“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” – Leo Tolstoy

Since mid March my TDCJ Clients have been waiting for visitation to reopen. During this window of uncertainty and the chaos of a pandemic, I have heard over and over “Covid-19 isn’t real” from people who aren’t medically trained. People have plenty of opinions in the midst of a crisis but as is usually the case little or no solutions.

I’ve never been shy about voicing my beliefs and a few days ago while commenting on one of my friends and a former clients post was attacked by someone who thought he knew me based on my skin color.

Traditionally, I would allow such a shallow minded comment to go unobserved. However since we are now not only in the midst of a pandemic but also a worldwide upset and this idiot “assumed I didn’t care about black lives,” I chose to respond.

After all, who was this guy? What led him to believe that he could or should judge me when my friend and I were discussing the possibility of visitation being reinstated?

An angry person misdirecting his anger at me who ironically had no idea that I’m an advocate for not only prison reform but also bail reform AND I believe in the power of peaceful protest.

For the record, I marched in Fort Worth twice and would have attended other marches but couldn’t due to my schedule.

Unlike many marchers who are more interested in filming their presence at these peaceful protest marches, I chose not to check in or film.

Going live on FB effectively “misses” the entire point of the peaceful protest by focusing on their phone rather than the moment, I chose not to post to social media.

Posting or live feeding at an historic event is in my opinion rude. Not everyone wants their photo or video posted to social media.

People videotaping aren’t asking for permission to publish video or photos. Why? They don’t care. Children have been present at “Fort Worth Friendly Black Lives Matter Protests.” Do parents want their children’s photos all over the internet? Likely the answer is no.

Although Fort Worth is the one major city that has remained peaceful in support of Black Lives Matter, why everyone feels the need to video every aspect of the march rather than focusing on why the match exists and what it’s actually about continues to be evident everywhere we turn from social media to news outlets with teens and young adults videoing everything whether it’s peaceful or far from peaceful.

It’s alarming to me that people and opinions seem to always clash while one side judges the other. I didn’t see any clashing or anger in Fort Worth.

Instead I saw mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, sons and daughters at Fort Worth marches.

I saw Unity within the Community. I saw people from all walks of life.

So for anyone like the person judging me in FB comments that doesn’t know me and assumed that he did by running over to my public FB Page without bothering to get to know me, my beliefs, my background or my passion for all people, I educated him. I enlightened him.

I let him know that the next time he stereotypes someone that he should ask himself why it’s so easy for him to judge others and reevaluate the need or desire to do so. He finally stopped commenting.

I was willing to go on and on. Why? Because I’m educated enough to debate with people who think they know everything who don’t that’s why.

I’m frequently contacted through DM by people trolling to find a target. These keyboard warriors sitting in their parents basements are bullies.

They love to find someone to attack and of upset. I love to respond to them publicly on my FB Page Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham.

Nearly all of my keyboard warrior DM trolls message me through my prison page after midnight.

I’m rarely DM’d by trollers on my other main FB Page, Texas Twins Events/The Pawning Planners but occasionally it happens.

Why? Because the person contacting me “doesn’t believe inmates should have the right to marry.”

Or “I don’t believe in LBGT Marriage. I’m strongly opposed.” WHO CARES?! I don’t care. My clients don’t care. Grow up and get a life buddy.

Stop looking for something to be upset about. Stop seeking someone to unload on. I’m busy. Keep your opinions. They are YOUR luggage and YOUR trip.

Still other people want to advise me of “their stand regarding bail or prison reform” through DM’s. Hmm. You can’t silence me buddy. No one can.

There are people sitting in jail who haven’t been convicted of a crime.

These people are incarcerated SOLELY because they are too poor to post a bond. Is that justice? Is that fair? Should poverty define freedom?

If you believe being poor should factor into being just or fair then you have more issues than common sense can remedy.

Time is one thing we can’t ever regain. Time is a priceless commodity. Life is precious.

As we continue to wait for visitation to be reinstated within all of my service area states, I want to once again state for the record I believe in the power of peaceful protests. I believe in speaking for those whose voices cannot be heard.

Social injustice affects everyone. I should also add that I believe there are good police. I’m also aware that there are bad police. I don’t judge any group of people on the actions of one. I never have.

I judge people based on how they treat me. How their actions affect others.

I was sent a photo posted of an officiant who was racist a few days ago. An officiant who backtracked by posting an apology. Yes, I’ve been it. Everyone can stop sending it to me as I was well aware prior to her post of her dim views and position.

I’m also well aware of other officiants who continue to point out that I’m “LBGT Friendly.”

Guess what? If you are on ANY Wendy Wortham website and don’t recognize or realize that I’m VERY public regarding my beliefs and position, you are either blind or illiterate. I can’t solve stupidity. No one can.

What I can do is be who I am. Take it or leave it.

Don’t pretend to be who you aren’t. Your racist rant was well publicized. You know what bothers me the most is when people like you get caught with your pants down and then backtrack with some half ass apology for your own behavior. You posted something that offended everyone. In the midst of a pandemic. In the midst of social injustice. In the midst of people being unemployed for two months with job loss or wage cuts. Keep your insignificant and phony apology.

As for anyone else running around screaming “Wendy Wortham performs gay marriages” you should know ALL of my websites publicly reflect my affiliation with the LBGT community. The word gay is a slur. Stop using it. Grow up and stop gossiping.

Maybe if you’d spend more time on cultivating your business and catering to your clients rather than running around condemning others you might actually have clients. Boom.

I’m well aware that there are racist bigots running around and I’m well aware that there are trolls trying to stir the chili.

What you need to know and understand though is that someone somewhere is always going to be on the other side.

I have a number of clients waiting on paperwork or dates across Texas.

Due to the visitation ban, when we are able to move forward, there is a very strong possibility that I will have stacked clients at numerous Units.

A stacked day means I have 2-8 clients at the same unit on the same day. Please arrive 15 minutes early on wedding day.

Remember to bring your state issued ID and marriage license.

Handwritten vows should be handed to me prior to shakedown. I will hand them back after clearing.

I look forward to seeing all of you very soon at your prison weddings.

As for the bail bondsmen who continue to wish I wouldn’t post accurate truths about the nature of their industry though they can get over themselves…

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen Covey

I’m always concerned when on of my clients sends me a text or DM that reads “there’s something I need to talk to you about. Are you busy?”

I always drop everything to immediately respond to messages like this because I can feel their sense of urgency.

I’m everyone’s mom. I’m always available to my clients seven days a week from 8AM-9PM.

Other vendors who follow me are often surprised that my role by far surpasses planning and officiating a ceremony.

My role expands and extends to that of a friend, counselor, problem solver and patient listener.

Karen had been concerned about what to do after realizing her fiancée was involved with K2. This problem isn’t isolated to Karen. This problem is spreading through prisons. I listened to her concerns and waited for her to express her wide range of emotions and disappointment before responding.

First, I needed to help her understand her own needs. Second, I needed her to establish boundaries. Third, I needed her to reinforce these boundaries. It’s not easy dealing with an addict. Fourth, addicts are expert manipulators and Karen would need to stop sending money. It wouldn’t be easy for her to do this. Why? Because she’s been sending money for a long time. She’s been doing what she can to support an inmate that she plans to marry.

Setting boundaries is often difficult to do. Dealbreakers always are. You need to know what’s “too much” for you. You need to find that line and establish it. I knew the inmate would be angry regarding Karen taking a stand. But my client is my focus not the inmate. I always put my clients needs and issues as my primary concerns. They need reinforcement. They need a sounding board. An unbiased listener. They need me.

The words to an Elvis Presley song immediately came to mind regarding inmates not getting what they wanted and getting upset about it.

You know I’ll be your slave if you ask me to.
But if you don’t behave
I’ll walk right out on you. If you want my love then take my advice and treat me nice.”

We had a lengthy conversation. The following day after much grief, Karen sent me a message that she felt better about her decision although it was a difficult choice. Saying no always is. The person you are saying no to will react in a number of different ways. First, they will often use guilt. Second, they will often use anger. Hold your ground.

I’ve also had numerous clients in a number of states contacting me regarding debt collector calls. When the economy tanks, the collectors come out. Zombie debt and third party lawsuits are real. Respond to collection letters. Call me if you need help writing a verification or validation letter. Respond to a lawsuit by filing an answer. Your answer should be General Denial. Most of these lawsuits are third party debt buyers. They buy the debt then pursue the debt. The debt is often time barred from a lawsuit. To alter this, the collector establishes a new account on your credit report. This effectively re ages a previously time barred debt. I need all of you ESPECIALLY if you have ever had a defaulted debt to be diligent. Check your credit reports. Fight erroneous entries. Freeze your credit. If you don’t know how to respond to a debt lawsuit, contact me but don’t hide from a debt collector. They will find you. Erroneous debt and unscrupulous debt collectors have been around for many years. They use threats and coercion to attempt to bully you into making a payment or an agreement. These will reopen and re age the original debt. Don’t fold. Contact me.

Yet another client contacted me regarding a death row inmate and wanted to know “what’s going to happen?” First, I know you haven’t done this before. Stay calm. Nothing scary is going to happen. I will be by your side at all times inside the Unit. I will walk you through exactly what’s going to happen as well as exactly what you can or cannot do. I will prepare you. We are in this together and you will never be separated from me inside a Unit unless you need to use the restroom.

We have twenty minutes. I encourage you to write your own vows to extend our timeline. Why? My ceremony takes 11-13 minutes. Once finished we are hustled out. I encourage you to write poetry, scripture, vows and even song lyrics to “buy” an additional few minutes inside. Why? We’ve spent months getting to wedding day and I want you to savor every second.

Song lyrics can often be changed or altered easily. Badfingers Day After Day works well. “I remember finding out about you. Every day, my mind is all around you. Looking out from my lonely room, day after day. Bring it home, baby, make it soon
I give my love to you.”

Or, Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together works well too. “Let me say that since, baby, since we’ve been together. Loving you forever is what I need. Let me, be the one you come running to. I’ll never be untrue.”

There are so many song lyrics that perfectly fit an expression of love that can be easily incorporated into a wedding ceremony that the list is endless.

