I received a call from someone getting ready to surrender to Cumberland Federal Prison Camp for 36 months. On our call, he asked me, “Justin, what’s the worst thing you saw in federal prison?”

Dispelling Myths: Life in a Minimum Security Camp

Before I share this story that stuck with me, let’s clear up some misunderstandings about life in a minimum security camp like Cumberland. Sure, there are times when things aren’t pleasant—like finding unsanitary conditions or disturbing remnants—but they’re not the norm.

The Doctor’s Story: A Harsh Reality Check

There was this physician I knew, serving time for Medicare fraud. Despite the Federal Prison Camp’s relaxed atmosphere, his behaviors were troubling.What really got to me wasn’t the length of his sentence or the conditions he faced—it was his refusal to embrace the idea of freedom. Despite his family wanting to visit, he chose to stay away, finding comfort in the familiarity of federal prison. Even when offered a chance to move to a halfway house and transition back into society a year earlier, he turned it down, preferring to remain within the confines of Federal Prison Camp.

The True Cost of Wasted Time

Seeing him waste away his chance for a fresh start made me realize something important: the actual cost of squandering time in prison. Despite having support and resources available, fear kept him stuck, preventing him from seizing opportunities for a better future.

What Will You Do With Your Time In Federal Prison?

Now, thinking about his story and my own experiences, it’s clear that we all have a choice. Will you let fear dictate your path, or will you use this time to prepare for what comes next? How will you make the most of your time in prison? I understand that this story might seem unusual—a person wanting to stay in prison longer. But it’s not uncommon. Many prisoners, as their release date approaches, are filled with fear.

To overcome it, start taking steps forward from day one, or as we say, start ascending the U (to learn more about the U, read Lessons From Prison.)


Justin Paperny