Library and Chapel

Monday, October 3rd, 2011 |

The library and chapel are in adjacent buildings behind the housing units.  It is amazing how convenient all the Camp services are compared to the Low, where everything was so spread out.

Library

I have been spending some time in the library, but not enough.  I typically look for books, make copies and use the manual typewriters.  The library is disappointingly small with only two reading tables.  However, there are additional working tables lining the walls with typewriters and computer monitors for legal research.

The book selection is much smaller than I expected.  In addition, the library books are not arranged by category but by author name.  This is a bummer because I usually find a category (e.g. history, non-fiction, etc.) and then look for a book.  Here it is all put together.  Occasionally, an ambitious camper gets permission to move books around and reorganize it.

The library also has newspaper rack with national and local newspapers, a postage scale and envelope printer.  All outgoing mail must have a mailing label printed from the inmate’s contact list in Trulincs.

The education rooms are also located in the library.  They are small but get a lot of use.  Nearly all the classes are taught by inmates.  For example, there is one physician who teaches anatomy, Latin, French and Spanish.  I plan to teach a class in real estate investing.

Chapel

I went to Catholic communion services at the chapel yesterday.  The chapel is a relatively simple set up with a main worship room and two smaller rooms.  One of the smaller rooms has lockers to accommodate the materials for each denomination, and the other is a religious library.  There are also two offices for each the chaplain and chaplain’s secretary.  The Camp doesn’t have a chaplain right now so that job is being done by other Butner chaplains.

The Catholic services are presided over by Eucharistic ministers from the local Butner Catholic Church.  I’m told that they have a priest that comes in once a month.  The other denominations have similar arrangements, but a Protestant chaplain presides over a non-denominational service every Sunday.  This service is very well-attended.

My First Weekend Day in Prison

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.