Letters from New Folsom Prison: 21 days of ASU



Sunrise January 15, 2017 by Emelia

Sean spent 21 days at New Folsom Prison where he was kept for court. The following are excerpts from his letters.

January 10 2017

“I just never thought I would miss Corcoran. New Folsom doesn’t have a “good yard” where I can go to so I have to be in ASU. (Administrative Segregation Unit) Unfortunately this is the safest place for me to be right now. Being in ASU where they keep the bad people is not meant for me. I am not made for prison. It just sucks. I have been able to survive because I’ve never had to spend a lot of time in bad places. At Corcoran knew I could call you. Hearing your voice brings me such comfort. All I want to know is if they will allow me to see you this weekend!

I don’t like my cell, I don’t feel comfortable here. Compared to Corcoran it’s not good. Even the worst yard at Corcoran isn’t that bad compared to the yards here, but I am safe. I am so grateful that I am not on a yard that is bad. My cell is literally a concrete box with two concrete bunks, a tiny concrete desk, and two windows in the door. There is no outside window, which I am sad about because I was looking around outside and seeing how nice it is. I was hoping for a good view.

I don’t know how these guys live like this. They seem to enjoy this lifestyle and they sound crazy. They yell a lot in communication with each other. They talk about seriously violent stuff like it’s normal, or something to be proud of and they sound happy. It’s so twisted and I don’t like it. I don’t ever want to be around people like this. Gang people are messed up and it’s sad they cannot see it.

I liked seeing real world things as I rode the bus up here. I was on the left side of the bus though and couldn’t see the road signs so I didn’t really know where I was. But I had a good view out the left side. When we got on Highway 50 I began recognizing things I remembered. I saw the sign for Broadway and knew you were close. I prayed and said I love you. I saw where the trees open and you can see Lake Natomas just before Folsom Blvd. Then we started taking weird streets to get here and I didn’t recognize any of it. It was a weird feeling. Then I saw this place and just seeing it felt completely different than Corcoran. Corcoran is a prison but this place is a serious prison. Leading to each yard from the outside the fence they have “bunker” style entrances. ”

January 11, 2017

“This morning I just stayed in bed. I didn’t want to get up. There is a depressing feeling in this place and it felt better just to stay under my blankets. Part of me just wants to crawl back into my blankets and continue to ignore life right now in this place that always feels like night. The medical guy gave me a simple calendar  which was nice, I could easily see losing perspective on time in a place like this.

The only real comfort I find is in writing you. Knowing you’ll get my words in a couple of days. Knowing I am not alone in the world because I have you. I am pretty tired but I don’t want to stop writing you because it brings me comfort.

I just feel so alone in this cell. There is no one to talk to, nowhere to go, I can barely see the sky. I understand that some real bad violent inmates may need to be kept like this at times but I do not like it one bit.”

January 12, 2017

“I have a little radio now and I am listening to our country station. Music is healing. And now I know what time it is because there is a little clock built into it. I had to get the accurate time from a news station but now at least I know the time. I feel time slipping away in here. It is hard to describe. It’s hard to stay focused on a task. I just don’t like this place, it’s a depressing place to be. I don’t like feeling so isolated in this cell, it makes me feel bad. It makes me feel scared and worried.

It feels like it is constantly night time here, the ‘sky light’ doesn’t let much light in at all. Or at least I believe it’s a skylight; it’s only humane to let us know when the sun is out. It’s also cloudy most of the time which doesn’t let much sun through. I feel like I just want to curl up and go back to sleep in those gross blankets.

The food here is better than Corcoran’s. I haven’t been left hungry yet, I am getting enough food. I was told I could not bring anything with me, but it turns out I could have. I wish I had brought my thermal, some photos, deodorant, soap, and toothpaste. I need hygiene items. Right now I don’t have anything really. I can’t even shave for court and that concerns me.  I have legal papers, lined paper, stamped envelopes, two weird books, a roll of toilet paper, a small bar of state soap, a small toothbrush, 2 things of tooth powder, a paper cup, a plastic spoon, a towel, two sheets, and two pens. ”

January 13, 2017

‘I am hoping and praying I get to see you this weekend. It would be such a blessing. This week has been hard enough on me, I just need to see my Honey Bee. I am doing my best in here but it isn’t easy. I had no desire to get out of bed today, I was so sore from the mattress. This is not a good place for people to be. I understand that is is usually the bad guys who are in here but it’s still a sad place and I don’t want to be in ASU any longer than I have to be. I feel better getting mail from you. You lift me up and give me strength and comfort. You are my angel from God. I have been praying a lot.”

January 14 & 15: Visits!

“I got to see you today, it was such a blessing and has made me feel so much better. You make my smiler smile. Every moment we have together is so special. I can’t wait to see you again. Thank you for coming to see me. I don’t want to be kept from you anymore.

My new cellie got canteen today and he gave me a piece of deodorant, some toothpaste and coffee. Thank you God, I needed these items.”

