Rumors are rampant here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp and can relate to all aspects of prison life, often taking on a life of their own. The rumor mill here even has a We all know that rumors must contain a hint of truth to grow legs. But this place is so weird, it's frequently hard to distinguish truth from complete fiction. So it's fertile ground for rumors. The following is just one of many examples.

A few months ago, the corrections officer who supervises the Recreation Pavilion turned off all the outside televisions because of an unfortunate misunderstanding and over-reaction. One of our inmates is 85 years old and confined to a wheelchair. He should be sent home immediately on a compassionate medical release, but that's another story. A fellow inmate was changing the channel of one of the televisions for him, just being a nice guy. The CO walked by, saw the helper with 2 remotes in his hand, added 1+1 and got 11, and incorrectly assumed the helper was trying to "take over" all the TVs. Several inmates tried to explain it, but the CO couldn't admit he had gone "Barney Fife", errantly over-reacting.

So all the outside TVs went dark. The helper felt bad about it, and everyone else was just frustrated. The big question the next day was how long the TVs were going to be off. Most of us figured it would be 3 days, but a couple of us decided to tell a certain talkative inmate that it might be 30 days. It was a "social science experiment".

Within 15 minutes, I had heard from 10 inmates that the TVs would be off 30 days. Within 30 minutes everyone knew it, and I even overheard one inmate say it would not be 30 but 90 days. Inmates were getting upset by the TVs being off so long. By then I believed it myself because I heard the news on

Oh, by the way, the outside televisions were back on in 3 days. That's still too long, but certainly better than 90 days.

My latest example happened in early September. Three different inmates independently mentioned to me how bad it was that the FBI arrested me at my daughter's wedding. My response was, "What? That never happened. I went in to see the U.S. Attorney. I was never arrested." This week, two more inmates mentioned it. They received the same response from me.

The next time it happens, maybe I should just reply, "Yeah, can you believe those bastards?"