Part One: Life inside a federal prison

There have been quite a number of guilty verdicts in the January 6 riot trials today, each of which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Especially the ones that convict these crazy, violent guys of seditious conspiracy.

Yes, yes, I understand. We’re all waiting for the Big Indictments. But until we get there — and we will, because the mills of DOJ grind slowly yet they grind exceeding small — why not take this time to appreciate the life changes these violent jerks will go through when they get into prison?

One big question I’ve been asking myself as I read about the guilty defendants and their attitudes is: what did they think would happen to them? I fancy they believe prison is an honor, that all great figures in history go to prison before succeeding as…what? Fascist revolutionaries? I guess. Ho hum, it would not be my choice of career path, but to each mediocrity his own.

But maybe it isn’t going to be what they think prison will be. Let’s investigate what it will be.


I’m going to give our model federal seditious conspiracy prisoner a name. Edgar. Upon entry procedures, Edgar will receive a fairly hefty booklet, Federal Correctional Institution Admission and Orientation Handbook.

What does it say? In general, Edgar will discover his tenure as a federal inmate is, in essence, all about Discipline. Maybe he’s not previously had a chance to develop a mature attitude toward taking care of his life as an adult; well, now he will. He must.

Whoever writes these handbooks has an aptitude for random euphemisms and re-labeling. Functions and functionaries are given titles and names that sound sort of maybe corporate. Like you’ve just joined a company team, with work assignments. Edgar might read the function called Town Hall Meetings and think, hey, yeah, this is going to be OK.

But he might have missed the point. Which is obedience. I’m not thinking these are the type of guys who are orientated toward obedience, beyond the nutsy white male supremacy rules of whatever cult they belong to. And I’m pretty sure the cult rules do not demand making their bed every morning.

But FCI does. In one of these handbooks I saw a photo of a taut, smooth cell bed accompanied by instructions to make the bed exactly the way the photo looks. (I couldn’t make the bed to look like that photo.)

Here’s what Edgar must do when he gets his, uh, room assignment (“room” is of course a euphemism for cell):

It is the inmate’s responsibility to check his living area immediately after
being assigned to a cell. Report any damage to the unit officer or unit
team. An inmate may be held financially liable for any damage to his
personal living area.

I guess this is like when you rent a car, you walk around it with the agent and note any scratches or flaws so you don’t get blamed and charged for them when you turn the car in. A cell is almost as big as a car but a cell won’t take you to the beach.

Each inmate will be responsible for the cleaning and sanitation of his
room. Each inmate is also responsible for maintaining an acceptable
level of sanitation by sweeping and mopping their personal living area.
Lockers must be neatly arranged inside and out, and all shelving and
desk areas must be neat and clean. All property not appropriately stored
in a locker is eligible to be confiscated. Additionally, inmates may be
assigned cleaning tasks in the unit during non-working hours.

That’s a lot of cleaning and sanitation! Do you think the Proud Boys are accustomed to mopping and sweeping and cleaning and organization? I mean, these are people who evacuated their bowels in the Capitol.

FCI seems to have a thing about birds and animals. Maybe they’ve all watched Birdman of Alcatraz too often. Because…

Inmates found to be feeding birds or other animals on the compound are
subject to disciplinary action.

You’re getting it, aren’t you? Will Edgar get it? The “it” is, there are a lot of rules to follow and things he is not allowed to do and if he breaks those rules and does those things, he’ll get punished. Which is what “disciplinary action” means when it’s not pretending to be meh.

That’s enough for today, Edgar’s first day in federal prison. You’re going to get through this with a sense of humor. I do not know about Edgar.

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