Another thing about prison life

When I first encountered the federal prison system — as a legal worker, not an inmate — I learned that the Federal Bureau of Prisons is an autocrat.

The jollies over Club Fed notwithstanding, when convicted people get into the federal prison system, they are controlled absolutely by it, its rules, its vagaries.

Once, a client of a lawyer I worked for had been moved to a federal prison way the hell in another part of the country, far from his home and family. Since it was virtually impossible for any member of his family to travel thousands of miles to visit the guy, the lawyer ventured to request that his client be moved to a more convenient prison. He even went to the federal judge who’d administered the case. The judge agreed to write a letter but said he knew it wouldn’t have much, if any, effect.

It didn’t.

I recall an interchange with the BoP, the essence of which was: “We control where the inmates are incarcerated, we move them around the country at our sole discretion whenever we decide to, we don’t explain our reasons, and we don’t bend our authority for anyone, ever.”

I doubt things have changed much in the past couple of decades. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is adamantine.

So, while we’re waiting for a long list of people to be indicted, convicted and imprisoned, let us soothe ourselves with this tidbit about the BoP. Feel free to sing along:

“Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
‘Relax, ‘ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'”


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