FRIDAY, JANUARY 30, 2009

My Friends In Federal Prison

I’ve been in prison for a little over nine months. During this time I’ve had the privilege of forming several friendships. As I see it, prison functions as sort of a buddy system. Inmates who share certain interests, hobbies, or beliefs naturally flock towards each other. It’s not much different from the real world. However, in prison, social or economic status does not play a significant factor in who inmates choose to associate with. We all look the same in khakis and white T-shirts.

I’ll associate and spend time with anyone, as long as they are of a positive mindset. Surprisingly, and in contrast to my expectations prior to surrendering, most of my friends are drug offenders. Their average sentence is 10 years. These men, in my opinion, better accept and own the decisions that led to their troubles with the criminal justice system. Rarely do I hear such a confession from my fellow white-collar offenders. I estimate that only 1 in 10 white-collars admit their guilt or feel any remorse for the damage they may have done as a consequence of their conviction.

Prison has taught me to live with an open mind. If prison rules allowed, I would welcome the opportunity to stay in touch with many of these men. I encourage anyone who anticipates a stay in prison to follow my lead. Resist all temptation to judge others; six months from now the man you judged may be your bunkie and closest friend in the compound.

Justin Paperny

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