Transcript: In Love with an Inmate | Aug 10, 2016

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her forties, with shoulder-length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, and a brown blazer over a blue blouse.
A caption on screen reads "In love with an inmate."

She says IN MATTERS OF THE HEART, THE
HEAD RARELY GETS A SAY.
WRITER DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN
CHRONICLES HER STORMY SIX-YEAR
RELATIONSHIP WITH SHANE--A
PRISON INMATE SERVING A LIFE
SENTENCE FOR SECOND-DEGREE
MURDER IN HER LATEST BOOK:
THIS IS NOT MY LIFE: A MEMOIR
OF LOVE, PRISON, AND
OTHER COMPLICATIONS.
DIANE JOINS US NOW.
WELCOME.

Diane says THANK YOU
FOR HAVING ME.

Diane is in her fifties, has long wavy gray hair, and is wearing a brown blazer over a flowery blouse, and glasses.

Nam says IT'S SUCH A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU
HERE.

Diane says THANK YOU.

Nam says I GUESS ONE OF THE QUESTIONS
THAT I REALLY WANTED TO ASK YOU
WAS YOU'VE WRITTEN 12 NOVELS.
THIS IS YOUR FIRST MEMOIR.
WHY?

Diane says WELL, 12 NOVELS AND SHORT STORY
COLLECTIONS.
SO, THEY'RE NOT ALL NOVELS.
IN THIS CASE, I FELT IT WAS
IMPORTANT TO WRITE IT AS A
MEMOIR BECAUSE ALTHOUGH SOME OF
MY FICTION DOES HAVE
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ELEMENTS, IN
THIS CASE, I DIDN'T WANT ANYBODY
TO THINK I WAS MAKING IT UP.
PARTLY BECAUSE A LARGE PART OF
WHAT I WANTED TO DO WAS TO TELL
PEOPLE ABOUT THE CANADIAN PRISON
SYSTEM, THE WAY IT ACTUALLY IS.
BECAUSE I THINK A LOT OF WHAT WE
THINK WE KNOW IS ACTUALLY BASED
ON AMERICAN MOVIES AND TV.
I ALSO HAD QUITE A LOT TO SAY
ABOUT THE HARPER GOVERNMENT'S
TOUGH-ON-CRIME POLICIES.
SO, I WAS AFRAID THAT IF I--AND
I COULD HAVE TURNED IT INTO A
NOVEL.
I WAS AFRAID THAT IF I DID THAT,
THOSE PARTS OF IT WOULD GET
LOST.

Nam says WE'RE GONNA TALK MORE ABOUT THE
PRISON SYSTEM IN CANADA, BUT,
YOU KNOW, WRITING IT AS A
MEMOIR, IT'S A TOPIC--YOU KNOW,
YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH A MAN
NAMED SHANE--WHICH IS NOT HIS
REAL NAME

Diane says RIGHT.

Nam continues AND HE'S A CONVICTED
MURDERER.
THE STORY ITSELF BECAUSE I'M
ASSUMING THERE MUST BE SOME KIND
OF STIGMA WITH DATING A
CONVICT

Diane says OH, SURE.

Nam continues BUT TO TELL IT AS A MEMOIR,
WHY DO THAT?

Diane says WELL, I GUESS BECAUSE ANOTHER
PART OF WHAT I WANTED TO DO WITH
THE BOOK WAS TO BREAK THROUGH
SOME OF THE STEREOTYPES, NOT
ONLY ABOUT PRISON AS A PHYSICAL
PLACE BUT ALSO ABOUT THE INMATES
THEMSELVES AND THE STAFF AND THE
WOMEN WHO FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM
LIKE ME.
I--I--THERE IS A STIGMA.
EVEN IN A PRISON TOWN LIKE
KINGSTON, IT'S SORT OF NOT
SOMETHING EVERYBODY THINKS, "OH,
WHAT A GOOD IDEA."
AND I GUESS PART OF ME REALLY
WANTED TO NOT HIDE.
I MEAN, I HAVE THIS IDEA OF THAT
IF A PERSON IS TRYING TO MAKE
YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT SOMETHING
THAT YOU'RE DOING, YOU DON'T
HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE ON THE
STIGMA.

Nam says IT TAKES A--IT TAKES A WHILE TO
GET TO THAT POINT, DOESN'T IT?

Diane says WELL, IT CERTAINLY DOES.

Nam says YEAH.

Diane continues AND, YOU KNOW, SO FOR ME, I FELT
THAT THE BEST WAY TO TELL THE
STORY WAS AS OPENLY AND HONESTLY
AS I COULD.

Nam says SO, TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LIFE.
WHAT WAS YOUR LIFE LIKE BEFORE
YOU MET SHANE?

Diane says WELL, I HAD A PRETTY QUIET LIFE
AS A WRITER.
I SPENT A LOT OF TIME WORKING AT
HOME BY MYSELF.
I HAVE BEEN THE SINGLE PARENT OF
A SON FROM THE BEGINNING.
AT THE TIME THAT I MET SHANE, MY
SON--ALEX--WAS 21.
WHEN I--RIGHT BEFORE I HAD MET
SHANE, I HAD HAD YET ANOTHER BAD
RELATIONSHIP.
I HAVEN'T REALLY DONE WELL IN
THE RELATIONSHIP DEPARTMENT.

Nam rises her hand and says HI.
HANDS?

