September 30, 2015

There are essentially three broad categories of crimes which have put inmates at the Bastrop FSC–white collar, drugs, and immigration. The socio-economic, age, race, and educational background of each group fits well with what is portrayed on TV drama and documentaries.

 

It’s been important for me to interact positively and productively with everyone here, regardless of backgrounds. That so far has been one of the highlights of this experience. All inmates here get along very well in the interactions that I’ve witnessed. There are not even any stories of past bad behavior. I guess we all have a common opponent, the system, which can create a mutual bond and good friendships. I hope to benefit from that reality and certainly have.

 

I haven’t told anyone that I have a law degree or that I was a Certified Financial Planner in my former life unless asked exactly the right question. I haven’t advertised that I went to a private university. People here assume I like Baylor football because I’m...

September 27, 2015

One of the best kept secrets of Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp life is the answer to a simple question: What can I bring with me?

 

I was told to bring a money order for the initial deposit to my commissary account. I was also told not to do this. I didn’t, and instead gave that money to my daughter who sent it my account directly via Money Gram. That is definitely what I would recommend as it was available as soon as I was able to get into my account. I was told not bring pictures. I brought one and it was allowed in. I was told I could bring an inexpensive watch. In fact I owned a Timex Ironman which is sold in the commissary, so I wore it. It was not allowed. I was told I could bring a Bible. I brought one and it was not allowed. It might be that the rules are intentionally vague and greatly dependent upon the C.O. (Corrections Officer) who completes the check in. I think mine was having a bad day as I was quite charming in my demeanor. A Bible, for God’s sake?

 

One might think that a...

September 19, 2015

An important part of my “incarceration plan” while here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is to read. Upon arrival, I was glad to find one of the books on my reading list in the library. I’m going to write a report on each book that I read here, just like in high school and college, with one notable exception. At camp I actually plan to read the books. I won’t post the book reports here unless I think it’s a special book.

 

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is special. It chronicles the life of members and coaches of America’s 1936 Olympic 8-Man Crew team beginning when the rowers were freshmen at the University of Washington in 1933 and 1934. Most of us have grown up with the 1936 Olympic epic stories of Jesse Owens and more recently Louis Zamparini and heard how Hitler used the Berlin games to showcase the so-called German master race. The book thoroughly contrasts the growing Nazi cultural propaganda machine of the Third Reich with the struggles in America, particularly the s...

September 12, 2015

To say the last few weeks have been overwhelming is an understatement. Often the events, people and impressions run together, but here are ten random observations so far. I may flesh out some of these in later posts.

 

* I’ve been here long enough to hear some stories of how men got to the camp. It appears that I’m the only guilty inmate here. While improbably, I’ve read enough John Grisham novels to know it might be true.

 

* There are two cats who hang out in the recreation pavilion who are very cute. One inmate in particular provides them with food and more affection than most. The cats know when he’s coming. Watching those cats play has provided welcomed entertainment.

 

* Getting an actual letter is like Christmas morning when you’re eight years old.

 

* An inmate can spend up to $180 every two weeks at the commissary if he has it in his account, not $160. Apparently this is a recent, but welcome, change.

 

* While an inmate is allowed 100 people on his contact list for letters, he can only...

September 12, 2015

My very first impression of camp was not a sight or a sound–it was an unidentified flying smell. That first day I entered through the side door and walked by the Chow Hall where the smell is mysteriously created. I seem to be the only person here concerned about it too, which is weird as it is NOT A GOOD SMELL. I’ve been here almost a month and I still notice it, too. I take that as an encouraging indication that at least one part of my brain is still functioning within a normal range.

 

As long as I breathe through my mouth, the food is pretty good here. It may be a little heavy on carbs, but who cares. We’re inmates. Breakfast is served at 6:00 am M-F and at 7:00 am on weekends and holidays.  Lunch is served at 11:00 daily and dinner is served at 3:00 pm, prior to the 4:00 pm “count” when the inmates are counted to make sure nobody has wandered off. Then there is a short dinner line at about 4:15 pm on most days which most inmates ignore for a reason that has not been explained to me....

September 1, 2015

What Goes Around…

 

I’ve always like the fall season. One of the reasons is that it’s a time of great societal change. As schools, sports and church calendars have evaporated with the summer heat, we’ve had to survive the summer with Donald Trump and people trying to explain Donald Trump. But that’s all about to change, as fall is a time of new beginnings.

 

On August 26th I left Waco, Texas to begin fall as inmate number 46990-380 at the Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp in Bastrop, Texas. This will no doubt be a personal change unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. In some ways this surreal place takes me back to Junior High.

 

I remember how entering the 7h grade was an anxious time for a kid like me growing up in Winnsboro, Louisiana. Along with the obvious changes taking place with the girls in my class, it was the first time I experienced real Physical Education. We boys had a real locker room with real lockers for a real PE uniform that was washed once each week, whether or not it smell...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones