Family Visit 2: Chocolate Chip Cookies!

At Corcoran State Prison those participating in Family Visits must order all of their food for the visit from a package company called Walkenhorsts. This is a pretty limited catalog that includes very basic pre-packaged processed foods at a high price. They offer unhealthy foods, hardly anything nutritionally beneficial. After digging through the online catalog for ideas and thoroughly searching for ways to cook good meals and come up with recipes for our Family Visits, among other things, I found the Betty Crocker chocolate chip muffin mix and quickly formulated a plan to make this into chocolate chip cookies instead. Now for those of you who know me, you know I don’t eat gluten and I rarely consume processed sugar so this was going to be a special rare treat for both of us. Mainly, I wanted to make something Sean would remember from before, something that would taste like freedom. And when I first mentioned my idea he had teared up at just the very thought!

In November at our second Family Visit we successfully made chocolate chip cookies. We used an egg and a stick of butter from the fresh foods options bought from the prison on the day of visiting, Betty Crocker muffin mix and sugar from the package catalog, as well as a tiny package of salt obtained from the visiting room beforehand. Our plan worked! I was even able to bring in parchment paper to bake the cookies on. We were pretty proud of ourselves for this creative culinary exploration. Sean said it was the first time he had eaten fresh baked cookies in over 14 years. Seeing him enjoy the cookies was priceless, he became sort of a perfectionist about how long he baked them, he wanted them extra gooey; never crispy or crunchy.  We separated the dough into bowls for each day so that we could bake them fresh each time and enjoy them together.

We had made a plan that on the last morning we would stay up together after the last ‘count’ which was at 5 am. This way we would get to spend the last 3-4 hours together, instead of sleeping and then rushing to wake up, pack then have to say goodbye. We wanted to savor these last moments together.

So after two blissful days together on the last morning after another long night of waking for the counts, we got out of bed at 5 am. This was no easy task as neither of us is a morning-person. We took a long hot shower to wake us up and then Sean set about baking the very last batch of cookies. He boiled water for our tea and scrambled the last of the eggs for me in order to send me off with some protein to get me through my long drive home. I’ve never been a big egg fan but I absolutely love Sean’s scrambled eggs. Something about the way he makes them is different.

At 6 am the smell of freshly baked cookies was inviting, it wrapped us in it’s happy hug. We sipped our tea and indulged in the soft gooey cookies.  It was still completely dark outside but there we were at the table cozy together eating chocolate chip cookies. This special experience was absolutely incredible and the feelings are nearly indescribable so I wont even begin to make an attempt. It will always stand out in our memories; our last moments together this time around were peaceful and sweet.  There is nothing like the taste of a perfectly baked cookie that just melts in your mouth and makes you feel good inside but it’s even better when shared with the one you love. I think we are both still smiling.

“For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” Psalms 107:9

**Note: photos not from actual Family Visit**
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For the Record, Prison Sucks

There is nothing even remotely good about prison. It is an awful place; worse than your imagination, worse than on TV and movies. It is not a place anyone should ever be or want to be. It’s not special or romantic or positive in any way.  It’s not a right of passage or normal in any way, I know there are some people who see it that way and that is something we cannot ever understand. There is nothing normal about prison. It is a terribly abnormal situation in which one must quickly adapt and learn to survive. One should be afraid to go there, one should want to avoid any involvement with law enforcement or the department of rehabilitation. If you see an officer you should run for your life.

I only go to the prison because of Sean and he did not choose to go there over 14 years ago. Unlike most of the men there, he did not commit the crime for which he is charged.  Our time together there is only ever ‘good’ because we get to be together but of course we always wish we were somewhere else. Anywhere else. However, if we chose to write about all the horrible things that happen because of the prison nobody would  be interested in reading it because it would make for crummy, depressing writing. We choose to focus on the good things for our own wellbeing. And honestly if we got worked up over everything that they did to us that wasn’t right or wasn’t fair, every bad emotion that they ever made us feel, we would not be able function because it happens literally every day! So in order to survive we have to focus on the positive, you would too if you were stuck living in hell.