Diane says AND I'M OK WITH THAT.

Nam says YEAH.

Diane says YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T BE GOOD AT
EVERYTHING.
AND SO, A FRIEND OF MINE HAD
CONVINCED ME TO VOLUNTEER AT
THIS HOT MEAL PROGRAM IN
KINGSTON WHICH IS WHERE I MET
HIM.
BASICALLY, I HAVE LIVED A PRETTY
QUIET LIFE.
I'VE BEEN ALONE WITH MY SON FOR
MOST OF IT.
AND WRITING HAS BEEN ALWAYS
SINCE I WAS QUITE YOUNG, MY BIG
PASSION.

Nam says AND SO HE--YOU WERE WORKING WITH
HIM AT A VOLUNTEER POSITION.

Diane says YES, RIGHT.

Nam says AND--FOR ABOUT A YEAR?

Diane says PRETTY MUCH, YEAH.

Nam says AND THEN HE--ONE DAY HE
GIVES YOU A NOTE SAYING THAT HE
HAS FEELINGS FOR YOU.

Diane says YES.

Nam asks DO YOU EVER THINK THAT IF HE
HADN'T DONE THAT, WOULD YOU HAVE
APPROACHED HIM?
I DON'T KNOW.
I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT.
I ACTUALLY NEVER THOUGHT OF
THAT.
THE THING THAT I REALLY LOVED
ABOUT ALL THAT IS HE--HE WROTE
ME THIS LETTER IN WHICH, YOU
KNOW, HE PROFESSED HIS LOVE FOR
ME AND WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO
HAVE A ROMANCE.
AND THEN ABOUT TWO DAYS LATER, I
GOT ANOTHER LETTER IN WHICH HE
TOOK BACK EVERYTHING HE SAID IN
THE FIRST LETTER.

Nam says THAT'S PROBABLY A WARNING OF
WHAT'S TO COME.

Diane says YEAH, YEAH.
BUT WHAT I REALLY LOVED ABOUT IT
IS THAT TOOK PLACE DURING THE
SUMMER WHEN WE WEREN'T SEEING
EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME AT WORK
BECAUSE THE HOT MEAL PROGRAM WAS
CLOSED FOR THE SUMMER.
WHEN WE WENT BACK IN THE FALL
AND I HAD, YOU KNOW, GIVEN HIM
THE "LET'S JUST BE FRIENDS."
SPEECH
I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE SO
UNCOMFORTABLE BECAUSE NOBODY
WANTS TO HEAR THAT SPEECH, BUT
HE WAS FINE WITH IT.
AND IT DIDN'T SEEM TO HAVE
CAUSED ANY PROBLEM AT ALL.
AND I THINK IN A WAY THAT WAS
KIND OF WHEN I REALLY STARTED TO
LOOK AT HIM CLOSELY AS A PERSON.

Nam asks AND WHAT DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT
HIM AS A PERSON?

Diane says WHAT I FOUND OUT ABOUT HIM IS
THAT HE WAS VERY INTELLIGENT;
HE'S AN AVID READER; HUGE GREAT
SENSE OF HUMOUR; THOUGHT DEEP
THINKING, YOU KNOW, THOUGHTFUL
IN THAT WAY OF REALLY THINKING
ABOUT THINGS.
ALL OF WHICH REALLY, REALLY
APPEALED TO ME.

Nam asks AND WHAT WAS HE IN PRISON FOR?

Diane says HE WAS IN PRISON FOR
SECOND-DEGREE MURDER.
HE HAD ACTUALLY STARTED HIS
PRISON SENTENCE--BY THE TIME I
MET HIM, HE'D BEEN IN PRISON FOR
ALMOST 30 YEARS.
HE BEGAN HIS FEDERAL TIME IN THE
MID-TO-LATE '70S ON A BANK
ROBBERY, AN ARMED ROBBERY
CHARGE.
AND CLOSE TO THE END OF THAT
SENTENCE, HE HAD ACTUALLY
ESCAPED AND COMMITTED MURDER
WHILE HE WAS UNLAWFULLY AT
LARGE.
AND THEN OF COURSE ENDED UP BACK
IN PRISON.

Nam says NOW, YOU GOT TO KNOW HIM AS A
PERSON BEFORE YOU KNEW WHAT HE
HAD DONE.
WERE YOU SURPRISED?

Diane says YES, IN FACT, WE WERE ALL
SURPRISED AT THE HOT MEAL
PROGRAM BECAUSE WE
ASSUMED--WELL, FOR ONE THING, HE
CAME FROM A MINIMUM-SECURITY
PRISON.
AND FOR ANOTHER THING, THE WOMAN
WHO USED TO BRING HIM BACK AND
FORTH TO

Nam says WAS A NUN?

Diane says WAS A--LIKE 85-YEAR-OLD NUN.
SO, WE THOUGHT, "WELL, IT
COULDN'T--WHATEVER HE DID, IT
COULDN'T HAVE BEEN THAT BAD."
AND SO, THE WAY WE FOUND OUT
WHAT HE HAD DONE IS THAT HE WAS
COMING UP FOR A PAROLE HEARING,
AND HE ASKED SOME OF US TO HAVE
A LOOK AT HIS PAPERWORK WITH THE
IDEA OF WRITING A LETTER OF
SUPPORT TO THE PAROLE BOARD.
SO, I HAD ALREADY GOTTEN TO KNOW
HIM AS A PERSON, AS YOU SAY,
BEFORE I REALLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT
HIS ACTUAL CRIME WAS.

