Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

  1. Welcome to rpgcodex.net, a site dedicated to discussing computer based role-playing games in a free and open fashion. We're less strict than other forums, but please refer to the rules.

    "This message is awaiting moderator approval": All new users must pass through our moderation queue before they will be able to post normally. Until your account has "passed" your posts will only be visible to yourself (and moderators) until they are approved. Give us a week to get around to approving / deleting / ignoring your mundane opinion on crap before hassling us about it. Once you have passed the moderation period (think of it as a test), you will be able to post normally, just like all the other retards.
    Dismiss Notice

Ask an ex-con (almost) anything

Discussion in 'Prisonscape' started by PekkaK, May 19, 2014.

  1. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    Click here and disable ads!
    I've written about this extensively in this thread. I played D&D myself in prison, but I didn't play in the gym where literally dozens of tables full of people playing were be because I didn't want the stigma attached with it.

    Note it's not a nerd stigma you have to worry about, it's a pedophile stigma because 90% of the people who play D&D in prison have sex offenses. Don't ask me why. Maybe it's something about the role playing aspect that appeals to them (they banned D&D playing for anyone in the sex offender treatment program, or SOMP, at the medium at Petersburg because people doing "inappropriate roleplay" while in the program for example). I guess it's a way to make fantasy reality and their sexual desires are heavily based on fantasy.

    Maybe it's because the majority of sex offenders in federal prison are white and white people are more into D&D. Maybe it's because the majority of federal sex offenders in prison are there not for hands on offenses but computer ones so people into computers are nerds who might also be into D&D.

    I don't know, that's just the way it is and that's why I played with a small group of close friends in our cell. It was great escapism.

    Here's some other things I've said about it in this thread:

    • Informative Informative x 4
    ^ Top  
  2. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    This is an excellent question and one full of stories and antidotes.

    I'll try to get to this early next week. Also, I'm still working on that project thing I promised maybe two months ago. I've just been way busy lately, but it's coming.
    • Brofist Brofist x 1
    ^ Top  
  3. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    Oh yeah I knew some morbidly obese people in prison. I mean CRAZY FAT. To be sure, most people in prison are very fit and in shape, to absurd degrees. A lot of this has to do with the fact there's plenty of opportunity to exercise and work out in prison and that's what a lot of people do all the time. Some people get super serious about health and fitness in prison. They read books about it, they do crazy exercises and they eat insane high-protein diets (plain Ramon with dehydrated refried beans, Gatorade and milk, packs of mackerel, etc.). I met some of the most ridiculously ripped people I've ever seen. They had muscles I didn't even know existed. At Petersburg Low this is even more true because the prison is a rare low security prison that still has a weight pile (free weights). People actually try to transfer to Petersburg solely for this reason. Basically in the 90s they instituted guidelines called the 'Zimmerman Rules' in all federal prisons. They banned a bunch of things from any prison that wasn't a camp level facility. Basically every BOP facility that has a fence had to abide by the rules. They included stuff like no in cell TVs and also no weights. I guess they figured prison wasn't miserable enough. However, any place that already had them got Grandfather claused in like Petersburg.

    At Petersburg there was even an annual "Peel Off" where the most fit dudes on the compound would rub baby oil all over themselves and flex and be judged by other inmates. It was incredibly homoerotic, but what made it so funny is the dude that won every year was gay as shit and the entire event had all the gay inmates basically act as a cheerleading squad. Basically think Tracey Morgan in "The Longest Yard."

    The point of all this is that most people in prison are fit, even if it's just because they walk the track, and at Petersburg this was especially so. Lots of people also come to prison and lose a lot of weight because of the exercise and their diet becomes better (incredible when you consider how bad prison diets are).

    However, not everyone is fit. In fact, some are the polar opposites and the most absurd fatness you've ever seen, and it's not hard to do because if you just lay around all the time and eat a prison diet, you will get fat as fuck. The prison diet is all ultra-processed carbs and cholesterol and sugar and sodium. It's designed to fill you up as cheaply as possible. Lots of potatoes and rice and bread. Very little fresh greens. This is true of the chow hall food and the commissary food... but the commissary food is really bad for you. Most of it is junk food. People go and buy like 10 candy bars at a time. The beef logs and such they sell that people cook with are loaded with fat and sodium. People use soy sauce like it's water. Some people drink sodas all fucking day, coffee too... loaded with coffee creamer and sugar. The cup soaps are also horrible for you. Don't forget that prison recipes which basically involve combining these type of ingredients. The shit we people come up with in prison you'd never dream of concocting in the real world (but it tastes incredible). Hey let's mix pork rinds and Tang together! Let's make a nacho that includes processed cheese, beef logs (made with cow hearts!) and chili beans and whatever the fuck else! It's like 5 days worth of sodium intake or 5,000 calories! You can't even buy the kind of cheese they sold in prison. I've looked everywhere. I even looked online.

    Let me tell you guys, the prison diet messed up my digestive like permanently. When I got out I had all kinds of problems. It's gotten better, but it was bad for awhile and it's not just me. It's multiple people who have gotten out. They've all had the same problem. We all thought we had gotten H Pylori at first.

    I actually got in overall better shape in prison. Basically in county I lost a ton of weight at first (not a lot of food to eat, no sodas at first), then gained some (more food, sodas, zero exercise from lack of movement), then got to Petersburg and lost it all and then some, then gained some back, then lost some and then left and I've gained a little since being out.

    People either lose or gain a lot of weight in county depending on what the jail is like and how much money they have. If they don't have money for commissary, they'll virtually starve to death and keep in mind a lot of county jails charge you at least $1 a day just to be locked up. So if someone has no outside support (no opportunity to work to earn money in most county jails) they're going to lose weight. But if someone has lots of money they'll gain a lot of weight because in most jails you get no kind of recreation and the commissary is nothing but junk food. Not every county has sodas, some only have artificially sweetened drink mixes, but still.

    My friend Drew in Petersburg went into county off the street weighing 110 lbs at 5'6". He came out weighing nearly 200 lbs in three months! How? Three cup soups a day and no movement. He got a lot of it off when he got to prison, but was still overweight the rest of the time he was there. He was also diabetic which sucked for him. I never found out if that was something he developed in prison or had before hand.

    Speaking of diabetics, it's UNREAL how many people in prison are diabetics and how many become that way in prison. They get special meals and an extra piece of fruit each meal. They were constantly falling out from low blood sugar. Happened to Drew one time. They'd pass out and lock down the compound to take them to medical. One time this one guy, Rod, was walking the track. They call everyone in from the big field because it was recall (the time they require all inmates to return to the housing unit). Dude keeps walking and people start calling to him. The CO locks him in, laughing about it. Next thing we know he starts staggering and falls over. Basically he was so low on blood sugar he was basically on autopilot. Of course, it took the medical team over 30 mins to get to him. Those people have blood on their hands. I've seen three avoidable deaths because of them.

    Anyway, the two fattest guys I met behind bars were Rocko and Reuben. Rocko and I were "home boys" because we were from the same city. We got along well. He was probably about 500 lbs and built like a bolder. He drank sodas all day long and all he did was eat and watch TV. I don't think he went outside ever. He'd literally sit his ass down in the TV room, fill a drink cooler full of ice and then pour 3 sodas in it at a time and drink from that. He'd drink coffee all day too and pour like a half container of CoffeeMate in it. But Rocko was nothing compared to Reuben...


    OK! Let's talk about Reuben aka Big Reub! I once told him "Dude, you're named after a sandwich. It's like they knew what was coming." Reuben was like "jaws of life." Like he couldn't drive a car probably because he couldn't fit. He was like...800 lbs. I shit you not. He was also FUCKING HILARIOUS. Everyone called him "the bid" because he made everyone's time go by so fast. People fucked with him all the time and gave him so much shit. Not in a mean way. Everyone liked him a lot. More in a just because it was so easy way. You see, Reuben wasn't only fat, he was a pathological liar.

    Some of his lies:

    1. He used to date Missy Elliot ("Her real name is Melissa. A lot of people don't know that").
    2. He was the WWE wrestler Kamala (he actually did look like him. One day someone called him on this with a print out of a Wikipedia article someone had sent and he claimed he was the "second Kamala" lol).
    3. He had a rap album (he also used to rap for us and get challenged to rap battles. I remember one bar to this day: "My name is Nemisis/You'll never be as sick as this." People would also pay him with food to take his shirt off and dance in the TV room, including the Beyonce dance).

    Nevertheless, it was hard not to like Big Reub. He was friendly, always smiling and never in a bad mood. I never played any pranks on him, but others did. They dumped cold water on him in the shower. He let out a scream like a girl and tore the curtain down and his big naked ass was standing there trying to cover up. He had to squeeze his way out of the shower. Then they threw baby powder on him.

    I used to take him out to walk the track to try and help him. He'd walk a quarter lap and have to sit down and rest. It was sad. One time he decided to use the handicap shower and sat in the chair and it broke off the wall. I was in the bathroom at the time and all I saw was black ass flying everywhere.

    He would sweat buckets at night so he'd put tons of baby powder on his bed. He'd get up in the morning looking like Ashy Larry. Speaking of his bed, they had to find a larger size mattress for him because he couldn't fit. He still had to sleep half hanging off the bed. Looked like a beached whale.

    Officer Palmer, who was the only CO I despised (his younger brother wasn't so bad, but he was a POS), gave him so much shit. He'd come in, wake Reub up ("get up fat boy!") and make him make his bed better. Reub had trouble making his bed because of his size. Palmer would say stuff like "Why don't you get out and lose some weight!" Reuben though wouldn't take it lying down and would talk shit back... and I mean funny shit. One time he said "You look like a struck match" to Palmer and I almost died laughing. Palmer said back to him "Go eat some cookies fatboy." They'd go back and forth every morning. It was great.

    Let me be clear, though: Rueben wasn't really treated badly because he was fat, it was more because of the lying... and like I said, people still liked him because he was entertaining and deep down a good guy.

    One time Reuben got really sick. He actually got H1N1 somehow. He was on the track trying to walk with someone and he fell out. They couldn't get his big ass on the medical cart. They had to lock the compound down and literally fly and land a helicopter to pick him up and take him to the hospital. After his release, they put him in quarantine in the hole but they only had one room that would fit him. He told me the bed was a concrete slab and they didn't feed him hardly anything. They also couldn't really find anything to fit him except this old orange jumpsuit. He said it was freezing in the room.

    Take this all with a grain of sale remembering who it came from. He'd take it by the pound.

