Part Three: Edgar’s federal prison life

Remember Edgar, my invented Jan 6 federal prison candidate? Sure you do. I’ve been introducing him to federal prison life one step at a time.

I’ve expressed some jollitry over this because, hey, I’m not the one going to Club Fed. And, of course, I’m feeling cheerfully vengeful about the thousands of Americans who breached the Capitol and our nation of laws and caused otherwise sentient people to fear we’re losing everything on our way to fascism.

Yet I must say, without any sympathy for these new inmates, a thorough reading of the prison rules is…flattening to the spirit. As clinically informative and coolly rational as the handbook is, the overweening message is oppression, control and discipline.

By the way, if you’re looking for a job, the BOP is offering one:


Want to create change? Do it from the inside out. Work at the Federal Bureau of Prisons to make a real difference while building a rewarding career. For more information please call our BOP Career Connection Hotline 1-866-307-1045 or email the National Recruitment Team.

I think I did that as a public service; or maybe not. Anyway, I did it.

On we go.

You can’t smoke in federal prison housing units.

All housing units have been designated as non-smoking areas. Tobacco
will be considered contraband and will be subject to disciplinary action.

You must be counted. Frequently. Sometimes standing up.

It is necessary for staff to count inmates on a regular basis. Staff will
announce each count. During counts, inmates will be locked in their
cells and remain quiet until the count has been announced as clear.
Official counts are scheduled at 12:01 am, 3:00 am, 5:00 am, 4:00 pm
and 10:00 pm each day, but a count can be taken at any time. During
the 4:00 pm & 10:00 pm counts, inmates are required to stand by their

Movements are controlled.

We have a movement system in effect from 7:30 am – 8:30 pm, seven
days a week including federal holidays. All inmate movement shall
ordinarily coincide with controlled movement time frames.

You can play games but…

Inmates may play cards and approved quiet games from 10:30 am to
12:00 pm, and from 2:30 pm until lockdown, providing appropriate noise
levels are maintained and the unit sanitation is being maintained.

So you have to clean simultaneously with the quiet games and — wait, what about your work assignment? When do you go to work? I’m confused.

There are spending limitations and monthly validations for all those yummy commissary items. Don’t ask me about the “validations;” it’s confusing.

Any inmate’s cell may be searched — the BOP actually calls this procedure “shakedowns” — at any time.

Food service. You can go halal or kosher or vegetarian. But I find the rules about getting food contradictory. You can go through the line once but not return to the line again? So how do you get your “seconds”?

The Food Service department is centrally located on the compound. It’s
main goal is to provide three nutritionally balanced meals in a clean and
pleasant environment. Inmates will come through the line once and not
return to the line after being served. Inmates may have one dessert item
and one portion of meat. All other food will be served as seconds. Food
Service is one of the most important parts of your stay here at FCI,
Greenville. There is always a demand for help in the Food Service
department. If an inmate has skills or has a desire to learn a food
service skill see the food service administrator for information about the
food service department.

There are nine paragraphs of dining room rules and regulations.

The prison staff takes pride in offering all sorts of recreation and educational opportunities. Yes, and they also offer a multi-paragraph list of dress codes for all these opportunities.

I particularly like the phraseology in an additional section for leisure time and recreation and educational opportunities:

Leisure activities and recreation programs are also supervised by the
education department. These programs help inmates develop an
individual wellness concept. Programs include indoor and outdoor
activities and range from individualized arts and crafts programs to
intramural team sports such as softball, basketball, volleyball, etc.
Physical fitness and weight reduction programs are also important
activities for inmates and contribute to mental health, good interpersonal
relations, and stress reduction. In addition, inmates can learn to use
their free time constructively.

I do not know what it is to “develop an individual wellness concept.” Is that the same thing as staying healthy and well-muscled?

Aside from jogging and lifting weights, here are other things you can do while in federal prison. This section sounds more like Club Fed than any other:

Hobbycraft Leisure Activities: Art, yarn and crochet, beads, music,
fooseball and a variety of card & board games (chess, checkers,
dominoes, scrabble, etc.).

Oh yeah, I can see those MAGA weirdos who attacked police, polluted the Capitol and ran around taking videos of each other, doing yarn and crochet for seven or eight years. But wait! There’s more:

Indoor and Outdoor Recreational Leisure Activities: Structured leagues
in basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball, handball, horseshoe,
racquetball, ping pong, badminton and paddle ball.

Wellness Programs: Wellness room (treadmills, bikes, row machine,
etc.), Yoga classes, aerobics class, afternoon calisthenic and nutrition
classes, and structured walking and jogging programs.

Photo Project: Photos are taken weekly in the visiting room and on the

Movie Project: Movies are shown weekly via television in all units.

Music Program: A variety of leisure bands.

OK, this has tuckered me out. I’m going to do a head count of myself (one!) and take my basket over to the jogging track at Fairway, where I will acquire items not yet on the commissary list.

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