A person who has never had a loved one in prison can never fathom what it is to be a trapped inside such a corrupt, evil system. Aside from a small handful of officers who are actually pretty OK,  they all seem to be hating every second of their job and act like it’s their duty to make visitors feel as uncomfortable as possible in hope that they never return. They are cold, cruel, unfeeling monsters. Those in charge lie through their teeth to make things seem OK to the outside. But the truth is that they do not care about making positive changes, having things be fair, or even following their own written regulations. Everything they do is for profit and promotion.

Prison is no joke.  It’s not something to be proud of, it’s not a badge of honor as other people seem to think in some cultures. We are not those type of people. Prison will change you fundamentally as a person. Prison will make you hard where you were once vulnerable. It will take everything you have if you allow it, I’ve seen it with my own eyes more than once. Prison will take what you value most and hold it hostage over you and use it against you.  Prison will drive you to the brink of insanity and tear your family apart if you allow it to. It will suck the life out of you and break you if you’re not strong. 

Sean and I can’t wait till he is home an we can live our life the way we want to. We discuss it often.  But until then this is what our life looks like and so we are going to make the best of it. God bless.

GPS coordinates of Corcoran, a wedding gift from my bosses

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13

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Our First Family Visit: Live Like You Were Dying

Sarah Boisen, photo

Sean and I finally had our first Family Visit. It was what we have been hoping for and talking about for over 4 years. When we first got together in 2013 Family Visit wasn’t even a possibility for those with Life Sentences, but luckily for us things have recently changed. February 17 2017, days after we signed our wedding papers, came the law bringing back Family Visits for Lifers. We had already planned to get married and this was the best wedding gift we could have asked for.

I went into the belly of the beast (Corcoran Prison) the morning of October 11 and it spit me back out first thing in the morning on October 13. We spent the entire time together, no officers, no restrictions other than the Family Visit guidelines.  It was our first time together just us. We were put into what looked like an apartment with a small front yard that locked us in completely. There was a living room with a couch, clock radio and a TV, a kitchen with just the basics, a bathroom, two bedrooms, and lots of windows.  We were in heaven.

On our 2 month wedding anniversary, October 12, we woke up together for the first time ever. It felt like a dream. The chilly ‘counts’ from the early morning now behind us, we lingered in the warmth of the bed soaking in the new-ness of this experience. When we got up we worked on making breakfast.

We had created a menu beforehand and ordered all our food through a package company. The prison had only given us one large cooking pot and one small sauce pan, one mixing bowl and two big cooking utensils, so we figured out the dynamics of  cooking together with these limited items. I boiled water for our tea, Sean washed the dishes before we used them to make sure they were clean. I can still see him in the blue plaid PJ pants and white t-shirt, it all felt so normal. I cracked the eggs and poured them into the small sauce pan. Sean worked on cooking them while I prepared the French toast. He shined with happiness, finally getting to cook something after 14 years of prison.

I remember Sean wrapping his arms around me as I stood at the stove with the spoon in my hand, French toast nestled into the bottom of the big cooking pot, bacon sizzling in the smaller one. (Pre-packaged pre-cooked bacon, but bacon none the less!) “My wife is beautiful when she cooks.” he said. We couldn’t stop smiling, reminding each other that this was real.

We down sat at the table with sunlight streaming in through the windows. I watched the delight on his face as he took the first bites of his breakfast. It was the second “real cooked meal” he had in 14 years; the first had been the dinner we cooked together the previous night. He devoured his breakfast and wanted more; I was happy to cook again because it felt so good. It felt right.

“Will you be my wife forever?” he asked me as we made breakfast for the second time. “Of course” I answered. I have never felt happier. We both agreed it was the best day of our lives besides our wedding day.

