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).

Monday, July 2, 2007

Prison Will

[This was written during my last week in prison.]

I, William Bailey, with what remains of my formerly sound mind, upon my departure from The Rabbit Hole (i.e. custody of Bureau of Prisons), hereby bequeath all of my Rabbit Hole possessions as follows:

To CS: Tennis Shoes, Commissary Food, Toiletries, Radio, Padlock, Sweats

To RM: Beard Trimmer

To JP: Book Light, Two Deluxe Towels

To AD: Watch

As an inmate approaches his release date, other inmates, usually friends, begin to not so subtly make claims on your "stuff." This is the inmate scavenger instinct kicking in.

Many inmates simply don't have much and even a little means a lot. While some of my possessions would have made nice souvenirs of my "Camp Snoopy" experience, it's best that I leave them here. This is especially true in the case of CS.

Technically, this is a violation of BOP rules. Whatever. I'm sure there is a good reason for the rule but..... get real. Just in case, I have concealed the identities of my beneficiaries.

P.S. All prison issue clothing (greens, whites, and work boots) will have to be returned, as much as I wanted to keep one set of prison greens and my work boots.


Anonymous said...

You left a fellow inmate a $32 dollar watch (timex)?

Bill Bailey said...

For those who are interested, I have updated the Commissary page to include copies of both the commissary order sheet and the special order items so you can see prices.

Actually the watch was $36, not $32. It was pretty nice but I don't wear a watch on the outside. Nowadays, watches are just jewelry (wich I don't wear except my wedding band). With cell phones, it is easy to lookup the time without a watch.

Furthermore, the radio was $44, the beard trimmer was $28, the shoes were $54 (the sheet is wrong), sweat pants were $20, sweat shirt was $14, sweat shorts were $14, and t-shirt was $6.

I also probably left $60 worth of food.

Remember, if you don't have someone on the outside sending you money, you have to buy this making $.12/hour ($16-$18/month). For many inmates, $1 on the inside is like $100 on the outside.

Trust me, the guys I left it with needed it. In fact, during my brief stay, I transferred $1700 into different guys' commissary accounts just to help them out. It isn't just the money that they appreciated; it is the fact that someone cared. For some of these guys, NO ONE has ever given them anything in prison. They hustle for everything they have.

As I stated in the post, it is against the rules to give an inmate anythying "without permission." Silly me, I figured I would just ask for "permission" to give some money to some friends and she would say, "What a great idea! Go for it." I assumed that as long as you were transparent about it, they would approve it.

I asked for permission from my counselor and was told I would get a "shot" (disciplinary action) if I did it. You've got to be kidding. A shot for being nice? Like I said, silly me.

I waited a couple weeks before arranging for someone on the outside to send (via Western Union) money into particular accounts under their name. It is the only time I ever had an inmate smuggle a letter out to his work detail and drop it in a mailbox so BOP wouldn't know about it.

Does BOP care? Of course not -- they know these rules are broken all the time. The staff really doesn't even want to know about it. If they don't see it, they don't care. And they expect you to be good enough at it so they don't see it. It's all a silly game of CYA.

As it turns out, counselors monitor inmates commissary balances. Two of the inmates I gave money to were called in to pay outstanding court fines using the money I sent them!! They were so pissed.

Paul Eilers said...

I don't wear a watch either. If I don't have my cell phone to find out what time it is, I just ask.

As for your story on the commissary accounts, it is not surprising. Seems those in charge do not want in any way for prisoner morale to improve.


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