Urine Tests In Federal Prison Camp

I’ve never had a history of substance abuse. My conviction relates to my career as a securities broker and has no relationship to drugs whatsoever. Nevertheless, during my seventh month in Taft Prison Camp, I was paged to report to the Control Center. Since I had never been paged to the Center before, I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I was busy writing in one of the quiet rooms since 5:30 in the morning, so I didn’t even hear the page at 7:00 A.M. Fortunately, other inmates told me that I had been called.

I walked from my housing unit toward the Control Center with a little anxiety running through me. I had no idea why I was being paged but I sensed that the experience was not going to be pleasant. When I showed up at the glass-enclosed office, I presented my prison identification to the officer and said that I was responding to the page.

“I called you four times” the officer said. “What were you doing, hiding?”

I explained that I was in one of the quiet rooms and didn’t hear my name over the loudspeaker. He told me I had been selected to provide a urine sample.

Later, I learned that policy requires camp administrators to provide random urine tests to approximately 10% of the camp population each month. and I was among those selected on that day. When an inmate is called for this test, he has a time allotment of two hours to provide the sample. If he fails to provide the sample within the two hour time allotment, policy requires staff to issue a disciplinary infraction of the highest severity. That infraction brings an automatic sanction of at least 60 days in segregation, a loss of good time, and a transfer to a higher security prison. That’s why anyone who is called for a urine test in prison should immediately set his stop watch and keep a close eye on the seconds ticking away. Some guards allow the prisoner to drink water; others do not. Either way, the prisoner best watch the time closely and do whatever is necessary to squeeze out a vial of pee within the 2-hour allotment period.

Although I was a bit disturbed to have been called for the test in the first place, I was glad the guard called me when he did. It just so happened that I was ready to use the bathroom at that moment. God forbid that I had urinated before the page. Once the guard notifies an inmate of a urine test, the clock starts ticking.

Providing a sample was not going to be a problem. I was escorted into a bathroom where I was required to wash my hands with water. Ironically, I was prohibited from using soap. Once he saw me rinse my hands he handed me a small tube and instructed me to fill it up. I performed like a stallion. He took the tube, then commenced to filling out the paperwork. After all was signed and sealed, he sent my urine off to the lab.

I shouldn’t have any worries about the test results as I’m not a drug abuser. Nevertheless, I am a prisoner. Somehow, despite my not using drugs, I have some anxieties about mistakes in the lab, or some other complication. This is the life I’ve been getting used to, though I do look forward to my return to normalcy.

Justin Paperny

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