January 16, 2017 (day before Evidentiary Hearing)

“I am so grateful we are finally here. We have waited so long for this. And it will be here tomorrow. It’s going to be good. We will be victorious. We have all the evidence. I can’t believe all of this has taken so long. Nearly 14 years. Even though I have had to live it, it doesn’t always seem real. How can these people have wrongfully taken so much of my life? It’s not right.”

January 18th (second day of Hearing)

“I am so sorry the magistrate is dragging things out. David and Scott expected it to take 60 days for filing briefs. I cannot believe she did this. After getting everything and more accomplished through the Evidentiary Hearing I felt crushed. I felt broken. I was shaking my head no as she was saying how long it was going to be. This is why I cried. It’s still impossible to hold the tears back. We proved everything we needed to. We proved what a horrible failure Clark was at trial and on top of that we proved that Chantell and Petty both committed perjury in the most serious way. I don’t understand why it has to take so long now. I know we are going to win, it just sucks having to wait.

The officers who escorted me said that Wellman was “like a snake” and that Petty was a shady guy. They also said Wellman didn’t seem pissed off to have to be dragged back to court, that if after 14 years they had to go back to court for a guy who was actually guilty they’d have been pissed. Also Wellman said nothing about me. They said it was as if he didn’t even know me (because he doesn’t)

Even the officers said that Wellman had committed perjury from what he admitted today. ”

January 24, 2017

“I haven’t been sleeping at all. It is hard to fall asleep with all my thoughts. Once I fall asleep I can’t get back to sleep when I wake up early in the morning. The officer came around making the list for yard at 5:35 am Who is even up wanting to go to yard?! He woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. My back and right shoulder have been stiff and hurting. If I wake up on my back it’s so stiff and painful I can barely move. I have to raise myself with my legs and hips to shift myself to my side. It’s terrible.My right shoulder hurts to sleep on but I think it actually hurts from being handcuffed so much. Any time the cell door opens we have to be handcuffed first through the tray slot.

The past week has been the hardest week of my life. I never thought we would be waiting five more months. As soon as the magistrate said that I felt crushed. It was so overwhelming to head her so casually take 5 months of our life from us. I feel devastated by this. I needed to talk to you and have your comfort and strength. Then to have my mom steal our visits. I can hardly stay focused.”

January 25, 2017

“Last night was awful. I couldn’t sleep at all. My thoughts were too much to deal with. I am not coping. I am falling apart. Being kept from you and kept from seeing you this weekend is beyond painful. Anywhere I am kept from you feels like death.  My shoulder hurts real bad today. Probably the worst day so far. I have no mirror to see myself but I probably look like shit. I feel like shit. ”

January 26, 2017

“I just can’t fall asleep here. Every half hour they walk by with that damn thing that beeps and they bang it on the door. It hate it. There is a metal thing in front of the door, it looks like a button and they hand their scanner tool on it. Metal on metal. BANG! When the scanner tool gets a positive reading it goes “beep!”. It’s so ridiculous. It’s supposed to be to make sure they check each cell every half hour; because they can’t be trusted to check the cell every half hour on their own. And they don’t even look inside the cell; they are focused on making contact with the scanner tool as they rush by. Every once in a while you head the BANG but no beep and they have to come back to re-do it. It’s pathetic. I hate this place. It’s so awful. I hate prison. I hate being kept from you.”

January 28, 2017

“It is terrible not to have anything to do. You lose yourself in the nothingness. Hearing the magistrate say 5 more months broke me. Being denied you broke me. Being broken in an isolating closed-in 6 by 9 foot concrete box with no window outside, no communication with my wife, our combined pain; I am completely falling apart. Barely surviving the day. Time is just gone. The days disappear and the pain is constant. I can barely keep my eyes open but when I lay down to sleep I cannot find it. It escapes me for hours. Every day that I am kept from you is another small death. Another day of fear and pain.

January 30, 2017 (day 20)

“I can’t believe I am going back to Corcoran. I am sad I will be further away from you again. But I will finally be out of this place, in ASU, completely isolated where I feel even further away. Like I am locked in some deep dark place, like an actual hole in the ground. I cannot believe how long these three weeks have been. ”

folsom“Happiness lives inside our hearts morning, noon, and night. So look within when you are sad and you will find heavenly light. Happiness lives inside our hearts and shines  like a shimmering star, it lights our way on a dreary day and finds us wherever we are. Happiness lives inside our hearts with Spirit intertwined, for God is the key to all happiness and if we but look we will find.”



About Sean & Eiam

Sean O'Brien was wrongfully convicted in adult court in El Dorado County, California and sentenced to Life Without Parole at the age of 16 without a shred of physical evidence tying him to the crime for which he was convicted. Sean and I have been friends since grade school and we were married in 2017. We live and grow together in love with the knowledge of his innocence, our faith, and hope for our future. We embrace this journey, wherever it may take us, cherishing each moment we have together and staying true to our hearts. This blog is about the past we share, our life together and our fight for justice. Thank you for reading. God bless.
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