July 31, 2019

* A Pew Foundation research study released this summer analyzed the cases of all 79,704 federal criminal defendants for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. 90% pled guilty, 8% had their cases dismissed, and 2% went to trial. Of the 2% who went to trial, 99.6% were convicted. That means that 320 out of 79,704, or 0.4% were acquitted. I'm not sure how anyone could think such a conviction rate is not rigged. 

* According to Virginia Wolf, "The past is beautiful because one never realizes an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only the past." That may be true, but according to C. S. Lewis, "We're not what has happened to us, but what we chose to be." Both those sentiments are captured in the fascinating and best selling memoir Educated by Tara Westover, who was born into a survivalist family in the isolated mountains of Idaho. She spent summers stewing herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer. In the winter, she salvage...

July 26, 2019

This place is normally too bizarre to adequately describe, as I just can't find the vocabulary. But occasionally we descend into a realm of weirdness that's way beyond our normal. This happened a few weeks ago.

The contraband brought in Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp has expanded exponentially over the last 6 months despite consistent lip service played to its enforcement. We have so many cell phones, I wonder if they can all download movies at the same time. Inmates make no effort to hide their use. Random people drive by the camp in broad daylight and drop off contraband even though there are cameras everywhere. Presto Cookers abound in the bathrooms every weekend cooking steaks, shrimp, and chicken. I haven't heard of any drugs or alcohol, but I wouldn't doubt their existence here. 

On the law enforcement side, with some exceptions earlier noted here, the typical Bureau of Prisons employee is not particularly productive or motivated by anything other than the fear of looking bad. So,...

July 21, 2019

This summer, Jean Carroll became the 16th woman to accuse Donald J. Trump of some kind of sexual misconduct and the 2nd to accuse him of rape. The first, his first ex-wife Ivana, made the allegation under oath during a divorce proceeding in 1989. She later recanted after the settlement. 

Republicans and Democrats in Washington have been conspicuously mum about Carroll's claim. They all seem to be taking a "tell me something I don't know" attitude. Deep down inside, Republicans know Trump is a despicable narcissist with no moral compass, but they don't care. Who needs a moral compass when they got Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and tax cuts. Democrats know he's a despicable narcissist with no moral compass, but they don't care either. Who needs a moral compass when they have no compass at all.

Trumps classless response: "She's not my type." Pathetic.

Long time U.S. Senator John Tower (Rep-TX) once said about Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, "He may be a real son-of-a-bitch, but he's OUR son-of-a...

July 16, 2019

Four years and one day ago, I stood in the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas. It was the case of the United States of America, yes the entire country, 350,000,000 versus me. It wasn't ever a fair fight. I was severely outnumbered, way more than the Alamo. But I was there. At least I think I was there.

That entire experience was a blur. I remember looking at the ceiling and thinking that the molding was well crafted. I had prepared a sincere statement which I think I read. In it, I took full responsibility for what I had done. I apologized to everyone I could think of. I think my lawyer said something, but I'm not sure what. I clearly remember one thing. I remember my friends who were there. I know exactly where each one was sitting in the gallery. Then the judge sentenced me to 72 months in federal prison. I was expecting less, but realized it could have been more. It was what it is and what it always will be. It's unchangeable.

On August 26th, one month later...

July 11, 2019

I've been a big fan of the United States Women's Soccer Team since Mia Hamm ripped off her jersey. As philosopher Ricky Bobby said, "If you ain't first, you're last," and they're consistently first. On July 7th, they won a back-to-back World Cup title. It was their 4th, going nicely with their 4 Olympic gold medals. Their combined 2019 tournament score was a record 26-3. Sadly, my fellow campers and I missed the final game, as the TVs were then strictly off limits on that Sunday afternoon. Even so, I was among a group who pushed the sanction envelope to find a shady spot to listen to the finals while trying to see a 36" TV in the closed Rec Pavilion 40 feet away. 

Now that the tournament is over, the team's players will pursue mediation to resolve a class action lawsuit filed against the United States Soccer Federation. The suit alleges that the difference in pay and working conditions between the U.S. women's team and men's team violates the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civi...

July 6, 2019

There are 183 inmates currently residing at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. It's a diverse group, and daily I witness extreme selfishness and fatuity along with acts of unexplainable kindness and compassion. I can tolerate nearly all of the people here, but am fortunate to be close to about 10. These are the men with whom I can re-establish my smartass white boy roots using my only 2 spiritual gifts: sarcasm and the calling out of false prophets. Among these buddies, there is phrase I like to use when observing their lives. It's an inside joke beginning with, "Just when I thought YOU had hit rock bottom..."

I try to save the comment for precisely the right moment. Like when I watched a big time Houston lawyer turned multi-million dollar real estate developer awkwardly slip a greasy fried chicken quarter into a stolen and used plastic bag into his pocket so that he could steal it from the chow hall and trade it for Shredded Wheat, which was essentially all he ate here. Or when I observed...

July 1, 2019

On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven (U.S. Navy Retired) gave the commencement address to the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin. At the time he was Chancellor of the entire UT System. A few months later, a close friend recommended it to me during a dark time that made prison seem like a walk in the park. It can be seen here. If you're not one of the more than 8 million who have seen it, it is definitely worth 20 minutes, which is slightly longer than a good sermon and shorter than one that's too long.

In the address, McRaven took the university's slogan, "What happens here changes the world," and offered the graduates 10 principles that could help them do exactly that. These were all principles he had learned shortly after graduating from UT in 1977 while enduring and completing the rigors of Navy Seal training, where 150 of the best of the best went for 6 months. At completion, 33 graduated.

The first principle was, "If you want to change the world, start each...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones