What CAN You Bring To Federal Prison?
The text below is from a YouTube video I recently filmed…
Apparently, I have nine minutes to get everything in because I was looking at some of my YouTube data, and apparently, my retention rate is about nine minutes, which is pretty good, but, of course, some of my videos are longer, and some people watch all of the videos and some of you may check out after about 30 seconds. I don’t know. I do know what I want to provide you with as much valuable content as I possibly can. I’m going to cover a few subjects today now that I only have eight minutes left. I’m going to cover what should you bring with you to federal prison. I’m going to put in the subject line here “not what you think” because it’s a little bit different than what you may think. That’s the lead-up, so to speak. I’m trying to get you to stay for the nine minutes.
Before I get into that, I want to make sure all of you see the link that I’ll put up on the First Step Act. As many of you know, December 20th of last year, the President signed this massive reform. My business partner Shon Hopwood was there at the White House as the legislation was signed. We recently did a group coaching call for about a hundred current and former clients who were on the call, and it was such an impactful call as Shon gave us more details about the law that we decided we were just going to give it to everyone. I’m going to post a URL. If you’d like to watch the call that I did with Shon, you can, and you can also subscribe so you’re automatically going to get more updates on the First Step Act and implementation moving into 2019.
Also, for those of you who have interesting collecting character reference letters, before sentencing, I was always collecting letters including when I came home from federal prison. We’ve produced and written a very easy-to-digest 50-page course on collecting character reference letters, so just so I don’t forget, I want to make sure all of you know that you can get access to that course.
Let’s transition to this letter, excuse me, to this video. I have several clients this week surrendering to federal prison, and many of the questions are what can I bring, what should I not bring, and what’s the … All of that matters, so let me quickly get out of the way what I think you can bring and try to roll the dice, and then I’m going to get into the issue of it’s not what you think.
What you should bring to federal prison? If you are married, you can absolutely bring a wedding band, presuming it doesn’t have diamonds or look too expensive.
I have a very basic wedding band. A number of clients bring the wedding band in, others don’t, but you’re able to bring a wedding band. You can absolutely bring your prescriptions and medications if you have them. I would bring a week to 10 days’ worth of prescriptions. Ultimately, they’re going to transition you to medications within the prison. Just to be upfront, there is a chance that based on the medications or some medication issues that you may have, there’s a chance that when you surrender, you could be held in a higher-security institution for two or three days. For example, Taft Federal Prison Camp is where I served time. Within a few hours, I made its way to the camp, but occasionally, some defendants may be held over at the low to be checked out and assessed depending on their medications, but back to this video, you should absolutely bring prescriptions.
You can bring a pair of glasses, preferably glasses that are not metal. You should bring the prescriptions for those glasses. It’s not a great idea to say that, for example, if you have reading glasses. I probably … You probably don’t bring the reading glasses in. They’re not going to let them in. If you need the glasses to see at all times, you have a higher likelihood of getting the glasses in. We have glasses. We have a wedding ring. You have prescriptions.
You should bring your ID. When I surrendered to federal prison, I walked in with my wallet.
I showed them my ID. As I wrote in Lessons From Prison, I tried to reach out and shake hands with the guard. My hand was out there for about like 30 seconds. I remember thinking, “Have I done something wrong?” Then, of course, as I wrote in the book, the guard said, “We don’t shake hands with inmates.” It was like that was a stark reminder that I was now in federal prison. But I walked in, I showed them my ID, I gave them my registration number, 44499-112, so make sure you know your BOP number, and I tried to get in with some money.
Now, Taft Federal Prison Camp allows you to surrender with money, something that you should consider doing even if you’re not supposed to. What you can do is try to get in with a hundred or a couple hundred dollars. Now, if someone’s walking in with you, if they don’t allow it, you can just simply hand the money back to your loved on, along with your ID. I have some clients also surrender with a birth certificate and passport and other things. I just went in with my ID, and it was just fine.
I would try to get in with a hundred or 200 bucks, even in a BOP facility.
Sometimes they’re cool. They’ll let you bring it in. Sometimes they say, “That’s a no-go.” You just hand it back like I just said with your ID, and the cash or the person, whoever walked you in. Don’t worry. It’s an unassuming environment. You see a lot of people standing and walking around there while you’re sitting to get processed. You’re not going to be in handcuffs in front of them, so it’s really not a big deal. Don’t be freaked out if you go in with your loved ones. It’s really … I mean, I went in with my mom. She was a basket case regardless, but it was fine. It was totally cool. You can try to come in, try to go in with some money, understanding if they don’t let you bring it in, give it back, and then go to Western Union or send it to the address in Iowa with your BOP number.
Now, something that I did and a number of clients have done successfully, I was not successful. Some clients, I should say, have been successful. You can try to get in with a pair of shoes and a Timex watch. For example, a client of mine went to Lewisburg. He said, “What do you think?” I said, “Well, try to go in with a pair of shoes. You have the budget. Buy a pair of shoes, 60 bucks, all white or all black. Buy the time Timex watch,” so we looked at the Timex watch that was on the commissary list at Lewisburg, bought it on Amazon, surrendered, this may be going back a year or so, surrendered with shoes and the exact same Timex watch, and the guard let him get in with the lard, the guard let him … This is what happens when you have an infant so. I’m up all night sometimes. I’m tired, but I’m powering through it.
