August 27, 2018

* The Catholic mass needed someone to sing in Spanish, so I volunteered to substitute for the regular singer who had a self described "demon." When I volunteered, the demon attack prognosis was unknown or at least undisclosed to me. It was the 2-week variety. I can't remember the last time I sang a solo, but worrying about the language took away any concern about the music. It was great fun while it lasted, and I did not recognize any personal demon attacks.

* In addition to the visitation cancellation written about here, a 6:00pm curfew, aka "yard recall," was instituted in early August for 2 weeks to fight a sudden rash of inmate naughtiness. As the evening camp officer can't seem to open up the tool cage in the barbershop before 5:00pm, cutting hair was challenging. However unlicensed hair care professionals, like myself, are by our very nature creative types, and just about every inmate who needed a haircut got one. Thankfully, my "creativity" was limited to only one week, as my hai...

August 22, 2018

Assuming I survive this camping experience and one day walk out of Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, will it be possible to be a Christian in the world, have access to more churches than I can count, but not be a committed member of one? NO WAY. Sorry about that to all those who mail it in, but it just doesn't work that way. I can be spiritual, but I can't possibly be a Christian without a church. I could attempt it, but I'd be missing the purpose of spirituality.

This post has little to do with prison other than to recognize that over the last 3 years of my taxpayer-funded involuntary sabbatical, I have greatly benefited from the writings of many inspired writers: Catholic, Mormon, Pentecostal, Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, Jewish and Buddhist. I've particularly gained an appreciation for the Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson. Chris E. W. Green, attempts to animate Jenson's daunting theology of love in his book The End Is Music. In that book Green, unpacking Jenson's writings, provides...

August 17, 2018

Until I started this glossary in my last post, I had no idea I had learned so much in my 3 years at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. My vocabulary has expanded to the point of needing a second posting, and that's just the PG version. 

So, here are even more terms.

* Cop Out: The Bureau of Prisons has a "Request To Staff" form that is used to communicate with staff. It's called a Cop Out. However, nobody knows why it's called that, as it's not used to avoid or cop-out of responsibility. When I asked an officer who's been here 30 years for an explanation, the reply was, "It's just a BOP term. It's like 'banging in' only different."

* Banging In: This means not showing up for work, as in "That officer ain't here today. He's banging in."

* Jigger: This is a personal look-out. For example, the bathroom chefs always post a jigger in the hall to make sure their cooking is not deterred by the officer on duty. To provide this service is to "run jigger."

* Behind The Fence: This might also be called "...

August 12, 2018

One of the unexpected perquisites of taking up temporary residence at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is that I have involuntarily expanded my vocabulary, continually learning new words every day. A few of them are repeatable in mixed company, and the first installment of my convict glossary (PG-rated version) follows with definitions and usages.

* Burntup: Some might refer to this as burned up, but doing so would be considered a badge of ignorance. Burntup means that a once normal human has lost the ability to think rationally and carry on coherent conversations because of long periods of continuous incarceration. For example, "He ain't trippin; dude's just burntup."

* Shock Collar: Each clan, gang, or ethnic group has a de facto leader who controls the group like a shock collar controls an animal. This term is used primarily within non-Hispanic ethnic groups. In Hispanic groups, the term is "Shot Caller" which means the person who calls the shots within the group. Obviously there was a...

August 7, 2018

There are two publically traded companies heavily involved in the American prison industrial complex. Had you invested in them on the day before President Donald Trump's 2016 election, you would have made some serious money. GEO Group Inc. shares are up 85% while CoreCivic's shares have lagged slightly, up only 79%. One reason for this stellar performance is that about 70% of immigrant detainees are held in facilities owned by these private companies. Another reason is that one of the Trump administration's first acts was to reverse an Obama administration's order to phase out contracts with private prisons.

To understand federal policy on any issue, it's always a worthwhile exercise to follow the money. According to Rob Urban and Bill Allison of Bloomberg, GEO Group and CoreCivic each contributed $250,000 to Trump's inaugural committee. GEO in 2016 also gave $275,000 to one Trump aligned Super-PAC called Rebuilding America Now and $170,000 to another called Trump Victory. 

Ahead of the...

August 2, 2018

Life at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, while incredibly boring, is never that bad by prison standards. There are no fences, and it's usually possible to live life without coming into contact with the officers who would enjoy trying to ruin my day. Even so, we have a few inmates who don't realize how good we have it. 

There's an old adage that says, "pigs get fat, while hogs get slaughtered." Some inmates just can't enjoy being pigs; they have to be hogs. They have to push our limited freedom too far. Late July 2018 was a time of hog slaughter here at camp. Anyone here not unconscious has seen it coming for months, as the hogs were not exactly geniuses. 

The slaughter began when an inmate was caught bringing a large bag into the housing unit. The bag contained cells phones, alcohol, tobacco, pills, an electric griddle, and Taco Bell. Two inmates received a quick trip to the Special Housing Unit, followed by another the next day, then others. Next came the locker and bunk shakedown a...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones