As someone who has spent time inside, I can attest to the transformative power of solitude in federal prison camp. While many (most) view federal prison as a place of punishment and despair, it can also be an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. After all, most white-collar defendants will serve time in a minimum security camp–it is not a Russian Gulag or the prisons we see sensationalized on television or in the movies.

My experience in federal prison showed me one of the biggest challenges for many is the constant noise and chaos.

And I know we do not have much room to roam- we live within just feet of other prisoners. Trust me, I know from experience finding some peace can be challenging. The effort to find it, however, is worth it, so worth it! With the right plan finding solitude is possible.

Spending time alone is one of the most valuable things you can do in prison. When you are alone, you have the chance to think deeply about your life and your choices. After all, we are born a certain way, with certain tendencies; prison gives us the chance and time to discover who we are. There is no better time to reflect on your mistakes and consider how to learn from them.

It’s important to note that solitude in federal prison camp differs from isolation.

While isolation can be harmful, solitude is a powerful tool for personal growth. You are forced to confront your thoughts and emotions alone without the outside world’s distractions. This can be uncomfortable at first (it wasn’t for me, but it was for some good friends), but it can also be incredibly liberating.

In prison, there are SO many ways to find solitude. For example, you can spend time reading, writing, or meditating (I never meditated and do not plan to start!) in your cubicle. You can also take advantage of quiet spaces in the prison, such as the library, quiet room, toilet, or the chapel. One of my favorite places to find solitude was walking alone around that dusty dirt track. It was wonderful!

Another way to find solitude is to participate in activities that allow you to be alone with your thoughts.

For example, you can take up a hobby like drawing or painting or start a journal (game-changer for me!!) ) to document your experiences and reflect on your life.

Regardless of how you find solitude, the benefits are clear. When you give yourself the time and space to reflect, you can better understand yourself and your place in the world. You can identify patterns in your behavior and make changes to better align with your values and goals.

One of the most important things you can do in federal prison, if you did the crime, is to take take responsibility for your actions.

Solitude can help you do this by giving you the space to examine your role in the events that led to your incarceration. When you take ownership of your mistakes, you can begin to make meaningful changes in your life.

Moreover, solitude can help you develop a sense of inner strength and resilience. When you are alone with your thoughts, you learn to rely on yourself for comfort and support. This can be a powerful tool for coping with the challenges of prison life and the transition back to the outside world.

Of course, solitude is not a magic cure-all. It is just one of many tools you can use to improve your life in federal prison. It can, however, be a powerful force for positive change when used thoughtfully and intentionally.

In conclusion, while federal prison life can be challenging, it can also be an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. By embracing solitude, you can better understand yourself and your place in the world. You can take ownership of your mistakes and make meaningful changes in your life. And ultimately, you can emerge from prison stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever.

Justin Paperny