October 23, 2015

Thirty-four years ago on this date, I looked into the face of a baby girl and melted. From that point on, she has had me wrapped around her little finger. She always will–my oldest daughter–my first baby chick.


In a small way to honor her on her birthday, here are some things that are important to remember about her.


* She is a great pet owner (the true measure of worth of any person)
* She rolls with the punches of injuries and inconveniences
* Like Mickey Mantle, she is a great teammate
* She is fiercely protective of her sister, mom, and dad and was so of her brother
* She can change clothes 6 times in 30 minutes before leaving for dinner
* She is not afraid to occasionally take risks
* When she fails, she gets up, wipes off the mud and tries again
* In the words of her sister, she’s the most fun person alive
* She is still my all-time favorite basketball player. Number 44 should be honored in all gyms like it is in Major League Baseball parks.
* She visits her dad often at Bastrop...

October 17, 2015

If diet and exercise pave the road of healthy living, certainly being at Bastrop FSC can create some potholes.

 

Diet is the real challenge as an inmate has no control over what is served in the Chow Hall. Food can be supplemented with commissary purchases, but healthy commissary items are limited and costly. One of the main reasons I wanted to work in the kitchen is that working there gave me more choices. I can eat more fruit, fewer starches and more protein.

 

Exercise is not as challenging. I was surprised to see organized sports here at camp. The softball is highly competitive and is on par with most city-league competition. The basketball is reminiscent of my son’s 9th grade team, where the players have more moves than X-Lax, but the ball is unfamiliar with the hoop. Points should be awarded for shots on goal.

 

There is an outdoor workout pavilion with excellent treadmills, stair climbers and elliptical machines. TVs are available to watch and for listening through my radio. There is...

October 15, 2015

One of my goals for camp was to read 2 books per month. Since arriving on August 26th, I’ve read 7. This pace will no doubt slow now that I have a job. Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl is the author’s personal account of his life as a prisoner in the worst of the Nazi concentration camps. Frankl was a psychiatrist who struggled through but survived unimaginable cruelties, finding meaning in the suffering that he experienced and witnessed.

 

Relating this personally, I know that campers here will ultimately walk out of this place when their time is completed. But who wants to just walk out? If I need to be here, I desperately want this time to be important, significant, positive–I want it to have some meaning. Frankl would say that the key to success here is to look outward to someone or something bigger than me. He would say to live in the moment, not the past, but to look to the future with hope. Some inmates do that, but many fail. It won’t just happen. There are challenges wh...

October 12, 2015

Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is a working camp which means that inmates each have a job that hopefully helps the camp run smoothly. There are several divisions within the workforce.

 

There is Maintenance-1 where inmates repair and maintain the various buildings and its electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. Just FYI, the AC, now on, was out in the East Wing for only 6 weeks which is a significant improvement over last summer when the AC was out in the other wing for 3 months, but that’s another story.

 

There is Maintenance-2 where inmates maintain the over 200 acres of land that surround the prison and the satellite camp, mowing, trimming and doing landscape work.

 

Inmates who work in Housekeeping are responsible for the daily cleaning of the halls, the East and West Wing residence areas, bathrooms, library, law library and TV room.

 

Food Service inmates prepare 3 daily meals for the current population of 175 inmates.

 

Finally, the camp employs inmates through a Unicor contract with the...

October 10, 2015

Have you noticed that from time to time simplification gets trendy? I’ve seen it come and go several times. At Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, I am in the middle of an involuntary simplification plan. I’m afraid the chance of it trending is unlikely as my two big ticket items are my bunk and my locker.

 

Bunk: At Bastrop FSC, we have a choice of an upper or lower bunk. When I say choice, I mean the Counselor has a choice. She chose for me an upper bunk. I acted disappointed; she seemed pleased. I actually preferred an upper bunk because it allows me to have a frivolous third item, a folding chair that I use to stand on t0 climb onto my upper bunk. We also have a choice of springs or flat steel for mattress support. The counselor chose for me flat steel. Again I acted disappointed which seemed to please her even more. I like a firm bed for back support so the solid steel works for me. The mattresses are 3″ to 5″ thick depending upon whether you measure the top, middle, or bottom. There ar...

October 7, 2015

I’ve been here in the wilderness for 40 days, long enough now that I can reflect on my first day of camp.

 

On August 26, 2015, I arrived at Bastrop Satellite Camp. It’s called a satellite camp because it is on the same campus as Bastrop Federal Corrections Institution, a low security federal prison. I was allowed by the sentencing judge to self-report as this was recommended by the U.S. Probation Officer who prepared my Pre Sentencing Report. Self-reporting is highly recommended as I was simply given a time and place to show up. I’m told those who don’t self-report have a much different experience that generally means an inmate is transported to the camp from his hometown by the U.S. Marshall Service with many stops at random facilities of random security levels in random locations, sometimes taking weeks or months to arrive at camp.

 

My first stop was the low security Bastrop FCI, called “The Low”, where I was taken to R&D, Receiving and Discharge. I intentionally wore clothes and shoes...

October 3, 2015

One my first night at Bastrop FSC, I heard my first rumor. “Dude, you’ll be out by Christmas,” I was told.

 

I replied, “Yeah, Christmas 2020. I’m asking Santa for an iPhone 12”.

 

Undeterred, the inmate went on, “No man, you’ll be out this November. I heard it from my wife. Something big is happening in November.” His wife, by the way, is also in a Federal Prison Camp for women, both white-collar defendants.

 

Since then I’ve heard that every inmate over age 55 who has served 50% of his sentence is going home. I’ve also heard that the age is only 45. Either works for me. When 170-205 inmates are housed in a facility built for 90, a Petri dish is created for roaches and rumors. I may write about the roaches later if they don’t steal my legal pad.

 

I’ve wondered about why these rumors happen. I’m certainly not a psychologist, but I know a few and I’ve watched Oprah some. So I feel somewhat qualified to have an opinion, which is this…

 

The root of the rumors here is boredom. One of the challenge...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones