November 9, 2017

iPhones in Federal Prison Camp

Most of the people who schedule a call with me are not in federal prison. Does that sound strange to you? You’re probably thinking, “most of the people.” Let me explain.

Every now and again when I call someone for our scheduled call, I learn that they are in federal prison.

Recently, a call went like this:

“Hi, I’m Justin Paperny. Thank you very much for scheduling a call with me. I have as much time as you need. I’d love to offer you as much advice as I can. Tell me, where are you in the process? Have you already been sentenced?”

“No, I’ve been sentenced, done all that. I’m talking you from the library right now in federal prison. I borrowed this iPhone for 20 minutes and I’m using it to speak with you. I want to know how you can help me when I get out, and if I can come work with you,” he said.

“Look I will be the first to admit that 300 phone minutes in federal prison is not nearly enough, but why would you risk transferring to a higher security prison and loss of your good time, by using an iPhone in federal prison camp?” I’m always intrigued by the motivations behind federal prisoners decisions.

“ I rent this phone to run my business from federal prison. I can’t do that over the phone they have here. I’ve been in long enough to know how to avoid trouble and how I won’t get caught. Drugs, booze and iPhones are all over this federal prison camp. I ain’t worried about it.”

“ I presume you did not schedule this call with your real name, is that correct?”

iPhones in Federal Prison Camp

iPhones in Federal Prison Camp

“Yup. And this phone will be off the grid tomorrow.”

“Before I hang up the phone, let me reiterate that I encourage you to stop using illegal iPhones in federal prison camp. There’s very little upside to come from it, and when you get caught, it will only make this experience harder on those that love and support you. I also do not have interest in working with you upon your release.”

After I hung up the phone, I sat and thought for a few minutes. Certainly it’s true that 300 phone minutes is not enough every month. It’s true the drugs, booze and iPhones are in every federal prison camp. I also know that guards play a significant role in sneaking booze, drugs and iPhones into the federal prison camp.

There are plenty of opportunities to cross the line in federal prison. Temptations are everywhere, including federal prison.

Still, too many federal prisoners forget that this experience is harder on those that love and support them. If this federal prisoner got transferred, it would be harder on his family. Days and weeks may go by without his family hearing from him. They may worry about his life in federal prison transit. The consequences of his shortsighted actions would be potentially catastrophic, including new criminal charges.

I was not perfect in federal prison camp. Sometimes I traded stamps so I could increase my shopping at the commissary. Other times I paid other prisoners to cook for me. I even outsourced my laundry. Still, many of those things are allowed, maybe not encouraged, but allowed in federal prison. Paying a prisoner to cook a terrific meal for you, is measurably different then doing drugs, booze or using stolen iPhones in federal prison camp. I encourage everyone who may serve time on the wrong side of prison boundaries to give greater thought to their actions and how it may influence those that love them. Avoid drugs booze and iPhones in federal prison camp please.

Justin Paperny