    Reuben also at some point qualified for a "Caretaker" inmate. This is an inmate who volunteers to takecare of another inmates who needs it. They're actually paid to do this. Usually it's an elderly or sick inmate. This big (but not that big) white guy named Big Country did it for Reuben, who didn't really need it. He would get him outside walking and stuff, whichis what the staff wanted. Previously he had taken care of an 80 year old man in a wheelchair who would constantly shit his pants. So that was quite an upgrade.[/quote]

    Some places do have special "diet meals." These are usually really for dietetics. When I was in county they had a "Diet Orange Drink" for anyone under that meal plan I remember. At Petersburg (and in the federal system as a whole), they can't require anyone really fat to go on a special diet, however, they did have a program inmates could volunteer for in special situations where their food portions would be strictly monitored. There is an exception to this where medical can require a "medical diet." This means that they can, for medical reasons, restrict the food they serve those inmates but they can't restrict what you eat otherwise (from the commissary, etc.) so they rarely bother. I've heard some places would literally put inmates on a diet plan where they'd be rewarded for losing weight, although I can't confirm this.

    I think they tried the medical diet plan on Reuben but gave him. He may have lost weight while there because honestly, dude had no money or outside support so he couldn't buy a lot at commissary. Instead of a food restrictive program Reuben would wait to go to meals at the last minute, get in the end of the line and get extra food. Other inmates would just give it to him because they liked him so much. He'd get three or four pieces of fried chicken. The chow hall COs allowed it. I guess they figured he needed more food...?

    As for other programs to lose weight... good lord, yes. But they're all voluntary. The BOP, and especially Petersburg, are very big on that shit now that they realize healthy inmates save them money. Other than tons of sports and sports leagues there was a Food and Nutrition class, Calisthenics Class, Cycling Class, Yoga, An Ab Bust class, Walking Classes, Running/Jogging Classes, Aerobics Class, etc. There were classes to get certified as a weight training and exercise trainer as well as a Nutritionist. The fact that so many inmates were into health and fitness and had done this is what helped it all be so extensive (inmates taught/ran all these classes). Once a month you could get your weight, BMI, etc. checked. They held Weight Lifting competitions, Marathons, and Iron Man competitions. Once a year a local church would sponsor a Breast Cancer Awareness walk where inmates could sign up and walk a certain number of miles around the track and the church would donate money on our behalf. For participating in these things you got packets of Gatorade mix. You got more if you won. Participating also counted as "programming," which kept the "Unit Team" (Counselor, Case Manager and Unit Manager) off your back and would also lower points so you could get moved to a Camp or transferred closer to home. Every year they did a Health Fair in the gym where people would come in from the outside to participate. They gave out a goodie bag that included CLIFF bars and Gatorade. I signed up every year just for that.

    Petersburg was very fitness-centric.

    But again, they couldn't force anyone to do any of that.
    • Brofist Brofist x 9
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • Funny Funny x 1
    ^ Top  
  4. Zdzisiu Arcane

    Dec 3, 2009
    That was a great reply, thanks GarlandExCon

    Reuben really sounds like a decent guy doing his best to keep a positive outlook in a shitty situation.
    • decline decline x 1
    ^ Top  
  5. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    Yeah I miss Big Reub. He went home before I did. He said he was in for some kind of check fraud thing, but who the fuck knows.
    ^ Top  
  6. SniperHF Prophet

    Aug 22, 2014
    Along the same lines, do they have any capacity to deal with inmates that have something like celiac disease?
    ^ Top  
  7. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    Not really. They leave it up to the inmates to manager their own diets basically if they have a situation like that. Basically it's up to them to eat what they can and can't. They had the same attitude towards Vegans/Vegetarians. It was hard to keep that diet in prison, but some people did. I had a good friend who had Crohn's disease and he struggled with his diet.

    There's a possibility if your disease is severe enough they'll send you to do your time in a FMC (Federal Medical Center). It's basically a prison that's also a hospital. The most famous one is FMC Butner, which is part of a giant complex of several security level facilities based in NC. But you practically have to be dying to get there. It's possible you can also be in one of the other security facilities and get to Butner if you have a health problem. That way you can be sent over to the FMC if you need treatment. Sometimes inmates who need special screenings or other procedures will be sent to the closet FMC on a day or overnight trip. Sometimes prison transport people handle these, other times it's the Marshalls.

    They do try and put inmates with medical needs in facilities more equipped to handle it. Supposedly Petersburg had a special medical designation and while they had a lot of elderly and sick people, I wouldn't say it was "equipped" to handle any of it.

    Anyway, Butner is sort of the gold standard for BOP facilities. It's really nice. It's where they take members of Congress when they want to tour a prison. It's full of aging mobsters, many in late stages of cancer. Also, more recently, terrorists. Basically lots of people go there to die. These are people who are never getting out and reach a point where they should be in a nursing home basically. I saw more than a few people get sent there when their health declined.

    It's also home to lots of crazy people. Basically anyone who tried to assassinate anyone is there. Also, high profile people are housed there, including spies and international criminals.

    It's also home of the Adam Walsh Program and where they do civil confinements for "sexually dangerous" people. There was a dude at Petersburg, Kevin, who was a nice guy but clearly sexually fucked in the head. One day he leaves, telling everyone he's getting transferred to a camp in Kentucky (closer to home). In reality he was getting transferred to Butner to be evaluated to see if he should be civilly confined. About 6 months later USA Today ran an article on civil confinement and low and behold his name was right here in the article as part of a list of people currently being evaluated.

    It's crazy because Butler is like 15 - 20 mins from where I live. I used to drive by it everyday. Yet they sent my ass to Virginia.

    Anyway, Butner is an interesting place because all kinds of crazy things go on there.

    Because of the Adam Walsh program they did a study there that is called "The Butner Study" and it's quite controversial as it suggests that people who view child pornography have an increased chance of molesting a child even though dozens of other studies have rejected this. Personally, I think the study is bunk. Knowing the types of psychologists that work in prisons they aren't to be trusted. You have to consider the source and this is from people who want to keep people locked up and further justify all their actions. Also, the guy I mentioned before told me all about the SOMP program at Petersburg Medium and what I gathered is that in order to get out of it you basically have to admit to tons of shit, even if it's not true. Putting a gun to someone's head is no way to get a accurate study.

    Anyway, here's some interesting Butner tidbits I pulled from Wikipedia:

    This was a huge local story. The BOP also freaked out when it happened because he arranged all this from prison using a cell phone.

    Note: I think Richard Reid, aka the Shoe Bomber, was there for awhile too.
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
    ^ Top  
  8. RKade8583 Literate

    Mar 2, 2017
    I did "a year" of county in my 20s. Medical floor for all 8 months. How do they treat severely disabled people in prison? Case in point: when I left jail, I had cataracts and such a huge light sensitivity problem that I can no longer read books (discovered tablets and ebooks last year thank god) or be outside without dark sunglasses. I also almost died because whoever they used for medical wouldn't give me one of the three inhalers I needed at the time. After they brought me back, they were quick to get me said inhaler.

    Do the light-sensitive get glasses? Do the asthmatics get their inhalers? How disabled do you have to be to be separated (I got conflicting reports and this was over a decade ago besides) and how do you think they would do it?

    edited to add: My jail time was needed (well, maybe not quite as much time as I got but still...) I, like many cripples, was sheltered and had very wrong ideas about the world and my place in it. I wouldn't want to go through it again but it had a profound effect on the kind of person I've become and I think everyone from the president on down needs a solid kick in the ass at least once in their lives to show them perspective.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2017
    • Friendly Friendly x 2
    ^ Top  
  9. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    County is a lot worse than prison for medical care, but still bad. In county even now you're basically fucked when it comes to health care. You may not even be in a medical situation, but instead just put into population. Most county jails do have some kind of medical floor or pod or something like that, but you have to be pretty fucked up to be there. If you can walk you can forget about it. A lot of times county jails that are not equipped to handle medical situations or have too many will put the "less severe" cases in protective custody (PC) so at least other inmates won't take advantage of them. A lot of people couldn't even get shower chairs that needed them.

    I have a disability myself. Most people would consider it major but since I'm so used to it (had it my entire life) I consider it minor. I was housed in population almost my entire stay in county and the entire time in prison. I got really no special treatment or consideration.

    I knew a guy in county I became friends with named Mark. He'd lost his leg in a fork lift accident at a Budweiser warehouse and had a prosthesis. The inner sleeve of it had started to rip so he couldn't walk in it without blisters. It took them THREE MONTHS for him to be taken to an outside doctor to get it replaced and this was only after he complained about it everyday and had his family call the U.S. Marshalls to complain (The U.S. Marshalls are ultimately responsible for your care and well-being if you are a federal case until they hand you off to the BOP. So while in county you can complain to them if you're federal. These counties get millions of dollars to house federal inmates and don't want to lose their contract, so sometimes it works).

    I mean, you basically have to be on death's door for them to care and even then...

    When in prison, I saw several preventable deaths because of incompetence.

    Most of the time the medical staff, whether in prison or county, does not give a fuck about you. Most of them also couldn't get jobs anywhere else. In prison most of the medical staff could barely speak English and the head doctor had been sued for malpractice so many times she could only get a job there.

    God there are so many horror stories I could tell. When you go into the system they don't even give you a proper physical. Half the time they don't even ask if you have any medical conditions. They do give you a goddamn TB test everywhere you go.

    Anyway, to your specific questions...

    I never met anyone with a light-sensitivity issue. In prison they sold sunglasses on the commissary. Someone would have to fight like hell to get them for free.

    Asthmatics did get inhalers. They'd have to see the doctor in the prison and get a prescription. If they already had one it was easier. They actually allowed inhalers to come in with inmates everywhere I went. Even those self-surrendering to the prison were allowed to bring in their inhalers.

    As for being separated, unless you're really fucked up in federal prison the most they'll do is put you in a unit that is "more equipped" to handle you. Basically that means it has to be handicap accessible with shower chairs/handicap showers. You'll get a "bottom bunk pass" which restricts you to only sleeping in bottom bunks if applicable to your disability.

    Some prisons are more equipped than others so that will be a factor in which you are designated to... If you're really disabled or have really severe health problems you might get sent to an FMC (Federal Medical Complex) like the one in Butner, NC, which is basically a hospital for prisoners.

    But that's difficult. The Judge actually recommended I be sent there because of my condition and that didn't happen.
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    ^ Top  
  10. RKade8583 Literate

    Mar 2, 2017
    That gels with what happened to me. Glad to hear they at least sell sunglasses (they sure didn't in county.) Also very glad they let asthmatics keep their inhalers because I had to ring out for mine and when I had a flare up, I couldn't speak so my cellie had to do it. As for my own horror stories, I ended up leaving with those staph infections or MRSA under my arms (I called it their parting shot) and I had a finger get infected to the point where I had to burst the infection myself in the communal sink at 4am (so I could clean it without any line forming.) Hell of a way to learn not to chew your nails, haha. What ended up making me drop was the jail got these new horse blankets or something like that and they stunk like oil or kerosene or something. When the officers put them in, I bitched up a storm and told them that smell would kill me. They told me to shut the fuck up and left me in there to... well, die in two hours. If I'd had the wherewithal I'd have sued those fuckers. Being a poor cripple sucks but I'm out of Sacramento at least.

