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).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Changes to FPC Pensacola

I hope to post more on this after I am off supervised release but, as you can imagine, some things at FPC Pensacola have changed since I got out. I recently received an email from a former "guest" who had read my blog prior to entering and wanted to let me know about some fo the changes.

1. I had heard that movies at the remote auditorium had been suspended due to abuse related to the importation of contraband (since the auditorium is very close to the fence surrounding Saufley field and the public road that runs along it -- see map at bottom of page). However "actually when I was there we had a 2 movies a week (One at 1:00 pm in the big movie hall and two in the VR)" I assume that "the big movie hall" he is referring to is the same auditorium I had previously described. They used to show movies on Friday nights. Now apparently at 1p so I guess this is on Sat since otherwise it would be during workday. Holding them during the afternoon would make it harder for inmates to sneak out under cover of darkness to retrieve contraband dropped off by the fence. Just a guess. The VR is the visiting room.

2. Vending machines in the VR are no longer accessible during the week by inmates. That sucks! I really enjoyed my Klondike bar after a day of weedeating in the sun. Vending machines are apparently still there but only used during visiting hours (visitors can buy and share with inmate).

3. VR is no longer actually the "visiting room." Visitation is now in the adjacent courtyard (see map at bottom of page). The rectangular sidewalk path is now covered with canopy. "That sucked during the cold and rain – However the good guards allow family and people to still use the VR room. Not on paper. "

4. VR is now main TV room. All dormitory TV rooms have been converted into bunks. Ouch. Dormitories B and C each had a TV room with 3 TVs at the end of the hall. Dormitory A likewise had a TV room. After 10p count each night, you were restriced to your dorm but not your room. That is, you could roam the hall on your dorm in the middle of the night to wash clothes, cook food, use the bathroom or watch TV. Apparently, due to overcrowding and the need for more space, these TV rooms have been converted into bunk rooms, which means no after-hours TV. I don't know what they did for late night sporting events since NBA playoffs, Sun/Mon night football, NCAA basketball tournament, etc oftentimes are on after 10p. Used to be you could still watch them after 10p count but apparently not any more.

5. RDAP building across the street is now finished and to full capacity. Used to be Dorm A I believe housed those inmates in the Residential Drug Abuse Program. Now they have their own building which I guess also frees up space in Dorm A which I believe held 96 beds.

6. I asked how many had read my blog and how well know it was?

"I think every white collar guy did and the Drug guys who could read did also "

"Much larger then you think, It really helped me out and I came in with a guy from England who took the fall for US Airways and he also thanx you. "

I hope to provide more updates like this once I am off supervised release.

10 comments:

JerJer said...

Bill,

Thanks so much for your insight! As an "internet guy" I particularly enjoyed your stories about Perry Marshall.

Now, my question: How does one prepare for survival in a federal prison. Say a a small, white guy, highly educated looking at 2-3 years.

I'm asking about the day-to-day survival tips needed to get through each day safely.

What would one study, read, other, with approximately 3-6 months for this preparation? How does one act? How does one stay out of trouble?

Thank You! PLEASE keep up your blogging!

Jer@HowToMakeMoneyInYourUnderwear.com

Bill Bailey said...

Jer,

First I would suggest you read my whole blog which kind of gives you a stream-of-consciousness view of my experience. It's not organized topically; it is more like a diary with some philosophical and social commentary thrown in occasionally. I don't think there is a better resource although I read Downtime before I went in.

If you end up in a prison camp (which is likely), then safety is not a big issue. Yes, there is an occasional assault or fight but most guys want to stay in the camp and a fight will get you shipped out to the next higher security prison which is not fun.

The easiest way to stay out of trouble is to mind your own business. Watch and listen; don't talk. (Now I didn't exactly follow that advice myself but I had an interest in understanding the system a little more so I asked lots of questions.)

As a white-collar guy, you will want to hang out in the law library which is where similar guys will be. You will have plenty of access to reading material in the adjacent main library as well as daily newspapers.

