Monthly Archives: February 2017

Feb 28

Second Day of Visitation-Information Overload!

Family Impact , Prison Life

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 |

The trip from the condo via GPS says 90 minutes; I made it in 75 going 10 miles over the limit. Travel was the easy part. When I arrived, I parked in the shade furthest from the entrance. A white Lexus parked next to me and a nice couple in their 60’s stepped out. The lady smiled and said jokingly that I had taken her great parking spot in the shade. We started talking, introduced ourselves and shared how neither one of us could ever have dreamed that we would be doing this in a 1,000 years!

She told me that it was through God’s grace that she had made it through the last 17 years! They were here to visit their now 35-year-old son. She was so nice that I asked her if we could meet him and she liked that idea. With that we entered the building, quickly filled out the paperwork and sat down.

Problems with Attire in Visitation Again!

When they called me up, it was the same guard from yesterday. He said, “Mrs. Foster, I know we had some issues with your attire yesterday, and, well, we can’t let you in today with what you are wearing. If you read this, it says ‘no spandex’” I was floored. I was wearing very much the same clothing that the black lady had worn yesterday and she had been allowed in. I didn’t know what to do; again, the clothes were back at the condo.

With that my new friend, Margaret, came to my rescue and said, “Let me go to my car, I have some pants you can borrow.” Together we backtracked to the car sharing more stories, one of which was how the guards had denied her husband entry one day because he was wearing Khaki pants. I was incredulous, but found out that it was because the prisoners are all in Khaki and they want us to look different.

A New Friend at Visitation

She told me a little more about her son, his good attitude and how he had survived many situations during this difficult time. I was anxious to meet him and introduce him to Kevin.  Kevin needed to have someone help him learn the ropes. I just had this feeling that this was divine intervention. Boy, I like it when my feelings are right on!

When I saw Kevin, and told him about the lady’s advice from the previous day and the debacle it had caused, he wasn’t surprised. The guards were flexing their power over their domain and they love to pick on the white women. I witnessed it with others. I told Kevin that after count, he was to get a picnic table so I could introduce him to Margaret, her husband and their son Haight. He didn’t look quite as “up” today and told me he was tired today. I tried to diagnose the reason with no success.

Reputations are Earned Quickly

As planned we all rendezvoused at the table. We spent the next 90 minutes having a blast learning the ins and outs of the system at Butner and where Haight had been previously. Haight told Kevin that he already had a reputation due to his blue skin.  It is called “smurfing” and is the result of the medication he takes for his heart condition.

When Kevin explained that, Haight said, “You know, no one will be able to get that. You need to just say you are depressed and blue!” With that Kevin said, “I’ll just tell them I listen to the blues so much, I turned blue.” We chuckled and I think his new nickname might become, “Blue” or “Bluesman.”

In addition, Haight knew all about Kevin’s cellie and how slow he really was. Inmates would tell Kevin’s cellie all the time to go away and don’t come back. Twenty minutes later he would be back with a smile, as though nothing had happened. No doubt, his brain is fried from too many drugs.

Overdosing on Iron in the Commissary Multi-Vitamins

Prison vitamins have too much iron. Copyright: deanpictures / 123RF Stock Photo

Haight has a wonderful sense of humor, a love for God and has managed to survive the system in good health by really taking care of his body through yoga and eating peanut butter and oatmeal throughout the day as his mainstay. He mentioned that he had done this regimen while taking vitamins and lifting weights, but without positive results and was always tired. He told us that he sent the ingredients of the multi-vitamin to his sister, who was a dietitian, and she told him immediately to get off the vitamins as they had 150 ml of iron.

Kevin and I immediately put two and two together, as he too was taking those multi-vitamins. This was why he was tired today—he had been on them for 10 days. He said he would check out the label. However, my thoughts were racing to another reality: BOP was allowing men to take vitamins with iron so they would be too lethargic to act out! It was like legalized drugs to the body and mind.