    I do have two funny stories. In jail, I could still read books and I was catatonic until I found out that books were allowed (going from very sheltered to very in-jail is kind of incredibly fucking traumatizing.) I had a buddy of mine Amazon me a shit-ton of books. I mean I had like 30 books in a few months and one of the ones floating around was Chesapeake by Michener so I bought five more of his books. Eventually the COs threw my cell and the guy was about to take all my books because there's a limit of 5 because reasons. He notices the Micheners and asks me about them and we have a nice 5 minute conversation about them and he just leaves me alone... and this guy was a DICK too.

    The second story is boring now that I know everyone does it (I thought I was a visionary, lol) but I started a D&D group in jail. Nothing really special because jail is short time comparatively but after I got out, I tried going to college (damn asthma combined with everyone smoking pot and wearing too much cologne fucked that up) and for the few months I was there, I was the D&D guy because I got hardened criminals to play a geek game.
    • Brofist Brofist x 2
    • Prestigious Prestigious x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    ^ Top  
  11. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    Hey man, all I can say is I'm glad you got out of their and despite everything you're the better for it. I can pretty much say the same. I think I got fucked, no doubt about it, but despite every attempt by the system to destroy my life I came out a stronger and better person.

    I have so many medical horror stories. Some of my own. One day I'll share them. Some I may have already. Staph and MRSA are a BIG problem in prison and county still, maybe more so. Saw it happen to a few people and they got quarantined but lots that had it didn't. I had a couple myself, but not MRSA. The underarms seem to be big time areas for it to happen, but mine were on my thighs (and one on my fucking face, thank God I could grow a beard otherwise it would have looked horrible). Never MRSA, though, thank God. Most of the time, if the infection hadn't ruptured, they'd do nothing about it except prescribe anti-biotics and tell you it was a "spider bite" so they didn't have to do anything with you. In county it basically had to bust before they would act. One time they put me in the SHU with a young kid who was like 18 and he had a HUGE infection under his arm like golf ball sized that was giving him problems and very painful. One day he's fucking with it at the mirror, squeezing it and I had been sleeping and just woke up and I'm like "Dude, don't fuck with..." and right then it exploded everywhere. All over the mirror and sink and toilet and walls. I was like "Oh my God!" and started beating on the doors "CO! CO! CO!" No response. I'm locked in with this guy. The nurse came by later to give him some anti-biotics (he had reported it the day before), he showed it to her, her eyes got wide and she says "don't touch anything." 10 minutes later two COs open the door and pull me out and move me. They didn't even follow protocol where they are suppose to cuff both inmates via the food door before letting anyone out, haha.

    Never seen them give that much of a fuck.

    Once I got a nasty stomach virus that was going around and it's the sickest I've ever been. I puked about 90 times in 24 hours. They did nothing.

    The book limit was never strictly enforced anywhere I was, although, yes, if they shook you down they could take excess books. It was also five everywhere I was. I read so many books while locked up, but in County it was literally at least one a day. Nothing else to do. I must have read thousands of books. Once in prison I had over 40 books between my locker, the cabinet and the box under my bed. Totally against the rules, including the box, but for the most part the COs didn't give a fuck and looked the other way. I think everyone had more than 5 books in the entire prison, lol. This guy I played D&D, Dave, who was also my cellie for awhile and I consider him family now he had like...100 books and 400 magazines! He was a total hoarder. It was insane!

    Cool you started D&D in county. That would have been almost impossible the places where I was because of the setup of the jails, materials, turn around of inmates, etc. What did you use for dice?

    In prison, though, TONS of people played. Thousands of books on the compound. We had fucking maps and TILE SETS.
    ^ Top  
  12. RKade8583 Literate

    Mar 2, 2017
    That's the lesson I try to impart on people and I've got it double (Kaiser is not known for their good healthcare) and it shows through these 9 pages (I read 'em all. That cowboy kid is what reminded me of my own parting shot of theirs.)

    I'm hyped as hell for this game though. I hope the dev took my suggestion about a long game because time inside is long to heart. Nothing worse than a short game when you're not allowed to work and have to just sit at home. These lungs are their own kind of prison, lol.
    ^ Top  
  13. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    Part I

    (More to come…)

    OK everyone, as promised I had a surprised that would help you better understand by prison experience and here it is! I went to Google Maps and got a bunch of Google Earth 3D renderings of it. Now, you might say to yourself "I could have done that." Yes, but would you have known what everything was!? Of course not! It would have looked like a bunch of random buildings. So here we go... I took multiple angles and close-ups for the full experience. Any questions, please feel free to ask!

    Keep in mind when viewing these this was literally my entire world for almost 6 years. That was all there was. That was, oddly enough, home. I look at these images and it's so bizarre how used to that place I got. If you've seen the movie Room, it was a little like that.

    Important information: Petersburg Low is one prison within the Petersburg Prison Complex (Federal Correctional Complex Petersburg aka FCC Petersburg). Petersburg Low would be FCI Petersburg Low (Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg Low). Low means low security prison. The complex also consists of FCI Petersburg Medium and FCI Petersburg Camp. The medium is more secure, more "prison-esque." It's also where the SHU is for the entire complex. The camp has no fence and many inmates there work outside of the complex at places like the power plant and warehouse. The complex includes everything needed to function. The warehouse and power plants serve the entire complex. There are even fields for planting crops which the Campers work. They are completely separate, although staff works the entire complex and moves around from facility to facility as needed. So you might have a CO work the Medium two days a week and the Low three days a week. Or a CO might disappear for 6 months working at the medium and then come back to the low for 6 months. Despite being separate, they are visible from one another. Low and Medium inmates aren't close enough to ever see each other but Campers can see both. They ride around the fence sometimes in trucks and golf carts. I used to see them pass by the track from the warehouse to the camp everyday. Occasionally someone who was at the Low who went to the camp would ride by. It was cool to see them again.

    If you are designated low or camp when you first arrive at the facility, you do initial intake at the medium and are put in the SHU there overnight. Usually you leave for the low the next morning. The only exception is if you self-surrender in which case you report directly to where you're designated.

    There is an adjacent military base where they do exercises and federal park that is a civil war battle site. Many inmates from the camp actually work at both. Lots of federal prisons are built near military bases and/or civil war sites because it's old, existing, cheap/free federal government land. Also, there many have been some sort of war prison there to begin with (that's what Petersburg Low was during WWII). Also, if the shit hit the fan it would probably be easier for the military to come and shoot everyone. We always heard if the country went to shit the medium inmates would be shot and the low inmates left to fend for themselves. Doubt that's true, though.

    The Low, where I was, is by far the oldest. Over time new buildings were added (mostly in the 70s) and some were torn down, but the core of the facility (including the main building/visitation, Lee Hall and Richmond Hall) are all original. It was build in the late 1930s as a work camp and then used as a WWII POW prison. Over the years following it was a Penitentiary and then a Medium until the late 90s when the Medium was built next door (1998). Afterwards it was converted to a low. You can see especially in Lee & Richmond Hall that it was once a Penn. The doors and bars are everywhere. It's like a dungeon. There's also a double layer fence. New Lows only have single layer. There are also guard towers that aren't used anymore. The camp was build sometime in the 80s I believe.

    More info here (although somewhat inaccurate): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Correctional_Institution,_Petersburg


    The Outskirts

    Basically this is everything outside of the Petersburg Low compound. Many campers work in these areas.

    1. Visitor Parking Lot. When I had visitors, they parked here.

    2. Curve road. I only mention this because this sharp as turn was the cause of many accidents. I saw so many people go off road and into the field between the fence and the road. One time there was a bad motorcycle accident where the dude hit head on with a truck. We saw it happen and pieces of the guy were everywhere. They did a recall and made us go inside.

    3. The military base (Fort Lee). Also the civil war park. They do military training here with helicopters mostly. They would fly helicopters over with crates attached on cable all the time. They'd practice dropping it off. They had the entire place set up with tanks and trucks laying around to make it look like a real battlefield. They also had the bugle call throughout the day. Once a year or so, they'd do some kind of war games where they'd set off these fake are explosions and flares and all kinds of shit. It was awesome and was like our fireworks. From the rec yard we had a perfect view.

    4. Visitors "shack." I saw this the first time when I walked out the door. I walked out at #6 and right by it to #1. It was described to me by people who came to visit many times. It was basically a glorified bus stop with plastic hanging around the openings that they made people wait in -- including in the heat and cold -- until they were called to the visiting room. Fucking disgraceful.

    5. The Camp. I never made it there. I only saw it when I first arrived from the SHU on the bus, through the fence and then walked by it on my way out the door. The parking lot next to it is for staff.

    6. The entrance. This is the main entrance into the Low. It is used by staff, visitors when they're calling into the visiting room and inmates with they arrive and leave. It's the door they brought me in the first morning I arrived at the Low.

    6 (again). Softball diamond. OK, so I screwed up. This one is the softball diamond used by Campers.

    7. Power Plant, Water, etc. Basically, this is utilities. It's outside the fence, so I never saw it up close and don't know really what all is there. Some of it I was told about but don't recall. Campers work there. It keeps the entire facility going. The entire place is self-contained and redundant as far as electricity goes, so if the power goes down on the outside it never goes off on the inside. That said, it did flash off and on occasionally when something went wrong and the back up generators kicked in. Once it was out for two days and they locked us down. Food was brought to us (bagged lunch, sandwiches, "sweat meat"). No Power, no hot water. Apparently something broke. We played a shit ton of D&D. Literally all day and night. Other people were going stir crazy though without the TV. I've never seen so many people playing fucking board games. Also, another time the overhead lights all went out while I was on the rec yard. They called recall, but it was so amazing how dark it got. I saw stars for the first time in 4 years that day.

    8. The medium. Where I was initially taken, placed in the SHU and ended up staying an extra 3 days because they lost my paperwork. Sucked ass.

    9. The warehouse. Where they store all the food and everything else (TVs, computers, paper, desks, chairs, supplies, etc.). Everything coming in arrives there and leaves from there before coming into the facilities. Campers work there moving the stuff. Lots of Campers get caught stealing from the warehouse. Some even have their CDLs so they can drive big trucks around the compound.

    Inside the Facility -- Non-Housing Units

    10. Admin/Control/Visitation. This is one of the oldest buildings there, built in the beginning. Aside from being the entrance, it houses the administration and "control," which sort of runs the prison as far as when controlled moves are called, recalls, announcements are made, chow is called, etc. All announcements are made over the speaker from here and all radio traffic flows through. It's like air traffic control, but for the prison. It's also where the visitation room is... which is small, depressing and has some vending machines.