Tuesday morning I had a call regarding “music at the wedding ceremony.” We cannot have music at any wedding ceremony within a detention facility. Whether it’s state, federal, ICE or county. This request comes up rather frequently. Once client at Estes was so determined to have music that she asked me to sing. I’m not a hip hop singer but I did my best. My best brought riotous laughter from the inmate and the correctional officers but if it’s important to you I will try to accommodate your request. Remember though that I’m not Beyoncé.

Bridget sent me a message regarding finding an RV park near Palestine. I immediately thought of my other client, Larissa who manages an RV park and sent her a message to link Bridget and Larissa. Larissa also told me her grandmother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, her father had suffered a heart attack and her beloved aunt whom I had met on wedding day in Beaumont was struggling with blood sugar issues during this pandemic. I was deeply saddened and concerned. Everyone is struggling through this unprecedented and troubling virus. It’s changed the way we live. It’s robbed us of structure, predictability and peace.

Many of my clients are so anxious about this “new normal” that I’ve been asked about coping strategies. Because many of my blog followers might have missed my post on FB, I’m copying and pasting tips for dealing with stress and anxiety during this pandemic below.

From helplessness to hopelessness we are going through something entirely new and foreign to us. This adjustment is a learning curve. Everything changed for us in a short window. Things we took for granted were taken away. Finding peace in a time of crisis can be challenging.

Some individuals are being heavily impacted by physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trouble sleeping, and changes in appetite. Stress affects everyone differently.

Others may find cognitive symptoms to be a greater stressor resulting in difficulties recalling memories, problems with concentration, inability to control negative thoughts, ruminating on the same thoughts, and having trouble seeing any positives.

These anxiety symptoms are the body and mind’s natural response to rapid adaptations in your familial, work, financial, and emotional environments. It is likely that they may get better with time as you adjust to your “new normal,” but you can immediately use the strategies below to help manage anxiety and other difficult feelings.

1. Separate out worries into productive and unproductive actions.

Worries can be turned into productive preparations and cautionary behaviors like taking vitamins, stocking up on essentials and food, refilling medications, and so on. It is equally important to prepare mentally. You can stock up on your favorite reading materials and calming scents like lavender; make time to socialize through phone, video calls, online gaming; and in your downtime engage in a hobby or interest you enjoy.

When you find yourself worrying about something you have no control over and can’t convert into a positive preparation, it is helpful to “shelve” that thought, or let it go completely.

2. Make a visual list of coping skills and keep it readily accessible.

In times like these, you might find your typical ways of coping don’t cut it, and you need even more tools and strategies to turn to. You may also find your mind is overwhelmed with information and new adjustments, so you forget the things that used to come more naturally to you.

First, make a list of the things you do already and have done to manage stress and remain calm. Here are some ideas to get you started: therapy, talking to a friend, exercise, prayer, reading, meditation, yoga, creative activities, positive self-talk, cooking, gardening, journaling, deep breathing, listening to music, household projects, spring cleaning, meditation, puzzles/games, playing with your pets and kids, and doing something nice for someone else.

3. Challenge negative thoughts.

Chronic stress is often the result of negative thought patterns. Individuals who focus on and replay negative thoughts find the experience to be unpleasant, counterproductive, and in some cases resulting in depression. Challenging irrational, negative thoughts can allow you to change them by learning how to examine the validity of the negative thoughts and learn how to interpret situations using a different perspective.

4. Limit your exposure to anxiety-producing news and information.

It is important to stay up to date with new information but it is just as important to make a deliberate choice to read or watch the news. Refreshing your social media feeds throughout the day, or keeping the news on in the background, is overwhelming your senses and your ability to pay attention to other needs for yourself and your family.

Trust that you can get what you need in a few structured and limited times when you check your news sources. It is especially important to limit/monitor the way your children are receiving news about the virus. Stick to reliable sources and perhaps block people temporarily on social media if their reactions are increasing your negativity or anxiety.

5. Practice a daily mindful activity.

The bulk of the fear attached to anxiety comes from the anticipation of a future threat. Many people will catastrophize what is coming and have trouble separating assumptions from facts. Practicing a daily mindful activity places a focus on the now and not the future. This is done by separating feelings from judgments and focusing on things that are true and are occurring now, not what might happen.

Pick one thing you do daily and let your senses attend to that one thing — like brushing your teeth or making your morning coffee. When your mind wanders off, bring it back gently to your activity. A daily meditation practice can also help you be more mindful. Tara Brach and Christopher Germer have wonderful free meditations available online.

There are also many apps to help you start or build upon an existing practice (Headspace, Insight Timer, Buddhify, Calm). Additionally, you can hear my guided meditations for free on Spotify and Google Play (Unwind: Guided Relaxation, by Amy Vigliotti).

6. Talk about it, write about it, let it out.

There is a common misconception that talking about anxiety makes it worse because it encourages people to think about what makes them anxious. The reality, however, is that people who experience anxiety experience it whether they talk about it or not. Research has found that expressing anxious thoughts can help individuals feel as if they are getting those negative thoughts “out of their system” and/or diminish the intensity of their feelings. You can express your thoughts to trusted friends/family, keep a journal, or write them on notes to then be discarded later.

7. Pay attention to positive events.

Picture yourself walking outside on a day where there is a mix of clouds and blue sky. In times of unusual stress, we all have a habit of focusing on the negative—the “clouds”—and missing the blue sky. If we ignore the blue sky, we make things even harder on ourselves.

You want to balance your consumption of “negative” news by reading and attending to positive events. There are always positive things to focus on even in times of great duress. We see fitness instructors giving online free workouts; neighbors lending a hand to elderly individuals; health care workers prioritizing the care of others in a selfless manner. And there are little things we can be grateful for as well: a hot shower, our morning coffee, a smile or text from a friend. If you want to take it a step further, you can be a positive change in your community. Doing something nice for someone else makes us feel good too.

We are all going through something we have never been through before. This pandemic and the uncertainty caused by it are stressful. Whether you are an essential worker or a parent now homeschooling and working, your life has changed to a “new normal.” This new normal is temporary but it is an adjustment. Take time to focus on yourself during this crisis.

Adjusting to and accepting change is different and often difficult for everyone. What works for one person might not work for another. Find a strategy that suits your individual needs. From a long walk to listening to music to visiting a friend to writing a letter to your loved one to buying a candle, what helps you relax is what will work best for you.

Because I haven’t been taking deposits for the past two months and effectively not formally booking new clients, I’ve made adjustments to assist new inquiries who may have had their marriage license expire trying to marry. Deduct $40 from the cost of your second marriage license to help you with expenses. I’m not taking deposits because I believe my clients need to keep their money during these uncertain times. You are single income households. Many of you are single parents. I want you to take care of yourselves as we wait out the reinstatement of visitation.

Booked clients are being mailed checks for 1/2 of the replacement cost of their marriage licenses for two months now. I want everyone to wait to buy that second license until we are sure that we can use it. Be patient as this too shall pass. I will get you married.

As always I’m going to remind everyone not to panic. If you need a friendly ear I’m always available and want you to know that you are not alone. We are all in this together…

Loyalty, Love, And Laying It All On The Table. Marriage, Mergers & Messes…

It’s not uncommon for me to get a “problem call” on wedding day. In fact, it’s common and a regular occurrence.

For two months now these “problem calls” have been rolling in. They aren’t coming from my clients in numerous states marrying an inmate either.

Instead they are coming from my “traditional clients.” Standard bookings from Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, or a venue I’m on staff at.

My traditional clients are and can be my “trickier group.” Why? Because during this pandemic the changes they’ve been forced to make in order to get married have left them anxious and occasionally event angry. “They had a plan. They had a guest list.”

They had thought of everything and what they missed I had thought of for them.

Neither my clients, my staff or myself could ever have “planned for Covid-19.”

What was today’s problem? My bride decided that she didn’t want her mother in law to be walked down the aisle by the groom aka her son.

I was advised by the bride to advise the mother of the groom of her “change in plans.”

I had questions as to why what had been rehearsed was now being changed at the 11th hour?

Apparently, last night at the rehearsal dinner held at a restaurant that wouldn’t allow more than 25 guests at a time, an argument broke out about who could go in. This is a rather new problem since restaurants in Fort Worth have reopened. For a month and a half the rehearsal dinner was swapped for a backyard barbecue or Uber eats.

I’m “new” to these pandemic changes myself and didn’t attend the rehearsal dinner although I was invited because I had another commitment and because I haven’t eaten in a restaurant for over two months now. Like many others, I’m cautious about being out in public. I need to stay healthy for my clients. I cannot risk getting this virus by being with large groups of people. Since there was a “sideways shuffle” regarding who could get in the restaurant and who couldn’t, I’m THANKFUL I took a pass.

My bride was adamant regarding “putting her mother in law in her place because it’s my wedding.” I hear this all of the time spoken by people who take possession of the frivolity but take a pass on the expenses.

Sadly, the mother of the groom was the person who hired me AND effectively my actual client.

This type of “who is the boss” is so common with my traditional clients that after ten years of being the “go between” I should be accustomed to “awkward situations” but I’m not.

Sitting in my Sahara at Tom Thumb to get emergency flowers to create Bouteniers for the florist who had already sent me a text that she was “short” on flowers for the wedding party, I took a deep breath and called the mother of the groom to broach this change to the procession. Ugh.

My client answered on the second ring. “I was just about to call you. She’s impossible! The florist is also short on bouteniers for the parents of the couple can you take care of that?”

I was in the process of “taking care of it.” The number of times I’ve had to cover another vendor who didn’t cover their own obligations making their job mine is always a thorn in my side.

If you are a florist get it together and go over your order. Stop expecting everyone else especially me to CYA (cover YOUR ass) on wedding day.

I waited and listened to my client relive the entire rehearsal dinner fiasco. “I’m the mother of the groom. I’m writing the checks and even offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner and I’m not invited? What the hell is wrong with her? She’s writing checks her mouth can’t cover. This wedding is going to be stressful for me you know my mother is in the hospital. Wendy what can we do to soothe these ruffled feathers? I’m not in the habit of handing my credit card to someone and then being told I can’t attend a dinner to celebrate my son.”

