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What Federal Prison is Really Like-An Inmate's View
An eye-opening view of what federal prison is really like. If you are going to federal prison it is a must read. If you are an American citizen, you need to read this to see what your government and the Bureau Of Prisons are really allowing.
It has been a really long time since I have actually sat down and written a letter. So I thought I should do so now. A lot of things have happened since I have either written or talk to some of you on the phone. Normally things do not change much in prison for the most part, but the last few months have been full of activity for me.
I was moved into the Residential Drug Addiction Program (RDAP) living quarters where I am awaiting the opportunity to participate in the program. I hope to be in the next group of 24 individuals that will start in September. At this point I am not sure that I will actually take part in RDAP at this facility. I am just going to have to wait and see what they decide to do with me.
The nice thing about participating in the program, other than the actual treatment, is the incentives for those who complete the program. Twelve (12) months reduction of sentence and the other is six (6) months halfway/home detention. That is 18 months sooner that I will be back home. These are nice but are not the main reason why I am willing to put up with the changes to my regular routine. I want the treatment. My life was not working before and I need to change.
Life in the RDAP unit is a lot different than what I have been used to. We have TVs in the unit but they are not on all day, like in other units in the facility. From 7:30am to 4:00pm we are expected to be up out of bed. There is no sleeping, lying in bed, or watching TV during this time during the week. The TV is not that big of a deal for me, because I have not watched much TV in the last 36 months or so. I prefer to read. There are a lot of other little rules that we have to follow that the other inmates don't. It is crazy that I have yet to start the program, but am expected to follow all the rules; the Doctor says it is "treatment."
I have to be honest I had such high hopes for this program, but after seeing the individuals that have been in it for sometimes and having sat in meetings with those who are running the program I am disappointed to say the least. The inmates want the time off and the BOP wants the money that comes with RDAP. They work harder at making the program look like it is working that they do in actually trying to make it work. With staff shortages and lack of motivation and organization there is no wonder. I have notice that indifference, disorganization, and apathy plague the BOP and the Criminal Justice System. Just in the short time and the limited view that I have I can see corruption, deceit, and theft on both sides of the fence. The Correction officers are just as bad as the inmates they are guarding.
I am appalled by the living conditions, the professionalism and proficiency of the staff, and leadership here in this facility. There is a serious staff shortage in essential areas such as Medical and Psychology. There has not been a psychiatrist come to this facility in over 18 months. But they still have inmates that are on psychotropic medications. The staff that they do have is so overworked or so new that there is just no way they can provide the kind of care inmates need. There are very few staff members that are professional, that it has made an impact of the overall moral at the facility. One thing I know from experience, there are staff members here have very little regards to their own rules and standard of professionalism. Examples, retaliation for complaints against staff happen frequently, staff members share inmate information with inmates that may put inmates at risk, staff are poorly prepared to respond to medical emergencies that has resulted in deaths of inmates. Staff members overlook and sometimes encourage harassment of inmates that they judge to be deserving of harassment. These are just a very few things that I have personally witnessed.
If I had not gone through this experience I would have never believed that people are treated like this. When I first sat down to write this letter I had every intention to get all my frustration about this whole thing off my chest but I realized it will not change anything. The American people don't know what is going on in Federal Prison, and when the truth gets out the government machine backed by the prison industry lobby does a great job convincing people it is just convicts complaining.
I am so frustrated, depressed, and discouraged about what my future holds, but I have to have faith that I will be ok and know that Heavenly Father knows my heart and will show me the way, so that I will know what to do, when I need to do it. I have also been working on being more like Christ. It is not easy in a place like this, but I am getting better at it every day. I have a long way to go.
Turning 41 in prison has not been easy for me. I feel like I am missing out on so much on life and birthdays are just a very clear reminder that time continues on while I am here, even though I feel like I am living in "limbo". I miss my family and few friends I have. On my birthday it is just a reminder I am not with them at a time that should be celebrated with those I care about the most. As I get older I see proof in the mirror that as Dolly Pardon said in Steel Magnolias, "time is marching on, and then you realize it's marching on right across your face." I looked in the mirror and I do not recognize the person looking back. I wake up in the mornings with new aches and pains and stiffness that I cannot explain. Oh, to be young again! I would make so many changes, and take back some of the stupid choices I have made. There are so many things I regret, but I have to let those things go and forgive myself for being stupid.
I hope you all are well. I would like to hear from you all. I have written and emailed some of you but as of yet I have not heard back from you. To those people, I know you are busy and have your own lives; I wish you the best and do not hold it against you. Just know that I pray for you all often. To those who I hear from often, thank you so much, you do not know what it means to me to be able to stay in contact with you and enjoy hearing about your lives. I am looking forward to the time that I will be able to be a part of your lives again.
One final thing, I have a prison consultant named Michael Frantz. He has helped me immensely with RDAP, the Second Chance Act, and a transfer. He not only helps me in those ways but he really cares about me and communicates with me and peps me up when I am down. I could not have gone through this without him. His number is 954-522-2254. If you have time, call him and just say “thanks”.
I know I have touched on a few different topics, but that is what has been on my mind. I want you all to know that I love you and pray for you. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. "May God be with you until we meet again".
With all my love, P.J.