The day came for me to surrender to Federal prison and for my wife and I that meant all afternoon and evening in and out of three airplanes, a rental car and a hotel, on our way to Dallas on Sunday night. The late night arrival, two hour time zone change and not wanting to let go of my wife turned a planned early morning surrender into a mid afternoon surrender (I’m not sorry for that delay). We drove from the Dallas International Airport to Seagoville where we tried in-vane to find a bank or anything resembling a town center for that matter. We found ourselves at a “Quickie” mart with an ATM for some surrender cash. My wife then (against her will) drove me to FCI Seagoville, which would be my new home for the next several months (positive spin intended). We hugged, said our tearful goodbyes and then she pulled up to the front entrance and I walked out of the car and in the front door of the prison where a young woman wearing a two-tone blue “Bearer of Prison’s” uniform promptly greeted me. I announced that I was there to self-surrender to which she replied, ” You are most definitely in the wrong place.” Could it be that this was all in-fact just a bad dream and I had just woken up? She informed me that I needed to be at the Federal Detention Center about one mile down the perimeter road. “Oh no,” was my first thought followed quickly by a vision of my wife driving away with my cell phone in the rental car. I very politely asked the young woman if there was any chance I could use her phone to call my ride. I was prepared for a courteous “no” which would have had me huffing it over a mile in 100 plus degree heat only to be pleasantly surprised by the sight of her handing me the phone. I immediately dialed my wife (which as it turned out had yet to depart the parking lot, I think she really does know me) and within a minute I was back in the rental car after serving about 4 minutes of my sentence.
We found the correct road and this time drove to the Detention center and said our, now rehearsed but none-the-less painful goodbyes. I walked in and was met by a gentleman clad in the same two-tone blue uniform. He asked me some “password reminder” type questions to ensure I had not paid or otherwise persuaded someone else to take my place (hmmmm, I never would of thought of that). He then escorted me into the receiving and discharge area. I was photographed and issued a trendy pair of khaki pants, a shirt (khaki is the new orange that was the old black, or something?) and, after a few cursory medical questions I was escorted, this time to “B” bravo unit building 53. Building 53 is a two-story cinder block and concrete structure that houses about 250 to 300 people (sorry, inmates) with two and four man rooms. I live on the bottom floor in the top bunk of a four-man room just off the end of a massive common area where everyone congregates to watch TV, play cards and talk. As you can imagine it’s LOUD all the time during the day (6:30 am until around 11:00pm) and there is zero privacy anywhere and everywhere you go. Thus far people (inmates, I hope I don’t get used to that) have been friendly. I would say almost curious and it seems like violence is non-existent here. As I write this it’s only my 3rd day and I am still trying to get in synch with all of the rules and procedures.
For instance, all movements outside the housing unit are “controlled” meaning they open the doors at 20 minutes past the hour and you have 10 minutes to get where you’re going and then at 30 past the hour the doors are again locked until the next move. Yesterday I was given two tasks; one, to go to the laundry and get all of my issued clothes and supplies and the other was to go to medical to sign a piece of paper. At 20 past the hour I was standing at the door and was the first one out. Not exactly sure where I was going I made a few wrong turns and got there with about eight minutes remaining. It took exactly nine minutes to get all of my clothing and was locked inside the laundry for 50 minutes until the next move. Same thing happened with my trip to medical except I was pleased to learn that the medical building is at least air conditioned, so a more comfortable 50 minutes was had there (I might just get stuck there more often). I’m sure, in time I will get the hang of things, especially now that I have a watch, and who knows maybe I’ll even be able to laugh about it someday, maybe, but for now its a lot of running and a lot of waiting.
I was also able to set up my commissary account (thanks to my beautiful wife back home making everything happen) and was able to finally call home, definitely the highlight of my day!
I know I have a long road ahead but one day at a time and I’ll get there.
I want to end this by thanking everyone for the support in the days and hours leading up to my surrender. It means so much to my family and me. I think I could actually feel the love being sent our way and it was (and still is) overwhelming. I consider myself lucky for having such a wonderful, loving family and such caring friends.
I know that “thank you” are just two words on the screen but the meaning behind them comes straight from the bottom of my heart.
Until next time