Behind The Wire

Had my very first experience on 1/26/2024 as a wedding officiant that performed a ceremony at the DeSoto Annex (Prison in Arcadia FL).  The bride lives on the other side of the state and the groom is serving a life sentence for armed robbery.  More about the history to follow.  My bride is 4’10” and my groom is 6’6″.  She has red hair, tattoos, piercings and huge hoop earrings.  He is in blue prison clothes, has gold front teeth and is Haitian.

My first visit to a prison and those are the loudest doors slamming and clanging every time they close.  Every single time they closed I flinched.  The bride and I were escorted to the prison staff canteen which had lunch tables and vending machines.  There was a corner wall that was painted with a tree and waterfall and a bench.  We were allowed to take 3 pictures.  I am waiting for my picture with the couple to be sent to me.  It has to be approved by the Warden.

They both recited their vows to each other.  Witnesses were two guards, Chaplain Larry and his wife.  His vows were so special and eloquent that I closed my eyes and just listened to him recite them.  We could have been on a beach or anywhere and they were just beautiful vows.  We were inside the prison in a cafeteria type room.  Her vows were more of a funny undertone, but both declared their love for each other that has withstood the test of prison, marriage and divorce from the bride side and her devotion to visit him weekly regardless of what prison he is in.

When she visits him in prison, they are only allowed to hold hands and that’s it.  Well, today they were allowed to kiss, since it was their wedding day.  They both were like teenagers when they separated from that kiss. LOL

They were allowed 2 hours of privacy, either to stay in the canteen or to go outside to the picnic tables.  There are no special privileges for married inmates and Florida does not allow conjugal visits.  This was a very unique ceremony and opportunity for me, and they were so happy that I agreed to perform the ceremony.  I enjoyed it, was scared, never was that close to the rolls of barb wire and would gladly do it again to help another couple.

Stay tuned for more stories from Behind the Wire


Posted on

February 1, 2024