Visitation is held at Bastrop Federal Camp every Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm. Our TV room is converted on those days into the visitation room. Several card tables are brought in, and the plastic chairs are rearranged to make conversations easier. There's even a small play area for children. Outside, there are picnic tables and benches under a covered patio and in the yard shaded by pine trees. It's typical to see children playing in that area. There are also vending machines for sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Entry to and exit from the camp is not at all prison like. Parking is convenient, and visitors simply walk directly into the visitor room. There are no gates, metal detectors, bars, guards, dogs or moats. Even a casual observer can sense hope and joy being invested into this place during those times.

An inmate is allowed up to 30 visitors on his approved visitor list. The process of being approved to visit is not difficult but it isn't quick either. To be approved, visitors must mail to the camp counselor a completed Visitor Form along with a copy of their driver's license. Visitor Forms can be obtained from an inmate by mail or can be printed from the Bastrop FCI website. As the return address is a post office box, I recommend using USPS Express Mail so someone at the Bastrop FCI has to sign a delivery receipt. Most inmates here, including me, have at least one story of a Visitor Form getting "lost". The approval process can take anywhere from 10-45 days.

After being here for over 13 months and discussing visitation with many inmates, I've decided that visiting a prison is not unlike visiting a nursing home or a hospital. Some visitors do it well; some do it poorly. Some don't do it, but should; and some don't do it, and that's a good thing. I've also learned that there are several reasons for visits.

Some people visit because they are naturally nosy--curiosity. Some visit because they feel they should--obligation. Some visit so they will look better--appearance. Most visit because they can't not visit. They simply care--love. Obviously the last group is the best. But while motives matter in most actions, a prison visit is almost always an exception to that rule. Easily 99% of all prison visits are greatly appreciated, regardless of the motive.

If you could work your way to a heavenly reward, which you can't, prison visits would probably work. At least they would if I were keeping score.