Tag Archives for " clothing "

Sep 18

Camp Administrator Gives More Lip Service

Prison Life

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 |

The situation on the compound is getting intense.  Guys are fed up and the camp administrator keeps giving lip service.

The inmate who organized a committee to deal with “camp issues” met with the camp administrator. She gave him some information but I didn’t hear anything new. Furloughs can be requested but the request needs to comply with BOP policy, which also states that granting the furlough is subject to the approval of the warden. This was always the hang up. The warden never approved any furloughs.

The camp administrator also said that if the clothes aren’t dry or clean, then return them to laundry.  She has been saying this all along, but it doesn’t help.

Guys are also complaining about the mattresses.  There are two types of mattresses, the old cotton covered and newer plastic covered ones. Both are extremely uncomfortable and don’t hold up. I’m sure the cotton-covered ones are full of dust mites and microscopic organisms.

I was smart enough to get a plastic covered mattress as soon as I could. Unfortunately, the one I have is concave in the center so it provides very little support. It’s like sleeping in a hole every night.  The camp administrator said to request a new mattress if there is something wrong with yours.  This is easier said than done.  These requests are more routinely denied than granted.

Aug 04

Camp Administrator Ponders Shoes

Prison Life

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 |

The camp administrator and my counselor just walked through our unit for one of their frequent and petty inspections. I happened to be in my cell when they came by.  I’m not sure that there was an actual purpose of this walk-through, but they did look at our shoes.

The camp administrator complained about my cellie’s shoes lined up at the end of the bed rather than the side of the bed. I said, “No problem, I’ll get him to line his shoes on the long side of the bed.” Then the camp administrator started looking at his shoes and decided that he has too many shoes. I told her that he has the correct number of shoes, per the posted standards.

She pulled out the standards and then tried to assess the purpose of every pair of shoes. In other words, she wasn’t complaining about the total number of shoes. She was disputing whether he has too many of one kind of shoes.  I can’t recall reading anywhere there is a specific number of shoes an inmate can have for a specific purpose.  Though, the camp administrator can make up any rule she wants.

I couldn’t believe it. I said I would talk to my cellie and we would get it straight. She said no, she didn’t want him to give his shoes to another inmate. She made the counselor get a bag, and they took all his shoes!

The counselor is supposed to be calling him in later today to pick up his correct number of shoes. I assume they will make him either mail the offending shoes home or make him throw them away. This is some of the insanity we are dealing with here.

Aug 03

Town Hall Meeting to Announce New Policies

Prison Life

Thursday, April 26th, 2012 |

We had a “town hall” this afternoon. This is the first one since I’ve been here. A town hall is a gathering of the inmates in the visitation room for the camp administrator to announce new policies and/or answer questions. There has been a lot grumbling and complaining about the inspections and shakedowns, so we thought that this would be the main topic. However, the subject today was water conservation, sanitation and the new electronic cop out system.

Not much was said about the new electronic cop out system except that we should use it. It is much easier and I think it is a good step forward from the antiquated paper cop outs. The “sanitation” was just a discussion that we should limit our hanging bags to one and to not have more than the allotted clothes.


There is some disagreement as to the amount of allotted clothes. One guy filed a complaint about only having three uniforms.  This complaint was appealed to the DC national office.  They responded to him that we should have four uniforms. The camp administrator never really answered why we have three and DC says we should have four. I (and everyone else) have three and have always been told that we are to get three.  So, the camp administrator doesn’t care what DC says.

Also, a lot of the guys have clothes they bought from the commissary. For example, I have briefs, athletic socks and some gray t-shirts. The camp administrator said, for every sock, brief and t-shirt we buy, we must get rid of one of the prison-issued items. This makes no sense. Typically, the grays and athletic socks are used for working out. The prison-issued items are used for daily dressing.

Water Conservation

The water conservation issue was stupid! They are cutting-off two of our six showers during the day for “conservation”. I can’t believe anyone could be so illogical (it is the government though). Ok, so there are four guys in the shower, the fifth must wait until someone gets out and then takes his shower. The same number of guys must take showers.  How does this save water? There are rarely more than three guys taking a shower at any one time during the day, so this is really a non-issue.

Given the fact that the camp throws away tons of food, equipment and supplies, and the CO’s fill their personal fuel tanks with gas, I would think they would try to use their time more productively to save money. But, that really is the point. Government employees will always spend whatever it takes to reach their budget. Stuff is thrown away and then replaced just to maintain the budget. I personally think this prison exists to keep the staff fat and happy.


The issue of absence of furloughs was also raised by an inmate. The camp administrator categorically denied that they will not issue furloughs. No one I have talked to has ever known a Butner inmate that has gotten a furlough. Furthermore, I am told that the (now departing) warden specifically stated to not ask for a furlough because it would not be approved.

Overall, I think the camp administrator made a fool of herself. The issues that were raised don’t make sense, and all the guys knew it. I also think that the other staff present were embarrassed by the spectacle. The guys are more riled than I have ever seen. The new warden is starting next week, so there may be changes of staff and policies!

Jun 20

New Laundry System Problems

Prison Life

Monday, February 27th, 2012 |

The Laundry Department had my laundry ready on the same day. That’s the good news. The bad news is that not all the clothes were properly dried. In addition, the whites were not white enough, and the clothes were incredibly wrinkled. Overall, I appreciated the same day service but they did a terrible job on the laundry.

