The camp facilities are very different from Low in so many ways, and you recognize the differences as soon as you drive into the complex. As I stated yesterday, the parking lot is immediately in front of the main building entrance. The lobby of this entrance serves as the visitation center. The back door of this main building opens to the campus, which is tight compared to Low. All the services at the Camp are very conveniently located. I had a chance to explore the Camp last night, and these are my initial observations:
The main building consists of a cafeteria, health services, commissary, some administrative offices, laundry services and barber shop. There are no fences here so the feel of the Camp is more of a campus than what you would expect from a prison. You can obviously tell that there is more freedom of movement and trust in the campers.
Behind the dorm buildings are another set of buildings comprising the chapel, library/education and inside recreation room. The rec yard has about four handball courts (which are rarely used), weight training area with free weights (which are always being used), basketball court, horseshoes, bocce ball, volleyball and a gravel walking track. There are several picnic tables and park benches. A softball diamond/athletic field is located within the middle area of the track. A small stream forms the border of the rec yard, and the other side is bounded by the Medium property that has the double fencing, razor wire, etc.
The dorms consist of two 1-story buildings of two wings each with about 42 bunks in each wing. The units are named Catawba East and West and Hatteras East and West. The cell setup is like the Low, but the cells are slightly smaller in size. There is a just one 2-man bunk bed, one chair, and two lockers mounted to the wall in each cell.
Unfortunately, all new guys must go to the “beach” upon arrival. The beach is at the far backend of the unit right at the entrance to the bathroom/laundry room. The beach has two rows of three bunk beds.
I am in the lower bunk closest to the bathroom. It is very noisy with guys going into and out of the bathroom and doing their laundry, which seems like 24 hrs./day. The bathroom area is less than half the size of the Low bathroom areas. It has two urinals, three full toilet stalls and about six shower stalls.
The microwaves are in the front of the unit in a utility room that includes an ice machine. The ceiling of the dorm is very high. There is ample lighting when the lights are on. Our wing is nearly completely full with just one vacant bunk bed.
A TV room is located at the entrance to the building with four flat screen TV’s, a big improvement to the tube TV’s at Low. Two computers are in the TV room at desks underneath the mounted TV sets. There are only two phones in the unit. One phone is just mounted on the wall and it can get very noisy, and the other is in an old-fashioned telephone booth. I try to get the booth as much as possible because it is so much more private. Even though there are only two phones and two computers, I really don’t have a problem getting on either except right after the evening count.
It was funny that last night and this morning, the guys from Catawba were scoping out the newly arrived campers – and not in a weird way. The laundry is immediately across from the two entrances to the Catawba units. A lot of guys hang out at the benches in front of the unit and in the courtyard. The Camp is relatively small at 340 inmates so people get to know each other quickly. You can’t help but notice new guys, and the laundry is typically the first place you notice them since all must get clothing upon arrival.
So far, the guys I’ve met have been very helpful and friendly. There seems to be an eagerness to help newbies. I witnessed much the same at the Low on my arrival. All inmates have been newbies at some point, so there is an understanding that new guys need to get a lay of the land, so to speak.
I’ll write much more as time goes on about my fellow campers so I won’t get into more detail now.
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