Out of the SHU!

Prison Life

Mar 29

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 |

I am out of the SHU and at the Camp exactly four weeks after going into solitary confinement!  The CO’s warned me late last night that I would have an early morning wake-up for my transfer to the Camp.  The property CO had taken all my property and left me with one magazine yesterday.  But, pardon me for thinking that they were lying to me again.

Processed Out of the SHU

I woke up early in anticipation of my transfer.  At about 8:30 am, a CO took me in cuffs and shackles to a holding cell in the R&D area of the Low.  This is adjacent to the SHU.  The CO’s got another dozen inmates out of their cells for transfer processing.  They removed our cuffs and shackles once in the holding cell.  We waited for nearly two hours while the CO’s finished all their paperwork and gathered everyone’s property duffel bags.  There was a lot of chatter between some of the inmates, so they obviously knew each other or were trying to catch up on gossip.

Some of the inmates were going to facilities other than Butner, but a few of us were going to other facilities within Butner.  I knew I was going to the FCI I – Medium for processing before going to the Camp.  The Camp is a satellite facility to the Medium, so the Camp does not have its own R&D.  Therefore, all campers are processed through the Medium’s R&D.

Transfer to the Medium

The CO’s called out the six guys going to the Medium, and then put the shackles and cuffs back on again.  This time the cuffs were locked to a chain around our waists.  I hate walking with the shackles because I can only take baby steps, and those shackles hurt the ankles.  We were walked about 200 yards to the front building to board a prison van.  Three CO’s escorted us and another followed behind us with a shotgun.  All the guys were happy to get out of the holding cells, but, at this point, we were not allowed to talk.  We were driven in a prison van the couple hundreds of yards to the Medium from the Low.

Driving up to the Medium is very intimidating.  It is a one-story building, all gray and with very strong perimeter fencing, like the Low, that is overwhelming.  The transport CO’s got us all out of the van and marched us into the R&D at the Medium.

Processed at the Medium

We were, once again, placed in holding cells after the cuffs and shackles were removed.  They eventually brought in two other guys from the Federal Medical Center (FMC) that were also going to the Camp.

The CO’s gave us a lunch bag with a baloney sandwich and an apple.  In addition, we took off the temporary clothing from the Low and were given different temporary clothing.  While the CO’s did whatever they had to do to process us, the eight of us talked in the cell.  There were six guys going to the Camp, and the other two inmates were staying at the Medium.  These two guys had long sentences for drug trafficking.

This is how I looked after 4 weeks in the SHU. I call this my “Ax Murderer” picture.

We were interviewed by a nurse and asked numerous questions by the CO’s.  They took our fingerprints and new mug shots for our new prison ID.  This was the first time I got a chance to see how long my beard and hair had gotten.  I’ve started cutting my hair extremely close years ago, once I gave up the possibility that I would ever be able to grow a full head of hair again.  Bald suits me and I am ok with it.  My wife would never tolerate me with a beard so I never tried.

A CO informed the campers that a counselor from the Camp would be coming to get us.  The Camp is immediately next to the Medium.  Again, we would have to wait to be moved.  The steel benches in these holding cells were getting to me.

Finally, to the Camp

There was talk that they needed to get us to the Camp by the 4 pm. count.  A male counselor ultimately came to R&D to escort us to the Camp.  They handcuffed and shackled us again for the move to the Camp, marched us to another van and drove us to the Camp at about 2:30 pm.     We still had our temporary clothing that was issued when we arrived at the Medium.  The counselor warned us that we should not succumb to the temptation to get a cellphone and to stay away from cigarettes.  I thought these were weird warnings at the time, but soon learned that both cellphones and cigarettes were prevalent at the Camp.

After being processed at both the Medium and the Low, the transfer to the Camp was a whole different experience.  The cuffs and shackles were removed in the parking lot at the Camp.  We walked straight in the front door from the parking lot – no fences, no secured doors – wow!

Getting Settled at the Camp

The counselor escorted us to the offices where I waited for my counselor to see me.  Our introduction was very brief and I was told that she would be calling me later after count.  In the meantime, I was given a bunk assignment at the “beach” (there’s a beach in prison? cool!) in the Hatteras East unit, told to go there and wait.  Another camper volunteered to take me there.

After count and during dinner, the newly-arrived campers were called to the laundry.  We were given an unhemmed uniform and measured for our clothes.  The laundry CO and inmates gave us bedlinens, towels, underwear, a wool hat and cotton gloves.  We were told to come back to laundry at 7:30 the next morning for our permanent uniforms, which included 4 pairs of pants and shirts, and a coat.

I quickly got settled into my bunk and then explored the camp’s grounds, which I will talk about later.  Most importantly, I went to the barber for a haircut and shave.  I feel human again!