September 5, 2019

* I can't imagine anyone who knows anything about a federal prison, and that should include our current Attorney General, being surprised by the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein. But I understand why the rest of the country might wonder how in the world that could happen in a secure facility. It's impossible for the uninformed to imagine the incompetence of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It has to be experienced first hand. It's an organization run by forms, many of which are routinely fraudulently prepared. That works well though in a culture based on lies, CYA, laziness, and blame shifting. And the union will make sure none of that ever changes. I wish the new acting director good luck, but realize she will need more than luck.

* I've said before that the inmate population here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp is no more weird than a typical Baptist church. After 4 years and witnessing more than a 90% turnover in population, I stand by that keen if unprofessional analysis. I've ne...

August 30, 2019

While I enjoy and appreciate the company of many people, I can count only a limited number of deep, soul searching conversations I've had in my life. I can be a decent listener, even empathetic in a pinch, but often the words I need to express much depth simply don't come out when I need them. However writing comes easier. In the written word I can organize and express my thoughts in ways that seem more linear than circular. The words make more sense, at least to me.

In that way, writing this blog has been the product of soul searching: admitting defeat and claiming victory, convicting and forgiving myself and others, acknowledging pain and loss and being seized by joy. I've written myself out of anger, hurt, abandonment and out of deep and dark funks.

From the beginning of this writing experience, I've sensed that I was not alone in my need for introspection and direction. It's my hope that in some small way, I've positively impacted those who read this. If I'm anything of a writer thou...

August 25, 2019

* I was called back yet again for an encore of my Spanish language singing in the Catholic service here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. Except this time, instead of a solo, it was an unexpected duet with another inmate. Even the band was surprised that he decided to sing with me. He's a good man who unfortunately can't sing a lick. He was off key, both sharp and flat at various times, and had no rhythm. But he more than overcame those limitations by singing really loudly in my ear. Apparently the Catholics will let anyone sing. Oh, wait...

* I've heard various writers explain the difference between happiness and joy, but none better than David Brooks in his latest book The Second Mountain. Brooks writes "We can create happiness, but we are seized by joy...Happiness tends to be individual; we measure it by asking, 'Are you happy?' Joy tends to be self transcending. Happiness is something you pursue; joy is something that rises up unexpectedly and sweeps over you. Happiness comes from...

August 20, 2019

If you're going to spend 48 months in Federal Prison, which I can't recommend to anyone who's not a jerk, you might as well try to learn something. So what have I learned at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp since my unceremonious arrival in August, 2015?

1. Patience: Nothing, other than punishment, happens here when it should by any normal "free world" standard. How long does it take to fix a urinal? That sounds like the opening line of a joke. So far, it's about 9 months.

2. Gratitude: Going to prison has been not unlike attending my own funeral. Thankfully, I had more friends show up than I expected, but they weren't exactly the ones I thought would be here for me. It's been profoundly enlightening to see who signed the Guest Book and who didn't. 

3. Skepticism: The federal criminal justice system, particularly the Bureau of Prisons, cannot be trusted.

4. Humility: As bad as it was here financially at times, I found it impossible to ask for money for commissary expenses. Nevertheless, perc...

August 15, 2019

I recently had an inmate explain to me how banks loan money. He couldn't have been more wrong, and I should have just let it go. But instead I stepped off into the tar pit. When I tried to explain where he had gotten a little off track, he replied, "Well, you know what you know, and I know what I know." Perceptive comment? Probably not.

Research indicates that when we are ignorant about something, let's say something like climate change, immigration, religion, criminal justice or banking, we still self-assess ourselves as competent . It's called the Dunning-Kruger Effect, named after the researchers who identified the concept.

This research begins to make sense when I consider it because, with any topic, I'm evaluating my ignorance about that topic with the same ignorance I used to come up with my ignorance in the first place. My ignorance feeds my confidence, which only feeds my ignorance, which feeds get the point...hopefully...unless you're...

It's the same reason studen...

August 10, 2019

If you have been recently watching Fox News, which I don't and I pray you don't, I'm told you heard Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK) and John Kennedy (R-LA) whining to Tucker Carlson and anyone else who would listen about the hundreds of murderers and rapists released from federal prisons into the neighborhoods of America in late July by the First Step Act. I don't know if they're ignorant or just intentionally twisting the facts, but I guess their capacities or motives are irrelevant. The facts are they're wrong. At this time, Federal prisoners have been released under the FSA for only 1 of 3 reasons.

1. Existing law has always allowed inmates to earn 54 days of Good Time Credits for each year of their sentence during which they exhibit exemplary behavior. However, the Bureau of Prisons, in it's limited wisdom, has calculated 54 days to mean only 47 days. In the FSA, Congress told the BOP to fix its faulty math. The BOP delayed this fix for 7 months, but on July 19th finally started giving i...

August 5, 2019

One of the best guys I know here, actually one of the best guys I've ever known, is my buddy Bounce. He has that Yard Name, aka Nickname, because he walks with a slight limp, a result of having cerebral palsy at birth. I still remember when we met him, and he said I could call him Bounce. Finally, after almost 4 years, it occurred to me to ask him if he liked being calling that. He replied, "Not really. I just picked it up in prison and it stuck." So now I have to try not to call him that, which is really annoying.

I've written about yard names before, but there are some here that are nowhere near politically correct. They just ain't right, but are readily accepted by the person. With these names it's typical to hear, "Hi, I'm _____," often to where nobody knows his real name. A few examples include the following:

  Simple Paul (Mentally challenged)
  Ghost (Albino)
  Osama Buck Laden (Muslim with big teeth)
  Tourette's (Self explanatory)
  Stutter (Ditto)
  Liberace (Ditto)
  Lying La...

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...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones