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).

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Finally, I was able to attend the orientation class. I arrived at FPC Pensacola the day after the last orientation, which is generally held on every other Thursday.

The class convened in the TV room of the A dorm and was attended by about 25 inmates. It lasted from 7:30a-1:30p with a couple of short breaks and one hour for lunch.

The officer of each department in the prison spoke for a short while to explain policies and services.

Notable pieces of information gleaned from the orientation:
  1. HIV, TB and DNA tests are required of all inmates.
  2. Zero tolerance for cigarettes and cell phones. You will automatically be shipped to a higher security prison.
  3. Not much on HIV in prison as it got fast forwarded by an inmate when the CO left the room!
  4. Food budget is $2/inmate/day and the menu runs on a 5 week cycle.
  5. The chapel was built by inmates in 1997. The Roman Catholic chaplain has been here since 1994. The chapel schedule includes various services:
  • Native American sweat ceremony
  • Protestant worship service
  • Catholic mass
  • Jehovah's Witness study
  • Muslim prayer, Sunni prayer, and Nation of Islam prayer
  • Eastern meditation group
  • Wiccan study
  • Jewish Shabbot and Havdaleh services

6. When FPC Eglin (AFB) closed in late 1995, the Drug Abuse (Rehabilitation) Program (DAP) was moved here. 100 more inmates, 20 more staff, and 15 new DAP staff were added to FPC Pensacola. This explaiins why it seems like 85-90% of the inmates are drug offenders.

Finally, the warden usually speaks at orientation. I was looking forward to this because I had heard a lot about him but wanted to form my own opinion, having quickly learned that you can't hardly believe most of what you hear from inmates. I have seen him around the cafeteria but never met him or heard him speak.

Unfortunately, he has been out all week and didn't appear.

Having now been officially "oriented," I am now awaiting my official work detail assignment.

Download Admission and Orientation Manual (14MB)

Download Education Services Document (7MB)


Anonymous said...

not sure if you will get this but...
how long were you in O&A? my fiancee will be heading to FPC Pensacola in about a month, and I think read in the manual that only family can visit during O&A.. do you know this to be true?

Bill Bailey said...

Since orientation - at least when I was there 3 yrs ago (today is my 3 yr anniversary of arriving) - is every other thu, the longest is should take to take the "class" is two weeks depending on when u arrive. I don't recall visitation and A&O status having anything to do w each other

Anonymous said...

thanks for the speedy response! your blog has been so informative.. thank you :)