Federal Prison Camp

Posted: January 2, 2013 in Federal Prison Camp

When people think about Federal Prison Camps, most of them think about park like areas where inmates are treated like guests at a nice hotel.  If you’ve ever been to a Federal Prison Camp, you know differently.  Now, there is no doubt that many Federal Prison Camps are in nice areas.  Atlanta Federal Prison Camp was in a suburban area.

Still, we were treated nothing like fine hotel guests.  In many ways you are treated like a child.  There are many rules, and while many of them aren’t enforced.  The staff can crack down anytime they want and life can get pretty petty, real quick.  Just one example of the pettiness is that you are only allowed to have five books in your locker. Your family and friends send you several books and you end up with seven books in your locker.  You keep them in your locker for an extended period (weeks, even months), and then one day, because some other inmate does something stupid, the staff decides to go through everyone’s locker.  They find your seven books.  Depending on the CO’s mood, or what they think of you, they’ll either leave the books, take the books and that’s it, or they take the books and write you up which could lead to extra duty.  It’s all very random.

Federal Prison Camp is a serious thing, but it can also be a chance to regroup, refresh the mind, make plans, get a lot of reading done, write a book, etc. I got lots of reading done.  I also got a good life lesson in human beings. I meet a lot of interesting people.  I met drug dealers, bookies, moonshiners, smugglers, poachers, lawyers, politicians, CEO’s of big companies, and policemen. Go figure.

In a Federal Prison Camp you will normally find two types of offenders.  The first and smaller group is composed of white-collar criminals.  The second and larger group is composed of offenders convicted of drug related crimes.

First of all, you will not be housed with violent or serious offenders; you will however find two types of offenders: a small group of white-collar criminals and a far larger group of offenders convicted of drug related crimes.  If you are a white-collar offender, you will find that you are housed with many people who are from a very different background; this will be shocking at first and you will find it necessary to be tolerant and make considerable adjustments.  Some never adjust and make doing their time very difficult on themselves and on their families, who have to hear their complaints and fear.  Those who take an open attitude and look beneath the exterior and treat all with respect will find that their time is much more tolerable.  Verbal incidents are common, the language you will live with will be unpleasant; for the most part, physical violence is not an issue, but it is important to have clear advice about how to avoid involvement with situations that will cause you unnecessary stress.  Each Federal Camp has different rules and those rules change as wardens come and go to the facility.  For the most part, the Camp is an open facility, meaning that you have freedom to move about at will except at Count Time (4pm, 8pm, and 10pm), when you are required to be in your cubicle or room and to stand and, literally, be counted.

You will be required to find a job if you are medically able to work in some capacity.  This will be your first challenge as the most desirable jobs are taken already; you have to keep looking seriously until you have a job.  You will also be shocked at the pay scale so do not think that this “Job” is a real-world job.  The general pay scale for starts out at $ 0.12 per hour; Inmates who work for Unicor (prison labor force) make the most money of any inmates starting out at $0.23 per hour.  There is an opportunity to apply there and to, after training and time, start to make up to $1.00 an hour, considered a very high paying job.  It is a real job with full work shifts and stringent rules, but also a great way to make your time go by more quickly.

Sexual assaults are always feared by anyone facing prison.  In actuality, in Federal Prison Camps and low security Federal Correctional Institutions, there are very few sexual assaults; much like violence, they are very uncommon.  Actually other prisoners are respectful and protective of privacy; showers and bathroom facilities have doors or curtains.  Of course, there can be exceptions, but they are rare and are dealt with seriously.  The one sexual relationship that you will have to deal with, NOT take part in, is homosexuality; it is very present even in women or men who are heterosexual in the “outside” world.

Food is adequate but will not be of the quality that you are possibly accustomed to eating.  There are three meals daily and you are required to stand in line to enter the dining facility as space is available.  You also are expected to eat quickly and vacate the table for others; it will be a new experience having officers pacing behind you and insisting that you finish and get out, often just as you are barely started on your meal.  Many women in the Camp environment “cook” in their range; there are usually microwaves available along with hot water.  The cooking can be very creative; however, the ability to do any of your own meals or snacks depends on your commissary fund, one of the very important factors to plan for prior to incarceration.  If you miss a meal you are out of luck.  The dining hall is only open a short period of time each meal; if you are late, you don’t eat.

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