The full title of the American Tribune blog includes “The Prison Experience Connection.” That’s how I started it back in May of 2010, 360 articles ago.
Voted: Most Popular Prisoner…
One of my pet peeves is the corporate media’s propaganda about “how easy prisoners have it,” such as, lounging around all day, watching TV, living on the (ever-decreasing) public dime, bulking up in weight piles and planning our next criminal enterprise after an all-too-early-release, and other conservative commentary.
Unless one is in a holding or transit situation, every prisoner works. Let me repeat that: Every prisoner has a job. more…
In several previous articles here at the American tribune, I’ve spoken to the issues of prison industries.
In prison, everyone has a job. It’s enshrined, in fact, in the U.S. Constitution. At the conclusion of the American Civil War, an exception clause was inserted into the 13th Amendment (1865), which ostensibly prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude “except as a punishment for crime…”
So, when some of my more libertarian buds crank out, “Hey! They can’t do that! I got rights!” Actually, they can. The only “rights” we have are those they choose to give us. They don’t call us outlaws for nothing. more…
In prison, everyone has a job. I recall one occasion, when a new group of dog trainers were having a meeting, an old prisoner with a walker coming out of his housing unit. He too had been assigned as a trainer.
Factories with Fences
As the meeting among prisoners proceeded on the quad in front of the unit—perhaps 100’ away from the front door—the old guy slowly made his way down the walk. He had an assistant (whose own job was to take care of him).
Just before he got to the group, they finished their business and broke up. The old guy stopped, sighed, and slowly turned around to make his way back.
I recall a conversation I had with his assistant. It seems the old guy was so infirm, that at night he often couldn’t make his way to the bathroom. The assistant’s job in the morning included cleaning him up.
He was a real big-time criminal; he had refused to pay some taxes. more…
Some prisoners are clearly more equal than others. I’ve known quite a few over the past 20+ years. Most of them were business types, whether in street-corner direct sales and personal services, or corporate executives.
- Lord & Lady Black
Conrad Moffat Black, a member of the British House of Lords, knows few equals. A multi-millionaire media tycoon (at one time, number three in the world), the Baron Black of Crossharbour, is clearly one of the most elite.
I personally have no problem with that…the American gulag has a way of democratizing us–whatever its intent. Sorry to say, I never met him…we were prisoners in different places.
The recent term of the US Supreme Court unanimously ruled (a rare event in itself) that the prosecutors used “overly vague concepts of corporate fraud.” Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal attacks the law and the over-zealous prosecution of Jeffrey Skilling, Black, and others as “the criminalization of business.” more…
One afternoon, the Business Manager was discussing the need to hire another CPA for all the work coming into our local Federal Prison Industries, Inc., factory, UNICOR.
As the clerk to the Factory Manager, I suggested that I had an idea for how to get an accountant for practically free from the prison population.
“Really?” said the Business Manager. “Do you know an inmate here who’s a CPA?”
“Not exactly,” I replied. “But I have an idea. Contact the local U.S. Attorney’s office and ask them to mail a plea deal out to every CPA listed in the local Yellow Pages.
“Have them offer, say, a three-year plea bargain on an open felony charge in return for immunity from prosecution for anything else.”
The Business Manager turned to the Factory Manager with a smirk, “Your clerk has quite a sense of humor…”
“No, really! Try it,” I said. “I’ll bet you get acceptance letters from maybe half of them—or bankers, lawyers, doctors–whomever you want. “I mean, basically, that’s how the system works.”
Medina is a Cuban who left his homeland during the Mariel exodus in 1980. Having been in jail in Cuba, while not convicted of any crime, he was put on a boat along with many other “criminals.” He was given an 18 month sentence here on a minor infraction.
When I met Medina working alongside me in UNICOR, he was in his 19th year in federal prison. Not having any family in the US, immigration simply kept him locked up. One of many such prisoners. Medina was long used to dictatorial authority…
He lost no time fending for himself and for his family in Cuba. At UNICOR, with overtime, he easily makes about $300/month. He sends almost all of his money home to Cuba. A Canadian company forwards it for a small fee; the Cuban gov’t takes 10%, which, overall, is a significant income for the state. Medina also maintains several hustles in prison: A “store,” laundry, and room cleaning. more…
One of the first sights that greeted me as the bus rolled into the federal prison camp at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, was a couple of green-uniformed inmates walking a pair of black Labs on the grass.
Maxwell AFB, AL
When I showed surprise, my seatmate told me, “The camp here has a dog-training program.”
“Really?” I said. “Well, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.”
“I doubt it,” he replied. “I hear there’s around a thousand prisoners here and only 8 dogs.”
I was fortunate. Within three weeks, I had one of those gorgeous animals. No doubt my prior dog-training experience and the fact that I had a doctorate in psychology (PsyD) didn’t hurt. more…
One of the worksites for inmates at the Federal Prison Camp (FPC) Pensacola, FL, is a 30-minute ride south to the Pensacola Naval Air Station (PNAS), home of the Blue Angels on the Gulf of Mexico.
Blue Angels, PNAS
Each weekday shortly after dawn, five buses carry some 225 prisoners to the base for ground’s keeping, general construction, road and sidewalk repair, vehicle maintenance, haz-mat clean-ups, and even tending the admiral’s garden.
The vast bulk of the federal Bureau of Prisons population (now some 212,000) are in higher security institutions, behind walls, gun-towers and/or multiple rows of razor-wire fencing…so what’s not to like about being in a Club Fed? Careful what you wish for… more…
On June 10th this site spoke of the release of Jack Abramoff from the prison camp at Cumberland, Maryland, and the incarceration of Bernie Kerik, in FCI Cumberland (presumably the medium-security prison). In fact, Kerik has been assigned to the satellite camp as well.
"Damn! Almost made it..."
A satellite camp is where the inmates do in-house chores, ground’s work, and other assorted details that support the main prison facility.
In Kerik’s case, he’s been assigned to the AM kitchen detail. Getting up around 4:30 in the morning, he might help the cooks (unless he can actually cook himself), scrub pots ‘n pans, or help set-up the dining room. He’s been angling for a job in the chapel, but no luck so far. Meanwhile, he’s furiously taking notes for his planned book. Hey, Bernie! How ’bout a prison cookbook?!? more…
After my first year in prison, 1990, I was called into a prison factory manager’s office (UNICOR) and informed that my scheduled pay raise to grade one ($1.15/hr.) had been blocked by the Education Department. He said that they claimed that I did not have my GED.
Start 'em young...
(Congress had deemed that inmates be schooled to at least a GED level. That without at least a GED they could not go beyond grade 2 pay, among other losses of “privileges.” To understand the retributive/punishment regimen of the prison system, it is necessary to realize that all rules, regulations and programs also have these facets for inmate control and compliance.) more…