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

Arrival and First Impressions

Fortunately, the trip to FPC Pensacola was uneventful. The plane arrived 30 minutes late but still made it by 11a. I grabbed a cheeseburger and fries in the airport for my last 'free' meal for a while.

The cabbie knew exactly where to go, having delivered 5 or 6 other inmates over the last year who were either returning from furlough or transferring from another prison. Twenty minutes and $30 later I arrived.

The time to enter the rabbit hole had arrived.

After checking my driver's license, the guard directed me to the control center.

Just inside the entrance of the main building hangs a sign: "Through these portals walk some of the finest correctional officers in the world." The clock read 11:58a.

A man sat behind the reception window. I introduced myself and he instructed me to take a seat and announced over the loudspeaker: "New commit self-reporting at the control center."

I knew my life was about to change but I was having a hard time getting worked up over it. The place was totally non-threatening. I felt like a freshman registering for college or perhaps entering a military prep school.

As I write this it is Sunday afternoon, April 1. I have actually written over 20 pages of notes on a variety of subjects and am going back over them to write the final drafts before mailing them to my wife.

I have had 48 hours to assimilate what is going on around me (and to me). It would take forever to recap it in one long narrative. Instead, I will simply recount different experiences as separate posts.


Anonymous said...

Would like to know more details of the intake process. This is the first (scariest) few hours of entering the BOP. Looking back at this event (now that you are out) what are your thoughts?

Bill Bailey said...

In response to several requests, including yours, I have posted in detail about the intake process here