How I Take A Day Off In Federal Prison

It’s 7:45 P.M. on Saturday, January 3, 2009. Today I rested and relaxed. I’d exercised for seven consecutive days and was exhausted, both mentally and physically. Napping, writing, chess and television consumed my Saturday at Taft Federal Prison Camp.

I had chosen the perfect day to take off. It was windy and rainy with temperatures never moving north of 40 degrees. Going to the chow hall for lunch and dinner were the only times I left the unit.

Saturday lunches featuring grilled eggs, oatmeal with apples and fresh fruit is one of the most popular meals at Taft Camp. Inmates grow tired of the tasteless powdered eggs served once or twice a week. Prison has taught me to appreciate little things like grilled eggs. Not only were we served eggs, but the head correctional officer in the chow hall provided second and third offerings of everything. I’ve been at Taft Camp more than eight months and I’ve never seen this correctional officer make such a kind gesture. My locker is nearly empty and since my dorm does not shop at the commissary until Wednesday, the extra food was appreciated. I’ve lost a little more weight than I’d like, due in part to my rigorous running routine. I’m not able to eat enough calories to keep up my weight. I’ve had worse problems.

After lunch I took an hour and a half nap. Then, because all the typewriters are without ribbons until the middle of the month, I handwrote a lengthy response to a letter I received yesterday. The letter covered a number of topics, including mandatory minimum sentences, which I’ll cover in Tuesday’s blog post.

After writing, I played three games of chess (won two). Then I rested a little more prior to the 4:00 P.M. census count. After the count was cleared, our dorm was released to the chow hall for dinner. Like lunch, tonight’s dinner of pizza, garlic bread and pea soup is one of the most popular of the never-changing five week menu. Men will hustle almost anything for an extra slice or two of pizza. The most popular barters are tuna, roast beef and candy. I turned down a tuna and a bag of brown rice for my slice.

I played four more games of chess after dinner (lost two), watched television and ate a candy bar. Am I a bum or what?

Now I’m resting on my rack eager to finish this blog so that I can finish off this productive day with what else? More sleep.

Justin Paperny

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