Whoo the treacherous landscape of the life event business. Clients, chaos and a literal circus without the midway or the corn dogs.

Someone is always feeling slighted. Someone else is acting arrogant. Still someone else is feeling taken advantage of.

I often hear Cindy humming her big top theme music whether she’s sitting next to me or not.

My twin sisters famous quote “close the tent this circus has too many clowns” rang in my ears with the circus music fading away in the background. No rides. No corn dogs but plenty of suspense.

I checked my Corum watch to view the “countdown.” Two hours and counting. Damnit. The bride would be in hair and makeup. The groom would be killing time taking calls. Giving directions to the venue. Probably having a quick drink with the groomsmen.

I finally respond and explain why I called to my client aka the mother of the groom offended by the consistent arrogant behavior of the bride throughout the planning process.

“The bride wants to change the procession for the wedding. She’s decided that she wants you seated prior to the procession. I’m really sorry as you know to have to relate this rather odd request and don’t know how you wish for me to relay your response or what can be done to meet in the middle. Because you are my actual client though I’m going to suggest speaking to your son who is most likely unaware of this possible change of plans.”

I often calculate or guess who might be the “best candidate” for a buffer to work with in times of conflict.

On the one hand I have a mother slighted. On the other hand I have a bride acting like a Bridezilla. In the middle I have a groom trying to make his mother and his bride happy.

The groom holds a unique position of being able to put out this fire. However, it will be I who “broach this subject” rather than his mother in order to remove the possibility of chili stirring outside of the immediate problem.

I’m certain the groom has heard plenty already from all sides regarding that rehearsal dinner gone wrong.

I’ve encountered Groomzillas before but I’m lucky this morning. This groom is mild mannered and knows exactly what he’s dealing with.

His parents are divorced making his position even more stressful. His mother and father don’t want to be anywhere near each other.

The father of the groom isn’t paying for anything the mother of the groom is. She holds a position of power, custody and control and she knows it. She’s graceful about it but she’s writing the checks and anyone unaware of this fact is quickly enlightened by my client. She’s self assured. No nonsense. She wants everything perfect and she’s happy to pay for it.

She also offers to call her son for me but I quickly brush off the idea. I need her focused on relaxing and getting ready. I also don’t want an argument between the mother and son hours before a wedding. I will handle this myself with kid gloves.

“I will call your son in just a few minutes. I’m at Tom Thumb covering the florist so give me a few minutes. You go focus on getting beautiful and I will see you at the venue.”

I needed those minutes. Going into a wedding day knowing the possibility of a blow up exists isn’t for the faint hearted.

I’m reminded of the father of the bride in California who was offended about the pizza party rehearsal dinner. He wasn’t paying for anything but he sure was complaining about everything. “This is a cheap out on so and so’s part. It’s embarrassing. Pizza and no alcohol either. Do something. Tell them how unhappy I am about this.”

Umm hmm. First I was going to give this father of the bride a few options since he was so embarrassed. Stay tuned ya all because what he was expecting me to do and what I did were wholly and entirely surprising.

“I understand your frustration. As a planner and officiant, I often find myself in the middle of conflict. I’ve got a great idea though and it’s for you to offer to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner which would also give you the opportunity to change the location. Where would you like to have the dinner? I will advise the wedding party of the location change.”

Tennis. It’s always shocking when you hit that ball right back into someone else’s court.

“I don’t have any plans to cover the cost of the rehearsal dinner. That’s the grooms families responsibility not mine.”

Sure you don’t. What you want is to complain and shame the other family who are on a limited budget and try to force them to pay for something they can’t afford. Sit down and shut up. The rehearsal dinner went on at the pizza parlor and everyone except the father of the bride had a great time. The salad bar was amazing too.

Yet another father of the bride in Dallas managed to get under my skin a few years ago. That event was crazy too. The mother and father were divorced. There was also a stepmother and godmother. Everyone wanted their “own wedding without so and so involved.” Four weddings for one couple? On a timeline and frustrated about this outrageous demand, I came up with the solution to limit this chaotic craziness on location to the father. “You want me to perform the same ceremony four times? Aren’t you and the stepmother married? That would be three ceremonies. First for the mother. Second for you and your wife. Third for the godmother. My fee for three ceremonies is $$$.

Tennis. It’s a game I play nearly everyday although not on a court. My game is with people.

“I wasn’t planning to pay you for three ceremonies. I was planning to pay you for one. I just don’t want to be around my idiotic ex wife or her former best friend aka the godmother.”

The number of times people tell me what they want but aren’t willing to pay for would astound you. It always astounds me.

“I’ve got a solution. If your wife is willing to pay for one ceremony and you are willing to pay for another, I will ask the godmother how important a third ceremony is to her. Your guests weren’t planning to sit through three ceremonies. It’s August and it’s hot. Let’s consider their needs.”

The godmother and mother agreed to “share a ceremony.” The father begrudgingly took the second ceremony after a coin flip to be in the first ceremony.

I called my groom leaving Tom Thumb to “broach the ceremony details.” As usual, whenever I’ve talked to him he was good natured and “aware of the situation.”

“What can we do to make my mom feel special and included?” Well, there are a number of things but what was important to her was to walk with her son. “I know you haven’t considered this before and may be able to communicate it to the bride for me but one day you will have children. One day your mother will be a grandmother. One day this day will be in the past but not forgotten. I’m going to suggest speaking to your bride and advising her of the marriage investment your mother put into this day because her parents couldn’t afford to. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees but everything your bride wanted has been addressed by your mother. She deserves to share this day with you. She earned it.”

I gave him a few minutes to ponder my thoughts on what was just and fair. He was in a precarious position of being the man in the middle. It’s not an easy position. It’s a position my son had years ago and it’s stressful. You can’t make everyone happy all of the time but you can be rational on wedding day. You can be respectful and you can be thankful for those who contributed to the expense of your wedding.

“Ms Wendy you’re right. I know that __ has been a bit tough to deal with throughout this process and I thought that once the wedding was over she would settle down but maybe I should talk to her and tell her it’s important to me.” Good plan.

The wedding went off without a hitch and the bride had an eye opening enlightenment regarding her new mother in law being an ally rather than an enemy vying for the attention of her new beau. One day she will be a mother and her parents who bothered to show up at the wedding but didn’t bother to do anything else will probably show up at the birth of her child but her new mother in law will be involved. Excited. Shopping for her new grandchild and an active part of its life.

Why parents push the person their children are marrying away I have no idea. Marriage is a merger. It merges families. It blends people who may not blend well.

I’m glad we were scheduled so early today as I head to my next “socially distant ceremony.” I’m happy that things worked out and I had time to enjoy my coffee while sitting in the parking lot watching guests take selfies and wait their turn to congratulate my couple.

“When KINDNESS is CONSISTENT it becomes CONSTANT.” Cindy Daniel

Socially distant weddings are so odd to me. I miss being in a room crammed with guests and family. I miss the party environment. The celebration. The precious moments.

What I also miss the most are my prison weddings. I can’t wait for visitation to reopen. There are no arguments over rehearsal dinners or the procession. There are no issues of entitlement. There are amazing people who are thrilled to be getting married and thankful for the opportunity…

“Is The Nightmare Really Black Or Are The Windows Painted?” Elton John

For two months now I’ve waited and hoped for good news while praying that this virus would leave as quickly as it came. I’m not alone. The news is so depressing these days.

From anxiety to depression Covid-19 has set the world on edge. For inmates the fear of dying is valid. For loved ones of inmates worry and concern go hand in hand.

There isn’t any good news these days. Gloom and Doom fill the internet, news and media.

Finding hope amidst hopelessness is no easy task. In fact it’s similar to searching for a needle in a haystack.

My hometown of Lompoc, California is saturated with Covid cases. The COVID-19 time bomb ticking inside the Lompoc prison complex since late March detonated in dramatic fashion this week as the federal facility confirmed 912 open cases among inmates and 25 cases among staff. The outbreak remains the largest in any federal prison in the United States.

The rest of Santa Barbara County has reported 475 total positive cases.

My sister, Tammy called me alarmed, worried and concerned about filing for unemployment. It’s something neither I or my sisters have ever done before.

Tammy has worked at an upscale restaurant in Buelton since she was 19 years old. Everyone in our family learned the value of working at a very young age. We didn’t have anyone to “fall back on.” Instead we had each other and strong work ethics.

There are three things that I remember most about Lompoc every time I roll into town, the prison, the base and the flowers. Lompoc is known as the valley of the flowers. Tammy never left Lompoc.

Many of our relatives stayed in Lompoc but Cindy and I had no real choice about leaving. Our mothers mother adopted Tammy.

Our father loaded up Cindy, Jerry and I and left our hometown and everything familiar to us behind.

I thrive on structure and predictability. My reasons are based entirely on my childhood. Nothing was predictable. Bounced from relative to relative my siblings and I were often unaware of where we would be from one day to the next.

Cindy has stayed in the same house for nearly twenty five years so her daughters and granddaughters could attend the same schools. Structure is important to her too.

My son attended private school so moving wouldn’t change his structure. I drove him thirty minutes to an hour away until he was able and old enough to drive himself.

I wanted my son to go to school with the same friends. Predictability and structure during his school years were very important to me. Being the mother I didn’t have was never easy or inexpensive but worth my effort and attention.

I wanted predictability for my child I had never had for myself. Cindy and I both shared the same importance of stability for our children that we had never had as children ourselves.

Cindy and I broke the chains of our broken childhood. We changed the outcome for our own children and grandchildren. We gave them the childhood we would have wanted for ourselves. It was entirely a joint decision.

Cindy and I have both raised our children and grandchildren together.

Mothers Day is always a hardship for me. It’s a day of gloom and doom even in the best of times. I can never understand why our mother made the decisions she did.

Further I cannot under any circumstances send a sappy card about what a wonderful mother she was. None of my mothers children can. We struggle through every Mother’s Day fighting to remain positive. Pretending we have a normal family. Knowing we don’t. We never have. We never will.

Our mother broke our family. She exposed all three of her daughters to predators. Addicts and “friends” of hers who took advantage of her children often right in front of her. We had no one to protect us. We had no one who cared enough to step up or step in.

