Things to do

Posted: March 8, 2013 in Federal Prison Camp

One thing that you will find about being in a Federal Prison Camp is that there is a lot of down time.  You will have to make sure that you find something to do to keep yourself busy in order to keep yourself out of trouble.  The staff at the Federal Prison Camp will not help you with keeping yourself busy as they typically are looking at only doing those things that they have to in order to complete their checklist.  Make sure you find something that will not only occupy your time, but make sure that you are able to enjoy yourself.


For me that thing was reading.  While I was only in a Federal Prison Camp for a short period of time, I found that reading allowed me to escape where I was.  If I could get myself engrossed in a book then there was nothing else that was going to bother me (that includes the annoying fire alarms that seemed to go off on a daily basis).  The camp  has its own library (mainly books that are donated by inmates.  The choices are pretty good and definitely you will find something in there you will enjoy.  It is not your typical library as you won’t find any research style boos.  Mainly fiction books, but you can find some biographical ones.  It seems that murder/mystery are the books of choice for most inmates, but there were some Science Fiction and surprisingly a large amount of Romance novels in the library.

The nice thing about books is you can pretty much take them where you want and not have to worry about them being taken away.  I basically carried a book with me where ever I went so that if I had a moment of down time I could pull it out and read.


The Bureau of Prisons has a recreational program available for all facilities.  They vary by camp based on the facility availability.  In Atlanta, they had a Basketball, Softball, Volleyball, Soccer, and Flag Football leagues.  In order to take part you have to complete an Inmate Request Form (Cop-Out) and turn it into the Recreation Officer to be approved to play.  Essentially, they will check your medical status and disciplinary history to decide if you will be allowed to play.  There are almost always openings as inmates are released, transferred, or disciplined and removed from the teams.  While I was there they started a Flag Football league but had to suspend it because there were many of people who were getting hurt while playing (I know of 2 broken legs and one separated shoulder).  These injuries were not because of foul play, but because the facility was not very well-kept.


This has to be one of the most important things to do.  In Atlanta there is a weight pile, some exercise bicycles, treadmills, etc.  However, the best thing was the track.  It was a 1/4 mile track where people could walk/run and just get away from the camp.  It was a favorite of most inmates as a way to get away from the officers, the cube-mates, and the other inmates.  Plug your headphones in and escape to another place.  I loved listening to the radio so I could get information about the “real world”.  Don’t think you will get to watch the news on the televisions.


In the evening cards and dominos are the way to go.  Spades is typically the game of choice for the card players.  I’m not a big card player so I typically just watched others play.  During the holidays they would run tournaments for the inmates (winners usually got a 12-pack of soda).  Chess and Checkers were also played regularly in the yard.  The only problem with these games is you had to get to a board to play and they only had a few that could be checked out.  Some inmates had purchased sets in other institutions and had them, but you can’t buy them in Atlanta.  Some of these games were very heated and often had bets played on them.  Poker is the favorite among the inmates and the CO’s.  Yes, I said CO’s.  Sometimes they would join in on the card games.


The recreation officer allows you to check out racquetball racquets and balls could be purchased through the commissary.  Handballs could be purchased through the commissary as well.  These games were typically played on the weekends, but were well attended.  Again, these games would be become heated as almost always someone would be blamed for a loss or some stupid play.  I avoided these games at all costs as several people were hurt while playing them.  But there were a lot of people who loved it and played often.


Yes there are pool tables at the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp.  Pool games were hard to come by as they were always full with matches.  However, this can be a fun place to hang out.  It’s also where you will hear all the gossip from the camp.  There are many talkative people that use this room.  Pool sticks can be hard to find as the inmates hide them (when they find one they like), but they are there.


This is a great place to hang out and reflect on things.  It is busy with other programs, but when it is empty you are often allowed to just hang out, write, read, or do whatever.  There are musical instruments there that you can play.  Often times the religious service choirs or other groups will use the chapel to watch videos or plan services.  It is just a nice quiet and peaceful place to be.

Watch TV

Yes, you can watch Television and theoretically you are not limited to what you can watch.  However, you have to watch what others are watching if you aren’t the first one in there or a show has not been put on the board.  The best times to watch television are in the mornings (really the only time the news is on).  If you want to watch sports, chances are you won’t have a problem.  Most basketball (professional & college), football (NFL & college), and baseball games are on.  If you can’t find it in your dorm, it most likely is on in another.  However, once you confined to your dorm you may have to resort to the radio.  You can only listen to the television if you have a radio (AM/FM or MP3 players are available in the commissary).

I will tell you that the viewing rooms are often loud and crowded.  These are the same rooms where all the cooking, card games, and ironing occur.  So there are a lot of people there.

The most important thing you can do is make sure you take care of yourself.  Find something that will occupy you and help you serve your time quickly.  The more you do the quicker your time will pass.  Obviously there are a lot of other ways that you can occupy your time; the more creative you are the better.

  1. jailmail says:

    I certainly know one thing it is that you need to keep occupied or go insane. exercise is how I got through it just lift heavy things and get big

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is there not an Education Department?

    • Bryan says:

      Atlanta USP does have an education department. It’s main focus is to provide GED education for inmates. It is a requirement for all inmates to at least attempt to get their GED (if they do not have a document High School Diploma in their PSR).

      A large majority of the courses offered by the education department are taught by other inmates. They include many different courses from public speaking to general computer education. There was also an Electrician, HVAC, and Janitorial certification courses. These were taught by either outside instructors or Corrections Officers.

      Getting involved with the Education Department is probably one of the best thing any inmate can do. It is a great way to get your mind off of other things occurring at the time.

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