Later, a familiar song came on the radio and I called Sean over excitedly. We faced each other to slow dance like we had been the previous day and when the lyrics started we both began to sing. We both knew every word to Tim McGraw’s ‘Live Like You Were Dying’. It was such a special moment and we have both said since then that we will always treasure it. It is meaningful to us. We experienced the most freedom we have ever had together, the most freedom he has had in over 14 years. The best thing to do was embrace it and literally live as if we will never get to do it again. To make every moment count.

Sean’s note says: In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:28Sean’s doodle of us at Family Visit looking at the moon.


**Top photo not actually from Family Visit**
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Then Comes Marriage

In February 2017 Sean & I began the marriage application process through Corcoran state prison. What we assumed would be a fairly  straightforward process turned out to be a complicated ordeal with the marriage coordinator at Corcoran  not doing her job correctly and withholding our paperwork and money orders in order to delay our process. We had started out with the date June 3 in mind, but we weren’t even given a date until the beginning of July. We had no idea it would be such a huge battle just to get something that on the outside would be a fairly simple and enjoyable task.  It literally took about 6 months from start to finish.

We were given the date August 12, 2017. It wasn’t the date we had originally hoped for but this is what I found online: The number 12 is a combination of the numbers 1, which means, “Stay positive,” and 2, which means, “Keep the faith.” Together, 12 is a strong message to stay positive, optimistic, and filled with faith . . . because your positive thoughts and faith will create a positive outcome. The number 12 can be found 187 places in God’s word and is considered to be a perfect number. We felt like it was meant to be, another important part of our amazing journey.

Sean’s ring


Emelia’s ring

Our marriage ceremony was on August 12, 2017. It was more beautiful and meaningful than we could have imagined,  for being in a prison. We were able to have a few friends from the inside attend just for the ceremony. We each tearfully read our own vows we had written. It was really an incredible moment, one we will never forget. We are grateful for this step in our life together.

There is no perfect marriage, just two people who refuse to give up on each other

“And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 COR 13:13

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Court Timeline: UPDATED (3/8/18)

Our Court Timeline:

-January 17-18th, 2017  Evidentiary Hearing in Sacramento ✔

-February 17, 2017: Transcripts from the Evidentiary Hearing obtained ✔

-March 17, 2017: Nickerson (Sean’s lawyer) filed post Evidentiary Hearing brief ✔

-May 22nd, Extended to July 21, Extended AGAIN to August 10, 2017: Attorney General filed brief in response✔

– September 17, 2017: Nickerson filed brief in response✔

– Magistrate makes final ruling!

We expect a ruling any day now, and it is in our prayers daily. It has been OVER ONE YEAR since the Evidentiary Hearing!  It shows how slowly those wheels of “justice” turn…are they even turning at all?! What a messed up injustice system we have here in the US.  We never imagined it was possible we could be stuck waiting for over a year. We have been told by outside sources who are familiar with the legal system that the delay is actually a good sign, meaning if she were going to rule against us she would have done so right away. It is harder and more lengthy to write the final decision to over turn his case so that it cannot be appealed than to deny him. Let’s pray for good things to happen soon. Thank you to those who are keeping Sean’s case in their thoughts and prayers. God bless.


This delay hurt more than the first one did. It felt like we were sitting in a boat being pulled slowly along by a teeny tiny thread and today the thread broke. Now I am just hoping to be carried along by the current to shore.

People always say that inmates are the ones who have no concern for others and that they don’t care about other people. Well that’s wrong, it’s the prosecutors, the AG, and the judge who doesn’t care. They don’t care that my family is hurting. 

