Before my incarceration, I was like most folks in the U.S. I didn’t think too much about prison because it didn’t directly affect me.  I’d see a bunch of scary-looking guys on TV in prison jumpsuits or some person’s mugshot in the paper and think maybe they deserved it. Then there was the paragraph next to their picture with details of their ‘crime’ and that would usually seal it for me. Of course, these details are provided by either law enforcement or the prosecutor, but it never occurred to me that those might be biased.

Life In Prison

I’ve read quite a few books on prison, and I have borrowed a few lines from them. A few of them stand out. Four Felonies A Day and Incarceration Nations are both really good reads. The following are a few lines that I read from Incarceration Nation that stood out about the illogic of a prison-based system of justice.
 We want them to be responsible, so we take away all their responsibilities.

  • We want them to be positive and constructive, so we degrade them and make them useless.
  • We want them to become (or remain) non-violent but we put them in a situation surrounded by violence.
  • We want them to stop trying to be the tough guy, but prison is a place where only the tough is respected.



Recidivism (risk of re-offending) is a word you hear a lot when the subject of prison reform is mentioned. The recidivism rate for my crime is under 5% but for drug-related offenses around 70%. The problem here I believe is that prison doesn’t treat the underlying cause for drugs which is addiction. Of course, why would a prison want to do anything to dissuade a repeat customer? The bottom line is that there is no correction being done in America’s prisons because it is a conflict of interest.

They are warehousing people and eroding their ability to function in a normal society. I’ve seen a lot of guys here who have been down a long time, and I know they will be back soon after they are released. I know I said the justice system is broken but I’m starting to think it is working like a well-oiled machine. Maybe people will argue that it is not the responsibility of the prison to rehabilitate its inmates, but I disagree. At the very least a prison has a responsibility to the public which funds them to rehabilitate inmates thereby protecting the public from future offenses by the same person.  


A federal prison is a lot better than a federal pretrial detention facility where I was confined. Those places are designed to break someone before sentencing and force them into a plea deal or go insane while waiting for a trial. You are stuck 24/7 in a small 8 or 24-man room with one TV, toilet, shower, table, etc. All meals (if you can call them that) are brought to your cell. It is all security levels so you have violent criminals along with everyone else. Men and women have given their lives for freedom since the dawn of time so you can imagine how devastating it is to lose it. I am locked in my unit about 15 hours a day and constantly ordered around by staff, randomly searched, and have no control over anything. Aside from good old freedom, one thing I miss is women. I don’t mean just the physical contact but the company… the smiles, the warmth, understanding, and general nurturing nature. Also knowing it may be 15 more years before I experience any of that is enough to drive a guy crazy. If I have to wait that long, I’ll wait because I can’t even go ‘gay for the stay’ as I’ve heard it called around here. That’s just not my style. One thing I’m sure of now (and this hasn’t always been the case) is that I can adapt. Of course, this means giving up on my dreams. One of the biggest ones was meeting the right girl and getting married. Another was cashing in my share of the company for which I worked for 17 years, and I wanted to travel the world. Once my company heard about my charge, all ties were severed, and I lost my stock options.


Education and ambition are two things that make prison much harder to adapt to. The constant yelling and laughing by inmates (and COs) with little or no education is a constant reminder that a lot of people seem to enjoy this place. One thing I am thankful for is that I don’t have a wife and kids on the outside. It is so difficult to see people up here try to keep a family together through phone calls and short visits. I see this place as a huge waste of time. I see the same blank stare from the older guys who have been down for a long time. They are long past a healthy re-entry state of mind. I think I could do some good here. Maybe teach a class: on computer repair, networking, or simple business computing but they have no classes like that here. The only computers here are used to access the law library and emails. Unfortunately, I have been denied email access here because I might contact my former victim. I sent a written request to the warden, but I was denied on those same grounds. Honest to God, if you put a dozen inmates and a dozen of the staff up here in plain clothes and interviewed both…. you would have a difficult time discerning between the two. 


I spend a lot of time here reading books about prison and those with my charge. The problem with many internet laws (especially the one I was charged under) is that they are antiquated. Lying about who you are and what you want online is so commonplace that there is a TV show about it called Catfish. I believe that the government knows that but simply doesn’t care if innocent people go to prison. Only in America do we have enough resources to pay our federal police force to sit on their couch all day and email people until they commit a crime. I also heard that Craigslist finally took down their personal section. This wasn’t because the government ordered them to but because they were going to be made liable if anything happened as a result of their personals. On one hand, I’m glad because I estimate that about 90% of all the current arrests from my ‘crime’ are the result of Craigslist stings. On the other hand, allowing a website’s owners to be liable for something bad that occurs because of a user’s posting on that site seems ridiculous to me. What if you buy a lemon on I thought the closure of Craigslist personals might encourage some FBI agents to pursue people guilty of something like this but what I’ve started seeing is that they have moved their stings over to the phone and dating apps. In the latest cases I’ve seen they simply make a profile on the apps using the minimum age of 18. Once they’ve engaged a guy in conversation, they confess they are a minor but… are mature for their age, looking for older, etc. Unless the target disengages from the conversation their fate is pretty much sealed. I don’t feel like cops are targeting child predators with these stings but just looking for an easy arrest.