Nam says BUT YOU WERE STILL CONFLICTED
ABOUT DATING HIM.

Diane says WELL, YEAH.

Nam asks WHAT DID YOU TELL YOURSELF TO
MAKE YOURSELF OK WITH THE FACT
THAT YOU WERE THINKING ABOUT
DATING A MURDERER, A CONVICTED
MURDERER?
YEAH, I MEAN, THERE'S
CERTAINLY--A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE
SAID, "HOW DO YOU FALL IN LOVE
WITH A MURDERER?"
WELL, IN FACT, YOU DO FALL IN
WITH A MURDERER THE SAME WAY AS
YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH ANYBODY
ELSE.
BUT THERE'S A WHOLE LOT MORE TO
BE THOUGHT ABOUT AND KIND OF
ARRANGING IT ALL IN YOUR MIND SO
THAT YOU CAN DEAL WITH IT.
AND THERE'S A SECTION IN THE
BOOK WHICH IS KIND OF A SERIES
OF QUESTIONS THAT I ASKED
MYSELF.
I MEAN, I KNEW I HAD FEELINGS
FOR HIM.
HE HAD BEEN PROFESSING HIS LOVE
TO ME FOR AGES.
AND THEY WERE QUESTIONS ABOUT
THINGS THAT I WOULD AND WOULDN'T
HAVE BEEN ABLE TO ACCEPT.
HIS CRIME WAS WHAT THEY CALLED
"HISTORICAL" MEANING THAT IT
HAPPENED 30 YEARS AGO.
IF HE HAD COMMITTED MURDER JUST
TWO OR THREE YEARS BEFORE I MET
HIM, I DON'T THINK SO.
I DON'T THINK I WOULD HAVE
GOTTEN INVOLVED WITH HIM.

Nam asks WHY?
BECAUSE IT WAS MORE RECENT?

Diane says MORE RECENT.
I GUESS IN SOME WAY I BELIEVED
THAT WE ALL CHANGE.
AND I KNEW THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF
THE MURDER.
I FELT THAT--AND I MEAN, I
DIDN'T CONDONE IT.
WHEN YOU'RE WITH SOMEONE WHO'S
COMMITTED A CRIME--THIS IS PART
OF THE STIGMA--IS PEOPLE KIND OF
ASSUME THAT YOU ARE THINKING,
"OH WELL, NEVER MIND."
BUT THAT'S REALLY NOT TRUE.
I MEAN, I--I SURE WISHED HE HAD
NEVER DONE SUCH A THING.

Nam asks AND HOW DID YOU TWO DATE WITH
HIM BEING INSIDE?

Diane says WELL, YEAH.
THE WHOLE DATING THING IS QUITE
DIFFERENT.
AS I SAID IN THE BOOK, YOU CAN'T
REALLY CALL IT "GOING OUT" WITH
AN INMATE 'CAUSE IN FACT YOU'RE
NOT REALLY GOING OUT, YOU'RE
GOING IN.
ALTHOUGH, WE DID HAVE A LOT OF
TIME OUT IN THE COMMUNITY
BECAUSE HE WAS OUT ON WORK
RELEASES.
BUT CERTAINLY A LARGE PART OF
OUR RELATIONSHIP CONSISTED OF ME
GOING INTO PRISON TO VISIT HIM.

Nam asks AND YOU ALSO KIND OF KEPT IT
AWAY FROM SOME OF YOUR FRIENDS
AND FAMILY?

Diane says WELL, I DIDN'T REALLY--I DIDN'T
REALLY KEEP IT AWAY.
I MEAN, CERTAINLY EVERYBODY
WHO'S CLOSE TO ME AND CLOSE
FRIENDS IN KINGSTON KNEW.
AND IT WAS REALLY CERTAIN PEOPLE
THAT I WOULD RUN INTO KIND OF IN
A NOT PERSONAL WAY THAT
SOMETIMES I JUST COULDN'T BE
BOTHERED TO SAY.
THERE'S ONE PART IN THE BOOK
WHERE I WAS TALKING ABOUT ONE OF
MY OTHER BOOKS AT A BOOK CLUB
WHICH WAS A BUNCH OF WEALTHY
MATRONS.
AND--AND WE WERE HAVING COFFEE
AFTERWARDS.
AND I GUESS I HAD MENTIONED HIS
NAME OR SAID SOMETHING ABOUT HIM
A COUPLE OF TIMES.
AND ONE OF THE WOMEN SAID, "OH,
WHAT DOES YOUR HUSBAND DO?"

Nam says AND THEN YOU SAID, "HE
WORKS IN CORRECTIONS."

Diane says I DIDN'T SAY "WORKS IN."

Nam says YOU SAID "CORRECTIONS."

Diane says I SAID, "HE'S WITH CORRECTIONS."

Nam says RIGHT, YOU WERE VERY AMBIGUOUS.

Diane says AND I DIDN'T REALLY INTEND TO DO
THAT, BUT I JUST--TO BE
PERFECTLY HONEST, I DIDN'T
REALLY LIKE THIS GROUP OF WOMEN.
AND I THOUGHT, "OH, I DON'T EVEN
WANNA"--I COULD JUST IMAGINE
WHAT THE CONVERSATION WAS GONNA
BE.
AND I THOUGHT

Nam says IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE SHE
ASSUMED THAT HE WAS

Diane says SHE DID.
OF COURSE SHE DID.