The guard let him in. Pretty cool. It saved him 60 bucks in the commissary. It saved him 30 or 40 bucks on the Timex watch. That, right off the bat, could cut into your commissary by nearly 25%. He was able to get into it. Full disclosure, as I wrote in Lessons From Prison, “Do not surrender to federal prison with anything you are not prepared to lose.” I tried to get in with a pair of shoes. Didn’t happen. I tried to get in with a watch. No chance. I joke it was donated to the correctional officer’s trust fund. I don’t know where it went. I just know that I lost it and I never saw it again.
Be prepared to surrender with stuff that you potentially could lose.
As some clients say, “I could afford the hundred bucks with the shoes and watch,” and others say, “I’m not going to roll the dice. That’s a lot of money.” I get it. I’m just advising you in this video what you should surrender to prison with. This is a general 8-10 minute overview. In fact, I only have nine minutes. How far … Oh, my god. I’m already more than seven minutes. That means after nine minutes, you’re going to jump off, so you’re only going to get the majority of it.
Now, why did I say not what you think? Let me tell you what all of you have to surrender to federal prison with and which I’m frankly as passionate about as anything. You have to surrender with the right attitude. Now, I know I’m not doing the Tony Robbins things. That isn’t my shtick. I turn down events where they want me to be the motivation speaker because I don’t think what I did in prison was motivating. It was simply accepting responsibility, so let me be clear, the right attitude, in other words, you should expect prison staff to have nothing coming your way. If you are surrendering hoping to be reformed, hoping that they’re going to take you under their wing and tutelage and guide you and educate you and prepare you, like I’ve said, that’s believing that Philip Morris doesn’t want you to smoke cigarettes. You’ve got to prepare to surrender and bring with you the idea that you got nothing coming. You know what? That’s fine. T
The majority of your time in federal prison or growth is going to be self-directed, self-paced.
The reason that I call them guards because I saw them guarding. I don’t call them correctional officers because I frankly never saw them correcting. Maybe that’s disparaging. Maybe … I’m sure there are pockets of guards that truly do correct. I’m sure. I just didn’t see them. Number of my clients haven’t seen them. I don’t like when I get a call from someone who’s home from prison or they’re in the halfway house and they’ll say, “They didn’t do enough to prepare me,” or, “They’re not helping me get a job in the halfway house.” If you think the government, who has an incentive to lock you up, has an interest or incentive to help you get a job, then we need to have a separate conversation.
All of you need to surrender to prison, along with your prescriptions, some money, your ID, a Bible, a wedding band, et cetera, more importantly than anything besides the prescriptions, is the reality that you should not expect them to do anything to help you, and you know what, it’s fine. I want to manage that expectation now.
I’ve got a sense of pleasure in weird way of not … I didn’t need anything from them. When guys wanted more halfway house time or they lamented or complained that they weren’t getting more halfway house time, I knew that if I did, it was going to backfire. I knew they’re going to probably, it would work against me. When they told me I was going to get 45 days in the halfway house, I said, “Thank you,” when they told me 90 days in the halfway house, I said, “Thank you.” When I put in initial job transfer and they didn’t approve it, I said, “Thank you,” when they did, I said, “Thank you.” It’s all good. It’s all fine.
I beg all of you as you make that path to prison, that trek to prison … By the way, drive slowly in and around the prison. There’s a lot of these prison towns. They love to give very expensive tickets, so drive slowly as you get there. As you surrender with everything, as I wrap up this video, which is more than nine minutes, which means that the majority are actually not watching this and I’m talking to myself, surrender with the right attitude, the expectation that you got nothing coming from prison staff, and you don’t need it. Use all day, every day to prepare for the inevitable obstacles that await you on the other side. Avoid the gossip, the nonsense, the iPhones, the hustling that it pervasive inside all of these federal prisons.
If you can do that, both avoiding prisoners that cause trouble and recognizing that as you surrender, you do not need anything from staff, you will become self-reliant.
I’m writing about that actually in a third book that I hope to have out next month or in April that I’ll be happy to give to all of you for free, a book I think I’m going to call Living Deliberately that talks about some of my journey on branding and marketing in the 10 years that I’ve been home from federal prison.
It all started from the inside of a quiet room, a Taft Federal Prison Camp of staring into a wall and thinking, “What do I want to become of my life? How can I become better than some bad decisions that I made? How can I make my parents proud of me? How can I create a new record that people can judge me by? How can I build a new record as a law-abiding citizen? How can do it authentically?” et cetera. I didn’t need staff for that. I just needed some peace and quiet, and I’m lucky to be an introvert where I don’t really need to be social and spend time with a whole lot of people, so I don’t get lonely. I enjoy spending time on myself and reading, writing, thinking, and creating, which is how I will wrap up this video.
That’s all I got for today. Again, if you want to learn more about the First Step Act, click there or go to that URL. If you have interest in our character reference letter course, you should check out that URL as well. I’m actually going to be performing a whole series of videos. I filmed a couple of them already on how to create and craft a best in-class, a perfect character reference letter at sentencing, but also when you come home from prison. I share some specific examples of letters that I had created when I was home from prison and how it helped me, it continues to help me.
Okay, y’all, I hope you found value in this video. Did I just say y’all? Talk to y’all soon. I said it again. Thank you very much for watching. I know you’re all busy. Bye-bye.
P.S. In case you jumped to the end of the message, here is the deal:
1: If you want to learn more about the First Step Act, go here.
2: If you want to collect best in class character reference letters, go here.
3: If you want my book, go here.
4: If you want to watch my video, What You Can Bring to Federal Prison, go here.
5: If you would like to schedule a call with me, go here.