Monday, March 17, 2014

Today I’d like to write about an area us prisoners call “the beach”. The beach is an area on the first floor where there are many, many bunks. There is no dorm, just bunks. When someone arrives at the camp, they live on the beach for about two to four months. It’s not an optimal place to stay, as it is very light and loud.  When trying to sleep, you can hear everything from talking, snoring, domino’s clanking, microwaves, and so forth.

While living in the beach can be tough, I did get lucky. I found an open bunk in a dorm on the second floor. With me in the room is an older prisoner who is probably around 70 years old or so. He’s on the bottom bunk; I’m on the top.

Through conversations I learned that he has approximately two years left on a 24-year sentence. A number of prisoners I have learned like to ask other inmates about their crime and what they did and how long there sentences are. Some free prison consulting advice to incoming prisoners follows: rather than asking questions and inquiring into other peoples business stay focused on your adjustment and don’t pry into other peoples business. Getting back to this other prisoner with whom I am sharing space he told me that he’s been in this bunk for about four years, so naturally he’s pretty set in his ways. I can understand that.

I feel fortunate to be in a space with someone whose company I enjoy. While none of us want to be in prison, we can choose to be respectful and kind. Certainly this man is both of those. He’s also very funny and often reminds me and I quote the “rooms both of ours.”

So for those who may be coming to FPC Petersburg please know in the beginning you’ll go to the beach and eventually work your way up to a dorm. If you get caught violating the rules, whether it be sneaking sugar, apples, eggs, or other stuff out of the chow hall to your room you’ll get sent back to the beach for a period of time. I won’t be taking that route. As I have made clear my only priority is to leave stronger than when I arrived. To do that I need rest and a comfortable living environment. Thankfully, I’ve found both. Today was a good day. In my next journal I’ll write about the hole or Shu–Special Housing Unit.

Andy Rothenberg

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