Friends and Family Phone Plan

Cell phones are strictly prohibited here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. Instead we have 6 Ronald Reagan-era wall phones. Four are currently working, which is as good as it gets. Inmates get 300 minutes of very expensive talk-time each month, with each call limited to 15 minutes. Before my experience here, a 15-minute phone call was an eternity. Now, I almost always have to say goodbye before I'm ready. It's a system begging for a workaround, and some inmates have come up with an alternative. Yep, you guessed it--a contraband cell phone. Now "some" is a vague word, and for my first 3 years of captivity, that meant 1 or 2 phones. Then for about 6 months, it meant 3 or 4. Now, "some" means 20 to 25. For all I know, I may be the only inmate here without one.

But, as the unknown farmer said, "Pigs get fat, but hogs get slaughtered." Most good things come to an end, sometimes an unpleasant end. That's what happened to 11 of my camping brothers when they were recently caught with cell phones. Oddly, most of these inmates were caught accidentally by the staff, as no effort was made to hide their phones use. They were apparently undeterred by the warden's threat to transfer any inmate so caught to another institution. He also threatened to prosecute them for bringing a phone into a prison, adding a couple of years to their sentence. However, he didn't clear those ideas with the regional office, who thought the bus travel and the additional prosecution was too expensive.

So most of the cell phone culprits eventually made their way back to camp, un-phased by their time in the SHU (Special Housing Unit aka Solitary Confinement). Ironically, one of their punishments was a restriction on wall phone usage, something that will not pose a problem for them as they'll soon have another cell phone, either their own or one of the dozen or so still around.

In typical Bureau of Prison fashion, all inmates, particularly those who abide by the rules, get punished. Specifically, it included no visitation, essentially no commissary (except for OTC medications), restricted recreation yard hours (5:00-7:00pm), and no TV after 10:00pm.

Have I mentioned that I'm ready to leave this place? I wonder if my old iPhone 5 is still in a box somewhere?