Nam says YOU KNOW, THE FRONT OFFICE OR
WHATNOT, YEAH.

Diane says I SAID, "HE'S WITH CORRECTIONS,"
AND SHE SAID, "OH, WELL THAT'S A
GOOD JOB," 'CAUSE IT IS.
AND THEN SHE SAID, "HOW LONG HAS
HE BEEN WITH THEM?"
AND I SAID, "OH, ABOUT 30
YEARS."
AGAIN, TRUE.
AND THEN SHE SAID, "OH, I GUESS
HE'LL BE GETTING READY TO RETIRE
SOON."
I SAID, "YEAH," BECAUSE IN FACT
HE WAS ON THE BRINK OF GETTING
PAROLE.

Nam says GETTING OUT, YEAH.

Diane says SO, I WASN'T EXACTLY LYING.
BUT I WAS JUST AVOIDING AN
UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATION.

Nam says AND IT'S NOT NICE TO BE JUDGED,
RIGHT?

Diane says WELL, YOU KNOW, THE TRUTH OF IT
IS PEOPLE ARE GONNA JUDGE.
I'VE COME TO THE CONCLUSION
THAT--YOU KNOW, THAT OLD SAYING
OF HOW THERE ARE ONLY TWO THINGS
IN LIFE THAT YOU CAN BE SURE
OF: DEATH AND TAXES.
THERE'S A THIRD ONE...

Nam says JUDGMENT.

Diane says AND THAT IS JUDGMENT.

Nam says YEAH.

Diane says PEOPLE ARE GOING TO JUDGE NO
MATTER WHAT YOU DO.

Nam says I HAVE TO WRITE THAT DOWN.

Diane says YEAH, WRITE THAT DOWN.

Nam says YEAH.
SO, WE TALKED EARLIER A LITTLE
BIT ABOUT CANADA'S PRISON
SYSTEM.
AND YOU SAID PART OF THE REASON
FOR YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK WAS
FOR US CANADIANS TO GET A BETTER
UNDERSTANDING OF OUR PRISON
SYSTEM.
SO, HOW WOULD YOU
CHARACTERIZE IT?

Diane says WELL, I MEAN WE WORK ON WHAT'S
CALLED A GRADUATED RELEASE
SYSTEM MEANING THAT THERE ARE
THREE DIFFERENT MAIN SECURITY
LEVELS:
MAXIMUM, MEDIUM, AND MINIMUM.
AND THE IDEAL THING THAT HAPPENS
WITH SOMEONE, FOR INSTANCE, WHO
HAS COMMITTED MURDER, THEY BEGIN
IN THE MAXIMUM-SECURITY PRISON.
AND THEN OVER THE YEARS IF THEY
DO THEIR PROGRAMMING AND FOLLOW
WHAT'S CALLED THE CORRECTIONAL
PLAN AND GENERALLY BEHAVE
THEMSELVES AND DON'T GET INTO
ANY MORE TROUBLE INSIDE, THEN
THEY CAN BE MOVED DOWN TO A
MEDIUM-SECURITY PRISON, AND SO
ON TILL THEY COME TO A MINIMUM.

Nam says SO, WHEN SOMEONE GETS A LIFE
SENTENCE, IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT
THEY'LL BE IN MAXIMUM SECURITY
FOR THE WHOLE...

Diane says NO.
IT REALLY IS DECIDED
INDIVIDUALLY.
THERE ARE SOME, OF COURSE, WHO
ARE KIND OF IN A SEPARATE
CATEGORY I THINK AS FAR AS
CRIMINALS GO.
PEOPLE LIKE PAUL BERNARDO AND
CLIFFORD OLSON AND RUSSELL
WILLIAMS ARE KIND OF IN A
SEPARATE CATEGORY.
YOUR REGULAR, AVERAGE
RUN-OF-THE-MILL MURDERER...
IS ABLE TO MAKE HIS WAY DOWN.
THEY CALL IT CASCADING DOWN
THROUGH THE SYSTEM WHICH IS KIND
OF A NICE WAY OF SAYING ENDING
UP IN A MINIMUM WHICH IS THE
FINAL STEP WITHIN THE ACTUAL
PRISON SYSTEM BEFORE BEING GIVEN
PAROLE TO MOVE TO A HALFWAY
HOUSE.

Nam says OK.

Diane says YEAH.

Nam says AND IN THE BOOK TOO, YOU USE THE
WORD "INSTITUTIONALIZED."

Diane says YES.

Nam asks WHAT DO YOU--WHAT DOES THAT WORD
MEAN?