My depression each and every Mother’s Day occasionally takes me several days to put away.

Posts from happy families celebrating their mother. Internet “tips” for making this Mother’s Day perfect for your mother. The best way to treat your mother to a wonderful holiday based entirely on the sacrifices she made for her children. Ugh.

Cindy and I switched up this Mother’s Day ooh la la stuff when our children were old enough to realize we prefer to treat it like any other day and treat our kids to lunch and a movie or a trip to the casino. Our older kids are in their 30’s.

Cindy’s twin grand daughters often buy gifts for her and I while shopping with my husband or their Papa. They don’t understand why Mother’s Day is a dark day for us.

The twins don’t know why their MiMi’s dread the yearly phone call to our mother to wish her a happy Mother’s Day while secretly wondering why we continue to keep up this “faux celebration” of a day that reminds us over and over again that we never had a real mother. We never will.

Monday while scrolling FB and waiting on the police to report my fathers truck stolen, I saw a post from Naquitia about Mother’s Day that grabbed my attention. She was hurt that her children hadn’t bothered to do anything for Mother’s Day. I was relieved my son hadn’t. Why rub it in? The day of the year that kicks off my yearly reminder of having absent parents is Mother’s Day.

Don’t even get me started on Father’s Day. Ugh from the frying pan straight over to the fire. Tit for tat. “You wouldn’t be where you are without me.” Really? I’m where I am because I learned that in order to keep from starving I would need to work my ass off. I don’t “owe” anybody. I’m well off and live comfortably. I don’t have to work. No one gave me financial security. I earned it.

By the time I slap myself together enough to put Mother’s Day behind me it’s Father’s Day. You get the point.

Anyway, I’ve been driving by my dads house for two years. What am I looking for? Broken windows. Signs of an intruder. The usual. I had driven past when I noticed his truck was missing. Ugh. Now I had to have a conversation with my dad BEFORE Father’s Day to “update him that the truck was missing.”

My father and I have a very strained relationship. My father never forgave me for hiring an investigator to locate my mother in my 20’s.

In fact most of my fathers side of the family and even my brother were angered about it.

I wanted answers. I really wanted an apology. I got neither. The same day my mother met me in exchange for $1500 she was in a debilitating car accident that she would never recover from.

I was so shocked by my meeting with her that I lost the opportunity to tell her what a shit she was. Why couldn’t she lie and say she was sorry or that she wondered what had happened to us? Why couldn’t I express my anger? I was dumb struck at her cold responses while she counted my money.

I would never have the opportunity to “say what I really think” to my mother. She has no memory of what she put her four children through. I believe she knows more than she lets on but challenging this fact would upset my sisters and our already fragile faux normal family. I zip it instead.

My sisters and I pretend normality around our mother. It’s strained, awkward and always emotionally debilitating.

My friend and prison bride, Naquitia had written on her FB wall “my kids don’t even know what day this is.”

I was immediately struck by her post for a few reasons. First, her kids should know what day it is the older ones at least and second I was busy trying to forget Mother’s Day.

I commented on the post and advised her that Cindy and I try to forget Mother’s Day every year.

Her response touched me though. “If I had a husband at home, he would be taking these kids to buy me gifts and teaching them to celebrate me.”

It’s something I had never really put much thought into but she was right. My prison clients in numerous states are often alone on Mother’s Day. Those who aren’t are often forgotten by their children.

Another prison bride sent me a message on FB that read “my son isn’t talking to me it’s been six months. What can I do? My heart is broken.” Karen like many mothers would like to mend this rift but her son doesn’t approve of her plans to marry an inmate. I suggested sending her son a card or letter expressing her love for him while acknowledging that she must make her own decisions when it comes to choosing a life partner.

I have no idea how this will turn out for Karen but I firmly believe in the power of communicating your feelings unless of course you are me and my sisters. We communicate our feelings to each other and skip our parents.

When Cindy’s husband was home and Leigh Ann and Stephaney we’re younger, Steve took them shopping for Cindy to celebrate Mother’s Day.

When my son was still living at home, Matthew not only took him to shop for a Mother’s Day gift but even got a card from my dog, Foxy lord rest his soul. I’ve missed Foxy so much during this pandemic. He would have loved having me home.

I decided to send Naquitia some fabric. She’s an excellent seamstress and I knew she would enjoy some of our LV fabric to make masks. She did. She also sent me a photo wearing the mask she had used my material to create.

Naquitia is a good friend. All of my clients are. They are amazing, resilient and sadly, alone. Separated from their loved ones by prison walls. Sending the fabric to Naquitia, I decided to send a few of our custom masks to a few of my prison clients who had messaged me regarding being miserable on Mother’s Day themselves. Better late than never. If their kids wouldn’t celebrate them I would.

The inability to visit their loved ones along with the worry that their loved ones will become sick with Covid spreading through the prison system keeps fear and hopelessness at an all time high.

My clients have resilience, strength, patience and perseverance. They have also taught me to focus on other mothers on Mother’s Day rather than my own. It’s taken me 55 years to get past hating Mother’s Day but my clients have.

The police finally arrived at my dads house to take the stolen truck report and logged off FB to begin going over the details.

Google images showed that the truck had been parked exactly where I had last seen it and tread marks appear to have been from a trailer hauling it off.

The truck had sat there for five years. Flat tires and all. Who would steal it?

Someone was unaware that I regularly drive by and would notice it was missing.

Three months ago my sister and I hired a tow truck to move my dads other car a Mitsubishi Galant to her home until we could find an international carrier to move it to our brothers home in Monroe, North Carolina. It’s expensive to move vehicles ya all.

The policeman needed my dads date of birth. Ugh. I have no idea of my dads date of birth. I called my sister in law, Michelle who knew it.

I have no idea what my mothers birthday is either. I know my parents were both 21 when Cindy and I were born. We’ve never celebrated our parents birthdays. They’ve never celebrated ours.

I’ve never had a birthday gift from anyone in my family in my entire life. Cindy hasn’t either. For many years after locating my mother that fateful day in California and wishing I hadn’t, the benefit of meeting my mothers mother who never forgot my birthday or Christmas and even my sons birthday was the sheer delight of finding a greeting card in my mailbox.

When the cards stopped coming I knew that grandma Tinney had passed on. No birthday card in November no Christmas card in December. I called Lompoc and confirmed that grandma Tinney was gone.

The only person in my entire life who bothered to send a birthday and Christmas card every year to not only me but also my sister Cindy and her daughters. You remember things that you never had. You are thankful for them too.

Father’s Day is right around the corner. There are 3 days I intentionally overlook every year. My birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I’ve decided to start focusing on others instead. It’s a good place to start.

My clients are the family I never had but was gifted with instead. They bring me joy. They call to check on me during this pandemic. They are amazing.

While I continue to hope and pray this virus finally leaves the prison system and the former structure of my life can be restored, I’m hopeful that Father’s Day this year will be different for me. My son is a new father. I’m a new grandmother. I have many things in my life to be thankful for. I will focus on moving beyond my anxiety of going down the card aisle with others buying sappy cards for their parents and buy a sappy card for my son and his wife or my clients.

I will work on accepting that not having parents in my life made me a better person. A kinder person. A compassionate person. The things in my life I didn’t have never defined me. I became the person I wanted to meet. The mother I never had. The father my son needed. I was capable of far more.

You don’t need parents in your life to be a good parent. You need patience, love and understanding…

More Clerks And Chaos. Why Buying Your Marriage License Isn’t Easy…

This morning I began trying to contact clerks for clients who have their paperwork but can’t find a clerk to buy a license from.

Harris County is still closed to the public. Travis County is too. Bexar County is taking appointments. Tarrant County is booked through May 15th. Dallas County is closed.

Bexar County is booking appointments. For a month now finding a clerks office for my clients has required diligent research.

One of my clients told me that McClennan County is open to the public. Galveston is open to the public.

Your paperwork has a shelf life. We only have 30 days once the Absentee Affidavit is notarized at the law library. Often it takes up to ten days to get the paperwork from the Unit. The clock starts ticking the moment the Absentee Affidavit is signed.

May 1st could possibly be the date that clerks offices reopen but we can’t be sure. Harris, Travis, Dallas and Tarrant County continue to have rising numbers of Covid-19.

If your paperwork expires while trying to find a clerk, you will send another Absentee Affidavit to the clerks office. The Certified Offender Form doesn’t carry the same shelf life as the Absentee Affidavit. It’s valid for one year verses the 30 day timeline of the Affidavit.

I’ve had several clients send me photos of Affidavits sent from the Unit that were not notarized. In order to be legal, an Absentee Affidavit requires a notary stamp and signature. If you have received an Affidavit that hasn’t been notarized, we will need to send the Affidavit back to the Unit.

Stay calm. This Covid-19 situation is temporary. It will pass. Keep the inmates in your prayers as this virus spreads through Units. Sadly, this is by far worse than the Swine Flu which also spread through prisons a few years ago.

A journalist contacted me Saturday asking “how Covid-19 has affected my clients?” How hasn’t it affected us all? I have 51 clients in Texas alone waiting to marry an inmate. Fifty one people who are left holding the bag and waiting. Worrying about their loved ones.

I’m hoping that May reopens the visitation to most Units but we have a large portion of TDCJ Units that are currently on medical lockdown. These Units are on 14 day lockdowns from the date an inmate tests positive. As long as this virus is running through Units, we are unable to begin scheduling.

I’ve had a few former clients that have contacted me regarding parole packets and letters of support. I’m happy to send you the links.

A few clients have encountered visitation suspensions. Remember that’s it essential to prepare your appeal in a timely fashion. If you need assistance preparing your appeal, contact me.

Walker County is preparing Marriage Licenses by mail.

Sadly, I’ve had four clients contact me regarding a divorce. These are trying times for relationships. Before you make a permanent decision regarding a temporary situation, step back and understand that this too shall pass.

Emotions are running wild right now for everyone. As I write this blog, I’m answering texts from a former client who was rope a doped into a Catfish Adoption ring. Sending money to someone she hadn’t met? Yes. Deanna is desperate for a baby. Desperate enough to do anything.

