It’s Wednesday, October 29, 2008.

Do Prisoners Have It Too Good in Federal Prison Camp?

I’ve been in prison for six months. During that time I’ve lost 25 pounds and recalibrated my life. This sentence has not been nearly as much of a struggle as I initially anticipated. The truth, I’ve come to learn, is that the worst part of a prison sentence comes before confinement. That was the case for me. I was struggling with terrible anxieties for a few years. After being notified that authorities had targeted me for prosecution, I lost all equilibrium in my life. Even in sleep, I felt tormented with paranoia over what was to come. Those months before my sentence began where the worst I’ve ever known.

After I reported to Taft Camp, I settled down. At that point, the burden really transferred to my family. My beloved mother worried about my safety. My father felt sad to know I was in prison. Yet, once I established my daily routine, the time became easier for me. My parents, on the other hand, still suffer because of my imprisonment.

The holiday season is about to begin. It will be my first separation from the family and I know those I love will miss my presence in the festivities. The irony is that although I will miss being around family, I am so at ease here that I expect the time to pass smoothly. Perhaps prisoners have life too good.

Here at Taft Camp, I really sense the punishment phase has passed. We’re separated from family and society, but I felt the stigma of my conviction much more acutely while l was awaiting my time to self-surrender. This time I’m serving in prison may satisfy some societal need for vengeance, but I think taxpayers would be better served if I were performing some type of community service.

The nation will vote for our next President in six more days. I’m pulling for Obama, although both candidates are talking about the need for smarter use of government resources. Perhaps one area that candidates may evaluate will be our nation’s prison system. From my perspective, these prison camps are a colossal waste of taxpayer funds.

I have said repeatedly that my conviction was just and I hope it brought some peace to those that were hurt by my misconduct. With that said, I fail to see the upside in my confinement if I do not sense my punishment. The punishment I received was when I learned that I had been targeted for criminal prosecution. The punishment was waking up to find my name in the Los Angeles Times under the heading “Former UBS Broker Pleads Guilty to Fraud.” That pain and reality came swiftly and it stung with certainty. Ever since I reported to prison, however, I’ve felt as if I’ve had time to heal the wounds.

Taxpayers should know more about the human warehouses. From what I’ve read, these prison camps require north of $10,000 per inmate to fund. Rather than wasting those taxpayer funds, taxpayers would receive more value by closing all prison camps. I should pay my debt to society through honest services I could provide to community projects.

More than 400,000 Americans serve time in minimum security camps. No fences confine us as we obviously pose zero threat to society. We should reserve our limited resources, including prisons, for the highest use. These prison camps serve no purpose to taxpayers. They drain the public purse while providing a respite from the responsibility of life.

I advocate closing all the Club Fed Facilities. Prisoners have life too good.

Justin Paperny

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