I asked Haight if he would coach Kevin on his yoga since we used to do that together previously. Kevin hadn’t done yoga in four years.  He dropped it with all his travels and then we moved away from the club. Now, yoga was one of the few activities he could participate in here.  He can’t do any contact sports due to his ICD (implantable cardio device). I could tell that was asking too much of Haight. He enjoyed retreating to a quiet corner of the yard early in the morning to do his yoga (and I’m sure meditating).  The most difficult thing to get accustomed to was constant noise in the units.

Haight also cleared up the differences between the Camp and Low Security:

In Low, the guards were a little more lenient since there are more restricted movements. Inmates can only move on the half hour/every hour, but there are more sports activities for the men to partake in because there are 1400 men. In addition, there is a huge sub-culture/micro economy with all these inmates at the Low. Probably the big difference between Low and Camp was that many of the Low inmates were elderly and handicapped, or at the other end of the spectrum: drug dealers and more!

Camp food is supposedly better. That appeals to Kevin. Plus, no razor/barbed wire and total freedom of movement. There are only 340 men at Camp.  They are primarily first time offenders and have low points. According to Haight, they are not trouble makers. Kevin is anxious to go to the Camp.

It was getting hot, and we were afraid the guards were going to separate us.  Inmates aren’t allowed to talk to one another in the visitation center, another stupid rule. They fraternize with each other in the dorms all day long! So, at the end of our conversation, I asked if Haight would keep an eye on Kevin and he looked me straight in the eye and said he would. I believe him and think we have new friends. Strange how God has this interesting way of weaving the fabric of our lives!

Feb 28

Everything happens for a reason and a purpose…

My Spiritual Journey

August 26th, 2011 |

I was reflecting this morning on how Christine and I always talk about “everything that happens to us, happens for a reason and a purpose, and that it serves us and God”.  I received the Magnificat from my mother and started thumbing through it. The introduction that quotes Fr. Walter Ciszek hit me right on, and I want to share it:

“How easy it is… for us to become dependent on our routines … Friends and possessions surround us … It is the status quo that … carries us from day to day; … we begin to lose sight of the fact that … behind all these things it is God who … sustains us. We go along, taking for granted that tomorrow will be very much like today, comfortable in the world we have created for ourselves …and give little thought to God. Somehow, then, God must contrive to break through those routines … and remind us once again … that we are ultimately dependent only upon Him, … that His we are and that we must look to Him and turn to Him in everything. Then it is, perhaps, that He must allow our whole world to be turned upside down in order to remind us it is not our permanent abode or final destiny, to bring us to our senses and restore our sense of values, to turn our thoughts once more to Him”.

Holding Christine’s hand and looking into her eyes yesterday reminded me how our love has grown over the past four years. This adversity has made both of us stronger and brought our marriage together with the glue that is unbreakable. Together, we will find our reason and purpose. And, it will serve us, as good people, and provide us with the opportunity to serve others and thus God.

This is something we should seek, and God will show us the way, and we will find.

Feb 27

Kevin’s Cellmate

Prison Life

Friday, August 26th, 2011 |

Kevin described his living conditions during visitation today.  He has 350 people in his unit, and one is sure to draw an interesting cellie.  Kevin’s cellie is in for attempted murder-for-hire or he would be in a higher security level. The cellie, Brandon, is only 26 and has served 8 years. His mother was an accomplice and is in a prison in Indianapolis. Apparently, Brandon is mentally slow due to drugs at a very early age, and because his mother is an alcoholic and druggie.  Brandon couldn’t stand their other cellie, most likely because he is black, so the other cellie moved out. So, that leaves just Kevin and Brandon in a 3-person cell for the time being.