I’m also on the phone with my sister in law, Michelle who had to call the police this weekend because they had both their adult kids and their spouses and all of their grandkids and our father living under one roof in Monroe, North Carolina. Michelle has been having problems with her daughters husband. A shiftless jerk who won’t work. My brother is supporting everyone under his roof. Michelle is doing all of the cooking and cleaning. Jerry and Michelle’s daughters husband is and has been disrespectful and combative to Michelle. Friday night, Hope’s husnand threatened to kill Michelle. This is shocking. Michelle has no choice. The ongoing arguments between her son in law and his stupidity have robbed Jerry and Michelle’s home of any peace. My brother works 6 days a week. Michelle is and has been caring for my dad, her grandkids, her adult children and why her daughter doesn’t see what a Deadbeat she’s married to. Michelle’s daughter manipulates her by using her three children. “If you make him leave, I’m leaving with him and I’m taking the kids with us.”

Michelle had to make a decision. You cannot live in your own home in fear. You cannot be afraid your son in law is going to kill you, your daughter or one of your grandchildren. Cindy and I have advised Michelle to hold her ground. You cannot allow someone violent to live in your home.

Michelle is now being manipulated by her daughter. How? Hope is using her three children. Michelle has been forced into either allowing someone violent in her home or worrying about her daughter and grandchildren. Hope’s husband is a violent, lazy and shiftless bum. Why she had three kids with this loser none of us can understand.

Michelle has been cooking and cleaning singlehandedly for 10 people. My brother, Jerry is supporting an entire household singlehandedly. With shingles no less. Jerry’s stress levels are through the roof. Cindy and I continue to send Jerry and Michelle whatever we can to help our baby brother and his wife. But we can’t control from Texas what’s going on in North Carolina. Michelle has been reaching a boiling point for weeks now.

Jerry was unaware of just how bad it is at his home between Michelle and their son and law. Why? Michelle doesn’t tell Jerry.

Will Hope leave an abuser with a violent temper? We don’t know.

Will Deanna ever find a baby to fill the void losing Delilah left in her life? We don’t know.

But we know this, these are trying times for everyone. Jerry and Michelle’s adult children and their spouses are now out of work. Michelle worries about her grandchildren eating. Her daughter should have left the children with Jerry and Michelle but didn’t. Instead she left with her husband who had just threatened to kill her mom.

Will my sister in law be able to see her grandchildren after all this? I don’t know. I hope so. I pray her daughter sees the light and realizes what’s best for herself and her children…

What If? Why Not? What For? When Love Isn’t Enough…

Reading text messages from my Michael Unit Bride, Bridget, it became apparent that salvaging a marriage she had wanted so badly wasn’t going to work. Why? Her husband was making financial demands of sending $500 here or $700 there or he would be the victim of gang violence? Guilt is often a form of coercion and manipulation. Was Bridget aware of this? Perhaps not but I was about to enlighten her.

Bridget met her future husband in middle school. They hadn’t seen each other in thirty years. How did they reconnect? Her future husbands mother put Bridget in touch with her son.

At the time Bridget contacted me about marrying at Michael Unit, she was excited and thrilled to have found love. They hadn’t seen one another in person for thirty years. Their only correspondence was by mail or phone. I was a bit concerned about the fact that Bridget hadn’t had a visit and mentioned this to her but she wanted the emotional surprise and delight of seeing each other on wedding day.

I rolled into the parking lot at Michael in one of our Santa Fe suvs that day. I sent a text to Bridget and met her in the parking lot. We walked into the shakedown area.

For the record, I remember each moment I finally meet my clients marrying an inmate in person. Why? Because my traditional clients have always met me in person long before wedding day.

Clients marrying an inmate talk, text and email. We have a virtual relationship long before an in person meeting.

As we waited for our escort at Michael Unit, Bridget gave me the details of how this love story came about. It was romantic and filled with precious memories of their childhood. I loved the dynamics of “love finding a way.”

I never ask why an inmate is incarcerated. Often though my clients share this information on their own. Bridgets soon to be husband had a 55 year sentence. This alarmed me. Why? Because 55 years is a very long time.

While it’s true I have many clients who marry a lifer or death row inmate, I wondered with a sentence that heavy and a virtual courtship if Bridget could make this marriage work? After all, Bridget had children and grandchildren. The expenses of being a prison wife are many. Money on the books of an inmate, expensive phone calls, long drives to the Unit and lonely nights and holidays are hard on the person on the outside.

I recalled another client at Stiles who had been on the outside not once but twice for an inmate who claimed he wanted a fresh start only to wind up back in prison. My bride had called me after he was again back in the system. She needed an ear to listen. She needed a way to vent her frustration at loving someone who chose to go back to his old ways. He was released last month. Will he fly straight? Only time will tell but his beautiful wife won’t be around for a third stint. Everyone has limits.

My Wynn Unit bride contacted me about a divorce two months ago. My Ellis Unit client contacted me about a divorce while Cindy and I were in California.

Now Bridget is contacting me about a divorce. This is alarming. Why? All of these clients are in Texas. Not other service area states but only in Texas? Why the trend?

I sent Bridget information to self file her divorce. She’s in Dallas County. The clerks offices and courts are closed. Her husband continues to accuse her of being unfaithful. This type of tactic is a form of control. Generally it’s used to put the victim on the defensive. Why? To rattle their cage. To force them into being defensive. Manipulative people use emotion to bend or break someone. Bridget’s husband claimed the gang going after him was going after him for drugs. How did he obtain drugs in prison? Why did he consistently accuse her of being unfaithful. Why did he use guilt to attempt to coerce her into sending hundreds of dollars she didn’t have to send? Control.

Let’s go back to a client a few years ago who told me the inmate wanted her to send risqué photos of herself to him. She was uncomfortable about this and said so. The inmate became infuriated about her refusal. He then accused her of being unfaithful. He then demanded she send half of her income to him “to create a nest egg for our future.”

When I heard these red flags flying, I advised her to cut him off entirely. Stop taking his calls. Stop sending money. Stop being manipulated. Why? She has 3 children. She works two jobs. The last thing she needs are upsetting phone calls and accusations along with monetary demands. She cancelled plans to marry this con artist and found love on the outside.

Let’s go back to the two brides and one groom “scenario.” It’s tough to shock me but that catastrophe did. On the one hand I had someone in North Dakota wanting to marry someone in TDCJ. On the other hand I had someone in San Antonio wanting to marry the SAME INMATE.

How did I know it was the same inmate? The Unit, the inmates ID number and the inmates name perfectly matched. It was the same person. This Don Juan had a lot of time on his hands. He also had not one but two women sending him money in exchange for him sending these two women identical love letters. North Dakota sent me videos of the love letters to prove it was the same inmate she also sent copies of the envelopes. San Antonio sent me copies of the letters too. I advised both of these women to dump the flim flam man.

For weeks I continued to lay out all of the reasons this unethical scoundrel wasn’t marriage material. San Antonio demanded he “choose” between the two brides. She also decided to go ahead and marry him. He was paroled two weeks after the marriage.

While Cindy and I were in California he also hit the young lady who had offered her heart and her home to this abusive con man.

There are a number of names for scoundrels. Let’s review them… Charleton, Fraudster, Dastard, Scallywag, Bagabond, Hooligan, Grifter, Swindler, Rat, Villain, & Rogue to name a few. I’m going to add Insincere and Treacherous.

For the “prisoner attempting polygamy” all of the above references fit what he had been doing to not one but TWO WOMEN.

Betrayed by her husband, the bride that decided to marry the emotionally unfaithful con man who had prayed and played two women at the same time (that we knew of since there could have been more) she sent me a message on FB for her help filing a divorce. Cindy and I were in Oceanside. I asked what had happened? She told me he had struck her. That was enough information for me and certainly too much for her. Two weeks out of the joint and physically abusive only added to the emotional abuse this inmate had put her through. She’s divorced now and happy I might add. Well rid of a snake that crawled into her life and begrudgingly slithered out of it.

Bridget like all of my clients is worthy of true love. True love doesn’t have a price tag or demands. True love is freely given and freely received.

“When Kindness Is Consistent It Becomes Constant.” Cindy Daniel

Bridget like all of my clients deserves to find love and have love. Sadly, she married someone unworthy of her. Together we will fix that by obtaining a divorce and freeing the chains that bound her to someone hellbent on taking advantage of her…

Love, Life, Loss And The Power Of Patience. Clerks Office Closures & Chaos..

Yesterday my Ferguson Unit bride contacted me regarding buying her license. The Unit had finally sent the Absentee Affidavit and Inmate ID but she lives in another state and many Texas clerks are either closed altogether or requiring an appointment to purchase a marriage license.

Dallas county is no longer taking appointments and is closed until further notice.

Walker county is only booking appointments with residents living in the county.

Tarrant county is taking appointments but they are booked two weeks out towards the end of the month.

The Absentee Affidavit has a 30 day shelf life once notarized. Often 8-10 days have passed by the time my clients receive this vital document from the Unit.

Because many of my clients are having trouble finding anywhere to buy a marriage license, the possibility of having to send a second Absentee Affidavit exists.

Normally, law libraries at prisons (state or federal) are hesitant to notarize a second Affidavit for an inmate but these are extraordinary times. I’ve spoke to nearly 100 Units to advise law libraries that many of my clients are unable to find a clerks office to buy a marriage license in order to give them a heads up that a flood of second I60 Affidavit notary requests are not only a possibility but most likely a probability.

Don’t worry ya all the law libraries are aware of your struggle to find a county clerk open within the short shelf life of the state issued absentee affidavit.

Many people as shocked and disheartened at learning after finally obtaining the paperwork they waited months to receive that they can’t find a clerk to sell them a marriage license.

In a sense this new trend of no clerks available is deja vu for me. How so? I’ve encountered my clients having problems getting marriage licenses before. In June 2015 to be precise. Oh my the summer of 2015 was a carnival of chaos! Due entirely to opinionated clerks refusing to issue a marriage license to same sex couples? Yes.

