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.
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.