Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


It was such a relief to realize I was not entering Shawshank. Actually, I knew I was not entering Shawshank, but I at least thought I was entering prison, at least what most of us imagine as prison.

Every inmate I have spoken with says this is the best place in the SE Region, if not the entire Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

This is going to be a lot different than I feared.

With one exception, every inmate I have met has been somewhere else before here. In some cases, this is because drug offenders are not allowed to self-report; they are remanded to jail immediately. Typically, that would be a county jail until BOP determines their assignments.

In other cases, inmates are transferred here from other facilities after their security level has been lowered. Only inmates with less than 10 years remaining qualify for a prison camp. (There are several guys in my room doing 15+ year sentences.)

In my case, my point is that these guys know what they are talking about when they say this is the easiest time they have done.

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