Pigs and Hogs

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 and the dreaded Town Hall Meeting. In my almost 3 years at camp, these meetings have not once been called to say "Thank You!" or to recognize inmates with birthdays during the month.

This time the Camp Administrator, whose monologue appeared to be a tryout for a WWF pre-wrestle tirade, brought the message. It was classic prison speak. "You disrespected me, and I'm going to disrespect you. You're criminals and your families are criminals." The bad news is that he took away visitation until further notice, claiming the bag was left by a family member during visitation. That's doubtful, but the explanation of why it's doubtful is long and not very interesting. While claiming to know exactly who broke the rules, he then punished everyone else. Logically, that means they have no clue who's breaking the rules. If they did, their reaction would be sadistic--deliberately punishing the innocent. I'm inclined to think they don't know, which is itself unimaginable. But the BOP isn't exactly NCIS.

As I listened to the monologue, the Camp Administrator sounded like an inmate. The more I thought about it, instead of being angry, I was sad. I realized that he is as much a prisoner here as I am. His vulgar and abusive language, his "I'm badder than you" tone, his misplaced need for respect played like an institutionalized inmate. He's been in the system a long time and is as damaged as anyone here. Most inmates in that meeting will finish their sentences by leaving long before he finishes his with retirement. It must be terribly disheartening to know the BOP has been and will be your life's work. I ended the day feeling sorry for the guy. How weird is that?

But now back to me, "Until further notice" can mean almost anything in an organization with no institutional memory. I just hope this doesn't mess up a visit.