One of the biggest lessons I have learned from going through this process is the value of seeking input and counsel from others. Receiving insight from a group of people rather than relying exclusively on my current knowledge base allows me to make more informed decisions. With that being said I felt that it would be a useful exercise to seek out advice and feedback from some of my fellow inmates to share with the readers what these men have gleaned during their time away from home and to shed some light on questions you may have now.

I asked the same five questions to 8 men and summarized their answers. I hope this quick straw poll will help you in preparing for what you are facing.

  • Question 1:    How has the reality of prison camp differed from your thoughts or expectations of what it would be like prior to arriving?
    • Response 1-5:  This was the only question that garnered similar answers from multiple respondents.  The first 5 men I asked this question to provide very similar responses.  That being there was a greater mix of criminals types in the camp than initially expected.  Most were expecting a majority of so called “white collar” offenders when in actuality the majority of camp inmates are drug crime offenders. Additionally, you will find people that have “worked down” from a higher custody level.  What this means is you will have men that had longer sentences and started at higher security prisons but due to good behavior and time have earned the right to be at a camp. 
    • Response 6: Other inmates are much more supportive of each other than initially expected.  Shared experience creates a brotherhood of sorts.  This respondent likened it to the military service environment. 
    • Response 7: This respondent came to prison unaware of the RDAP program so his answer is bifurcated.  He initially arrived and went to the camp units or dorms and found that more difficult or less pleasant than expected.  He was granted admission to the RDAP program and has found the program itself and the living conditions far better then what he had anticipated.  
    • Response 8: This respondent found the camp to be a lot less rigid in a social aspect.  He was coming in expecting to find a few people to talk to and pass time with.  What his experience has been is that he regularly converses with a wide swath of people from all types of backgrounds and crime type.    

 

  • Question 2:    Hindsight is 20/20 but what is something you wish you had done to prepare for coming to federal prison camp?  
    • Response 1:  I would have been more proactive about getting in shape and working on my fitness goals rather then wait for arrival at camp.
    • Response 2:  I would have been more realistic and less optimistic about my outcome during the pre-trial process.  Combining this with doing more research on what one can do while in a prison or prison camp would have been better use of my energy.  I would have done more research myself and been more hands on rather then leaning on attorney.
    • Response 3:  I would have done more research and learning about how the prison time math works and what steps I could take to properly shorten my time served.
    • Response 4:  I would have been more pro-active to share the communication process with people I cared about.  Instead of being embarrassed about where I was going, I would have explained how my support network could contact me while being in prison.  
    • Response 5:  I would have made a bigger and better effort to stay sober prior to coming to prison.  I made this entry to prison process so much more difficult because I was suffering from withdrawal.  This led to a very difficult first month.  
    • Response 6:  I wish I didn’t prolong the pre-trial process as long as I did.  Pushing off initial plea deals and using stall tactics served me poorly.  In hindsight I would have taken my medicine sooner and got the clock ticking.  
    • Response 7:  I wish I had taken the time to learn about the process and how the time math works.  Knowledge is power.
    • Response 8:  I would have spent less time feeling bad for myself. 

 

  • Question 3:    What would be a piece of advice you would share with a person that will be going to federal prison camp in the future to make the most of their time away or reducing the difficulty of being away?
    • Response 1:  Don’t try to make friends too fast.  Open up slowly to people.  Take your time to get the lay of the land prior to committing to hanging out with one group.
    • Response 2:  Find and start a routine as quickly as possible.  Make sure this routine keeps you active throughout the day.  Additionally, please keep in mind that you are judged by the company you keep.
    • Response 3:  Practice acceptance.  You are now within a situation that you cannot change.  Accept your scenario and make the best of it.
    • Response 4:  Give up control on what is happening on the outside.  Trust that the world will continue without you.  
    • Response 5:  Before arriving make every effort to locate and speak to someone who has actually gone through this before.  
    • Response 6:  Maintain a positive mental attitude.  Engage with others while you are here.  Teamwork will provide a more supportive time.
    • Response 7:  Practice acceptance.  Accept responsibility for actions.  You will need to cope with 3 things.  A.  You will be uncomfortable.  B.  You are not in control.  C.  Fall back on your faith.
    • Response 8:  Live in the moment or present.  Don’t dwell on past or future.

 

  • Question 4:    What has been the most difficult part of being away at a prison camp?  (With exception of missing family)
    • Response 1:  Going through covid lockdown.  Fear of future covid lockdowns.
    • Response 2:  Continually not engaging in negative behavior.  Not engaging in prison rule-breaking.
    • Response 3:  Having no control with problems at home or on the outside.
    • Response 4:  Exposure to 100’s of different types of people in the living community and dealing with their idiosyncrasies.  Transitioning to life less focused on hygiene.  Letting go of similar types of concerns.
    • Response 5:  Constant boredom.  The fact that you are never alone.  
    • Response 6:  I don’t find it difficult.  If you do what your supposed to it isn’t difficult.
    • Response 7:  Being thrown together with 300 plus others and dealing with the understanding that I put myself here.
    • Response 8:  Complete lack of control.  Sometimes feeling helpless.

 

  • Question 5:    On a scale 1-10 and 10 being the most difficult how would you rate the experience of being away at a federal prison camp?  Grade your response compared to you what your expectations were prior to arriving.
    • Response 1:  Expected 7 but experiencing a 5.
    • Response 2:  3
    • Response 3:  7
    • Response 4:  6.5
    • Response 5:  7
    • Response 6:  2
    • Response 7:  10 initially. 4 now after settling in.
    • Response 8:  6
3.5/5 - (2 votes)
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