The problems lasted for months in Texas. There wasn’t a pandemic. There was something equally extraordinary going on. The Supreme Court ruling granting same sex couples the right to marry. This decision occurred on June 26, 2015.

What happened next in Texas would surprise my excited couples running to the courthouse.

Couples who had never expected to have the right to marry.

Couples who were celebratory in their anticipation of dashing off to the clerks office to buy a marriage license.

Couples who then contacted me when no one would issue them a license at a clerks office. The first call shocked me. The second call infuriated me but the calls kept coming and I effectively saddled up to drive and meet clients here, there and everywhere to walk into the courthouse with them. They were too intimidated to walk in alone.

The news of others being turned away caused further anxiety for them. “Please Ms Wendy we need you to come with us.” In Parker County my clients called crying and said “we will never get married they nearly threw us out of the clerks office.” I orchestrated a picket in Parker County. My clients Kat and Tiffany were the first same sex couple to be issued a marriage license. But it wasn’t easy. It was a hurdle that took days to overcome.

Yes, I’ve seen problems getting a marriage license before and firsthand.

Many of my clients the summer of 2015 had me calling clerks across Texas to see who would issue a license. Others wanted me to go with them. Still others chose for me to marry them in Oklahoma or Arkansas. They gave up on getting a license in Texas.

My team and I saddled up and drove to Oklahoma so many times that the “Welcome to Texas” or “Welcome to Oklahoma” signs were like a revolving door for our suvs running here or there.

It was a trying time in Texas. The controversy went on for months.

I was all over Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas that summer of 2015. Covering every base.

In 2017, I would (yet again) encounter opinionated clerks. THIS time for different reasons. This time because they didn’t believe inmates should have the right to marry. Especially LBGT inmates. Heaven help us. Texas clerks who forgot their job description included issuing marriage licenses?

People who had been hired to issue marriage licenses for a living that refused to do their job.

Opinionated county clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses based on religious reasons? AGAIN? I was as shocked as my clients.

Tarrant County was by far the nicest clerks office I have ever encountered in Texas and still is.

Tarrant County is also accepting from other counties which is why they are backlogged.

If you are a booked client and your marriage license expires waiting for a date, I will reimburse you reimburse you 1/2 the cost of your marriage license but this offer is ONLY VALID for previously booked clients as a courtesy.

Yesterday I was also interviewed by a journalist in California apparently following my blogs and social media who “found me on LinkedIn.” Was I lost? Lol. Media people always “find me on LinkedIn.”

It’s a running joke with Cindy and I. Cindy “how did they find us?” Wendy “apparently they were looking on LinkedIn.” We both laugh.

This journalist was initially only interested in my balcony elopement ceremonies at my home due to restrictions of group gatherings.

Love will find a way and for clients canceled by the venue, it did right in my front yard.

After discussing the challenges this virus has brought to my clients marrying an inmate in the many states that Cindy and I service, the interview switched over to “why and how I became a prison officiant in Texas?” Oh brother here we go again… I’m so controversial or so a few people think.

I had been marrying people in jails and federal facilities for many years in other states long before I began officiating in Texas state prisons.

Why? No one had asked me to officiate in a TDCJ facility until April 2017.

In three years now I’ve officiated several hundred Texas Department Of Criminal Justice weddings.

So many in fact that nearly my entire client base shifted to inmate weddings predominantly in Texas and California but also in 36 other states.

Other service area states only schedule inmate weddings 1 to 2 days per year. Mostly scheduling only occurs 1 day a year in many states which is why and how “we can cover so many states including Texas.”

Texas Units schedule EVERY inmate wedding at their facility two days a month.

Shocking as it may sound, I now regularly “turn down traditional bookings” unless the gig is at a venue that I’m on staff at such as Belltower Chapel.

For three years now, my client base has shifted to prison weddings which (not surprisingly) shocks anyone contacting me from media.

Don’t be shocked. I prefer inmate weddings. Why? Because there are no drunks at a detention center wedding that’s why. There is no drama. There are no divas. There are no guests.

When you’ve been planning and officiating events as long as I have you have seen drama. You have encountered drunks.

I’m picky about large Events and have been for years now. Why? Because I can be that’s why. I don’t have to work. I work because I enjoy the clients, the travel and the special moments I share with my clients.

My life is an adventure from one day right into the next. Retirement? How boring.

Cindy and I are born entrepreneurs. We created a people over profit based business to help anyone. Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures were merged in order to create a barter option, The Pawning Planners in 2015.

While other vendors laughed, we laughed all the way to the bank.

We helped rich people AND poor people along with any economic level in between. We opened a window to help low to middle income clients that had never existed.

Creative people are often laughed at until someone realizes they are successful.

In 2017, due to the demand for inmate weddings, we again rebranded and expanded Texas Twins Events to include inmate weddings in 38 states. Federal, ICE, Private, County or State operated.

“Entrepreneurs are people that will use any obstacle they encounter as a vehicle towards success.” Cindy Daniel

Now and then, someone noticing our success asks us to train them. This always takes me off guard a bit. I begin reading an email that starts with “I noticed you are the most sought after inmate officiant and decided I would like to start a business like yours. When can I call you to find out how?” Short answer? Don’t bother. I’m not hiring and my entire family work with me as inmate officiants. You will never be successful in the inmate officiant business without three critical components. What are they? Knowledge. Don’t ever walk into a Unit without being fully informed regarding policy and procedure. Educate yourself. Second you will need the clients to make your business successful. Third, you will be required to do far more than simply show up. You will need to assist your clients through a very lengthy paperwork process. Unless you can successfully do all of the above and support yourself financially in your quest to compete, you will fail. This role requires answering your phone 24/7. This role requires knowledge, passion and dedication. This role often requires answering 10-30 emails from the same client throughout the prison wedding planning process.

Traditionally, an officiant spends 30 minutes on site at a wedding and less than 2 hours preparing for the ceremony.

Inmate weddings involve travel. I can map out several Units on the same day and do on a regular basis. Are you ready to drive 2-4k miles a week? If you aren’t this isn’t the business for you.

“We don’t create competition that we don’t have.” We set out to be different from the start. Others laughed. Prison weddings? Where will they find the clients? Heads up we don’t they find us.

Bartering event services? Those twins are crazy. Yea, crazy like a fox. We have been flipping items for most of our lives. We are also experienced appraisers. If we can’t flip it we don’t take it in trade.

We also are capable of creating our own inventory and do including bouquets, bouteniers, veils and floral designs. We bring everything our clients need on wedding day. We own the inventory we loan.

Cindy and I were different from the beginning of Texas Twins Treasures by flipping refurbished items as early as 2003 with our first EBay account. We had to be creative! Why? Both of our husbands were unemployed.

Flipping items at Texas Twins Treasures literally saved our farms. We circled our wagons and figured it out. Cindy and I even sold our own furniture to pay the bills and replaced our homes with refurbished furniture items. We found flips then bartered the fabric then bartered the labor with a local upholsterer.

Cindy and I learned how to be creative. Why? We had no choice. We didn’t have parents to call for help. We had each other.

Poverty is a great teacher. You learn how to survive while learning to think outside the box. Cindy and I aren’t in the teaching industry. Sure if we had time we could be but we don’t. We have three businesses with a very diverse group of clients that warrant our attention.

Cindy and I are in the entrepreneurial industry. Experienced public speakers, problem solvers and selling geniuses. We’ve worked in sales for thirty years. We’ve also worked as brand ambassadors. People are either born to sell or they aren’t.

Cindy and I don’t just sell what other people sell. We sell what people want. Dedication, quality, transparency, honesty and integrity. You can build a business from the ground up. We did.

Cindy and I have built all of our businesses solely on happy clients referrals. Loyalty is important to us. We have never advertised or needed to.

“Without common sense your wealth today can become your poverty tomorrow.” Cindy Daniel

My candor often shocks media people contacting me now and then.

Perhaps they are unprepared for my transparency? Oh well that’s THEIR LUGGAGE and THEIR TRIP.

If you are contacting me for an interview, buckle up for transparency, honesty and candor. My life and my business are a wild mix. From an exclusive venue to a prison? You bet.

Any journalist contacting me is contacting me because they are either shocked we make our diversity work or surprised at our success.

Often, “media people” are equally taken back by our grit, drive, determination and ambition.

These Texas Twins are just as resilient as our clients. Our inmate wedding clients are warriors. They do it all and they do it on the outside alone. They are resilient, passionate and perseverant.

“If you don’t focus on your journey to success you will end up working for the person who did.” Cindy Daniel

Monday I was contacted by someone with the Dallas Morning News who had read my blog on Texas Twins Events regarding “Catfish Adoption Scams.”

Did I think at the time that the person contacting me was using me as bait to get to my client, Deanna? No. I thought someone contacting me because she wanted to give up her baby was a blessing.

After all, April 11 was and will always be a heartbreaking day for Deanna and Burt. It was the day they lost DeLilah at Harris Hospital. It was the day I baptized DeLilah.

Two days later I officiated Delilahs memorial.

Several months later, my niece and twin sister joined me at a photo shoot for the Villareal IVF fund.

Deanna needed family photos for her campaign. Months later Deanna learned she couldn’t conceive. Months later Deanna decided to try surrogacy. A year later, Deanna still had no success.

Fast forward November 2019. A message sent to my FB account by Lacey stated “I’m pregnant and I want to give my baby up for adoption.” It’s hard to surprise me.

FB hid this message from me until I was searching hidden messages last Tuesday and found it. No one was more shocked to see that message than I was.

But over the course of a few days, Lacey would show her true colors. Lacey never did speak to me on the phone. She always had an excuse. She would only correspond by text and messenger.

Lacey could have been a man for all I know. Here’s what I do know, Lacey wanted to get her claws on Deanna and used me to get to her.

Deanna would do anything for a baby and somehow some way Lacey knew it.

Each and every day I’m contacted by someone who is trying to accomplish this or do that and has no idea how. I’m accustomed to unique situations. I wasn’t familiar with the situation of someone like Lacey. I prefer transparency in all areas of my life.

I’m still reeling from Lacey and the drama that unfolded Easter Sunday. Deanna is too but we will both be far more cautious from this point forward.

