Monday, October 26, 2015

Rehabilitation for prisoners is a communial effort. It is not always so simple as lock them up and when they are ready to reform they will find the tools that they need to do so. Everyone in the world has done something illegal and against the standards of society. Hence the term 'skeletons in the closet', everyone has them...what are yours?

In here we have lots of potential for support. Not everyone who works for DOC is a person who cares about our rehabilitation. In fact when I got to Stafford Creek one of the first things I heard from a person I have to deal with regularly is "I am not your friend". With this kind of mentality we are left to deal with ourselves on our own. It is made abundantly clear to all of us that rehabilitation is our sole responsibility. Some make it, some don't.

I don't necessarily disagree with the belief that my future is up to me, in fact, I would completely agree with that. Truth be told, no one is going to stop me fom being a productive citizen, my past mistakes are horrible, but does that mean that I have to live like that forever? Does that mean that any of you would want that? NO! You want me to "recover", you need me to be rehabilitated, not for just mine or your sakes, but because it's the right thing to do. 

None of us are defined completely by our mistakes. We make mistakes and then we learn from them. What then can you do? What is your responsibility? 

There are men and women in prison who are utterly convinced that they want to be better people, then we reach out to those nearest to us. Staff, family, friends etc. What we are looking for isnt handouts, but support. We need your encouragement and your love. We need to express gratitude and affection and humility. Not everyone in here is going to be reachable, some prisoners just want to waste away in themselves...there's just not alow we can do about them, but realistically, they are fewer then you think.

Many men just dont know how to take the first step, we need someone to simply tell us "you got this, it's going to be ok". For me personally, my goals in life are to be a waiter in a bar or restaurant and to just interact with people. My dreams consist of waiting tables and drawing portraits, maybe someday i'll be able to get my work into the Smithsonian Portrait gallery?! Here's hoping! We all have dreams and goals, fid the people that are ready to achieve them on their own and simply need a little smile while we journey. 

Your smiles and support could mean the difference between a life in prison and instability or positive success. We make the choices and it sure would be nice if someone else felt we were worth the effort.

Thank You!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I remember when I was a free man I went to a bar with my now ex-wife. We went there and met this couple, the husband seemed to be a very happy man who was content to simply follow his wife's lead. While the wife was a dominant personality, she was boisterous and funny and very outgoing. But she wasn't pushy, she was very opinionated and sure of herself.

While we were drinking and making small talk she asked me to describe me. I wasnt real sure what to say, I didn't have a clue. I went with the usual "i'm a redneck from Nebraska". What she said next surprised me she said "bullshit" simply and frankly. I looked at her husband and raised an eyebrow and smiled. He sheepishly looked down and finished his beer.

I wasn't real sure how to take it. Inside I was fuming, but deeper still, I admired her and wanted to shout out that she was right. I was unhappy and I hated the traditional sense of masculinity. Instead, I looked down at me bib overalls, my dirty work boots and my thick hands and laughed at her. She smiled back and said "your probably gay" she said it so matter of factly, so sure of herself. She went on to tell me that she was so sure of her assesment that she new for a fact that I wasn't happy being the man I was.

She stirred up some real emotion in me that night. I ended up breaking my car window out just to assert to myself that I was a man and not some silly fag pretending to play house.

How far i've come since that night. What I appreciate about that memory is that there was at least one person in this world that wanted to know who I was really. She was relentless in wanting to know who I was and no answer I was giving her was good enough. Mainly I believe that she sensed a big insecurity in me and wanted to root it out. Who knows, but I haven't forgotten her since.

Maybe she was just simply drunk and abrasive, maybe she was a vessel God took over for a few hours to try and talk some sense into me before I got drastic or maybe I got drunk and dreamt the whole thing (although, my window was in fact broken and I did meet them in the following there! I'm not that nuts! LOL!) regardless, when I meet people I do something similar. 

I want to know the real person, the person you were intended to be. Driven, sincere, nice, honest and sure of yourself. That's the people I want around me, people who are demanding of the truth in all it's beautiful forms.

