You’ve finally been assigned to the camp

Posted: January 16, 2013 in Federal Prison Camp, Preparation

Everyone will spend some time in the DCU. For the lucky ones it will only a couple of hours. For those like myself it could be up to three weeks before you end up heading to the camp.  Every camp is different when it comes to when you actually get to a camp.  If you are at a facility that does not have an attached medium or high prison you will enter the camp directly.  However, if you have an attached unit you could end up waiting until a bed becomes available.  Just because you have been assigned to the camp does not mean that you will go there automatically.

Once they come to get you to go to the camp you will be asked to gather all your personal belongings and wait to be taken down.  Depending on the distance you will walked out to the parking lot and picked up by the town driver.  From there they will drive you to the camp. It’s not a long ride, but one of the most enjoyable events you will encounter since you were first placed in your cell in the DCU.

Once you arrive at the camp you will be viewed as a spectacle.  You will not be wearing a jumpsuit any longer.  You will turn those in prior to leave the main prison.  You will be given a brown pull-over top and pants.  Once you get the prison; depending on what time they bring you down, you will either do paperwork or go to eat.  Most of the time you will be taken directly to the chow hall and get to experience the difference between the DCU food and the Camp food.  It will seem as if you have moved from a fast-food restaurant to a 5-star dining facility (far from the truth).  Once you have scarfed down a meal you will be whisked away to finish your in-processing.

I often tried to figure out why they didn’t do all this paperwork when you went through the initial in-processing, but who am I to question how they do things with the BOP.  It just seemed very backwards and a waste of the staffs time.  But this is the BOP and that is how they operate.  Once the paperwork is complete you will be sent to the laundry to get out of your brown uniforms and into your greens.  Here is where you become a spectacle.  All the other inmates will be milling around (those that aren’t working) and watching you.  I know that while we waited for each person to be issued their items multiple inmates were asking questions of the newbies.

When they issue your greens you will be given 4 sets of clothes; 3 will be for work uniforms and the last one will be your visitation uniform.  Make sure you keep at least on of the uniforms separate from the others.  Some CO’s who are monitoring visitation will not allow you to go on your visit if you do not have a proper visitation uniform (no stains, not wrinkled, no holes, etc).  You will also be given your work boots (these are the most uncomfortable things you will ever have on your feet).

They will also hand you a bag full of things that include your bed-roll (two sheets, two blankets), a pillow, and a pillow case.  Within the bag you will find a bunch of items that are donated by other inmates (shower shoes, toothpaste, deodorant, bar of soap, etc).  The items in this list will vary as again these are donated by other inmates.  You will be asked to give some items back once you have gotten your commissary set up.  It’s not expected to be done right away but once you feel the relief of getting these items on your first day you will want to make sure you give back.

Once you are in your greens and have your bag of items you will be escorted to your new home.  The bunks you will be moving into will be open for one of the following reasons:  1)  The inmate completed their time and was sent home/halfway house, 2) The inmate has relocated to a more preferable bunk that an inmate who has left was occupying, or 3) The inmate was found to be in violation of some rule and was sent back to the DCU for disciplinary reasons.  I say this only because that person may have left as early as that morning or the prior day.  Which means that if the reason the bunk was vacated due to nefarious things there may be a lot of talk going about.  Just listen and don’t comment.

If you are lucky enough to get a two-man cell, great!  Unfortunately while I was there we had some three-man cells (technically three-man cells are not allowed by BOP policy, but if it got you out of the DCU, be grateful).  I call them cells, but they are not same jail cells as you were in during your visit to the DCU.  These are 20×20 cubicles with about a 4 1/2 – 5 ft cinder wall separating each one.  These are very open and some have as many 76 inmates and as few as 50 inmates in a single housing unit.  Atlanta has 8 different housing units.  There are 4 in the back of the property that are all separate housing units (not connected to anything) and then there are four in the front of the camp which are connected to one another as well as the OIC (Officer in Charge) station and case manager offices.  The housing unit with the fewer problems were usually the front dorms.  However, they all have their issues.

Don’t worry you will get lots of advice when you get to the dorms.  They will  tell you the proper way to enter the shower area, what to expect from all the guards, what needs to happen during count time, etc.  They may even help you get your bed made and all set up.  One thing you will notice is that there is not a shortage of people who will be there to help you out.  I know when I first got to the camp I was very skeptical of all these people telling me that if I needed something (soup, candy bar, shaving cream, etc.) they would get it for me without some sort of price.  However, for the most part the offer is not with an expectation of being reimbursed.  Be respectful though, find a way to get it back to them.

One of the best things you get to do when you get to the camp is go to the commissary.  If this is your first time shopping at the camp commissary it doesn’t matter when you go shopping.  Otherwise you will be held to going on your designated day.  A large number of inmates that first get to the camp will max out there commissary allotment (if they have it in their account).  This is your opportunity to get tennis shoes, sweats, sweatshirts, shorts, etc.  These are items that will be essential as you continue to get with things will behind the fence (yes, there is a fence as the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp).

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