Diane says WELL, I MEAN IT'S SOMETHING
THAT--A TERM THAT I HAD HEARD
AND I NEVER REALLY UNDERSTOOD
UNTIL KIND OF A BIT TOO LATE FOR
HE AND I IN THE FIRST PART OF
OUR RELATIONSHIP.
BUT IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, THE
WAY THAT A PERSON LIVES INSIDE
PRISON IS SO COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT THAN IT IS OUT HERE.
THEY'RE ALL GROWN-UPS, BUT IN A
WAY THEY'RE TREATED LIKE
CHILDREN.
THEY ARE TOLD WHEN TO GO TO BED,
WHEN THEY CAN EAT, WHEN THEY CAN
SHOWER, WHAT THEY SHOULD WEAR,
WHEN THEY CAN SPEAK TO THEIR
LOVED ONES ON THE PHONE, WHEN
THEY CAN HAVE VISITORS.
THEY DON'T HAVE TO--EVERYTHING
IS LAID OUT FOR THEM, WHAT THEY
CAN AND CANNOT DO.
SO, THEY DON'T HAVE THE SAME
KINDS OF LIFE EXPERIENCES THAT
WITH ANY LUCK HELP THE REST OF
US TO SORT OF GROW UP AND
MATURE.
AND MUCH AS WHEN ANYBODY GOES
INTO PRISON, AS YOU CAN IMAGINE,
THEY'RE KIND OF FIGHTING AGAINST
THIS--THE WHOLE IDEA OF BEING
INCARCERATED.
BUT OVER TIME, IT BECOMES HOW
THEY LIVE.
SO, WHEN THEY DO GET RELEASED,
THEY'RE REALLY NOT PREPARED FOR
LIFE OUT HERE IN THE SO-CALLED
FREE WORLD.

Nam says AND YOU--IN THE BOOK, YOU
MENTION, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE THE
HARPER GOVERNMENT AT THE TIME
CUT SOME OF THE RESOURCES, AND
YOU HAD ISSUE WITH THAT.
WHY?

Diane says WELL, BECAUSE I FELT THAT ONE OF
THE THINGS--THE MAIN THING WAS
THAT WHAT THEY--THE HARPER
GOVERNMENT WERE TRYING TO DO WAS
TO MAKE PRISON MORE PUNITIVE AND
LESS--WITH LESS CONCERN ABOUT,
A, THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE
PRISONERS AND, B, WHAT WAS GONNA
HAPPEN WHEN THEY GOT OUT.
BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T EVER SEEM TO
CONSIDER THAT 99 percent OF THE PEOPLE
WHO ARE IN PRISON RIGHT THIS
MINUTE ARE GOING TO GET OUT.
SO, WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN IS
ALL OF THESE PEOPLE ARE GONNA
COME OUT OF PRISON INTO OUR
COMMUNITIES.
AND THE MORE RESOURCES THE
HARPER GOVERNMENT TOOK AWAY FROM
THEM, CUTTING PROGRAMS THAT WERE
SUPPOSEDLY HELPING THEM WHEN IT
CAME TO THAT POINT, THEY'RE
GONNA COME OUT; THEY'VE GOT NO
MONEY; THEY'VE GOT A CRIMINAL
RECORD; THEY CAN'T GET A JOB.
MAYBE DON'T HAVE A VERY GOOD
PLACE TO LIVE BECAUSE THEY
HAVEN'T GOT A JOB.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GONNA
HAPPEN?
THEY'RE GONNA END UP COMMITTING
MORE CRIMES, AND THEN THAT MEANS
THERE'S GOING TO BE MORE
VICTIMS.
AND A LOT OF THE POLICIES THAT
THE HARPER GOVERNMENT WAS--WAS
PUTTING INTO PLACE ACTUALLY ARE
AGAINST THE UNITED NATIONS'
STANDARDS FOR THE HUMANE
TREATMENT OF PRISONERS.
WE USED TO BE KNOWN

Nam asks LIKE WHAT?

Diane says OVERCROWDING, THE SIZE OF THE
CELLS, PUTTING TWO FULL-GROWN
MEN INTO A CELL THAT WAS LIKE 50
SQUARE FEET.
ON A HOT SUMMER DAY, NO AIR
CONDITIONING.
I MEAN, IT'S AGAINST THE UNITED
NATIONS' STANDARDS.
AND AGAINST CORRECTIONS CANADA
POLICIES FROM EARLIER
GOVERNMENTS.
SO, I REALLY THINK THAT, YOU
KNOW, THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS
WHY WE SHOULD BE PAYING MORE
ATTENTION TO WHAT'S HAPPENING IN
OUR PRISONS, THE PRACTICAL
REASON, AS I SAID,
THERE ARE KIND OF MORAL AND
ETHICAL REASONS.
THEY ARE PEOPLE.
EVERYONE WHO IS IN THERE, THEY
ARE PEOPLE.

Nam says NOW, WE HAVE A NEW GOVERNMENT
IN.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE TRUDEAU
GOVERNMENT IS HANDLING THIS
ISSUE?

Diane says I FEEL HOPEFUL.
I FEEL VERY HOPEFUL.
TRUDEAU DID TALK ABOUT THESE
ISSUES DURING THE CAMPAIGN.
THE--ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES THAT
I TALK ABOUT IN THE BOOK WAS THE
CLOSING OF THE PRISON FARMS.
AND THERE HAS BEEN

Nam asks WHY WERE THE FARMS
IMPORTANT?

Diane says THE FARMS WERE IMPORTANT
BECAUSE FOR ONE THING THEY
PROVIDED EMPLOYMENT FOR THE
INMATES.
AND THE THERAPEUTIC VALUE OF
WORKING WITH ANIMALS HAS LONG
BEEN DOCUMENTED.
THE FELLAS WHO WORKED ON THE
FARMS WITH THE COWS AND--I MEAN,
THEY WERE LEARNING AN AWFUL LOT.
NOT ONLY ABOUT WORKING WITH
ANIMALS, WORKING WITH EACH
OTHER, LEARNING HOW TO FARM,
LEARNING HOW TO RUN A FARM.