We are about six weeks into the new laundry system. As I previously written, they pulled all the washers and dryers from the units.  The camp is doing everyone’s laundry in the central laundry facility. It started out being a real nightmare but the system has gotten better. In the first weeks, clothes were coming back wet and there were long lines to pick up the clean laundry bags.

Typical prison laundry bag

After the first week, I decided to pay someone in laundry to do my washing and folding for $10/mo. It was originally worth it.  But, they improved their system to include dropping the clean bags in the units so I decided to do it myself.

My biggest complaints are that the whites come back off-white.  Also, the clothes are so wrinkled that there are guys ironing their undershirts. No kidding. I was paying someone four stamps to iron a set of pants and a shirt. Furthermore, I tried ironing on my own this past weekend. I did a pretty good job for never having ironed in the past.

The laundry is changing out my “whites” tomorrow morning. They change them out every six months. The “greens” get exchanged once a year. However, I have one green short sleeve shirt that is way too large, and another that is the “old-style faded green”. I’ll see if I can get two shirts that match color and size.

May 30

New Inmate Laundry System

Prison Life

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 |

The biggest issue of contention for the last several months is that of the inmate laundry. The Camp COs came into the units today and took out all the washers and dryers. We now have a new inmate laundry system.  The inmates will now drop off their laundry bags at the Laundry Department and pick them up later the same day.  This change date was announced several months ago so it was expected.

Most guys preferred doing their own laundry for the simple reason that they didn’t want their clothes contaminated with the soils of others.  The Camp has always offered laundry service for personal clothes but it was rarely used. The guys, including myself, are less concerned with bed linens. These could be exchanged once a week, which I have always done.

Why Inmates Like Doing Their Own Laundry

This is a medical facility which means there are guys here with all sorts of diseases, fluids and waste adhering to their clothes. In addition, many guys were worried that the laundry would lose their personal clothes (underwear, socks, etc.) and medical garment items such as diabetic socks. These are paid for by the inmates, most of which have little funds to replace lost items. The other concern was that the laundry would fade and crumple the “greens” (uniforms). Also, guys are rightly concerned that the clothes in laundry bags will not be dried properly. These are all very valid concerns.

Justification for Pulling Washers and Dryers

The BOP’s justification has been cost reduction. The washers and dryers go 24/7 using an inordinate amount of water and electricity. While I find this concern valid, the choice of attacking the inmate’s laundry is almost laughable considering the other waste at the camp that should be addressed.

In addition, the washers and dryers were paid for by the inmate’s commissary account fund. The profits from commissary, phone and email (Trulincs) go into an account that is supposed to fund inmate activities. Everyone doubts that this money is being spent effectively on the inmates. I, frankly, have no clue that money is being spent given the total lack of inmate activity and recreational services. I can almost guarantee you that there is no oversight and audit of these funds. This account is ripe for fraud and abuse, though I have no evidence of any wrongdoing.

The pulling of washers and dryers has been tried at other Butner facilities, and each time the washers and dryers went back in. I expect the Laundry Department will be written up often for the issues I mentioned above.

Feb 20

The Necessities: Prison Food, Clothing, Commissary & Sleep

Prison Life

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 |


I got up very early today to get my khakis, which is the official uniform, since I only had a temporary clothing since intake.  My “cellie” lent me a sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants because the transitional uniform was very uncomfortable. The laundry department issues clothing and they gave me a coat, 4 shirts and slacks, cap, boxers and undershirts, and a very uncomfortable pair of steel-toed boots.  I have plantar fasciitis so I can’t wear the hard boots that are the normal issue.   I went to medical to request a soft shoe pass so that I can trade the leather boots for shoes that look like black tennis shoes.  Thank God I had the orthopedic inserts I brought with me!  I had a doctor’s letter stating that I needed them so these inserts are considered medical equipment.  Also, the doctor’s letter will short cut the soft shoe pass approval.  But, they took my temp shoes away so I have to wear the boots until I get soft shoes.


After lunch, I went to pick up my commissary order. It was a big order. You must buy a stereo radio and headphones to watch any TV or get music. A pair of tennis shoes are an absolute necessity to do any athletics or walk the track at all. I got a small amount of food, a watch, a razor and some other toiletries. There were other things that I cannot remember right now. I went over-board on my first order but I understand that most new inmates do.  The prison gives a new inmate very little so the commissary is the natural place to get the things to make prison life comfortable.


prison food and wanter

Sometimes all I could really stomach was bread and water. Copyright: sonsam / 123RF Stock Photo

As I mentioned in the last post, the food is not good. This is a sampling of the food they are giving us: Tuesday dinner: sub and small salad; Wednesday meals: breakfast – 2 pancakes and bad bran cereal (I ordered some raisin bran from the commissary for this reason); lunch – hamburger (dried and overcooked) and fries (not too bad); dinner – Spaghetti with meat sauce; Thursday lunch: baked chicken and mashed potatoes. I have been drinking water at each meal because the only alternative is sweet drinks.


Sleeping has been a major issue. The guy in the next cell snores all night long. Most of the inmates near me are young and like to stay up late. Most don’t care about keeping regular hours.  I try to hit the sack around 10 pm and wake up at 6 am. Inevitably, there is no time where it is completely dark or quiet. Everyone says I will get used to it. Seems hard to believe. I have a cloth to put over my eyes to block out the light.