My experience of prison camp was like a mixture of a military prep school (i.e. strict rules) and a spartan retreat center (i.e. simple accomodations but plenty of downtime to read, reflect, exercise, etc). The hard part is not physical, it is psychological. So your preparation should not be focussed on avoiding danger but in redeeming the time in prison. Come up with a plan for what you want to accomplish. Fitness goals, books read, etc.

You will probably never have another time in your life where you will have almost no responsibility for anyone but yourself. You can't help anyone on the outside -- unless you start a blog I guess :) -- so you might as well focus on yourself.

Anonymous said...

Jer and Bill,

I went through the system in 2001 - 2004. Started in FCI and ended in FPC in Ashland, KY. I used the time to hone my writing skills. Now, I write for a top tech website and have my own blogs that are making money.

Jer, you'll find a lot of nice people are in prison. You may even decide that some of the nicest people you've ever met are those you meet in prison.

I met some real "heavies" where I was, but I never had a bit of trouble. Respect is a big thing inside just like it is outside. Apply the "Golden Rule" and you'll be fine. You'll make some friends and you may even have some good times (I did--we had a musical group). Use the time to feed your soul and learn new things.

I'll be happy to correspond further. Email: gnomewriter@gmail.com

JerJer said...

THANKS GUYS!!!

After reading your input I FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER!

I think I need to turn off HBO and OZ. That program scares the HELL out of me!

"Respect" appears to be the key concept I must embrace.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

First I wanted to thank you for your insight in Pensacola FPC, my husband is headed to Pensacola, and your blog has helped me in so many ways you cant even imagine. He has heard about there being racism against puertorricans that kind of scared him a little since he is really no trouble maker, and he is focused on doing his time and doing anythings possible that can reduce his time.

He also heard the Drug Program in Pensacola, is strictly for perfect english speakers, that really bombed him out, he was counting on that reduction on his time for approving the Drug Program.I know this is "prison" you are not supposed to hear and believe everything they say, i just hope you do know about this a little more..!! Thanks and God Bless.!!!

Anonymous said...

As a former "guest" of FPC Pensacola a few years ago, I would like to add a few thoughts to Bill's site.

First, I remember reading the site before my 2 year stay at the camp and as a white-collar guy not knowing what to expect, I was quite scared of the unknown and this site helped me as it has helped others.
My biggest relief when I got to the camp was when I realized that there were private showers.

I choose to make good use of my time. I took up running and weight lifting. I dropped 40 pounds (down to my high school weight) and went from a body fat% of over 20 down to around 7. There is a half mile running track where me and my running buddies eventually trained for a marathon. On my marathon run I made if 23 miles before I gave out to foot injury.
It was a time of soul searching, and taking a good look at my life without having to deal with the daily pressures of the outside world. I came out of there much more grateful for life and my family. The worst part of the experience is just being away from your family. The families frankly have it worse in many ways. I was there with virtually no responsibilities and lots of free time. Sure, there is a lot of crap you have to put up with but Pensacola is not real prison, I looked at the guards as baby sitters, most of them were your typical government works that did not want to lift their fingers to do anymore than was necessary. The part I disliked the most was having to wait outside in line for every meal. I looked forward to the day when I could walk into my kitchen and get a meal without having to wait 15 minutes in line. Bill is correct, there are alot of quality people at the camp, that are always glad to help the newcomers.

One tip I suggest for families is to a cellphone with a Pensacola area code. This drops the price of calls made from the camp quite a bit.

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Anonymous said...

My brother is scheduled to report there this week for a 6.5 year sentence. I was thrilled to find this and I've shared it with him.

John Andersen said...

I know an inmate at FPC Pensacola; just because a person was White Collar does not mean they should not go to a real prison. I understand the good behavior for wanting to stay in a cushy camp. But people who end up in there have no care for others lives. They ruin people and are BAD PEOPLE...LACK CONSCIOUS AND ARE WORTHLESS AMERICANS. your still locked up...and that must stink? No..? Unless someone is a charming psychopath that has no need for other humans but to use them and go on to the next. I don't believe in hell but I hope there is one...or come back a used up porno beotch