Nam says AND ALSO MAKE--LIKE, GROWING
THEIR OWN FOOD.

Diane says YES.
AND WHAT--ANOTHER THING THE
HARPER GOVERNMENT NEVER SEEMED
TO MAKE MUCH OF WAS ALL THE FOOD
THAT WAS PRODUCED IN THE PRISON
FARMS WAS USED TO FEED ALL THE
INMATES IN PRISON.
SO, BY CUTTING THAT WHICH WAS
SUPPOSED TO BE AN ECONOMIC
THING, IN FACT IT ENDED UP, I'M
SURE, COSTING THEM MORE BECAUSE
THEN THEY HAD TO BRING ALL
THE FOOD IN.
SO, THAT'S ANOTHER THING THAT
THE TRUDEAU GOVERNMENT HAS
TALKED ABOUT IS THE POSSIBILITY
OF REOPENING THE PRISON FARMS.
THE SUPREME COURT HAS ALREADY
STRUCK DOWN TWO OF THE KEY
MEASURES OF THE TOUGH-ON-CRIME
AGENDA, ONE OF WHICH WAS ABOUT
MANDATORY MINIMUMS.
AND THE OTHER WHICH WAS ABOUT
CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED.
SO, THEY ARE STARTING ALREADY TO
MAKE SOME REALLY IMPORTANT MOVES
IN RETURNING THE CANADIAN PRISON
SYSTEM BACK TO WHAT WAS ACTUALLY
KNOWN AS A VERY HUMANE AND
ADMIRABLE PRISON SYSTEM.

Nam asks I WANNA BRING THE CONVERSATION
BACK TO YOU AND SHANE.

Diane says OK.

Nam asks THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU WENT TO
PRISON TO VISIT HIM, WHAT WAS
THAT LIKE?

Diane says WELL, I WAS VERY CURIOUS.
I MEAN, I HAD BEEN BY THAT
POINT--I--THE NUN WHO HAD BEEN
BRINGING HIM COULDN'T DO IT
ANYMORE BECAUSE OF HEALTH
ISSUES, SO I HAD BECOME HIS
CITIZEN ESCORT.
SO, I HAD BEEN GOING TO THE
PRISON TO PICK HIM UP EACH
MORNING AND THEN TAKING HIM BACK
THERE AT THE END OF OUR WORK DAY
WHICH WAS AT ABOUT TWO O'CLOCK.
SO, I HAD BEEN A LITTLE WAY IN
TO THE PRISON.
I HAD TO GO AND SIGN FOR HIM AND
THEN SIGN HIM BACK OVER TO THEM
AND--BUT I WAS REALLY, REALLY
CURIOUS BECAUSE I'M A CURIOUS
PERSON.
I WANTED TO GET IN THERE
FURTHER.
AND AGAIN, THIS WAS A TIME WHERE
I REALIZED HOW MUCH I THOUGHT I
KNEW ABOUT PRISON CAME FROM
MOVIES.

Nam asks DID ANYTHING SURPRISE YOU
OR SHOCK YOU?

Diane says TOTALLY.
THE WHOLE THING SHOCKED ME WHEN
I WENT IN THE FIRST TIME.
NAM: YEAH.
IN A REALLY GOOD WAY.
IT WAS A BIG, BEAUTIFUL BRIGHT
ROOM FILLED WITH LARGE SQUARE
WOODEN TABLES WITH UPHOLSTERED
CHAIRS.
THERE WAS A MICROWAVE AND A
KETTLE.
THERE WERE VENDING MACHINES.
THERE WAS A WHOLE CHILDREN'S TOY
AREA WITH, YOU KNOW, TALKING
ELMO AND ALL THESE GREAT TOYS.
IT WAS NOT AT ALL THE PICTURE
THAT I HAD IN MY HEAD.
THERE WERE NO, YOU KNOW, THOSE
PICTURES, THE SCARY LOOKING GUYS
IN THEIR ORANGE JUMP SUITS
TALKING TO THEIR VISITORS
THROUGH GLASS ON A METAL
TELEPHONE.
AND AGAIN, I MUST SAY, I ONLY
VISITED HIM IN A MINIMUM AND A
MEDIUM-SECURITY PRISON.
I HAD NEVER BEEN IN TO ANY OF
MAXIMUMS WHERE I THINK THEY
PROBABLY DO HAVE THAT.

Nam says YEAH.

Diane continues BUT AGAIN, THE OTHER THING IS
THERE'S AN OUTSIDE VISITING YARD
WHICH WAS LIKE A PARK ANYWHERE.
THERE WERE PICNIC TABLES.
AGAIN, THERE WAS A CHILDREN'S
PLAY AREA.
WE PLAYED MINI GOLF.
YOU KNOW?

Nam says LIKE NORMAL COUPLES.

Diane says YEAH, YEAH.

Nam says SO EVENTUALLY, SHANE WAS ON
PAROLE.

Diane says YES.

Nam says AND YOU LIVED TOGETHER.
HOW WAS THAT?

