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).

Friday, June 1, 2007


After 4 weeks of raking leaves and picking up trash, I finally got a promotion -- junior weedeater specialist!

FPC Pensacola is next to an old Navy airstrip which I am told they are going to start using again to train Navy pilots flying prop planes. The runways have been cleaned and repainted.

The last two days I have been cutting the overgrown weeds around all the large stormwater drains. We use gas-powered Husqvarna weedeaters. I probably cut about 4 hours/day. Unfortunately there is not much shade and the heat radiates off the ground.

Initially I was using it improperly because I preferred to cut with the backside of the weedeater. However this sprays all the debris right back at me. I finally figured out how to use the front side at the correct angle. Nonetheless, after just two days (that feels like a week) my shoulders and neck are sore and I am physically drained at the end of the day.

Hopefully I will get another promotion soon -- I don't know if I can do this for 8 more weeks unless I figure out how to work smart (looking like I'm really working but not really working). It seems like all the other inmates have the smart work routine down pat. One guy collected 3 cups of blackberries yesterday while weedeating.

Paul and Joe supervise the work details. They ride around on a little 4x4 John Deere Gator checking on the different crews (there are maybe 30 inmates at this work location). Joe is a big guy and reminds me of a circus bear on a tricycle!

Both guys are pretty cool. They assign tasks to each person in the morning but they treat everyone no worse than a foreman for a company would. In fact, they are probably more lenient since the work doesn't require a great deal of productivity.

Hopefully, I won't get reassigned to one of the off-base details. I save at least an hour on bus rides by staying at Saufley Field. I would however like to get promoted to a new task. I want to be the guy that signs the equipment in and out to the inmates! Unfortunately that job is taken and he's not letting go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My question is do you have private bathrooms at FPC Pensacola camp? Like in a dorm they have partitioned toilets so there is some privacy when you go for a long visit or is it like the movies where everyone watches you?