This hurts but I pray to God that He hears our prayers. I know we proved everything we needed to and more at the Evidentiary Hearing and that legally speaking we will win.” -Sean, July 21, 2017


(late July 2017) I have a friend who’s aunt works with Centurion Ministries, a non-profit that works to free the wrongly convicted. Right before the Evidentiary Hearing she told me it might take up to 6 months to get Sean home once the EH was over. I was devastated, the idea of waiting 6 more months was absolutely crushing to me. Now here we are, more than 6 months after the Evidentiary Hearing and nowhere close to getting a ruling from the judge. We are simply stuck, unable to even move forward with the court stuff because this Attorney General  wants to hold out for as long as he possibly can just because he knows he is about to lose. He knows he is about to go down for everything that was done to Sean. Making him wait longer just adds insult to injury, as if 14 years isn’t long enough already. -Emelia




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The Evidentiary Hearing in Summary

State Courthouse January 2017

“The dust has finally settled after the Evidentiary Hearing back in January. While the hearing itself went incredibly well, the month of January was extremely hard on me. Thankfully we are through it and have survived. I am doing much better now and I want to thank everyone for all their prayers and support. I especially want to thank those who attended the hearing; your presence had a positive impact on the CDCR officers who had to escort me and I pray the magistrate felt the same.

In mine and my lawyers’ opinion the Evidentiary Hearing itself went very well. The rest of January was painful, 5 months of filing briefs was difficult to hear but the evidence we proved during the hearing went very well. The magistrate was nice to us. She didn’t deny us anything, she was open to hearing all of our evidence and paid close attention.

The 9th Circuit Court said there is no evidence to refute our claims and the Attorney General presented nothing to refute what we proved.  Not only did we prove all our evidence, we proved beyond all doubt that Clark failed to use any of it; which is serious Ineffective Assistance of Council. On top of proving all this Wellman committed perjury.

There is no way the magistrate can ignore all that we have proven. She is bound by the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling and cannot simply send it back to them. She is required by law to make a ruling. Realistically we should expect her ruling sometime in July but of course it could take longer.”  written by Sean

Sean’s latest artwork

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The Hardest Part

It always surprises me when people who don’t know me very well say something like “it will be really hard when he comes home”. They are referring to my husband, Sean, coming home from 14 years in prison to live a normal life with me.

Are they trying to imply that somehow freedom would be more difficult for him than being locked up in prison? Are they trying to insinuate that acclimating to the free world where he is safe and loved is scarier than a teenager adapting to life in a cold unforgiving prison? Or are they suggesting that our relationship would suffer more from a sudden switch to living together than years of surviving off 15 minute phone calls and infrequent visits. To me this is absolute silly nonsense.

I understand there will be changes and that there is going to be a period of transition in our lives which may at times feel overwhelming or take us by surprise in how it may feel. There is no way pf predicting how it will all feel and play out. It might not always be easy, but harder than coping with life in prison, or for me having to cope with a loved one in prison? I think not.

Funny how the only people that have ever suggested this notion have been those who have no knowledge about prison and have never had to experience having a loved one in prison. They’ve never gone 14 days without a phone call, lost sleep hoping and praying that your loved one is still alive. They’ve never entered a prison looking forward to a visit they so desperately need, hands shaking, only to be turned away. They are oblivious to the pain that arises from knowing your loved one is suffering. And that road goes both ways; when I am going through a hard time he feels it too and the fact that there is nothing he can do to help me is like a slow torture for him. These people are ignorant of what it is to truly miss someone, the heavy ache in your soul knowing that the one you want to be with is missing you too. Being kept apart from each other is torture. Sean being locked in his cell for hours on end when there is no electricity on a hot day is torture.

Anything we might face once he walks out of prison with his rightful freedom is going to be small fries compared to the monumental hardships and roadblocks we have already endured together. It actually laughable to suggest that facing something difficult together once he is free would be in any way comparable to what we have battled through while we have been kept apart. It’s rather dizzying to remember the shitstorms we have gone through these past 4 years, yet we always come out on the other side end stronger, smarter, and more solid in our relationship. There is no doubt in my mind, or in his, that when he comes home things are going to be pretty freaking great. Yeah it’s going to be a beautiful thing to have each other there to rely on, to conquer life together as a team.

So my reply to those people who want to worry is: No, the hardest part is the waiting. The hard part is getting through each day without each other, never knowing what lies ahead until the day when he walks free. We know it’s coming soon and we are more than ready for it.


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