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What does this picture of my breakfast have to do with the legal system?

This morning my wife and I were supposed to be on the road early to visit our daughter. She's incarcerated (re-incarcerated) at Rockville Correctional Facility (RCF), an Indiana Department of Corrections (IDOC) prison in Rockville, Indiana. Rockville is a 3-1/2 hour drive from our home in Kosciusko County. We've been through this before. Our daughter was transferred there in 2018 and pandemic aside, from late 2018 through October 2021 every other Thursday we made the 7-hour round trip. It allowed us to spend 2 hours visiting our daughter in person; to hug her, hold her hand, look into her eyes, talk, laugh, and cry - to be together again. It was our natural flow and routine. Our daughter didn't just look forward to these visits, they were therapeutic, affirming, and life-giving for her. She is a person who battles bipolar, ADHD, OCD, and PTSD. She self-medicated with alcohol. It's how she got to Rockville the first time and is how she ended up back there.

Which brings me to my breakfast today. This picture was not taken on the road somewhere between Leesburg and Rockville. Tt was taken near our home at the Oswego MiniMart and Cafe where my wife and I had breakfast because we could not visit Kayla today. Our schedules did not suddenly shift. We did not change our minds. We learned late last night a new procedure is in place to schedule visits and we had not gone online to schedule ours. Most people would say, that rests with us. Ultimately yes it does; we should have asked a lot more questions and made the assumption the prison system will always do its best to make things hard on the families of the incarcerated. We've experienced this with our daughter and see it daily in our work here at LITE.

The cruelty of intentionally making it tough to communicate and visit with your loved one is systemic and pervasive. County jails and state prisons alike demonstrate this is not a mistake, oversight, error, or miscommunication. We can argue about the methods our country uses to punish rather than rehabilitate offenders; you won't win, because if you think what we're doing works, you're flat wrong. But I will let you give your incorrect opinion on the matter and be (somewhat) respectful. Where we're all likely to agree is that the loved ones of those convicted of a crime suffer enough. They should not also be punished. To visit an incarcerated person, you have to wait until their intake period is complete; the first time our daughter was at Rockville this took a month and this time it took three. Once the intake period is complete, you submit a visitor's application (more on this below), authorize IDOC to conduct a nationwide background check, and wait. Not for the prison to notify us, but for the prison, through a case worker, to notify your loved one. The inmate then passes along the facility's determination. We learned we were approved two weeks ago and found a day (today) that my wife and I could be gone almost all day. We were so excited. The last time we saw our daughter in person and could hug her was in August 2023.

Kayla was excited. Counting down the days to when she would see us helped calm the mania generated by the bipolar. It gave her something to look forward to, hope, and brightened her days. Nobody mentioned to her that visits had to be scheduled online now. We had to complete a paper application and submit it by mail directly to our daughter's Case Worker. This was the very same form we completed back in 2018. In fact, the copies we had to complete had been copied so many times they were difficult to read. The instructions said nothing about using an app or portal once we were approved to visit. Had we not logged on the IDOC website to confirm visiting hours and dress code we learned of the online scheduling requirement. We were crushed.

And so, this morning we had time to go out for breakfast. While our daughter sits and wonders what time we will be there to visit.

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