    11. R&D/Mailroom. Located in the basement of Richmond Hall, R&D stands "Receiving and Departure." When you first arrive at the facility, you walk in the front door #6 and into #10 and down the side walk to #11, which is a flight of stairs leading down to the baseball. The entire place is crazy looking it's so old. Like I said, like a big ass dungeon. When you leave, you do the reverse from R&D. It's also the home of the mail room, where all the mail comes in and is inspected and sorted. It's also where you can send things home if you need to do so. When you arrive, this is where they give you your work boots, prison uniform and basic clothing items as well as bedding and sometimes a basic hygiene bag with soap, a couple disposable razors, mini toothpaste, mini-toothbrush and a couple envelopes and a few sheets of paper. You know, to get you started. All this is brought up by inmates who work in laundry. They put you in this room with a bench to change into clothes and it's like 140 degrees in here because there's a boiler. Because of my medical condition, I had to wear two different sized boots, which really sucked. Now you see why I was so anxious to get shoes in the story I posted above. Anyway, you put on your uniform, tucked in (always must be tucked in, that's the rule) and they walk you out the door (north of the 11, where that little piece of sidewalk comes out) and suddenly you feel oddly free, in open air. They direct you to your housing units and that's it. So begins your time at the Low. When you go out, they make you recite your birthday and social security number to prove who you are. They take a fresh picture of you, give you a new inmate ID (to use as a temporary ID) if needed. They also give you back your copy of your social security card & birth certificate if it's on file. One quick other story from when I first arrived: after spending months in county jails with no privacy when I got into R&D I was sitting on the bench and had to pee. I asked where the bathroom was and the CO pointed down the hall. I walked and was shocked to find that it was a real bathroom with a real wooden door that I could shut. It blew my mind and was such a wonderful feeling. It was like "privacy! I'm in here alone! OMFG!!" It really is the little things.

    12. Wiccan/Asatru/Sweat Lodge Worship Area. This area is right beside the chapel and is surrounded by a wooden fence that from a distance conceals it but if you go up close you can look right over. It contains the outdoor worship areas for the Wiccans, Asatru and Native Americans. The Wiccans and Asatru use the same area, which is separate from the Sweat Lodge area, and is where the 12 hovers right over. The Sweat Lodge is right beside it. Both are quasi-fenced off from each other. Each religion is allowed to have an outdoor ceremony once per week. The Wiccans and Asatru is basically a bonfire with benches around it where they sit by the fire and have their ceremonies. The Asatru are more involved with it while the Wiccans pretty much just set by the fire. The fire is real and the prison brings in firewood for them, as well as for the sweat lodge. The Asatru also drink "mead," which is a non-alcoholic version. If I remember correctly it was made with fruit juice and honey. I was invited to attend both ceremonies and went. I enjoyed the Wiccan ceremony more, because it was more laid back and I knew a lot of the people, although there were a couple weirdos there. I think most of them were SOs, actually. They smuggled hotdogs out of the chow hall and we cooked them over the fire. The Asatru (viking religion) ceremony I went to once because I had a good friend who went who played D&D with us for awhile. I never went back because it was 100% white and fairly racist. They were very anti-black people and it was essentially like a neo-Nazi/white supremacy/Klan meeting. They were mostly Odinists, an offshoot of Asatru that is often favored by white supremacists (because it's very white... Nordic, Anglo-Saxonish... the whole "all father" thing and it's connection to Nazis). But, you know, they allowed Moorish Science and Nation of Islam too... and their shit was flat out racist against whites. The infamous "What's Wrong with White People" DVD at the prison chapel being a classic example. Oh, one other thing, The Asatru people would thoroughly research you if you wanted to join (i.e. find out why you were there, etc.). The Native Americans used the area next door for their sweat lodge. They were also allowed to grow some crops (peppers and tomatoes, I think some corn). They were given tea to drink and allowed to smoke tobacco as part of the ceremony through their pipe. I swear to God it smelled exactly like weed and I think it often was. I was invited to go there once for a sweat, a pretty big deal since they don't just let anyone come who doesn't have Native blood. I loved the experience and it got hot as fuck in that tent. I smelled like smoke and came out and it started to rain. The rain hit me and steam came off my body. I actually did feel very spiritual, cleansed and free. One other thing about the Native American area: they're very particular about people using it and walking through it because it's considered "sacred ground." There was controversy because to get to the Wiccan/Asatru area they had to walk through the Native area.

    13. Medical. If you're sick or need treatment, this is where you go to get the worst care in the world. Socialized medicine at its worse. When I first got there, you just showed up in the morning before breakfast when they did "sick call sign." After awhile they had the computer system on TRULINCS where you had to fill out a medical form to request to be seen. Took a couple days usually. Also, it used to be you'd be seen by whatever PA was on duty. When the change was made you had a PCP (Primary Care Physician) and that was all you could see. If you got one of the bad ones (4 out of 5) you were fucked. I got the worst. "Dental sick call sign up" remained the same, though. For dental, despite the myth that prisoners get wonderful dental care, the only thing they really did for people was pull teeth (takes months), dentures (takes years) and cleanings. The cleanings took 7 - 1 year after signing up. The bright side was they had dental students from the outside come in to do it and one time a cute asian chick did mine. All the doctors and nurses were foreigners who I'm not sure even were trained or had degrees. Probably the only place they could work. The Doctor in charge of medical had been sued for malpractice so many times it was basically the only place she could work. She was HORRIBLE. The only other thing they did here was inmates lined up from for "pill line" (to get their meds) and "insulin line" for diabetics. Also, if you had an emergency (i.e. if you fell out, which happened often given the number of people with diabetes there) this is where they'd come and get you from on the medical cart. They'd lock the compound down for medical emergencies so they could get the person and move them quickly, but generally speaking at the rate they moved it was a wonder more people didn't die. A couple did, including one of a heart attack. It took them 20 mins to get him to medical. No telling out long to the hospital. I had spoken to him literally 10 minutes earlier.

    14. The Commissary. Where you got to buy the stuff you need. You go one day a week, based on the digits of your inmate number. You fill out a commissary slip (one is posted earlier in this thread), you stick it through a slit in the window, inmate employees fill your wonder and put it in baskets and a CO rings it up with a register and drops it down a shoot. Most people use laundry bags to put the stuff in and carry it back. I look back and it's hilarious how proficient I got at the entire process and the size of the bags I lugged back.

    15. The Chapel/Lieutenant's Office. The Chapel has offices for the Chaplin and is basically a big room that has movable dividers so it can be made into smaller rooms for different services. Dozens of religions are recognized by the BOP and are practiced. Even if one inmate is a member of a religion, they must provide them with worship time and materials necessary for them to worship. They have an assortment of religious books/movies/audio etc. that inmates can watch at your leisure during allotted hours. They have a room with TVs/DVD players/CD players for this purpose. I mentioned this before, but some of the DVDs they have get wacky like how they have Harry Potter movies and Practical Magic under Wiccan and Little Big Man under Native American. It was hilarious, because most of the people who went there, regardless of religion, wanted the Native American and Wiccan films because they were the best. This is also where you go if you want to have specialty religious items or wedding rings sent in. They also have music instruments for services. Because of the small size of the Petersburg Chapel they really struggled to provide equal time for all religions and it resulted in some tensions. The Lt's Office was right next door and in the same building. This was the one place you NEVER wanted to go because if you were called to the Lt's Office (and that's what they'd do - they'd announce on the speaker "[NAME] out of [YOUR UNIT], report to the Lieutenant's Office." If you didn't show up soon, they'd look for your ass. They'd even do a recall and a count to find out), you were almost certainly in some kind of trouble. The Lt is the head officer on duty at any given time. Basically he runs the prison day-to-day. Only the Captains, Associate Wardens and the Warden him/herself carry more authority, but they're unlikely to concern themselves with the day to day. That's the Lt's job. Essentially the way it works is the Warden is over everything, the Associate Wardens are over certain things (i.e. a AW might be head over Commissary and Rec, etc.) and the Captain is head of individual compounds, even though he/she doesn't actually run it usually. Basically if you were called to the Lt's Office you'd have to talk to the Lt about something. It might be they suspected you of something or they wanted to question you for information they thought you had about an incident. It might be because you got written a "shot" (incident report) for violating the rules and they're going to talk to you about that and maybe even determine punishment. If you're going to get taken to the SHU for a more serious offense this is the first place you're going before they cuff you and walk you off the compound to be taken to the medium. The entire time I was there I only went there four times. Twice was for random breathalyzers where they'd flag you down while you walked to or from the rec yard to blow into a hole in a machine to make sure you hadn't been drinking. Another time was I was questioned about an incident I witnessed. I refused to give them any information. The other time was I missed a medical appointment because I forgot to read the "call out." The call out is a list of every inmate who needs to be somewhere at a certain time the following day (see earlier in this thread for a scan of an actual call out). If you're not there, you're considered "out of bounds," which is a violation. The crazy thing is I always checked the call out. The one time I forgot I was on it. It was for a the mandatory TB test which are totally random. So I had a hobby craft class that afternoon (painting with Milano, actually) and there's no speaker in the education building. So they'd been calling me and looking for me for awhile. I come back at 3pm to the unit, which is 45 minutes before recall and someone in the unit says "hey, they've been looking for you to go to the Lt's office!" and the unit office on duty here's this and asks if I'm such and such and I'm like "yeah" and he tells me to go to the Lt's Office. So he opens the door and the move was just ending and calls to the Lt, who was standing outside the office, and tells him who I am. So I walk over and he starts giving me a hard time asking where I've been and telling me they've been looking for me "all afternoon." I explain where I was and we go into his office and he shows me a stack of shots. He explains these were all written by a staff member from medical because we all missed the call out. He says he already threw the rest out and I was the last one. So I apologize and just admit I screwed up and he tossed it and that was it.

    16. Education Building. This building contains the library, music room, class rooms (upstairs), psychology department, and hobby craft. The classrooms are were I taught my American Government and Libertarian course. Aside from the inmate-taught ACE (Adult Continuing Education) classes, they also teach GED, which is suppose to be run by the staff but really inmates are the real teachers. There are no usable computers except ones for printing mandatory mailing labels for sending out letters via TRULINCs, printing e-mails and using the legal library (LexisNexis). That's all they can be used for... They didn't have that until about 3 afters after I got there. It was 100% computer free. They have typewriters in the library if you need to type something. Yes, typewriters. Upstairs they actually have a room full of computers that were suppose to be for a program Petersburg was awarded the pilot program for to have online distance learning in federal prisons, but from the date they arrived (3 years before I went home) no one was allowed to use them.