Stamps as Underground Currency

Unused stamps are used as currency in prison. Copyright: andylid / 123RF Stock Photo

In his own way, Brandon is teaching Kevin how to survive in the system, especially about stamps being the underground currency. Brandon has offered to do Kevin’s laundry for one stamp because Brandon needs the money.  Kevin doesn’t have any money but can purchase stamps at the commissary or from other inmates.

Once an inmate amasses stamps, he must get rid of them by trading the stamps for something the inmate needs.  The buyer of the stamps can trade the stamps for something purchased at the commissary.  The stamps are not traded at face value but at 3 stamps for a $1.

We decided it’s not worth Kevin’s time or money to buy laundry soap at that cost! It takes another stamp for an inmate to iron Kevin’s khaki uniform. Kevin is trying to coach Brandon to go through drug rehab.  Brandon, like a lot of these inmates, should become responsible in the real world after release — something he has never done. At the age of 18 Brandon had already fathered three children with three different women!

Feb 27

First Prison Visitation after Incarceration

Family Impact

Thursday, August 25th, 2011 |

I woke up at 4:30 am after three hours sleep and got on the road by 5:45 am for my first prison visitation.  I made it to my friend’s High Point condo and then to Butner in great time!  What a relief not to have to pay for hotels, and what solace it is to come and rest my head there!

Visitation Arrival

I had a feeling there were going to be issues on the first visit so I made sure I arrived 15 minutes prior to visitation time.  Kevin wanted me to wear a sundress and when I approached the guard he said, ”You can’t go in like that—no sleeveless attire.” OK, now what? I had dropped my luggage at the condo already. I approached two ladies and asked if they might have a T-shirt I could borrow, but they had nothing with them. However, they suggested the Dollar General Store in Butner.

Butner is so tiny.  I missed it. You would think that it would have stood out. The town is only two blocks long on the south side. So, I raced back and bought a T-Shirt from the Dollar General to put over my dress. Then back to the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI).   I signed in, filled out their visitation form, submitted it with my driver’s license and waited.

Visitation List Approval

They called me up to tell me I wasn’t on Kevin’s approved visitation list. Kevin had mailed me the form, but it had not arrived prior to my leaving for Butner. I had been told that for immediate family there was a 30-day waiver of these written approvals. I told the guard I was supposed to be on the visitation list. With that, the guard told me to sit down again. I overheard him trying to get five members of Kevin’s team, but they had all left early. Finally, after 50 minutes I got clearance for the visit.  I was photographed and then scanned through a metal detector. Then I waited with other visitors to be escorted through the two massive electronic gates into the yard and then into the visitation center.

What I later found out from Kevin was that he had submitted his immediate family list to his counselor, Ms. Butler. When she saw the list, she said, “I don’t have time to clear all these people; my work load is overloaded.” To which Kevin asked if she could just clear me since I was coming up for four days. She said she would…well that didn’t get me too far!

TIP: Take an extra visitation form home with you, fill it out without a date and photocopy.  Keep a stack of the forms with you in the car so you don’t have to do it each time.

While waiting, I met a very beautiful black woman, 7 months pregnant with a 3-year-old in tow. We talked about her child. I was afraid to ask any other questions; Kevin had already told me that you don’t ask inmates any questions. They must volunteer. Once we were in the visitation center, I noticed that she and everyone else was anxious to see their loved ones.  I knew I would see her again.

Our First Visit Together

Again, I waited but not for long. Kevin came in and went straight to the guard desk to drop off his prescription sunglasses. He is only allowed the sunglasses due to his medical condition. Thank God, we had our ophthalmologist write a long letter about his eyes and the effects of the Amiodarone to his eyes.  The drug causes a “vortex” and creates light sensitivity.

Then he turned and saw me. I thought he was going to shout and cry for joy, but you can’t exhibit any emotions, just a little hug or kiss, very much like being chaperoned in the 1800’s! To hell with it!  It was our first visit; better to ask for forgiveness than permission, so I grabbed him and gave him a big bear hug from me and all who had called on the way up. Well not all of them, or the guards would have yelled at us!