If you missed the blog on Texas Twins Events, here’s my last eye opening blog post about Lacey and her for profit adoption scheme… Deception And Direct Deposit? Adoption Scam.

Back to county clerks chaos… Whether you find a clerk in time to obtain your marriage license or not, stay calm. We can send another Affidavit to the Unit.

For my county jail clients, it’s often easier to wait until the inmate is transferred. Why? Because currently no county inmates are being chained into the system. County Jails have no law library.

An Absentee Affidavit REQUIRES a notary.

If a County Jail won’t allow a mobile notary into their facility, you cannot obtain the Texas required Absentee Affidavit.

I’m off today to ship our latest addition to Texas Twins Treasures, logo designed face masks. We have sold out twice which is pretty surprising to Cindy.

Cindy and I are currently sold out of all Texas Twins Treasures logo detailed face masks and we will have new stock in two weeks.

Cindy and I will not be restocking Versace until mid May as Chanel and LV outsold the Versace masks hands down.

We sell what sells and apparently the Versace isn’t as popular. I don’t know why because I liked the Versace because it was different but apparently not everyone else did.

My twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna are models our latest additions to Texas Twins Treasures. Maryssa is a ham for selfies anyway so she’s having fun hamming it up for the camera.

Why did we go into the mask business? The possibility of all my service area states and State as well as Federal Units possibly requiring not only Cindy and I but also all of our clients to wear masks after the Coronavirus exists.

Walking into a prison after Covid-19 wearing a mask will be different but it’s safety first issue.

Unable to find masks for ourselves or our clients, Cindy and I decided to make our own.

Our success by offering designer masks has shocked a few of our competitors who didn’t think of it themselves or who wonder where we are getting our fabric.

Our fabric is straight out of my closet. From designer scarves, dresses, slacks and pants to bathing suits, I’ve been collecting designer logo clothing for some thirty plus years now and used what I had on hand to create these amazing one of a kind designs.

We do not sell fabric for our masks or refurbished furniture items in my Texas Twins Treasures storefront. Why? Because the average Joe has no idea how expensive quality fabric is for one and for two it wouldn’t be a Texas Twins Treasure if you could find it anywhere.

“Some people may get jealous when you find success because they are too lazy to look for it themselves.” Cindy Daniel

Prisons, People, Phobias & Fears. Why I’m Not Afraid To Be A Prison Wedding Planner & Officiant…

I answer a lot of questions. Questions from people who disagree with inmate marriage. Questions from people wanting to marry an inmate. Questions from media about whether the Coronavirus will affect me in the future.

For the record, when I walk into the Unit with my client or alone to meet my client or clients in the shakedown area, fear isn’t part of my day.

As a prison wedding officiant, my role is and always will be to remain calm and ensure that my clients wedding day is as pleasant and memorable as possible.

I was at Beto Unit on March 10. A month ago, it was business at usual at Beto. I visited with Chaplain Strange. We waited for my clients fiancée to arrive in the visitation area with an escort.

I’m never in general population with inmates at any Unit in any State, Federal or ICE Detention Facility.

The number of people my client and I are with at a wedding can range from 2 correctional officers to 1 and the Unit Chaplain or several correctional officers based on the day or whether the visitation area is being used for training.

It’s not uncommon for the visitation area to be “in use” on wedding day at many Units. When this occurs, my client an I are often redirected to either another room or we wait for the visitation area to clear.

Generally other than my client and their fiancée, one officer and the chaplain, we are alone.

Prison weddings are remarkably intimate. There are very few people present. Often I have more than one client at the same Unit on the same day. Certain Units will allow all of my clients and I to enter together while other Units only allow me to enter with 1 client at a time while the others wait for me to finish my ceremony then return to the shakedown area with my next client.

I’m often asked “how can you do so many Units in the same day?” This works in Texas and other states based on timing and distance from one Unit to the next. It’s not always possible to pull off a multi Unit day but it happens with frequency the past three years for me. Why? I’m the most sought after prison officiant in the United States. Why? Because I make every clients wedding as special as they are. It’s important to me. From creating a massive inventory of bouquets, tiaras, stylish hats and more to crafting an individual and unique ceremony script for each client, weddings are Life Events to me and a one time shot to get everything as close to perfect as I can under extraordinary circumstances.

“Your twin sister and your niece are also prison officiants. Your son and daughter in law officiate are county jails and BOP facilities. Do you see moving your son and daughter in law into state ceremonies?” For now, my son and his wife are on a paternity leave and generally I’m able to cover all of my clients by stacking Units.

“The visitation ban has affected your booking schedule. Will you be overwhelmed when visitation is reinstated with reschedules?” To a certain extent the answer is yes. My March clients were canceled and will be scheduled first. Bookings in Texas State Facilities are often scheduled on either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Mondays and Fridays are rare. They can happen but not on a regular basis.

“How do you map out your day on the road?” I usually start in Tennessee Colony on a Tuesday or Thursday as most Units in Palestine (Beto, Powledge, Gurney) schedule on both days as do Michael and Coffield. Generally I’m in the Tennessee Colony/Palestine area very early in the morning. I then move to Huntsville Units. Frequently, I can also move to Polunsky by evening as they schedule after 5:30PM.

“How many miles do you drive a week as a traveling prison officiant?” In Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, I drive and can easily drive up to 3k miles a week. I fly to other states in order to save time.

“Are you concerned about traveling with Covid-19 being widespread at this time?” To a certain extent a bit but I’m a germaphobic and have always sanitized my area on the plane when I fly as does Cindy.

“Will you be nervous when the visitation ban is lifted and you return to visiting 1-4 prisons on the same day again?” I will follow my same protocol of washing and sanitizing my hands prior to walking into a Unit as well and be aware of everything I touch. I go through 2 gates to enter most Units and these are the same gates that staff and visitors use so I’m well aware of the number of hands touching the gates. I will no longer shake hands in greeting my clients fiancees or the staff at Units to limit what I touch and with whom.

“You don’t bring your own pen into Units? How do you sign marriage licenses?” A pen can be used as a weapon and I’ve always borrowed a pen from the chaplain or an officer in the visitation area. Like the gates though, I will be washing and sanitizing my hands after using a pen on site.

“I’ve read that a small number of clients from your other businesses and venues you are on staff at are alarmed regarding your other clients. How do you address someone who realizes that you officiate LBGT unions or prison weddings?” Well, it’s complicated and rare for another client to express concerns regarding my other clients but it has occurred and may occur again in the future. I cut them loose. I move on. I must focus on my congregation. That congregation being the majority rather than the minority of my client’s. I’ve learned over my lifetime that negativity regarding my diverse client bases is viewed as “the choir.” I turn my back on the choir an focus on the congregation. If someone is concerned about my other clients and people that they will never meet or much less share their event date with then that’s “THEIR luggage and THEIR trip” not mine. I cut them loose and wish them luck. I’m not going to change who I am or who I help based on opinions of others.

“THERE Is No ENTRANCE For KNOWLEDGE In A CLOSED Mind.” Cindy Daniel

“Did you see yourself walking into prisons to conduct wedding ceremonies when you decided to start an event business?” No but I was open to anything as was my twin sister. We wanted to make life event’s affordable to anyone anywhere and we have.

Texas Twins Events was the first people over profit based event endeavor for my twin sister and I. Two years in we recognized and realized that a handful of clients couldn’t afford even low cost options. To solve this problem, we merged Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create a barter option, The Pawning Planners. We were never trying to “be like everyone else.” That market was saturated.

What we wanted to do and have accomplished was to be the people we would like to meet…

TDCJ Coronavirus Updates As Units Lockdown…

An inmate at Telford Unit has died. Sadly with cases on the rise at several Units in Texas, there has also been a death of a TDCJ employee as well.

I’ve been to Telford Unit a number of times. Four TDCJ employees are positive for Covid-19. Currently there are 36 TDCJ Employees, Staff or Contractors and 28 inmates positive for Covid-19 within Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Six prisoners at Beto Unit in Palestine have tested positive. I was just at Beto on March 10th.

How and why this virus has infiltrated Prisons continues to be a question that cannot be answered without looking at Correctional Officers who come and go to work at Units across Texas.

For two months now, I’ve watched the numbers of inmates affected by this virus. Alarmed, I knew that an airborne virus inside a heavily populated Prison or Correctional Facility could and would quite possibly “spread like wildfire.”

Federal Facilities have gone to a 14 day lockdown while state operated detention centers play it by ear medically locking down Units with the highest numbers.

Across the world, inmates are just as affected as nursing homes. Overcrowded and often understaffed, an airborne virus is easily transmitted.

Whether you feel comfortable wearing a mask in public or not, the possibility of being required to wear one is becoming reality. In Laredo, Texas, failure to wear a mask in public will result in a $1k fine.

Governor Abbott has closed state lines. You can no longer just leave Louisiana for Texas or Texas for Louisiana. Tightening the border? Yes. Mandatory quarantine if you are traveling to or from Texas or Louisiana? Yes.

As I wait for this visitation ban to lift, daily I have new inquiries for inmate weddings. Daily, I’m advising these new bookings “to hang onto their deposit” as I’m not taking deposits at this time. Why? Because I have clients from March that were cancelled at Units who had hoped to marry in April.

The possibility of my March and April clients being moved to May exists. Because existing clients will be scheduled first, new bookings are being moved to May, June and July.

Cindy and I won’t be flying to California or NY this year until August due to the current pandemic.

The best advice I can give anyone during a time like this is to stay calm. Try to remain positive.

I continue to take calls, texts and emails from past and current clients who need a friend or just someone to listen. We are all in this together and I hope to see all of you very soon at your prison weddings.

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.” – Robert H Schuller

As suspended visitation continues across the board for not only TDCJ but also FBOP, ICE and County Detention Centers, my clients are concerned about their loved ones, rescheduled ceremony dates and marriage licenses that may expire waiting on reschedules. Stay calm. This is temporary and put in place to prevent an outbreak.

