** (The following is a piece I wrote while at USP Leavenworth, and now that I am at a low security prison, the following events do not apply. However, I still wanted to share this with you, as it is a daily occurrence at USP Leavenworth, and elsewhere in the BOP) **
In my opinion, federal prison is the manifestation of Survivor and the Big Brother, if the two shows had a child. Just imagine that! I sure can. For in federal prison you are constantly being plotted against, and can be voted off the island. I am trying to bring some humor to the sad reality of it all, but these are the realities one must face in the system.
On a quick side note, I hope this post might motivate a few to stop their illicit behavior. Quite simply, prison is not a fun place to be, and many can’t imagine it as a place they might wind up. Shit, I grew up in a well off family, had a typical and prosperous childhood, with all of the opportunities in the world to succeed. Yet through my own destructive behavior, I wound up here.
And it wasn’t one mistake either. Or something that occurred overnight, but rather a series of mistakes that slowly distorted my moral compass, and turned me into a completely different person through my day to day actions. I know I’m rambling on … so I’ll wrap the pep talk up. Look, its all bout being intentional. What you do everyday counts, and you are who you are becoming (advice my Dad has pounded into my psyche).
Now, back to what I was saying: Federal Prison is the demented child and mix of the Big Brother and Survivor. You see, there is a phrase in here they calling “Running Up Top.” Old penitentiary slang, coined in Leavenworth as the punishment cells where located high above the unit, for “smashing” and violently beating someone off the yard, or out of the prison. Considering there are dozens of federal institutions skewed across the country, if someone happens to be “checked in”, “run up top”, or essentially beat off the yard, the BOP simply throws them on a bus or plane, and ships them to the next available institution.
For the “safety” of everyone involved. Moreover, there is no protective custody in the feds. I mean there are three witness protection units, at three various prisons, which I refuse to mention out of fear of administrative retaliation, but those are reserved for big time Mafia members who have cooperated, or high ranking public officials, not your average drug offender.
Therefore, if you are hot, meaning your paperwork is bad, you cooperated, or your here on a sex case, it is best to just check in. Tell the staff you will not walk into the prison, for it will not be pretty. People are resourceful in here, and they will eventually find out everything about you. It’s all a waiting game, and time is of abundance.
This is the comparison to Survivor that I am talking about. In a moments notice, you can be voted off the island, and it will not feel good. There is no walking out untouched. All of which ties into the other aspect of things, which I mentioned as the relation to the reality show Big Brother. Which shouldn’t be surprising, as people in here are expectantly scandalous. We have bank robbers, drug dealers, addicts and thieves.
All people who are good at manipulating others. For the most part, there is a “convict code” that is followed, in which convicts don’t steal from one another, don’t let snitches and child molesters share the prison with them, and other various rules they adhere by so everything runs smoothly. Their opinion of smoothly that is. Did you notice that I refused to use the words “we” or “us” but rather “convicts”, “them” and “they”, for I refuse to assimilate to this culture.
Moving on, the weak will always be preyed upon in here. Which is one reason why everyone splits themselves into “cars”. The “cars”, which is a reference in federal prison to the actual railroad cars that inmates were transported in a hundred years ago, are no more than gangs. Plus, they are usually separated by city, state, race, religion, ideology, and every other characteristic you can think of. It’s really segregated to say the least.
The purpose being that everyone in the car will have one another’s back. As you could imagine, one is always safer in a group, or at least it seems that way. For at the end of the day, it all boils down into a popularity contest. It’s like high school, but with adults who are violent and have serious issues. It’s all about who you are, and who you have pulling for you. Who is on your side. People liking you or not, has a great amount of influence on how an individuals time will be.
Like I mentioned towards the beginning of the post, all of this sucks. Writing it is just so paradoxical. This is why you don’t want to come to prison. Prison politics are horrendous and idiotic, and you never know when things are going to turn on you. If your going to be the next person voted off the island. So many keep one ear in and one ear out. Always trying to stay one step ahead of the game. And oh what I a game it is! Hence why I believe that Federal Prison = Survivor + Big Brother. Which = All Bad!
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