Kevin looked great, clean shaved, haircut and pressed uniform—that’s my man.  He had lost another 3-5 lbs. but can’t afford to lose too much more. Kevin told me that he was really trying to stay away from all sugar and carbs. Problem is, that is about all they serve. Vegetables are canned, then over cooked and then further steamed in the cafeteria. Kevin doesn’t like anything but raw vegetables, and few at that. He told me that in the 10 days he had been there, they served salad only once! Chicken is always dark meat—you guessed it, Kevin only likes breast meat. He is now adapting…slowly. Much of the meat that is served is “broken parts” where the bone is broken prior to freezing. Companies can sell to the BOP, but not to retail customers.

We had so much to catch up on; it was like a super ball bouncing all around. Frankly, I have never had Kevin to myself for four uninterrupted hours without a cellphone or TV or interruptions and it was information overload. By the time visitation was over, I was ready to go as I had another 1.5 hours’ drive back to the High Point condo.

While walking back through the “yard” and through security, I talked to the lovely lady again with her child. She had seen my sleeveless dress dilemma and advised me that I could wear what she was wearing: spandex Capri pants and a tunic. I thought, “Great, I have that with me, that’s what I’ll wear tomorrow and there won’t be a problem!”

I felt Kevin hadn’t disclosed some things so I wouldn’t get concerned.  But in all, given how out of our comfort zone we are, I was amazed! Truly God has given each of us peace and the serenity to know what we can change and what we need to accept. I’m not giving up; I’m still praying for a miracle that it will be less than five years. Seeing him adapt, and make such an effort for our first “date”, convinced me that he will survive this as well. He will separate himself from the rest of the pack, while at the same time help and mentor others during his time there. That’s my man!

It had been a long and emotional first day—I had been up twenty hours!

Feb 24

Orientation & Depression

Prison Life

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 |

I was depressed today due to a culmination of many things including being treated curtly by several guards for not having an empty trash can, having some things other than my bible on my locker, and a guard told me to take off my hat in the dining room.  This last item wouldn’t have bothered me except that another guy was standing near me wearing a Rastafarian rainbow hat.  Several other guys were wearing either wool hats or baseball caps. It just appeared that these guards were trying to get on my case.  Also, I’m really realizing that I am in prison. Sometimes it is very hard for me to keep my mouth shut. I’m trying to stay out of trouble but I must watch what I say.

Admissions & Orientation (A&O)

I went to my Admissions & Orientation (A&O) today and was given a A&O Handbook.  A&O is mandatory for all new inmates and is given every Tuesday. They had representatives from each department talk a little about their programs and do’s and don’ts.  Some things that came out of the session:

Mail

Anything weighing more than 16 oz. must have printed on the package “Authorized by BOP Policies” and state the contents (e.g. magazines, books, etc.). A magazine is technically not media mail and has to go at a higher postage rate.

Education

They have new continuing education classes posted all the time but the inmate must pay the tuition if there is one. Inmates teach some of the classes, and they set up their own curriculum. I’ll check to see if there is anything interesting. I’m going to try to get setup to use the legal library.

Email

They also said that there is a minimum wait of 60 minutes for email coming and going, and the system does break down occasionally. They know there is a problem and they are trying to fix it. I am paying $.05/min for the email system. I bought 600 minutes when I came in and I now have about 200 left. It’s not a problem buying more time if I have money in my account.

Phone

The maximum phone numbers I can call are 20. Also, I would need to get approval for collect calls (which really doesn’t pertain to us).

Jobs

It is mandatory that all inmates work for at least 90 days in the kitchen, which is about the worst job on-site, unless they have another job that facilitates the entire prison. I have been working hard trying to find a job. So far, I applied to library, education, laundry, psychology, and to Unicor for a clerical position.