I am a man who once was dead and useless, until I wasn't. I love my LGBTQ family, and I know that one day you will all love me too.

With Love,

Your Brother in Chains
Jeff Utnage 

Feel free to write me at 

Jeff Utnage 823469
Stafford Creek Correction Center
191 Constantine Way
Aberdeen, WA 98520


You can write me by finding my name and DOC# on add yourself to my contact list and i'll write you.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Born For Adversity

Born For Adversity:

What happens when every door you try to walk through closes in your face? Well, in short, we keep going. There is a part of us as LGBTQ family that is almost uniquely designed for adversity. It is almost like we were specifically designed to withstand trauma. We are born with a target on our backs. I have heard it said that only the strong survive...we certainly fit the bill. 

We come out of the womb as a curiosity for those who do not understand homosexuality or Gender Identity divergents. It is like we are this strange fruit that humanity is trying to discover all the facts about. I imagine scientists with all these theories gathered around a well lit office meeting room with all their different clinical views posted up for all to see. Meanwhile, the subject is forgotten. While humanity is "discovering" us, we are still living, breathing and feeling human beings. 

Since I have submitted my proposal at my correctional center I have ran into a laundry list of different attitudes about it. Some are enthusiastic because they believe in equality, some are enthusiastic because they think it will never happen while others are completely against it. 

The good news about this, we were born for this. I am uniquely designed to overcome. I wasnt true to myself my whole life, scared to death to come out of the closet and just be who I was born to be, a homosexual male. I am proud of this fact. Not being true to myself and my genetic differences caused me to be a very dark man. The minute I became true to my identity, my entire life changed. I will never go back to the weak and stiffled man I was and I will forever persevere against inequality. Why? Because option "B" doesnt exist... My only true choice is to march forward and onward, right into the storm. Face it head on because that's what we do. We face adversity, because when we allow others to stiffle and supress your true self, you create victims. Even if the only victim you create is yourself, this is a tragedy. The world needs you. It needs your energy and vitality and aura and vibrancy. I need you...

Never give up, when the place your in shuts the door, keep knocking. Try different knocks, different doors. Get others to knock with you...

Knock with me. We were born for this. 

Your Brother In Chains,

Jeff Utnage

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


SUBMITTED: 6-15-2015
LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS Peer Support & Education Group:


Having a sexuality or gender identity divergent from the norm can be difficult under any circumstances, not to say anything about the life altering prospects of contracting a potentially fatal immunodeficiency disease. Inside prison, however, one's experience with these kinds of challenges can be especially difficult, which can lead to emotional turmoil at least or even complete disruption of one's life at worst. Even the best case scenario could lead to diminished likelihood of success upon release, which is adverse to what should be the preeminent penalogical objective: rehabilitation. That is why a group where 
individuals among the LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS positive community could engage each other therapeutically and educationally is called for.
In a nutshell, these groups would convene up to once a week and begin with a few short, prepared remarks about an
educational/therapeutic topic of interest (see list under *Topics). This would be followed by group discussion centered around the topic transitioning into an open discussion moderated by the group's sponsor and/or chosen participant (see * under Notes). During the group no one would be compelled to contribute to any of the discussions. Pertinent literature (i.e. books, pamphlets, leaflets covering topics such as PREA, safe sex practices [to be clear, inmate relations will always be strongly discouraged generally in the group, however, most attendees will have release dates and so safe sex practices in the "free world" will be touched on], hygiene, disease prevention/maintenance, therapeutic topics, etc.) will be made available. Fifteen minutes before each meeting adjourns we would allow everyone to finish up or make any last minute additions or suggestions for future meetings. 

Rules & Restrictions:
*Must not have been CONVICTED of a Prison Rape or Strong Arming within the last five years. (Hopefully, this will deter potential predators from joining the group.)
*The group will be open to anyone who would like to participate, not just the GBTQ & HIV/AIDS community. (We hope this will encourage openmindedness through exposure and education.) 