Diane says WELL, THAT WAS THE HARD PART.
BEFORE HE GOT FULL PAROLE AND HE
CAME HOME TO LIVE WITH ME, HE
ALSO HAD--WAS GIVEN DAY PAROLE
TO A HALFWAY HOUSE IN
PETERBOROUGH.
SO THEN WE HAVE A YEAR OF KIND
OF A LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP.
BUT WE--AND THAT WAS VERY HARD.
BUT WE BOTH FELT THAT ONCE HE
GOT HOME TO STAY THEN SOMEHOW
EVERYTHING WOULD BE BETTER
BECAUSE THAT PRESSURE WOULD BE
OFF.
BUT IN FACT, EVERYTHING WAS
WORSE.
AND I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND--I MEAN,
LOOKING BACK
I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND HOW
TERRIFYING IT WAS FOR HIM.

Nam says HE WAS INSTITUTIONALIZED,
RIGHT?

Diane says HE WAS COMPLETELY
INSTITUTIONALIZED.
I MEAN, FOR HIM, THE WAY I CAN
SAY IT NOW IS EVEN THOUGH HE'D
BEEN COMING OUT INTO THE
COMMUNITY AND DOING WORK
RELEASES AND ALL OF THAT, TO BE
COMPLETELY CUT LOOSE FROM THE
WHOLE PRISON SYSTEM AND ALL THAT
STRUCTURE WAS AS SHOCKING AND
FRIGHTENING FOR HIM AS IF YOU OR
I SUDDENLY ENDED UP BEING HAULED
OFF TO PRISON TOMORROW WOULD BE
FOR US.

Nam asks AND HOW--HOW DID THAT AFFECT
YOUR WRITING?

Diane says WELL, I DIDN'T GET VERY MUCH
WRITING DONE DURING ALL OF THIS.
I MEAN, I MUST SAY.
IT WAS KIND OF A FULL-TIME JOB
HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM.
IN ALL VARIOUS STAGES OF IT.
SO, THAT'S THE ONE THING

Nam says SO, YOU WERE KIND OF IN PRISON
TOO.

Diane says WELL, THAT'S THE ONE
THING THAT I REGRET, HONESTLY.
I DON'T REGRET THE RELATIONSHIP;
I DON'T REGRET LOVING HIM; I
DON'T REGRET STAYING AS LONG AS
I DID.
WHAT I REGRET WAS ALL THE TIME I
LOST IN MY WRITING.
AND I HOPE NOW TO BE ABLE TO
JUST MAKE UP FOR LOST TIME.

Nam says AND THERE'S A PART IN THE MEMOIR
WHERE YOU GO TO AN EVENT AND YOU
HAVE THIS EPIPHANY, AND YOU
REALIZE THAT YOU WERE IN LOVE
WITH THE STORY AND NOT THE
REALITY OF THE SITUATION.

Diane says THE STORY, YES, YEAH.
THAT WAS--SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW,
YOU'VE I'M SURE HEARD ABOUT
READING THE RIGHT BOOK AT
EXACTLY THE RIGHT MOMENT.
WELL, THIS WAS GOING TO THE
EXACTLY RIGHT LITERARY EVENT AT
THE RIGHT MOMENT.
AND IT WAS TIM O'BRIEN.
THE AMERICAN WRITER WAS A
KEYNOTE SPEAKER FOR A CONFERENCE
AT HUMBER THAT I HAD GONE TO.
AND I WAS ALREADY--I KNEW I HAD
TO END THE RELATIONSHIP, BUT I
JUST COULDN'T GET THERE.
AND THEN I SAT AND LISTENED TO
TIM O'BRIEN.
THE BASIC THING THAT HE WAS
TALKING ABOUT WAS HOW A STORY
CAN SAVE YOU.
AND HOW REALITY IS IMPORTANT,
BUT SOMETIMES IT'S NOT
SUFFICIENT.
I THOUGHT THAT WAS A GREAT LINE.
BUT I ALSO REALIZED THAT A STORY
CAN ALSO STRANGLE YOU.
AND I WAS BEING STRANGLED BY THE
STORY THAT I HAD IN MY HEAD OF
THIS RELATIONSHIP.
WHEN IN FACT, THE REALITY WAS
COMPLETELY UNBEARABLE.

Nam asks WHAT DID SHANE TEACH YOU ABOUT
YOURSELF?

Diane says THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION THAT
NOBODY HAS ASKED ME BEFORE.

Nam says OH, GLAD.

Diane says I THINK HE TAUGHT ME THAT I AM A
VERY ACCEPTING AND COMPASSIONATE
PERSON WHICH IS A GOOD THING TO
KNOW ABOUT ONE'S SELF.
AND THAT SOMETIMES I CAN BE SO
STUBBORN THAT I'M NOT PAYING
ATTENTION TO WHAT'S REALLY
HAPPENING.
AND I'M ALSO A VERY ROMANTIC
PERSON.
AND I REALLY WANTED TO BELIEVE
THROUGH ALL OF THIS THAT LOVE
CAN CONQUER ALL.
SADLY, I HAVE TO SAY NOW IT
CAN'T.

Nam asks WHERE IS SHANE AND HAVE YOU BEEN
IN CONTACT?

Diane says HE IS STILL IN THE HALFWAY HOUSE
IN OTTAWA WHERE HE IS AT THE END
OF THE BOOK.
AND YES, HE HAS CALLED ME SINCE
THE BOOK CAME OUT.
OF COURSE I WAS A LITTLE BIT
WORRIED ABOUT HOW HE MIGHT FEEL
ABOUT IT.
BUT IN FACT, HE REALLY LOVES IT.
AND THAT'S BEEN THE BEST PART OF
IT FOR ME I THINK.
AND ON THE PHONE HE SAID--HE
SAID, "I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU
WROTE THIS OUT OF LOVE AND
PAIN."
I THOUGHT, "YUP, YOU'RE EXACTLY
RIGHT."
I WANNA READ A PASSAGE FROM YOUR
BOOK.