Unicor is the textile factory run by the prison making Air Force shirts and jackets and food service pants. I would not be able to work in the factory per se because I can’t sew, but I applied for a clerical position. The problem is – all tell me that they aren’t hiring right now. The regular jobs pay something like 5 to 10 cents an hour. The Unicor jobs pay between $.23 to $1.15/hr. Preference is given to guys that have restitution, fines or child support to pay. I have none of that so I may not get the job.

Psychology Services has an inmate to inmate mentoring program. I would be perfect as a mentor because of my Stephen Ministry training. I’m meeting with that department head this afternoon.

Family Calling to the Facility

One CO said the prison is very adamant that the family should not call unless it is a true emergency. The prison will check and verify the reason for the call (i.e.; call the hospital, funeral home, etc.). They can shutoff contact with the family member if that person is caught lying.

Visitation

The Compound Officer talked about visitation. They are very strict on visitation. Everyone is either watched or videotaped, and the tapes are viewed later. They also said not to get there too early. Typically, 30 minutes in advance of the visiting time is good.

Feb 23

Planning My First Visitation

Family Impact

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 |

I started planning my first visit to Kevin. We had already agreed that I would come once a month.  So, I thought it would be good to go over Labor Day and take advantage of the extra day of visitation that is granted on national holidays. After all, gas isn’t cheap so I need to make the most out of it that I could. I checked the BOP website for their visitation policy and days.  Thursday through the end of Labor Day looked like a possibility. NOT!

Importance of Checking Visitation Information in Advance

The visitation information on the website isn’t correct! Visitation is every other weekend at the Low.  There are so many inmates that they must rotate the dorm visitation to first and third weekends for half the men and the second and fourth weekends for the other half! So, I had to alter my plans and come up the weekend before Labor Day.  Kevin was already showing signs of stress and depression. Besides, we were going to run out of minutes.  We had so much to go over with the selling of the house, furniture sales, etc. for me to relocate somewhere smaller.

I also changed my health insurance policy now that I was a “single” woman. Everything was changing in just a few short days! So many companies had not been informed of the “change in leadership” of our team (i.e. the stock brokerage accounts, the life insurance policy accounts, Verizon and on and on).

TIP: The best thing we did was to execute multiple powers of attorney!

Feb 23

Laid-Back First Sunday

Prison Life

Sunday, August 21st, 2011 |

It was a very laid-back day.  I went to the Catholic service this morning. It was in the small chapel. As I previously said, there are a lot of different religions represented here so they have the services stacked up each Sunday. There were about 30 guys in attendance. The service was led by a woman volunteer who does all the Catholic services at Butner.  The volunteers go to each of the facilities here in sequence.  The service followed the prayers and rites of the mass without the consecration of the Eucharist. It was very simple, nice and moving.

I try to get up around 6 am and walk for about an hour after breakfast, and today was no different. Breakfast was grits and a donut. Lunch is supposed to be an omelet and breakfast sausage.

I can see that I will be doing a lot of reading here.  I finished “The Civil War” by Bruce Catton last night and started a book about Madoff this morning. Madoff is at Butner as well but at the Medium, a higher security unit. I’m really surprised that he is not at the Low but it must have something to do with his lengthy sentence.  In addition, the Medium is a “drop-off” prison where they can provide him with better security.

Feb 23

My First Weekend Day in Prison

Prison Life

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 |

This is my first weekend day in prison, and I am beginning to feel that I am settling in.  Last night was very uneventful and I slept well. I got up this morning, had breakfast and walked for an hour. I read some and prepared for the 10 am count, which are unique to the weekend days only.

All morning they have been calling guys down to visitation, and I recall how much I miss Christine, Watson and all our friends. The reality of the situation has come full bore. I know all this is very hard on Christine, and it is really hitting me how tough both of us are going to have it.