    17. The Library & Music Room. Other than what I mentioned above, they also have a decent selection of books you can check out as well as a pretty epic collection of DVDs. They have flat screens all along the wall, but there's a limited number of them so there's quite a bit of competition to get one and a lot of shenanigans that go on. The most in demand time for watching movies there is after dinner because almost no one has a job assignment during that time. People rush down there to reserve a TV. Basically the only way to get one is to go down on the rec move (a special move that they call that allow people to go to rec before they call dinner for anyone that doesn't want to eat) and stand outside the door for an hour until it's opened. They call rec move in the same order they call chow, which is based on the every other week inspections with the top graded unit first. So basically if you're unit isn't first and you don't go on rec move you're fucked. People would do crazy shit like get in good with the inmate library workers or have someone they knew in the first unit go down and hold down a TV for them. It caused problems so they changed it so no matter when you got down you had to wait until 6pm. At 6 they put everyone's inmate ID into a bag and drew them out and the first 12 got TVs the next 12 got next in line. Also, unlike in the chapel where they had devices that allowed more than one person to watch the same movie (note: all movies had to be watched using headphones), it was one person per movie/per TV at the library. For awhile people started bringing in homemade splitters so two or more people could watch movies together, but they put a stop to that because it was getting crazy crowded. Some people were there everyday somehow. Lots of gay inmates watched movies together too. The movies were kept behind a door where the Clerk's Office was... the Clerk was an inmate. The DVD players were also back there so they had to be loaded by the Clerk and they were connected to the TVs via long cables. They had huge alphabetical binders with photocopies of the covers for deciding what you wanted to watch. I only went there twice. About halfway through my time one of our TVs in the unit went out so our Counselor just walks over to the Chapel and pulls one off the wall and brings it to the unit, lol. Well, the thing is over at the Chapel the TVs had built in DVD players and they'd give you the DVDs. So we now had a DVD player in the unit that was totally legit and someone from our unit worked at the library so he'd smuggle out DVDs, we'd watch them and he'd take them back the next day. We watched entire seasons of TV shows that way. It doesn't seem like much, but for us it was epic.

    The music room was directly down the hall from the library. It featured different types of instruments (pianos, drums, guitars, trumpets... pretty much whatever... even a violin) and "practice rooms" designed to both amplify and "trap" sound so it wouldn't be too loud outside of the room. At the end of the hall was a big practice room with mixers and amps. This room had to be reserved and in order to reserve it you had to form a band. Anyone could form a band. The rec COs would assign you a random slot for your band in the afternoon. The practice rooms could be used by anyone so long as they were empty. Sometimes inmates taught music lessons/classes here. Lots of underground stuff went down here. At one point the Clerks office, which was a tiny room with a door, was used so inmates could have sex with each other and then for awhile it was used for pay-per-view porn viewing lol. There was also a major hooch bust where they found TONS of it in the ceiling that shut down the entire place for about a month. Some of the rec COs were real pieces of shit who didn't even open it half the time.

    18. Psychology Department/Hobby Craft. This part of the education building had the psychology offices. There were two or three and you could put in a request to see them if you wanted. You had to see them as part of A&O during your first week there. I didn't like any of them. The head of the department was a known racist again whites. If you looked on the back of her name plate it said "Black Psychologist." During the day you couldn't go into the area without an appointment. After 4pm, however, you could walk through and it had a door that connected to the rest of the rec yard, which was very convenient because it allowed you to go from anything in the education building to the rec yard freely. During the day you'd have to wait until the controlled move to move between the two. They also had a room with a table that was suppose to be for "quite reflection," but they almost never let people use it. They were suppose to gave head phones and peaceful music as part of the program and you could request time slots and go in and listen. The only person I ever saw them let use it was Mr. Davis aka Serg, who was blind. They let him use it to listen to books on tape and practice his brail.

    Hobby craft was one big room in this area. It had a bunch of lockers which were very coveted because they were assigned to inmates and extremely limited. We could only do certain hobby craft programs if we had a locker there because they weren't considered "in house." Basically "in house" meant you could have the supplies and do it in your housing unit. Everything else you had to have a pass/locker and could only do it down at hobby craft. There were certain pre-approved vendors inmates could order supplies from and they arrived at the warehouse and were distributed one day out of the week by the rec CO. Dick Blick was one of them, for example. Anyone could sign up for and do the "in house" stuff, but after your first order of supplies you had to show the rec CO a "finished project" basically to demonstrate you were using it and not just selling the shit, which some people did. You were suppose to send your completed "projects" home via a process where it was inspected and taken out by the rec CO but lots of people sold the stuff they made and some people made a killing. There were ways around it for sure. Lots of people had their families and friends sell the stuff online for them and made a killing. Mr. Milano would be an example. You had to pay for your own supplies except for classes in which you were given supplies paid for and ordered by the rec department (i.e. Mr. Milano's classes). Most rec COs didn't want to bother with this so there would be months without classes. We had a really good one for a couple years that went out of her way to do classes for us. She's the one that got Mr. Milano's classes going as well as some leather craft, crochet and beading classes. She's also the one that got us D&D dice and that program going as well as the one that got us an Ultimate Frisbee league and supplies. In house crafts inmates could do included: knitting/crochet, beading, drawing, papercrafts and card making (the last one being a HUGE hustle in prison). Crafts inmates could do that required a hobby craft pass/locker included: painting and leather craft. The hardest and most coveted was leather craft because these guys were incredible. They made these amazing leather bags, belts, pocket books, wallets, watch bands, etc. and made a killing. You wouldn't believe the quality of these things. It was the most expensive craft to do, but also the most financially rewarding. I know dudes that were selling their bags for $200 a piece online. The thing that made this one particularly restrictive was that you needed all kinds of crazy tools to do it and some of them could be used as weapons really easily. They also used some serious stains and chemicals. They had this entire process of having the tools assigned and counted afterwards to make sure none of them left the room, but that said a lot of the COs were very lax about this and inmates would just wedge open the box they were kept in (it was wire mesh) and then use a stick to knock the tools down and off their hooks.

    19. Gym

    The gym had AC (eventually) and was basically had a basketball court in the middle like most gyms. The gym floor wasn't made of typical gym floor wood, though, it was a kind of weird thin carpet designed to minimize impact. The gym was mostly used for basketball, but also volleyball, indoor soccer (which was awesome), twice dodgeball. They also had the walls painted for handball and racquetball. They had bleachers on one side and sometimes they'd do concerts so inmate bands could play. There was an open space just off the court with some exercise equipment (mainly bikes and treadmills), floor mats and things like medicine balls for working out. I mentioned this before, but at Petersburg people were serious about their health and being in shape. Sports and work out equipment could be "checked out" from the inmate ran Clerks office, which was beside the rec CO's office. Depending on who the rec CO was, this process was either extremely uniform with you having to leave your inmate ID when you checked something out (same process with DVDs at the chapel, music instruments in the music room, etc.) until you brought it back to "just come in and take whatever you want, doors open." In addition to sports balls, frisbees, ping pong paddles, horse shoes etc. they also had jump ropes. The only thing they wouldn't let anyone just check out was softball bats. The rec CO had to be around anytime those were used. About 2 years after being there they tried this music program called the 'CD Program" where they got some Sony Discman players and about 300 CD and you could sign up and check out a Discman and CD for an hour and walk around the rec yard listening to it. This lasted about a month until one of the lazy rec COs left the door open and all of the CDs and players were stolen. Some were later recovered, but the program never came back and a couple years later came the MP3 players so it didn't matter anymore. Some of the Sony Discman players were kept by inmates with the CDs, others were turned into tattoo guns.

    Once a week you could get yourself weighed and have your body fat checked by inmates trained to do it. There was also a bathroom in the gym only because, holy shit, so much stuff went down in there. Mostly fucking and people getting the shit beat out of them. It's where people would often go to fight to resolve disputes so they wouldn't get caught. One guy got beat to a pulp one time. There was blood everywhere. I saw the aftermath and turned and went straight to the yard so I wouldn't be hear it when discovered. About 5 minutes later they called recall and made everyone do a "body check." You have to take off your shirt, turn around and open your mouth and show them your lips. They're looking for signs you've been in a fight.

    Once a year they had a "Health Fair." I went one year. You had to sign up in advantage. They basically had these booths with different topics and you could get different health tests done. They gave everyone a goodie bag with Gatorade mix and some Cliff bars, so it wasn't a bad deal.

    20. Rec Room

    This was a room attached to the gym that was basically an open area with three pool tables, picnic tables for sitting and playing cards/board games, a couple ping-pong tables and a shuffle board table. There were a couple of exercise bikes too and at one point they have TVs so people could watch TV while on the bikes but they got rid of the TVs at some point. On holidays they'd host events like pool/ping pong/shuffleboard tournaments and different card tournaments for prizes (always those packs of Gatorade).

    21. Outdoor Handball/Racquetball Court

    Basically a wall with the court painted on it and the court design below. One side was intended for racquetball and the other for handball, but both were used for both. It was actually very popular and always crowded, especially handball. Spanish inmates, especially Mexicans, love handball. They had tournaments that would get pretty serious, too.They sold the handballs at the commissary (you couldn't check them out... same with tennis and racquetballs... you had to buy them yourself). They also sold handball gloves, but most people didn't bother. Some people hit the balls so hard their palms would get swollen. The Italians were into it too. Mr. Milano played and was really good. The walk way beside it headed to the left led to a side door to the gym and also a door that was connected to the Clerk's office so you could check out equipment without having to go inside. There was also a picnic table. This was one of several areas the gay inmates liked to hang out. This is also where the unofficial gay wedding between Crazy Joe and Raymond took place.

    Also, this is where Mule's groundhog would come. It had a hole going under the fence and he could call it from the other side and it would shoot down the hole and come out the other side. It was tame-ish and would let you hand feed it and would even climb on you. I did it a few times. People fed it peanuts, apples and Nutty Bars lol... that thing probably got diabetes.

    22. Outdoor Basketball Court

    Not much to say here. Two side-by-side. Usually it was very easy to use these as most people preferred the indoor courts and very rarely were full court games held here (half court sometimes). The rims and backboards were kinda jacked up, which is why not many people used them. I came out here and shot around or played HORSE from time to time with friends. During the Summer they had outdoor tournaments between units that were full court and got intense.... namely because the courts were pretty narrow and people would be crowded around because there were no bleachers. This was called Summer League. There was also Winter League. That was played indoors.

    23. Tennis Courts

    Two of them. My celly Thom spent a lot of time here. There were few inmates who played tennis seriously, but those who did were quite good. There were rumors the entire time I was there that they were gonna get rid of the courts because newer non-camp prisons aren't build with them as a rule (too "club fed" apparently) and for about 2 months it looked like they might because they didn't have anymore rackets and didn't order any new ones... but then a non-lazy rec CO came in and they got new ones and new nets. I should also mention this area was sorta "below ground" so to speak, with a concrete block wall surrounding it on one side. This was often used as people as a track, where they'd walk around the edges. I did it often after they closed the big field, which they did during fog, bad weather or about 20 - 30 mins before recall.

