ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT FEDERAL PRISON CAMP.

I received a letter from my friend Wally at CNBC. He asked Me a number of questions, some of which I have decided to answer here since I know Wally reads my blog on a regular basis.

IS THE OVERALL MOOD BETTER AT CAMP AS OPPOSED TO A LOW SECURITY PRISON?

The answer is yes. As you noted in your letter, losing the double razor wire fences makes me feel less confined. I feel a little more human as I walk down the sidewalk at prison camp. Cars drive by on the street in front of the camp and I encounter outside vendors delivering products to the camp. You see and hear sights and sounds from the real world. I did not experience those sights and sounds in prison. The Camp itself looks more like a military base than a prison. Your surroundings affect your mood. Better surroundings, better mood!

DO YOU FEEL PHYSICALLY SAFE?

I really do not fear for my physical safety at the camp. I make a concerted effort to avoid aggressive prisoners and places where conflicts occasionally arise(Television room, basketball court). I mind my manners and try to be respectful to other prisoners and the staff. Many prisoners fail to display any manners and that can lead to conflict. There are occasional blow-ups between prisoners but they usually amount to loud exchanges peppered with foul language and, perhaps, a bit of shoving. The prisoners know that a real fight almost guarantees them a trip to the SHU and a transfer to a higher security facility.

DOES CONTACT WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD START TO FADE AFTER BEING IN PRISON FOR AWHILE?

Definitely. The old adage “OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND” is clearly applicable to my situation. Think about it, if a friend does not call or text you for 2 years, would you really stay in touch? Probably not. My friends did not chose to separate themselves from me, I chose to separate myself from them by making choices that placed me here. I truly believe that many of my relationships will be revived when I can communicate directly with them without the restrictions imposed by prison. I have had a number of folks tell me they are not very good about sending letters but I am still on their minds. Today’s’ society revolves around a smart phone. Without one, you are disconnected. I understand and accept that fact.

RANDOM QUESTION-HOW DO YOU GET HAIRCUTS IN PRISON?

There is actually a prison barbershop. It has 2 old barber chairs, a waiting area and a magazine rack. Just like home? The barbershop is staffed by prisoners with “experience” in the field. They check out their barber equipment from the camp control office and return it after each shift. I prefer to keep my hair quite short in prison. It is simply one less thing I have to worry about and I am not really worried about trying to impress anyone with my appearance.

DO OTHER PRISONERS READ YOUR BLOG?

For the most part, the answer is no as there is no internet access in prison. I have met prisoners who read my blog prior to entering prison, I have also received letters from prisoners who have read my blog after leaving prison. In addition, many family members of prisoners read my blog and share it with their loved ones. A number of prisoners have approached me to discuss it. So far, all of the comments have been supportive and positive. I explain to them that my blog is a great way to stay in touch with my family and friends. It also gives me a forum to present my perceptions about what it is like to be a federal prisoner. (I do not recommend it!)

Ken Flaska

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