Counts

Counts require you to be standing by your bed in your cell at certain times of the day or night.  The whole prison shuts down during counts. In fact, the whole BOP system takes its counts at the same time.  It is taken very seriously since this is the most likely time that the facility would notice an escape.   Counts are simply where two CO’s walk each unit and count each inmate.  “Out-counts” are where the CO’s count inmates that are not in the unit at the time of count (e.g. when the inmates are at work or in visitation).  The counts are reported up the BOP chain – institutional, regional and then national.  The counts are cleared when the facility has reconciled the number of inmates it is supposed to have under custody to those they just counted.

After count today, they locked down the units because the chaplain’s office reported that someone stole a badge. How ridiculous! As if they are going to find a badge! They finally opened the doors for lunch, without shaking down any cells. It was one of the better meals – open faced turkey sandwich, mashed potatoes and an apple.

Chapel

I missed Catholic services today. Someone gave me the wrong time but there is another chance at 8:30 tomorrow morning. I’m not sure how one service differs from another. Their chapel is just an assembly room and a couple of other rooms. There’s nothing religious appearing at all.

The Wicca’s were having a ceremony when I was in talking to the chaplain. It really seems odd that people worshiping the devil practice in the same room as people who believe in a higher God.

What really upsets me still is that they won’t let me bring in a rosary. Christine can’t mail me one either. Even the terrorists get prayer beads in Guantanamo. The guy in the cell next to me works in the chaplains’ office so I am still pressing for a job there (but probably fat chance).

Library

I spent most of my time in the library this afternoon. The library is very small and consists of a couple of admin offices, a very small “legal” library, a room with manual typewriters (bring your own ribbon-yes more money for the commissary) and book stacks using those movable shelves that you move forward or back with a handle. There is very little in way of good books, not that they don’t have some good titles. They have the Patton biography, which I will start when I finish my Civil War book.

Included in the library building is the education department. It has several small classrooms, some of which have computers and/or small TV’s’s for viewing educational and religious DVDs. I really haven’t explored the educational opportunities besides the paralegal program.

Recreation Yard

Actual photo of Butner Low. Notice the fencing.

As I mentioned earlier, I walked for a full hour this morning but I also walked for 30 minuters after dinner. The big time for most guys to workout is after dinner. There are 2 baseball diamonds, 4 or 5 basketball courts, bocce ball, volleyball, horseshoes, an area for weight training and the indoor aerobics area. They also have pool tables. There is a track that is about 2/3 of a mile around the entire yard. I’m amazed about how much use it gets, both for walkers and joggers. A lot of these younger guys are in great shape and spend a lot of their time working out. I could use some help in this area!

These amenities are tempered with the imposing reality that you are in a secure prison. The “yard” is on the far end of the prison site and is surrounded by an electrified, barbed-razor wire double fence. It is very intimidating, and as much as you see prisons on TV, there is nothing like being on the inside of one.

Feb 23

How to Cut the Cost of Your Prison Phone Bill

Family Impact , Prison Life

Saturday, August 20th, 2011 | (Updated for experience after the original writing of the post)

We quickly discovered how expensive it is to make phone calls from prison.  An inmate is only allowed to make phone calls that do not exceed 15 minutes at a time.  The inmates are further limited to 300 phone call minutes each month.  In November and December, the BOP graciously adds an additional 100 minutes to the inmate’s phone account for the holidays.

I’ve never heard a reason why the BOP even limits the calls.  Kevin told me that the phones in his unit were always busy during the high peak times around count and in the evening.  But, he had plenty of opportunity to call during the day when most inmates were working.  Phone calls to home are essential to the inmates keeping in touch with their families.

We always used all our minutes each month.  Nearly all our calls were 15 minutes because we had so much to talk about and we missed each other.  The BOP charges inmates $0.60 for a 15-minute local call but $3.60 for the same call if it goes to a long-distance phone number.  So, the BOP charges 6x more for long distance phone calls. This is price gouging at its worst! Talk about kicking someone when they are down and out.   We were looking at $72 per month for phone calls alone.