Group Purpose:
The group will provide emotional support to the LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS positive community within prison and encourage beneficial, healthy behaviors through peer education and continued peer support. 
Individual members of this community may feel isolated which could lead to crisis. Access to peers in a safe, monitored, group environment may serve to prevent crises by connecting these individuals to a support system that may be able to help them recover. Because the LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS positive community is unique and faces 
correspondingly singular challenges it is necessary to broach topics not otherwise addressed. Tough and emotionally challenging topics will be regularly discussed for the amelioration of the whole community. The desired end is that men will gain a better sense of their identity and as a result will be able to appropriately handle adverse situations. Men equipped with healthy emotional responses to their day-to-day lives can only benefit and compliment any former and/or current available cognitive programming that addresses prison recidivism.
Being isolated and unable to express ourselves can be psychologically damaging. The availability of a peer support group where we all have a common tie will allow for healthy and safe expression of our identities.

Group Structure:
The initial structure is planned to be very basic and loose. This is intentional so wr can practically determine a solid format, though we are highly confident that in its current plan it will be valuable and productive. This plan entails: a one-hour block of group discussion on a topic, allowing for discussions of personal experiences and advice on how to cope and deal with certain experiences followed by around an hour of open discussion. At the end of each group a topic from the list will be given (or chosen by forum) for the next group, a short lecture (usually taken directly from the literature and only long enough to engender ideas for discussion; discussion being promoted but never required) will be prepared (or retrieved) , then given the following group. Continual attempts will be made by the sponsor/moderator to educate the attendees on positive & healthy behaviors as outlined by literature approved by SCCC medical staff. 
The curriculum is intended to be ongoing to stay on top of 
political/social/scientific/medical developments. It will also revolve to deal with the anticipated high turnover rate that will render any formal, linear curriculum impractical. A list of core topics will be kept and added to at the suggestion of group members. We do want to allow some leeway for experimentation as well as additional small, subtle format changes to keep the group alive as an ongoing, continually improving process and reflection of its current members' interaction styles, while always retaining the bare bones formal structure (as formalized in this document or any future proposals) that can be taught and handed down to subsequent facilitators for future groups.
The initial sponsor (see *notes) will more than likely not lead the group. However, the hope is that a permanent sponsor will be located who will be available to host group meetings regularly, eliminating the need for inmate facilitators. Of great importance to our cause are the significant benefits to an inmate-led group discussion, such as openness and trust. This is proven with other current successful groups that are still used currently. They are highly successful with breaking trust and empathy barriers, especially when DOC staff is present.
During open discussion, on weeks when a participant volunteers, a segment called "My Story" will be allotted time. During this period, the volunteering group member will be able to share elements of his life experience relating to contracting HIV/AIDS or being LGBTQ, coming to terms with these facts, and/or coming out to friends and family and how these have impacted his life. This could provide a way to tie the group together emotionally, promote awareness and compassion, allow a person the chance for some catharsis. It could take the difficult topics one cannot usually share with the straight community and immediately bring them to the surface. We think this will allow a courageous 
participant to own up to a past that may have otherwise remained repressed and internally malignant.

Sex, PREA reporting and education, disease control and prevention, gender identity, LBGTQ definitions, stigmas, spirituality, resource availability, mentoring, cellmate relations (non-sexual, obviously there will be no advocating/condoning sexual relations between inmates), family, drug and emotional dependency, self esteem, self acceptance, how to ask for help, when to get additional support, ostracism, social treatment, other topics as they arise.

Other Items Of Concern:
CALLOUT: To protect the anonymity of the attendees the call-out should read "educational programming" or something equally unidentifiable. It should be note that we expect this to changed over time to a formal name as dictated by the facility climate and increased
awareness/comfort of the inmate population.
PROMOTION: The promotion of the group could be multi-faceted: word of mouth, a single page flyer on the bulletin boards, a facility 
memorandum entry, and an update to the unig counselors and mental health staff should suffice. Counselors and mental health staff are often the first staff to know of an inmate's sexuality or identity and/or related struggles. If they are informed about the group theh can pass thay on to the inmates on their caseloads at their discretion. 
SAFETY & SECURITY: All attempts will be made to thwart any efforts by participants to organize inside and outside of the group for any other reason than peer support or other items outlined in this proposal. This group will not be used as a conduit for the formation and/or meeting of any security threat group. Members will be asked to leave immediately
if there is any suspicion that they are interested in the group for those purposes.