For those of you who are booked clients, I’m offering to pay 1/2 the cost to replace your marriage license should it expire waiting on a reschedule. We will work through this together. You will get married eventually this virus and the ripple effects of state, federal and counties is put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

I’ve had a few interviews with reporters the past two weeks regarding my thoughts about Rikers. Someone somewhere brought the virus into Rikers. It could have been Weinstein. It could have been someone else. We may never know. But we know this, Rikers has some of the most widespread virus numbers there are at a correctional facility. Louisiana, Washington, California and other states are behind but FBOP, TDCJ and other are keeping their numbers low and they are doing so by being cautious.

New York is leading the numbers and sadly there are a number of county detention centers releasing inmates “to prevent the spread of the virus.”

In Texas, an Executive Order halted the release of inmates. Dallas County is still releasing inmates. Dallas County has 17 cases of this virus.

While fear and anxiety regarding the future affect all of us in one way or another, my clients from Texas Twins Events and Belltower Chapel have also been forced to make changes to planned events too.

At the kickoff of wedding season and my busiest booking year yet, the virus has caused so much change to occur so fast that I’ve spent hours day and night talking to and counseling clients through extraordinary unique circumstances.

From canceled funerals to canceled weddings and baptisms as well as inmate wedding ceremonies being canceled, these changes and disappointments have affected all of my booked clients for March and April.

Moving canceled March bookings to April and possibly May at this point is a literal juggling act. I’m no longer traveling to California in May as previously planned due to the number of reschedules I have in Texas as this time. Currently, I plan to return to California in July but this is unconfirmed until my clients in California are taken care of. I appreciate your patience California Clients as we work through reschedules no one could have anticipated or predicted.

Regarding Texas TDCJ, FBOP, ICE and County Jail Clients in Texas, FBOP made an announcement yesterday that will give them 14 days to re evaluate.

During this window, they will monitor and isolate inmates to control the spread of this virus. There are very few FBOP cases in the United States.

(Inmate) 3/31/2020 – MDC Brooklyn; FCC Oakdale (7); USP Atlanta (2); MCC New York (3); FMC Butner (2); FCI Otisville; FCI Danbury; FCC Lompoc (3); FCI Elkton (2); USP Canaan, PA; RRC Phoenix, AZ; RRC Brooklyn, NY (4); RRC Janesville, WI. 

(Staff) 3/31/2020 –Grand Prairie, TX; Leavenworth, KS (no inmate contact); Yazoo, MS (2); Atlanta, GA (3); Danbury, CT; Butner, NC (2); Ray Brook, NY (2); New York, NY (5); Chicago, IL (2); Brooklyn, NY (4); Oakdale, LA (3); Lompoc, CA; Otisville, NY; Talladega, AL; Tucson, AZ.

In a statement to the AP, Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal said the agency has “thus far been fortunate in that our rate of COVID-19 infection is remarkably low.” 

The lockup in Oakdale accounts for five inmate cases. Only one other facility has as many cases, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Prison advocates have been warning for weeks about the likelihood that COVID-19 will spread rapidly inside U.S. detention facilities.

The top doctor at Rikers Island said the coronavirus-hit New York jail is a “public health disaster unfolding before our eyes” as he warned of the rapidly rising number of infections in the city’s jails.

In just 12 days, Ross MacDonald, the jail’s chief physician, said confirmed cases at Rikers had soared from one to nearly 200.

He added: “This is not a generational public health crisis, rather it is a crisis of a magnitude no generation living today has ever seen.”

He warned that it is “unlikely” they will be able to stop the growth, predicting that 20% of those infected will need hospital treatment and 5% ventilators.

He also called for the release of “as many vulnerable people as possible”.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainees must be immediately released from county jails where cases of novel coronavirus have been confirmed, a federal judge in New York ordered Thursday night.

The 10 detainees asked for their release “because of the public health crisis posed by COVID-19,” their petition said.

The men and women had been detained by federal immigration authorities and had removal proceedings pending in immigration court. They were being held at three jails in New Jersey where either detainees or staff had tested positive for coronavirus.

“Each Petitioner suffers from chronic medical conditions, and faces an imminent risk of death or serious injury in immigration detention if exposed to COVID-19,” the decision said.

Concerned that thousands of migrant children in federal detention facilities could be in danger of contracting the coronavirus, a federal judge in Los Angeles late on Saturday ordered the government to “make continuous efforts” to release them from custody.

The order from Judge Dolly M. Gee of the United States District Court came after plaintiffs in a long-running case over the detention of migrant children cited reports that four children being held at a federally licensed shelter in New York had tested positive for the virus.

“The threat of irreparable injury to their health and safety is palpable,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their petition, which called for migrant children across the country to be released to outside sponsors within seven days, unless they represent a flight risk.

There are currently about 3,600 children in shelters around the United States operated under license by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, and about 3,300 more at three detention facilities for migrant children held in custody with their parents, operated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

For the tens of thousands of kids locked up in juvenile detention centers and other correctional facilities across America, experts have issued a gloomy warning: The coronavirus is coming.

Already this week, Louisiana confirmed that a staff member and three children in state custody had contracted the virus, including one living in a group home in Baton Rouge. Delaware, Minnesota, New York, Texas and Connecticut are among the other states that have reported positive tests among youth or staff.

Worried about the virus spreading in crowded facilities, where kids have little access to masks and even hand sanitizer, more than 30 correctional administrators and rights advocates called Tuesday for the release of vulnerable youth and for the stoppage of all new admissions. They also want a clear safety plan for those who remain inside, including access to adequate protective measures and better contact with loved ones.

“Even though these kids are hidden from view, they are still part of our community and their health affects the health of all of us, as we affect them,” said Renee Slajda, of the nonprofit Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. “Imagine what would happen if one school were allowed to stay open, even when students began testing positive for the virus. Hundreds of people would be exposed — the children, staff, and communities they go home to every night.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has moved to restrict the release of people in jail during the coronavirus pandemic — but Harris County’s misdemeanor judges aren’t abiding by his executive order. Instead, they’re following a federal court’s orders for their bail decisions.

And those tied to the court have again raised skepticism that Abbott’s order is even constitutional.

Instead of following Abbott’s recent executive order, a lawyer for the 16 criminal court judges that preside over low-level offenses in Texas’ largest county said in a Tuesday letter obtained by The Texas Tribune that the judges will continue to comply with practices solidified in a federal court agreement. That will allow for the automatic release of most misdemeanor defendants without collecting bail payment.

Before a lawsuit that spurred that agreement, the release of jail inmates accused of misdemeanors relied heavily on cash bail. Those practices were found unconstitutional in federal courts for discriminating against poor defendants, prompting a consent decree last year.

Now, many Harris County defendants are required to be released on no-cost, personal bonds, which can include conditions like drug tests and regular check-ins.

The number of detainees testing positive for coronavirus at the Cook County Jail in Chicago skyrocketed over the weekend, leaving Sheriff Tom Dart grabbling with a dilemma that runs against the very grain of a veteran lawman and former prosecutor: whether to free alleged criminals instead of keeping them locked up.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one of America’s largest single-site jails had 141 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19, up from just 38 on Friday, Dart told ABC News. Of all the inmates tested so far only 11 were negative, he said.

“This is beyond complicated,” Dart said. “There was zero playbook for this stuff.”

The news of the death comes as coronavirus infections continue to climb in Orange County. 

The total number of cases in Orange County reached 502 on Tuesday. Seven people — three men and four women — have died of the virus. Four of those individuals were at least age 65, and one was between ages 45 and 64. One person who died was between 25 and 34 years old and another was between 35 and 44 years old, according to data from the Orange County Health Care Agency. 

As of Monday, nine people who had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 were being isolated in the jail. Five inmates have tested positive, and roughly 150 are being quarantined under observation, Sheriff Don Barnes said.

An inmate and four people who work in the Los Angeles County jails have tested positive for the coronavirus infection, heightening fears that the disease could spread quickly in the overcrowded jail system.

The inmate, who was at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, displayed symptoms Thursday and was moved to the jail’s Correctional Treatment Center for isolation, Correctional Health Director Jackie Clark said. His test came back positive over the weekend, and he is now at L.A. County-USC Medical Center. 

The inmate had been held in a one-man cell in a “high observation housing” area reserved for mentally ill inmates. About 16 others in that housing area were being quarantined, with staff monitoring them regularly with temperature checks, Clark said. She added that classes and therapy sessions for that group were halted about three weeks ago to minimize the risk of exposure. 

“We don’t have a huge concern for the 16 that’s in quarantine,” she said. Clark said it’s likely the inmate was exposed in the jail, where he’s been housed since about December. Officials are working to track his movements and determine exactly where he was exposed and by whom. 

 California plans to expedite the release of up to 3,500 inmates in the coming weeks to combat the spread of the coronavirus through its prison system.

The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the move Tuesday in a court filing asking federal judges not to intervene and order further inmate releases from California’s overcrowded prisons.

“We do not take these new measures lightly. Our first commitment at CDCR is ensuring safety — of our staff, of the incarcerated population, of others inside our institutions, and of the community at large,” Ralph Diaz, secretary for the corrections department, said in a statement. “However, in the face of a global pandemic, we must consider the risk of COVID-19 infection as a grave threat to safety, too.”

The California prison system is operating at more than 134% of its capacity, holding nearly 30,000 people more than it was designed for.

Amid fears that the coronavirus will carve a deadly path through prisons and jails, counties and states are releasing thousands of inmates — New Jersey alone began freeing hundreds of people this week — and the federal prison system is coming under intense pressure to take similar measures.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, people who usually spend their days fighting with each other—public defenders and prosecutors—joined forces to get 75 people released from jail in a single day. And outside Oakland, California, jailers are turning to empty hotel rooms to make sure the people they let out have a place to go.

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot told The Marshall Project he was frustrated about the slow pace of releases from the county’s jail, among the largest in the country. The jail population is now almost 1,000 over its typical average of 5,000.

All jury trials have been canceled, so Creuzot worried those numbers would swell. His office has been working with defense attorneys and judges to release eligible people on personal recognizance bonds, he said.

While other states hurriedly work to release inmates, this virus and the affects of jobs, inmates, correctional staff and my clients continues to change on a daily basis.

FBOP issued a statement to self isolate inmates for 14 days to prevent the spread of this virus within the Bureau Of Prisons.