    24. Weight Pile

    For some people there, this might as well have been a sacred ground or their chapel. Some people worshiped this place and spent ungodly hours here... and as a result, people at Petersburg were RIPPED OUT OF THEIR MINDS. This one thing set PB apart from many other lows in the country, because for over 25 years now anything inside the fence (in custody aka anything not a Camp) cannot have a weight pile, but PB is old enough to have got one before that. Inmates from other parts of the country literally try to transfer to PB just for the weight pile. The rule is they can keep it, but can't buy new equipment or replace/fix anything. Once it goes, it's gone... Or so that's the way it's suppose to be, but no. When something breaks, inmates take the stuff quietly to the machine shop or facilities (#36 and #37 on the map) and weld it back together. The COs sorta look the other way or just flat out let them. The thing is, they realize that the weight pile, more than anything else, keeps inmates there out occupied and out of trouble. It really is a positive outlet for them... it allows them to relieve stress and frustration. If it disappeared, people would riot. The weights are all iron and bars. There's dumbbells and plates and benches and that's about it. There's a couple of incline benches and a decline and then flat benches. It's under a wooden canopy and the entire place has the distinct smell of sweat. It's always crowded and there's all kinds of weird etiquette and rules about it. First, you never just pick up a weight without finding out if someone is using it or has "locked it down." I made this mistake my second day when I walked up and just picked up a couple dumbbells it looked like no one was using. People looked at me like I was crazy and while I was doing curls this big black dude walks up to me and he basically let me know that I can't just pick up things without asking. He's like "it's cool, just bring it back when you're done and ask next time." Second, no one really works out alone. Everyone has a "car." A "car" is slang for a group of inmates doing stuff together. You can be in a car if you cook together, work out together, etc. It's desirable to form a car got only to help and spot each other, and for motivation (working out with others just helps) but also because there's strength in numbers. You're more likely not to be disrespected and be able to get equipment if you're not alone. Also, there's literally people that "sell" equipment, especially bars (the most valuable of equipment) as a hustle. Basically these are mostly people that work in rec and have easy/early access. They'll set the stuff aside for you and hold it down until you get there, but you have to be fast about it. For this service they charge about $35 a month, which if you have a car you can split it up. Also, some people who don't work in rec do this. They just rush down there go get to it before anyone else. Often they'll use it themselves to work out and also let someone who pays them use it. This allows them to make money to buy some they need to bulk up (mostly food high in protein -- it gets crazy the lengths people go for protein... I'm talking massive bowls of oatmeal full of gobs and gobs of peanut butter). These are usually the most serious people, who work out almost at a religious level. It's funny watching people rush to rec because you're not allows to run on the compound, so they fast walk with the best of them. When they get to the rec gate (located between #16 + #17) the rec COs make them stop and go in one at a time based on the order they arrived to keep people from fighting/getting hurt. They wait 6 seconds before letting the next person in... they do this for the first 10 people are so. They sold weight gloves at the commissary, but another hustle was stealing the gloves given out at UNICOR and selling them for this purpose.

    25. The Big Field

    The big field is the larger rec area. It can be closed off separate but is open always unless of extreme heat, bad weather, extreme fog or lazy ass CO. It has a smaller track that's concrete and a larger track that encompasses the edges of the fence that's really just dirt and was created by inmates walking there everyday overtime. I walked thousands of times. My first 3 years I walked it at least 2 hours everyday. It was a way to just feel free and get my head clear. Often I'd walk with other inmates and have great conversations. The track is where I met and got to know most of the people I became friends with there. The middle right where the #25 is was where flag football and soccer were played. It's also where we played Ultimate Frisbee, which I played and loved. It became a huge part of my final 2 years there.

    26. "Beach Volleyball Court"

    So this was an outdoor volleyball court with sand for the court. While most league volleyball was played in the gym, this was where teams practiced.

    27. Boccie Ball Court

    They were building this when I first got there and it took them about a year to finish but when they did, it was pretty fun and I played a few times. The Italians lost their fucking minds when they found out what it was and it was all they talked about for a year. When it was finished, they played it 90% of the time. One thing that sucked about it though was that the pits flooded bad so if it had rained anytime in the last 3 days it was no good.

    28. Softball Field

    Softball is only played in the Spring into the Summer and it's a really big deal. Some people love that shit. Personally, I don't care for softball or baseball and for me it just created an annoyance because I always had to watch for flying softballs while walking the track and we couldn't use the side field for pick-up Frisbee games (the big field was often being used... if not for football/football practice or soccer/soccer practice then people used it to work out or during the Summer months literally come out with their towels and fucking tan and sunbath... some days it was so crazy it literally looked like "Petersburg Beach"). But yeah, people got into that shit... people borrowed cleats and made make shift uniforms (including with numbers and team names... which modification of clothes is actually against the rules but the COs looked the other way). The bleachers would be packed with spectators too... and they would be doing major shit talking. This was one of the few things the lazy rec COs actually loved doing because I think they got so much entertainment from it... They'd be constantly cracking up about the shit talking. This was also the site of a dozen hilarious Crazy Joe meltdowns. The field was also used for Kickball in the Fall.

    29. Covered Picnic Area

    So basically a covered area with picnic tables. Often frequented by gay or weird inmates, but not always. A lot of people liked to set under here and read or play chess/checkers. It was a good place to seek shelter when rain got to be too much. People always did bring food out here to eat and sometimes groups of inmates would organize make shift celebrations. They weren't sanctioned or even really allows, but the COs were either ignorant of them or looked the other way, probably both. I remember after about two years of being there once a year he Spanish inmates would get together and plan and have a feast there to celebrate Spanish Heritage Month or Cinco De Mayo. It was really just an excuse for them to get together and eat... but also came about out of a desire to bring all the different Hispanic groups together on the compound. This happened after a few months of friction. Basically everyone would get together and make/bring food/drinks. If you ever organized a party back in Middle School it worked the same way. Some people would bring drinks, others cheesecake, others pizza, others wraps, others tamales. All prisons versions, of course, and so, so, so good. I miss it. Honestly. There was so much food. I was invited each time by my former celly/friend who was Bolivian another former celly and close friend Ramirez. The Asians got together one time and did something similar. They had homemade Kim chi that was incredible.

    30. Bathroom

    They shut this down during the Winter and boarded it up because they cut off the water so the pipes wouldn't freeze.

    31. Gay/Spider Picnic Tables

    This picnic table was under one of the few trees on the compound and was full of insects, especially spiders. I got bit once sitting under here playing UNO with some people. Eventually, it became the favorite hang out for gay inmates on the compound because no one else ever sat there.

    32. UNICOR: Federal Prison Industries

    UNICOR is basically a factory inmates can work at for slave wages. Most federal prisons have them (although many are closing) and they make things the government, BOP and otherwise, uses. They also now make things for private companies if the jobs would otherwise go overseas. UNICOR facilities make everything from clothes to furniture to police lights. The facility Petersburg was a print plant. Despite the fact that the wages are ridiculous (under a dollar an hour and at most maybe 2 an hour) working at UNICOR is something a lot of people want to do and getting a job down there is very difficult. People want to do it because it makes time fly by and it does allow them to save up money, even send some home, especially if they're working overtime (there were times my celly would leave at 6:30am and other than lunch not come back until 11:30 at night). Some people also have big fines so they're made to go down there so they can work it off. Some inmates have no outside support, so UNICOR offers them the only real chance to both live comfortably in prison without want and also save a little money to get started on when they're released. Plus, a lot of times they don't really do much of anything except goof off down there (this, however, may vary by facility) At Petersburg, where there was no AC, it was also a refuge because UNICOR had AC. The Clerk (desk) jobs are among the most coveted and there's perks that go along with it like word processor/computer access, access to a copier, etc (which inmates could use to turn into a hustle). The environment I'm told was very dog-eat-dog with inmates fighting for position and often stabbing each other in the back. It's also was somewhere A LOT of sketchy shit went on and some very inappropriate relationships between inmates and staff developed. Most of the sexual/intimate relationships we heard rumors of came out of UNICOR. There was also rumors/evidence of staff stealing and embezzling money. Lots of cell phones, hooch and other sorts of illegal inmate activity went on down there. Basically the more "office/work" environment in the factory caused some relationships to be formed between staff and inmates that led to a lot of looking the other way as well as inmates in UNICOR are given more trust and responsibility that allows them to get away with more. One minor example is that inmates were allowed to order office supplies. They'd inflate the order with items they didn't really need and then when the order came in they'd split the order among the inmates in on it, take it back to the housing units and sell the things. Stuff like highlighters and correction tape are coveted by inmates, especially those filing legal appeals.

    Also, sometimes specific UNICORS allowed for specific hustles. For example, one UNICOR did laminate work for street signs. The result was inmates doing laminate art on items like coffee cups and selling it. Petersburg was a tattoo haven because of the ink in the print plant. Another funny thing: When private companies were allowed to contract UNICOR for work one company that did was Es Saint Laurent. They wanted printed packing that would include little lotion samples and since the assembly was also done at UNICOR the samples were there. Inmates were stealing them left and right so they got hard core with the pat downs upon leaving and anyone caught trying to steal them went to the SHU. In a great irony, it was Petersburg inmates that made the Sesame Street "Incarceration Guide for Parents": http://www.sesamestreet.org/sites/default/files/media_folders/Images/Incarceration_Guide.pdf

    So, don't worry kids, your daddy may be in prison for a decade for a first-time, non-violent offense, but at least we're taking advantage of him by paying him less than a dollar an hour to print pamphlets telling you about how your dad is in prison for a decade!

    33. Steam Pipe

    A large series of pipes came out of the ground here and blew out steam. Every morning, especially on Winter mornings, there would be a thick plume of steam rising from this area. The prison was heated via steam. I can still feel what it was like to stand waiting in line at the laundry in the morning, smelling oatmeal coming from the nearby chowhall and looking over and seeing the spray of steam come out of those pipes, masking the Medium in the distance.

    34. Laundry

    This is where you went to drop off and pick up clothes you needed washed, get clothing exchanges (if something got damaged, no longer fit, etc.... note: you were allowed two exchanges per year for clothes and you could get new socks every 3 months. They gave you three pairs each of white socks, boxers, t-shirts as well as 2 pairs of brown uniform pants and uniform shirt. The uniform stuff you could only exchange as needed, same with the jacket and steel toed boots they gave when you came in. They had a file on each inmate to keep track of what was issued and what was exchanged) and pick up hygiene bags (at first weekly, then bigger bags once a month... these were also called "welfare bags" or 'indigent kits." They needed envelopes, a few sheets of paper, soap, a tiny toothbrush, a tiny tube of toothpaste and a 3 disposable razors. They were free to all inmates that went to pick them up in the morning on the designated days). As you can imagine, inmates who worked here hustled by taking and selling clothes on the compound. Most of the shirts and boxers, for example, were thin and sucked. The dollars were totally jacked up, the material terrible and they were actually usually reject shirts from manufacturers who donates them for a tax write-off. They were practically see-thru they were so thin. However, some nice ones would come in and that's the ones the inmates who worked there would hustle around the compound. I bought all my clothes off the compound (note: you could also buy shirts, socks, underwear, etc. on the commissary but it was very expensive and the stuff the inmates sold was way cheaper). The shirts I got were usually thicker, often 100% cotton and the collar was really nice. It fit and felt so much better. The inmates also could get you way nicer coats and "visiting uniforms" (nice, brand new uniforms so you could go to your visits looking sharp, which almost everyone wanted to do... you wanted to look good and for your family/loved ones to keep them in good spirits). Inmates at laundry also almost all knew how to sew and had access to sewing machines, so they could make customer clothes like long sleeve t-shirts which they didn't sell at the commissary. They made some awesome customer stuff. I even know inmates who had hoodies made. It was sad sometimes, because you had inmates that couldn't afford any of this walking around with shirt so dirty they were brown or yellow. I remember one time I was in the visiting room and a little girl asked her inmate dad "Daddy, why is your shirt brown and everyone elses is white?" and the mom was like "it's not brown sweetheart, it's just old."