Solution to High Prison Phone Bills

prison phone

Prisons phones are a rip-off to inmates and their families. Copyright: photodee / 123RF Stock Photo

I knew I would have to go to Verizon to make some changes to our phone plan. We had decided to get a local number on Kevin’s cellphone since he wasn’t using his cellphone.  He was still under a 2-year contract so we had to pay the monthly access charges anyway.  I changed his old cellphone number to a new number within the zip code of the prison and forwarded Kevin’s cellphone to my phone.

TIP: Don’t go to your local store, but call the customer service line. They were far more efficient and could get the out of state number easier that the local store.

However, this was not a permanent solution because we did not want to keep paying the Verizon line access charges after his contract expired.  We ultimately settled on a Google Voice number with a 919-area code.  I forwarded the Google Voice line to my cellphone.  We used this number for the full-time Kevin was in prison, but …………

Glitches

The BOP prohibits calls to phones that are forwarded.  Fortunately for us though, the Butner phone software was not able to detect that the Google Voice number was forwarded to my phone for nearly all calls during all three years.  We were not that fortunate when Kevin was sent to Mecklenburg County jail subsequently.  Almost none of the Google Voice calls were forwarded to my phone while he was in Mecklenburg.

We later learned that calls to a Magic Jack number also will not be completed in a federal prison.  There are other services available that promise to reduce inmate phone call costs but almost all of them use some technology that are at odds with BOP policy.  Google Voice worked the best for us.

The prison inmate phone business is BIG business and the institutions get a cut of the action.  As much as the BOP and others may cry about the need for security, it is the money that is driving the policy.  Prison phone calls have always been a rip-off, and probably always will be due to the money involved.

Feb 21

Prison Overcrowding is a Fact Here

Criminal Justice

Friday, August 19th, 2011 |

Prison overcrowding is an observable fact here.  Butner Low converted all their 2-bed cells to 3-bed cells at some point to accommodate more prisoners.  One of the guys pointed out three bills pending in Congress that generally extend good-time release from 54 days to 120 days for every year served. One of the bills applies retroactively which would release 10% of the prison population. This is still a long way from solving the overcrowding problem. Somehow, someway, we, as a society, need to look at alternative sentencing solutions rather than incarceration for nonviolent and first-time offenders.

Overcrowding makes for very tight living quarters so there are many opportunities to get inmate stories. I have found that nearly every inmate that I have talked to has been friendly and generous. Not quite what I was expecting. Of course, you can tell those who are not, and I just stay away from them. Overall, I’m just trying to mind my own business and keep a low profile. But as I said, I talk to people who are open.

Who is Here?

I have met guys that are in here for all sorts of reasons including murder for hire, drug charges, gun-law violations, meth trafficking and many more.  I know that there are 2 guys in my building who were sentenced to very long terms in a high-profile white-collar case. But so far, I am the only white-collar guy that I have met here.

I am told that the highest percentage of offenders in Butner are child molesters. I don’t know whether that is true or not. My new friends warned me to stay away from the “cho-mo’s”, as they are called. These offenders are ostracized here. I have seen no violence but I was told about a recent attack on a cho-mo that resulted in a lot of blood.

Another thing that really strikes me is the number of elderly and handicapped inmates. I think that this is so because of the medical center on-site. I see guys who look like they are in their 80’s! Maybe these guys did some bad things in their time, but they pose no threat to society now. Most have a hard time getting around in their walkers and wheelchairs. I’m not kidding. One of the inmate jobs is to help these guys get around and take care of them. With all the prison overcrowding, it is insanity that these guys are still in the system.

Federal sentencing guidelines (declared unconstitutional but still generally followed by the judges) impose long sentences for non-violent crime. I met a guy who got 27 years for marijuana.  This seems very harsh no matter how much he peddled. I know that there are guys effectively serving life sentences for non-violent white collar crime as well.

 

 

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