From “Guys Night” To “Family Dinner Night” In The Prison Sewing Room  By Ruth Utnage.

For as long as I’ve been here at this prison (over 3 years) the prisons sewing room (where we make quilts for charity! Yay!) has had a Saturday night tradition, Guys Night. I began going to Guys Night about a year ago with my good friends Marshall and Rory and, of course, I’m a girl.

Recently my peers decided to rename Guys Night to Family Dinner Night. This has some meaning to me, besides the obvious sweetness of the gesture as an act of inclusion and love. Let me explain.

Before I fell I made homemade enchiladas with my family once a week or so. Nothing special ingredients wise, simple canned sauce, browned hamburger with a package of seasoning mix, chopped tomatoes and olives, and pounds and pounds of cheese, then more cheese. But everyone took an ingredient around the pan and as a family we made these enchiladas. Then we’d chat in the kitchen or dining room while they baked and then enjoy the fruits of our labor together. It was magical every time. This began as a teenager when I’d bring some stray friend home with me, Mom would make them help if they were going to eat. They loved it. It was magical then too.

In prison I have told my new family about this tradition, how one day we will all be gathered around my table, with not-so-special ingredients to create a pan of enchiladas with so much cheese it should be outlawed and twice as much sour cream. We’ll talk about how we survived this place, how we became better men and women, how we found our very…HumanMe’s in the most unlikely of places, prison.

Here’s to Family Dinner Night with family I’m so blessed to have found.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

I am a transwoman incarcerated at Twin Rivers Correction Center in Monroe, Washington. She has been incarcerated since 2011 and writes for, a concept she started in prison with a mission “To create healthy communities by educating leaders how to recognize, embrace, and empower those who have chosen to positively change and/or rehabilitate in spite of all forms of incarceration”. This is my raison d’etre.

Contact Info:

Jeff aka Ruth Utnage 823469 C-601-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

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