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, July 19, 2007

Has it really been 3 weeks?

I was released 3 weeks ago today.

Tonight we had a lot of family over. They were out further in the back yard than I was allowed to go (due to the limitations of my electronic monitoring). I was sitting on the back deck looking at the sky, the same sky I often looked at while at FPC Pensacola when I wanted to be alone. It's funny how looking at the night sky makes your world seem small because it looks basically the same no matter where you are. For a brief moment, you could imagine yourself being somewhere else.

It is really strange. Near the end of my time in prison, my mind was already home, but my body was in prison. Now that my body is out, I find my mind drifting back to prison. I think often of some of the guys who still have months and years left, guys who became my friends under very unique circumstances.

I am very frustrated that the terms of my supervised release forbid me from communicating with them. This is so wrong. I am only one person, but there are so many things I can do to help a few guys re-integrate into society but the system won't allow that to happen. It is cruel how they stack the deck against these guys.

I was talking with my youngest daughter (18) and her boyfriend tonight about some of the guys who I became friends with and how the "rules" are designed to prevent inmates from helping each other both in prison and out. It was very emotional for me.

The other thing I think about is how much faster time passes on the outside than on the inside. Prison seems like a surreal dream, yet it was only 3 weeks ago that I finished 3 months of my life there. Friends who didn't realize where I was are shocked that I had been gone 3 months. It felt to me like I was gone forever; to them, it was an instant.

I thought that my motivation to continue this blog would diminish once I was out. If anything, it has become stronger. Prison is not my past; it is my present and future.


Anonymous said...

Bill: Once you sold your business (the database lists) did your 3 months, what have you been doing for a living now? I mean your next 3 months allow you to work between 9-5 m-f. Are you still self-employed? Same line of work or has this experience shattred your business goals.

The readers of this blog, I am sure are very thankful to the insights you provide daily. My question is this: Now that you have lived the experience, have seen first hand how other inmates are treated in prison, (and I know you cant help them, otherwise it's a violation of the terms) but can you not start a consulting firm and assist them or communicate with them under professional business arraingements? Also can you not consult from this experience for profit?

Bill Bailey said...

I am still self-employed and still in the list business (just not in the physician list business). The government never attempted to seize my assets or otherwise hamper my business operation (for the simple reason that I did not generate any profit from the crime I had been charged with) and the court placed no restrictions on my business activities, although we discovered after sentencing that the probation office had recommended that I not be allowed to own or operate a web-based business while on supervised release. (!)

I voluntarily chose to get out of the physician list business given the nature of these charges but I could also afford to do it because I had other businesses that were profitable.

My other businesses continued to operate while I was in prison and did well, fortunately. My business goals were not shattered but this experience was very expensive and this type of business is getting more and more difficult to sustain so I don't know how much longer I will be in it.

As for starting a consulting firm, David Novak did exactly that (see his website) and apparently did it "fresh out of federal prison." He wrote a book called Downtime which I read before entering prison.

I don't want to do exactly what he has done and I think my blog is much more personal and in-depth than his book -- it is really a radically different approach, not that there is anything wrong with his book.

My current business allows me to do what I am doing with this blog without worrying about making money off of it. I can do it just for the passion of doing it.

Bill Bailey said...

Oops. I just discovered that David Novak has retired as a prison consultant. His book will still be available, but he will not be a consultant anymore.