to putting this out where relevant it would be great.

Thank you.

These letters to the parole commission on my behalf should be sent to:

Lois Franco
Criminal Justice Consultant
3555 S. El Camino Real #305
San Mateo, CA 94403, U.S.A.

A copy to me also if it is not too much trouble. I have only just seen copies of your earlier letters a few days ago.

Nicholas Sand 35287-136
Box 3007
San Pedro, CA 90731, U.S.A.

Should you need any further help or advice with questions about this letter you may write to me or call Lois during normal business hours.

   Nick (Pravasi, Ted, David)

P.S. I deeply apologize if this supplication seems demanding. Sometimes one's perspective gets distorted after years of being disconnected. Please help only if you feel inclined to.

Nicholas Sand