PENSACOLA FEDERAL PRISON CAMP
A friend and client is surrendering to pensacola federal prison camp on March 15. To help with our preparations, I asked another friend and client Ken Flaska to write a blog describing the surrender process at Pensacola. Wanting to pay it forward, Ken agreed. Ken’s guest blog is below. JP
Justin asked me to describe the process that occurs when you surrender to Pensacola Federal Prison Camp. While this blog concerns Pensacola Federal Prison Camp, a significant amount of the information is generic to all Federal Prison Camps. Before I get into the surrender process make sure you do your research and pick the best prison for you and your family. Justin’s sentencing tool helped me make the right decisions.
Now to Pensacola. First, think about how you are going to get to the Prison Camp. I do not recommend having your wife drop you off at the gate, engage in a tearful good-bye and then have to drive 400 miles back home alone. A good-bye in the confines of your home is a much better alternative.
I would suggest getting dropped off by a couple of friends or find your own way to Pensacola Prison Camp to surrender. A plane flight and an uber ride is easy and less emotional. The day you surrender to federal prison, place money on your prison account via an online money transfer. That will ensure that you have funds available for initial commissary expenses, phone calls and emails.
I suggest arriving with as little as possible. If you have cash on your person, they will put it on your prison account. It may take several days for it to hit your account. I would bring your drivers license, social security card and birth certificate. Prison Staff will place them in your file. You will need all three of these documents in your file when you leave prison, so bring them upfront to avoid having others trying to track them down at a later date. Your clothes, wallet and cell phone will be mailed home by the BOP.
You will be processed through Receiving and Discharge (R&D)
You will fill out forms, answer questions, and submit to medical and dental exams. You will be directed to the laundry where your will receive your uniforms and steel toed boots. (very uncomfortable boots). You will be assigned to a housing unit. At Pensacola, there are 4 dormitories, A,B,C plus unit D which is the dorm for the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP). A unit is the best dorm as it has larger common areas, more televisions, larger bathrooms and a “back Porch”. To get into “A” dorm, you may have to suggest that stairs are a problem for you? (old football injury?).
If you have money on your books, you can initially shop on any day the commissary is open (Tuesday – Thursday) as a first time shopper.
Your immediate purchases should include hygiene products, shower sandals, radio or MP-3 player, shorts, tennis shoes, coffee cup and stamps. You will probably have to purchase your own work boots ($100.00) because the BOP boots are very uncomfortable and you are required to were work boots between 7:30 and 4:00 every day. All of this stuff will cost between $225 and $325 at the commissary.
You should also see your counselor in your unit immediately so you can get your pin number so you can set up your phone and email account. Communication with family and friends is essential to your adjustment in Federal Prison Camp.
Once you enter your housing unit, you will be approached by guys trying to sell you stuff and do “favors” for you. My advice is to say “Thanks, but No Thanks!”
Most of these guys are hustlers you do not need in your life. Several weeks after you arrive, you will go through Admissions and Orientation (A&O). After going through A&O, you will be assigned a prison job. Pensacola has two off compound details, Eglin Air force Base and Pensacola Naval Air Station. Eglin is a long bus ride (over 1&1/2 hours each way.) I would recommend the Naval Air Station as it is only a 15 minute bus ride and your workday is much shorter. Working off compound makes your time pass quickly but you will be engaged in real labor (mostly landscaping).
On base, there are various jobs available in food services, maintenance, HVAC, dorm orderly, laundry, education and recreation. Recreation and Education are plum job positions.
Obviously, the best jobs tend to go to guys with “seniority” but that is not always the case. If you want to stay on the compound, you need to contact the various department heads and inquire about openings on their respective work details. Be polite and persistent, tout your skills!
Finally, prison is going to be a cultural and psychological shock to your system. Sit back, watch and listen, get the feel of your environment. You will feel terribly uncomfortable at the beginning but trust me, it will get better.
Before I surrendered to federal prison, I knew what was going to occur because my prison consultant Justin Paperny had prepared me for it.
Being prepared for what is probably the most difficult time in your life is essential to your emotional and physical survival.