For additional information and/or questions please contact:
Jeff Utnage #823469 
H-3-A-20-U Stafford Creek Corrections Center Aberdeen, WA

>We have secured a provisional sponsor, INFORMATION REDACTED, who will act as moderator/observer until a more appropriate (by which we mean outside) replacement is approved. Said sponsor will be there to ensure the safety and security of the institution and inmates is not comprimised. Said sponsor will not be offering mental health advice or counsel and will operate within the parameters and guidelines
prescribed by DOC/SCCC.
>Jeff Utnage #823469 will be the facilitator until an outside sponsor is comfortable and capable of facilitating.

Thank you for your consideration!

Friday, October 2, 2015


Do you know what that looks like? Have you ever stared hatred in the face and understood that you are powerless to change their mind? In here I am a circus freak, a side show that bigot minded men can't help but stare at. I know they hate my confidence. They talk to each other about how I don't know my place. The truth about hate is ugly and its not dead. What they all fail to realize is that I do know my place, right beside them. 

The LGBTQ community is among the most hated today in and out of prison. The difference is that in prison I have nowhere to go but the hole for protection. I cant just walk away, leave. I have to smile, excuse myself non-aggressively and walk away leaving them satisfied with public ridicule just to protect myself. 

Hatred has many faces my friends. Its crafty, a formidable foe. I deal with it as many before me have. There simply is not another choice but to understand that I cannot change, my nature is a homo-sexual man. The truth is I can deny my nature, and believe me when I say it led me here. I have changed my unhealthy and negative ways and taken full responsibility for my actions. Those who hate want me to live under that tyranny for ever, I refuse. One day I will be free, when I am free I will NOT be that pitiable, selfish and hateable monster they all want me to be.

I am not my past and neither are you. I am worthy of love, so are you. We have been down some dark roads haven't we? Yet we don't even know each other. Know that when I am hated I look to you and smile. Know that you can too. Smile back brothers and sisters because we are pretty, and smiling defies hate. You defeat hate with love. I love you all.

In prison there is a distinct lack of support for the gay community. We are seen as a cancer, a disease to be cured. We are separated and it is just assumed that where we are promiscuity and dishonor are as well. I have been trying to organize a very basic support group and it is being ignored. I have had to fight these very preconceived notions from the start. In fact, some staff still laughs at the idea of a LGBT support group. As if our concerns are tiny compared to theirs. 

Do not neglect those in prison. One day we will be out, among you and you should hope to God that we received help. This is a way to help each other in a very deep rooted level, emotional support. When we take the time to address ourselves among our own, we tend to not be sleeping around or drug addicts. We want to be positive resources for our communities, at least I do. I am fighting for my future and I want to fight for my communities future. In here is the front lines, it is still acceptable to segregate, men still glory in hatred here. 

A simple way to help, a support group. Yet its so scary that I am ignored. Can anyone help? I've written the mayor, all staff at my prison have heard my requests, yet I am forgotten. 

Please help, I am not giving up on me. I am worth investment because I won't allow my community to suffer. I will continue to fight for us in here for rehabilitation. Because we all deserve it. It will start with men seeking support from one another in a positive and healthy environment and manner. Which a basic support system that meets regularly we can identify our needs and address them systematically. What is so scary about that. DOC (Department of Corrections) does not know how to help us. So I will help them identify our unique circumstances and challenges...GASP! I know, its unbelievable I care and am unwilling to submit to failure or our current topic: hate. 

Thank you for listening. 

Your brother in chains,

Jeff Utnage

Feel free to contact.