I received a message from a white collar defendant who is about to self surrender to Sheridan Federal Prison Camp. He had many questions, and one of them included urine tests in federal prison camp. He was surprised to hear that white collar defendants would be subject to urine tests. Indeed we are! I was drug tested twice at Taft Federal Prison Camp.

The policy requires staff in federal prison camps to randomly drug test 10% of the prisoners each month, regardless of the crime. I do believe the names they pull are random. If you were to read my pre sentence investigation, for example, you would learn that I never had a history of substance abuse. My conviction stems from bad decisions I made while working as a stockbroker and has no relationship with drugs. Still, during my 13 months in federal prion, I was paged to report to camp control twice.

I will admit that when I was paged the first time I had no idea what to expect. I recall writing a blog in one of the quiet rooms and didn’t hear the page. Other prisoners in my dorm at Taft Federal Prison Camp told me that I had been paged. Sure, I was a little anxious making the walk. Again, I had no idea what to expect. When I showed up the guard was not happy, “I called you four times” the guard said. “What were you doing, hiding?”

I explained that I was in one of the quiet rooms and didn’t hear my name over the loudspeaker. He told me I had been selected to provide a urine sample. When an inmate is called for this test, he has a time allotment of two hours to provide the sample. If he fails to provide the sample within the two hour time allotment, policy requires staff to issue a disciplinary infraction of the highest severity. That infraction brings an automatic sanction of at least 60 days in segregation, a loss of good time, and a transfer to a higher security prison. That’s why anyone who is called for a urine test in prison should immediately set his stop watch and keep a close eye on the seconds ticking away. Some guards allow the prisoner to drink water; others do not. Either way, the prisoner best watch the time closely and do whatever is necessary to squeeze out a vial of pee within the 2-hour allotment period.

Although I was a bit disturbed to have been called for the test in the first place, I was glad the guard called me when he did. It just so happened that I was ready to use the bathroom at that moment. God forbid that I had urinated before the page. Once the guard notifies an inmate of a urine test, the clock starts ticking. Providing a sample was not going to be a problem. I was escorted into a bathroom where I was required to wash my hands with water. Ironically, I was prohibited from using soap. Once he saw me rinse my hands he handed me a small tube and instructed me to fill it up. He took the tube, then commenced to filling out the paperwork. After all was signed and sealed, he sent my urine off to the lab.

I wasn’t worried about the results as I’m not a drug abuser. Nevertheless, I was still a prisoner. Somehow, despite my not using drugs, I had some anxieties about mistakes in the lab, or some other complications. In the end, all worked out just fine.

Justin Paperny

P.S. If you have interest in reading my lesson plan on the first day in federal prison, please visit www.federalprison101.com.