    For the first half of my time I almost never went to laundry because we had washers & dryers in all the housing units (they sold Tide and Bounce dryer sheets on the Commissary... it was so great), but then fucking Obama signed an executive order that all government facilities had to reduce water usage. Thus they took out all of the washer and dryers (I remember the scramble to wash clothes the last day they were going to be there and it was chaos) and spent millions upgrading the laundry industrial washers and dryers. The result was now everyone had to wash their clothes at the laundry with everyone elses and it sucked total ass. The clothes came back dirtier than they went in because they were washed with everyone elses at the same time!! They stunk too! Often they were lost because the laundry bags would bust open and rip. For a solid month I had to replace my bag every wash because the bags got so cheap. Sometimes the really good shit people would wash would be stolen (keep in mind people bought things like sweat pants and shirts from the commissary, those would get jacked often). When you picked up the clothes they were almost always damp, especially if you had bigger loads. You basically had to take your stuff down there everyday to make sure it would dry completely. Sometimes, especially at first, you'd go down at your time for pick-up and it wouldn't be ready yet. It also mean I couldn't sleep late until 7:45am work call and instead had to get up before 7:00 to take my clothes down there and then remember to pick them up before 6pm. People complained like crazy about the condition the clothes came in... I mean, I'd wash a brand new white shirt I wore once down there and it would come back tan. It improved slightly, but not really. The result of this was, ironically, more water use and poorer quality of living in the housing units (and increased failed inspections) because everyone started washing their clothes by hand using soap in the sink, buckets or mop buckets. People's wet clothes were hung up everywhere to dry. The unit looked like a Chinese laundry. It was all against the rules, but too many were doing it for them to enforce it. What really sucked was ringing out the clothes by hand stretched the shit out of them. But it was such a pain in the ass for me as an orderly to have to track down mop buckets only to find people were using them to wash clothes or to want to wash my hands in the sink only to find it's occupied by clothes washers. Suddenly that soap they handed out in the welfare bags became a precious commodity and people who washed clothes by hand or as a hustle would go around collecting it from other inmates or going in line two times or more to get it from laundry. Inmates also started smuggling out bleach and hand soap and selling it by the bottle as a hustle. Doing people's laundry had always been a hustle. The going rate was $2 a load for a wash and dry and fold. Now it was 6 pieces for $2 by hand (so you could get 6 shirts or 3 shirts and 3 pair of boxers, etc.). I gladly paid up. The first time my guy bought my shirts back and I saw they were white again and they smelled good I knew it was well worth it.

    35. Barbershop

    It looked like a real barbershop, complete with the pole. Inmates who worked there had various skill cutting hair. They had an actual training/apprenticeship program so people could learn and be licensed. Most people had one barber they'd see and while maybe 5 worked there at a time 2 got 90% of the work. It was hard to find a good barber and when someone went home or was transferred that was one it was tragic. Lots of horror stories from down there and lots of people who got serous electric razor burn on the backs of their necks. Most people had the same basically hair style because that's all the people had down. Throughout my time, though, there were a couple of guys that worked there that were extremely talented. The barbers were paid by the prison for the job, but it was really all a hustle because inmates paid for the services on the side (even though they didn't really have to). Going rate from $2 - 5 a cut, but some people paid a lot more for good service, especially since it was suppose to be walk-in but the inmate barbers would schedule appointments and be like "come see me after lunch" and push that person to the front of the line and no other inmates said anything about it because they knew the deal. Some inmates lived in the barbershop and were there getting a trim every week. They were trying to make their lives as much like the street as possible. When I first got there the first day I was introduced to a white dude (who looked Hispanic kinda) named Ghost and was told he was the go to guy for white dudes hair and that was true, because he was like the only one who could cut white people hair at the time. I got my hair cut by Ghost twice and he did an ok job, but people gave him so much shit about how he "couldn't cut hair" and would "fuck your hair up." I hated the barbershop, though, so eventually I convinced Ghost to cut my hair using an electric beard trimmer in the unit (which was against the rules and they later stopped selling them because people used them to make tattoo guns). Eventually my very close friends (and for awhile 4-men celly) Ramirez cut my hair and he did it for free! He cut my hair for over 3 years. I didn't step foot in the barbershop for 5 years after my first year.

    36. Vocay

    The vocational area, which was called Vocay (i.e. "Where's Ramierz?" "He's down at Vocay"). The programs included training that were different levels and lasted anywhere from 4 months to a year depending on the rate the inmate progressed. It included tests and projects. It was also extremely hard to get into and they had a waiting list a mile long. They gave special consideration to inmates with no real job/trade skills. Illegal/undocumented immigrants could not participate. They offered cabinet making, masonry and machine shop. All had some ability to become certified/licensed but machine shop was the most coveted because it included the greatest chance to actually get a very high paying, in demand job upon release. People were getting out after doing machine shop getting $20+ an hour jobs.

    37. Facilities

    Facilities was basically maintenance. Lots of inmates worked there and there were opportunities for apprenticeships and certifications. Rarely were outside contractors brought into the prison to build things or make repairs. It was all done by COs with those skills and their inmate team. They had one for plumping, electrical, HVAC and then construction/general repairs. They had access to tools, including power tools, and would come in with them on a cart when a work order was placed by another CO to fix the problem. Their worked was everything from small (replacing a light or fixing a water fountain) to big (remodeling an entire bathroom and installing all the cables and electrical for the computer system). Inmates who worked in facilities also had a bit of a hustle where while they were in the building with the tools they’d sneak away to do repairs or build something for inmates. Examples with include building a shelf (especially in lockers) or adding extra bed springs or even an extra electrical outlet. All of this was forbidden, but they got away with it. Sometimes inmates would be sent by themselves to make basic repairs with basic tools, so that made it easier. Several friends of mine worked there so I got shit done all the time, including some pretty advanced stuff. The guy in the cell next to mine for a while worked there and would hook me up for free. Sometimes the COs would look the other way too. There was one in particular who looked like Stone Cold Steve Austin who’d let the inmates do a lot of that stuff. Sometimes he’d supervise it or help with it himself. He was a cool dude, but had a temper. I saw him go off on other inmates. He looked like the guy of guy that would get in a bar fight quickly. One time T-Rex said something to him about something not being fixed when he was in my cell fixing something (I don’t even remember what it was…a shelf or something. Catfish got him to do it and he did it even though he didn’t have to. He just came in with a drill and went to work) and was shooting his mouth off and next thing I know “Stone Cold” walks over to T-Rex’s cell and almost goes Steve Austin on his ass. “What did you say to me!?” I mean, got right in T-Rex face. Anyway, T-Rex apologized and that was that. Catfish later told me the CO loved comic books so I sent him a bunch that I had down to facilities for him to read. A couple weeks later he brought them back and I’d send whatever I got down there for him. He never forgot me and whenever he’d come in the unit and near my cell and see me he’d come in, sit in a chair and we’d talk about comics for sometimes 30 minutes at a time. It was strange because he didn’t look like a comic book guy at all. He was a really good dude, though. He cared about inmates. One of his former inmates employees, who we called Jesus because he looked like Jesus, had left a few months earlier. He asked him I knew him and I said that I did and he said he wanted to reach out to see how he was going but didn’t want to get him into trouble. I thought that was pretty cool.

    38. Chow Hall

    The Chow Hall was where everyone ate. It was a large open building with an entry and an exit and two lines with inmates serving the meal. There were three meals a day and you were not required to go. If you did go you were called by unit one at a time. When you were it was up to you which line you got in except on the rare occasion when a CO would direct you to one or another. The lines were always stupid long, especially when the food was something good. I swear I must have spent at least a month out of my almost 6 years standing in lines. Sometimes they’d stretch out the door and down that sidewalk you see in front. When your unit was called depended upon your spot in the “meal rotation” which was based on the inspections every two weeks. It was pretty much a sham, though. They’d often pick rotation based on unit size, change it if anyone was called with hooch in a unit and the order, dirtier units were often fucked no matter what. Also, the Unit Team made a difference. For a while our Counselor was the head of the Union so we ate first almost every week for a good year, lol.

    In the morning everyone was locked in during the morning meal so once your unit was called for chow you were also free to go wherever else.

    For lunch they called recall and everyone had to come in from wherever they were and were locked in until the unit was called, then they were free to go eat or whatever again (exception: UNICOR and facilities always got to eat first).

    For dinner it was the same thing, they called recall and then they called each unit and you were free again.

    During these periods were where a lot of hustling and deals were going on. For one, they hadn’t called a move yet, so you were free to walk freely on the compound. Some COs even didn’t care if you stood around or sat on the outside benches. This meant you could meet up with people, exchange things, smuggle things across the compound with ease, go to the commissary, go to another unit and ask someone to get someone for you with ease (note: you were never allowed inside another housing unit other than the one you lived in without permission).

    Eventually after every one had eaten and the chow hall was empty they’d call a “10 minute move” and you had 10 minutes to clear the compound and get where you needed/wanted to be.

    Once you got your food you got your drink out of a machine (Or big coolers) via a section in the middle. It was Koolaid like stuff but the machines never mixed it with water so what you got was 100% concentrated so you had to mix it halfway with water yourself.

    There was also sometimes a little bar in the middle of the room by the door. Usually it would have just butter or jelly or something like that. Sometimes it would have sauce, salsa, dressing, salad or even pudding or jello. When it was something like that the “line” around it was a cluster fuck. I can’t tell you how many times people spilled drinks on each other or dropped their drinks in the food. I don’t remember any fights breaking out over that, though.

    Once you got your food you had to sit down, except sometimes when the chowhall was so full you couldn’t. This especially happened on fried chicken day. So you’d stand around and look stupid. It especially sucked when you came down with some people and wanted to sit together. You were supposed to leave when you were done eating, but unless there was a need for seating most of the time no one would rush you unless they were crying to close the entire thing. But on a day where people were waiting to sit they’d tell you to eat faster or ask if you were done and to leave if you were. I usually went to chow with friends and we almost always were able to sit together.

    At the low, there were no real “rules” about where you could and couldn’t set like at a Medium or higher security where certain races, groups, people from certain places, etc. are only allowed to sit together.