Diane says OK.

A quote appears on screen under the title "Who am I?." It reads "Sometimes I can come close to understanding why I stayed with him for almost six years, why I went back to him after everything fell apart, why I fell in love with him in the first place. Other times it's as if it all happened to somebody else, somebody who looked just like me, lived in my house, slept in my bed, wore my clothes, and wrote my books. And where was I then? Where was I when all of this was going on?" - Diane Schoemperlen, 'This is not my life' (2016)

Nam asks WHAT INSIGHT HAVE YOU GAINED
SINCE WRITING THE BOOK ABOUT
EVERYTHING THAT'S HAPPENED?

Diane says WELL, HMM, ANOTHER BIG QUESTION.
I THINK THIS--THE TITLE OF THIS
BOOK,
THIS IS NOT MY LIFE,
IS
REALLY SIGNIFICANT FOR ME AND I
THINK FOR A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE
IS THAT SOMETIMES THERE ARE SOME
PARTS OF YOUR LIFE WHERE YOU
REALLY DO FEEL LIKE YOU'RE NOT
YOURSELF, THAT SOMEHOW THINGS
ARE JUST GOING ON AROUND YOU
THAT CAN'T POSSIBLY BE YOUR REAL
LIFE.
AND I GUESS MAYBE WHAT I'VE
LEARNED IN THE BROADEST SENSE IS
THAT IT IS ALL YOUR REAL LIFE.
AND THAT ALTHOUGH SOMETIMES IT'S
DIFFICULT AND SOMETIMES IT'S
PAINFUL, IF YOU CAN GET THROUGH
IT AND FEEL LIKE YOU'VE COME OUT
OF IT A BETTER AND STRONGER
PERSON, THEN IT'S--THEN IT'S ALL
WORTH IT.

Nam says I THINK WE ALL HAVE THIS
PERCEPTION THAT LIFE IS SUPPOSED
TO BE LIKE SMOOTH AND CLEAN AND
PERFECT.

Diane says YEAH.

Nam continues BUT EVEN SOMETIMES WHEN IT'S
MESSY, THAT'S WHERE YOU GET ALL
THE GOOD STUFF.

Diane says EXACTLY.
THAT'S WHERE YOU GROW; THAT'S
WHERE YOU LEARN; THAT'S
SOMETIMES WHERE YOU CAN JUST
LAUGH AND LAUGH.
AND AS FOR THAT IDEA OF THE
PERFECT LIFE, DO WE KNOW ANYBODY
WHO'S REALLY LIVING THAT LIFE?
I CAN'T THINK OF A SINGLE
PERSON.
AND SOMETIMES IT IS THE PEOPLE
WHO SEEM TO BE LIVING THE
PERFECT LIFE WHO WHEN YOU FIND
OUT WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING,
THEY'RE--THEY'RE NOT.
SO, I USED TO ALWAYS THINK THAT.
AND THERE'S A BIT OF THAT IN THE
BOOK.
THAT I USED TO ALWAYS SORT OF
LOOK AT THE PEOPLE I KNEW AND
THINK THAT SOMEHOW THEIR LIVES
WERE MUCH CLEARER AND SIMPLER
AND BETTER THAN MINE.
AND MAYBE THAT'S THE BIGGEST
THING I HAVE LEARNED IS THAT'S
NOT TRUE FOR ANYBODY.
AND FOR THOSE OF US WHO HAVE HAD
MORE COMPLICATED LIVES, WE HAVE
NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.

Nam says AND ALSO REGRET.
I ALWAYS THINK THAT YOU CAN'T
REGRET SOMETHING THAT YOU
HAVEN'T DONE.

Diane says NO, NO.

Nam continues AND, YOU KNOW, IF YOU DO
SOMETHING EVEN IF IT DOESN'T
WORK OUT

Diane says YEAH.

Nam says 20 YEARS FROM NOW YOU'RE NOT
GONNA SAY, "OH, I SHOULDN'T HAVE
DONE IT."

Diane says EXACTLY.

Nam says YOU KNOW, JUST YOU
LEARN--SOMETHING ALWAYS COMES
OUT OF IT, ANYWAY, FOR ME.

Diane says YEAH, AND FOR ME AS WELL.
AND CERTAINLY WRITING THE BOOK
REALLY HELPED ME TO UNDERSTAND
THAT.
IT WAS A VERY DIFFICULT BOOK TO
WRITE EMOTIONALLY, BUT BOY OH
BOY, ONCE I GOT TO THE END OF
IT, I REALLY FELT LIKE I HAD
COME TO A MUCH DEEPER
UNDERSTANDING OF HIM AND OF THE
RELATIONSHIP AND WHY NO MATTER
HOW HARD I TRIED I COULDN'T MAKE
IT WORK.

Nam asks AND PROBABLY FOR YOURSELF TOO,
RIGHT?

Diane says YEAH.

Nam says THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE, DIANE.

Diane says OH, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81."

Nam says IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

Diane says IT'S BEEN GREAT TO TALK TO YOU.

Watch: In Love with an Inmate