    At Petersburg, you could sit wherever and sometimes you had to, but it was still pretty segregated. The Italians had their own table, the Spanish inmates sat together on the far side of the “white” section. The other side of the chow hall (divided by the middle drinks section) was 90% black inmates. Some black inmates sat in the “white section” though. My closest friends included a Korean and Bolivian, so I sat at a pretty diverse table always.

    Also, the lines seemed to be segregated too. Most black inmates hit the line around the black section. Most white inmates hit the line around the white section. Me: I just hit whatever one looked the shortest. That said, it was known they always gave out better and more food on the black side line. Part of the “reverse racism” of prison.

    When you finish your meal its basic prison etiquette to offer anything left on your plate to other people at your table, even if you don’t know them, especially if it’s something good. This is because it’s insulting to waste good food and also many inmates don’t have a lot of money because they lack outside support so for them food matters a lot more. Sometimes another inmate may even ask if you’re going to eat something you haven’t touched if it looks like you’re done. So if you have like a cookie or extra piece of chicken or something just ask if anyone wants it and slide your plate forward a little. This is important because it is extremely bad prison etiquette to pick something off your plate and hand it to them. Let them take it off your plate and put it in there’s instead. That way you don’t touch the food they’re going to eat.

    Also, when you get up to leave its common etiquette to knock on the table once or twice before you get up. This is just a way of saying “Take it easy.” It comes from other prisons where inmates aren’t allowed to talk to each other while eating.

    It’s against the rules to take food out of the chow hall except with some rare exceptions (they let us take pints of ice cream out on holidays to speed up the meal, for example, and diabetics can take out fruit), but people still do it. Mostly it’s stuff like cookies where you just bring down some napkins/paper towels, wrap them up in them and pocket or palm it and walk out with it. Other times it’s more complicated like bringing in bowls or empty rice bags to take good out.

    You may or may not be shaken down (patted down) when you walk out. This depends on the COs at the door. Sometimes there aren’t any at the door. Usually if there’s a good meal, however, there will be. If they catch you 99% of the time they’ll just take it and let you go. Sometimes they’ll catch you with something and let you take it anyway. I’ve had COs find something in my pocket, pull it out, look at it and stick it back in and tell me I can go. One time, after about a year of taking stuff out and never being caught I was shaken down and caught with some cookies I had palmed. The CO goes “Oh, so what? You were trying to sneak some cookies out on me?” Me: “Yeah. My bad. You caught me.” CO: “Well do you want them?” Me: “…Yeah?” CO: “Well, ask me if you can have them?” Me: “Can I have the cookies?” CO: “Hell yeah you can have the cookies. Have a good day!”

    A lot of them just enjoyed fucking with us, not otherwise caring.

    Before you get out the door where you may or may not be shaken down you have to drop your tray off for the inmates in the dish room. This is a process that after doing it for so long it just came instinctively: “Put the Spork in the cup, dump it down the shoot, put the cup in the rack, and put the tray on the counter. Not doing it this was creates extra work for the inmates in the dish room and is considered rude.

    Other things to mention about Chow Hall:

    -it was Pest invested.

    -They had this LED sign by each line that was supposed to scroll through the menu and it was on everyday but was never right the entire time I was there, not even accidentally.

    -During the lunch meal, different staff (Including sometimes the Warden) stand “Main Line.” This just means they stand in a line by the chow lines and you can approach them with questions/concerns. Typically there’s someone from medical, a secretary, a counselor, maybe an Associate Warden, etc. Once a week someone from every part of the prison and every member of every Unit team is supposed to be there.

    39. Empty Lot/Old Basketball Court

    There was a mysterious empty lot behind Lee Hall we think we once a basketball court back when the prison was smaller, Maximum Security and Lee Hall was some sort isolated unit.

    Chestnut Road

    This isn’t marked on the map by a number but you can see the road. I mention this only because when people would go to the Camp I’d often see them again through the fence transporting things to and from the warehouse on trucks, golf carts, etc., which was cool to get to see them again, even if they couldn’t stop and chat.

    Also, in the grass outside every year there would be a family of ground hogs with 5 or 6 babies running around. It was pretty cute.

    Inside the Facility -- Housing Units

    40. Lee Hall

    Lee Hall was one of the two biggest housing units. It was also one of the oldest, built when the prison was built. It was like a dungeon inside and falling apart. It was build when it was a maximum security, so it looked like some Alcatraz shit inside, especially with the cells in the basement. It was a mix of cells and dorms, including open dorms. It was filthy and loud. It was regarded as the worst place to stay on the compound. There were more fights, more problems and less of everything (microwaves, TVs, etc.). Inmates treated each other worse. I heard SOs there especially got it bad. There were two stories and a basement. I heard it has now been condemned.

    41. Carolina Hall

    This is the unit I lived in. It was regarded as one of the nicer and definitely easy going units. Just a better class of inmates that got along better. It was also the smallest, with more TVs and microwaves per inmate than other units. It was build in the 70s and kinda dirty. The setup made it harder to keep clean. It was originally an administrative office building that was converted to an inmate housing unit. They basically turned all the old cubical officers into cells (some 2-men, some 4-men). This made it very difficult to keep clean. There was an upstairs and a downstairs and four sides separated by a door from the lobby (two on each side of each floor). It was one of two handicap accessible housing units (the other being Virginia Hall) so that’s another reason it was more laid back: lots of older inmates and people in wheelchairs. So you basically sacrificed some privacy for a better living environment. There was no AC in the housing units at Petersburg and Carolina Hall had these big ass huge windows so that made it extra hot. The windows were awesome, though… they could be opened and had screens. We even had blinds for them. They put bars on them, but still… it was totally abnormal for prison. Each of the four sides had a bathroom with showers that was like a public rest room (it probably was before). The upstairs and downstairs lobbies had two TV rooms which did have AC and had a floor that could be closed. They were surrounded by glass (w/ bars) that looked to the outside. Also bizarre, but really cool since we could feed the cats through them and even pull the kittens inside. One of the old upstairs TV rooms had been converted to a “fishbowl” which meant a room with just bunk beds and no privacy for anyone who lived there. The tradeoff was once the door was shut that place was in a way the most private place in the prison. It also had AC.

    42. Virginia Hall

    This was one of the newer and nicer units. It had two really strange open court yards in the middle with benches. It was also one of the few units that was all two-men cells with doors and a toilet/sink in each cell. Lots of people loved VA Hall for that reason, but I also heard there were a lot of politics between inmates there.

    43. Richmond Hall

    Richmond Hall was huge. Bigger than Lee Hall, but the mail room and R&D were also located inside. It even had the old hole in the basement. It was an original building with two stories and the basement. Also very dungeon-like but regarded as nicer than Lee Hall with better inmates. Inmates there told me that they were basically never bothered in parts of the unit and COs almost never came by their cells. It also had its own boiler and let me tell you, that basement around R&D got hot as fuck every time I was down there.

    44. Delaware Hall

    This was converted into the drug program (RDAP – Residential Drug Abuse Program) while I was there. They remodeled the entire thing, even installed an elevator to make it handicap accessible. To live here you had to be enrolled in RDAP. There were classrooms in the unit. Those who lived there lived the program. It wasn’t just classes, their entire routines and everything they did was program centric. The rules about sleeping during the day, wearing your uniform, TV times, making your bed and keeping your cell clean, etc. were all strictly enforced. Inmates had to put on plays and such as part of the program. They even had their own library with movies. Keeping caught with contraband, including food from the chow hall, resulted in punishment whereas everywhere else at worse it would be taken. Inmates were even trained to snitch on each other as part of the program! If you saw someone bring a banana out of the chow hall you were supposed to “pull them up” by outing them in class. Then the outed inmate was supposed to get the banana and throw it away. Eventually, so they wouldn’t have to really snitch on each other, I realized it was a set up. Inmates would talk before hand and orchestrate the entire thing so they could look like they were progressing while not having to really snitch on each other.

    They’d also have to do stupid dances. Don’t ask me why. One famous story is an inmate named Skinny I believe I mentioned before did a “Chicken Dance” and at the end got behind the female CO and kind of made an inappropriate hip motion. He actually got put in the SHU over it but they let him back in the program. They also ended the dancing after that, lol.

    45. Maryland Hall

    Really not much to say about Maryland Hall. It was an exact duplicate of Delaware Hall but that changed when they renovated Delaware for RDAP. It was a mix of cells and dorms, but it was the only unit that I never actually went inside too.

    46. Columbia Hall

    Columbia Hall was the home of The Life Connections Program, which was supposed to be a religious-based program, but it was just fucking ridiculous. First off, the program was voluntary (RDAP can be court ordered sometimes) and a lot more easy going than RDAP. You didn’t get up to a year off your time like you did for completing RDAP, but the unit was really nice and including a library with movies including TVs with DVD players you could take to your room and SINGLE MAN CELLS in some cases. People would literally transfer from other prisons just to get in the program for that reason. Also, it was a way to get out of fucked up prisons in Texas and California where normally there wasn’t. Also, it was a way for inmates who wanted to work out to get to a prison with a weight pile. Like RDAP you had to be within 3 years of your release to get into the program. Basically you just had to go to the chapel a lot and go to a lot of religious programs and complete assignments and such. They didn’t have really in-unit classes though. It was kind of a joke there. For one, because it was like Sodom and Gomora in that place. Lots of the inmates there weren’t religious at all and were gay and up to all kinds of debauchery. It was the #1 source for porn on the compound and they had tons of porn movies there because they could bring those TVs into their cells and watch porn whenever in the privacy of their (sometimes single men) rooms. It was also the #1 place gay inmates were caught fucking. Also, since the BOP couldn’t discriminate, you could be any religion to join or none at all (which, what the fuck?). If you take a look at the BOP list of recognized religions you’ll notice that The Church of Satan is recognized and, yes, there were Satanists in that program. Also, each religion had an outside mentor come in and, yes, one came in from the fucking Church of Satan to mentor inmates!
    • Brofist Brofist x 5
    • Informative Informative x 5
    • Salute Salute x 2
    ^ Top  
  14. Make America Great Again ERYFKRAD Arcane Patron

    Sep 25, 2012
    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Man you have time on your hands to type all that.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    ^ Top  
  15. GarlandExCon Arcane

    May 19, 2014
    I'm used to having time! Ohhhh!

    No in all seriousness it took A LOT longer and became a lot more involved than I thought. I first mentioned this idea on August 23rd of last year and at the time I said "coming later this week" Lol! So that should give you an idea of how long I've been working on that. Little bit here, little bit there. Really it probably took me all together less than 5 or 6 hours spaced out over that time. I'm a very fast typist.

    The other thing is I view this thread as really a place to store stories and information for the book I'll eventually write. All of that will be very helpful for that process.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
    • Brofist Brofist x 4
    • Friendly Friendly x 4
    • Bad Spelling Bad Spelling x 1
    ^ Top  

(buying stuff via the above buttons helps us pay the hosting bills, thanks!)