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Federal Prison Info & Self Surrendering Information about Federal Prisons and Self-Surrendering to the BOP.

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  #1  
Old 03-11-2004, 11:23 PM
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Default Womens Federal Prison Camps

For those of you that have read my posts you know how angry I have been with so-called "experts" that have given false and exagerated accounts in the media lately as to what its really like in in the womens camps. I spent 4 years in 4 different camps so I do know something about them. I'm certainly no expert but I would like to share what I do know with those of you that are getting ready to go to a camp or who have loved ones inside. Going to prison is scary thing to contemplate without having to listen to horror stories in the media.
I was incarcerated in FPC Carswell, FPC Lexington, FPC Alderson and FPC Bryan in that order. Each camp is different. The rules should be the same in all of them but they aren't. Much depends on the warden as to what and how the rules are implemented. Some things are the same no matter where you end up though!
The first thing that will do is go to R&D(receiving and discharge). This will probably take awhile. They will dress you out in a uniform. You're picture will be taken and you will meet with someone from medical to discuss any health issues that you have or any medication that you are taking. Usually whatever prescription medication you are taking they will let you keep on taking it as long as its non-narcotic. You will fill out some paperwork and they will assign you to a unit. Each place has different lay-outs as far as the units go. I went from sleeping in a TV room to a 2 man room(with a door you can close anytime you want!)in Lexington. Alderson had 2 man cubicles with about 150 people per unit. After six months in Alderson you qualify to go to a cottage. There are a lot less people in a cottage and its more like a regular room. Bryan has 4 man rooms with 100-150 people per unit. One thing I forgot to mention about R&D is that yes, you will be stripped searched. No cavity searches, just squat and cough. Don't take it personal, the CO's have to do it. I got so used to it that it ended being no big deal. Not pleasant, just try not to think about it. You will also be issued bedding to take with you to your unit. The next morning you will go to laundry to be issued your uniforms. They give you 4 pants, 4 shirts, 5 t-shirts, 5 underwear and 5 pairs of socks. You will also be issued boots or shoes. If you want extra underwear and socks you can purchase them at the commissary. Until you are assigned a job you will work cleaning the unit during the day. Alderson and Bryan will let you actively seek a job instead of waiting to be assigned by the staff. If you are allowed to do that please do. I did and was very fortunate. I was a librarian at Alderson and a GED tutor for special learning needs ladies in Bryan. Just remember that you are required to work unless you have a medical condition that would prevent that. Usually ladies that cannot work due to their health end up going to Carswell.
Bring money with you if you are able. You can go to commissary and buy a variety of things, from cosmetics, shorts, t-shirts, tennis shoes, radios, hygiene items and craft supplies. ALderson has a wonderful commissary and Lexingtons is awful. Around the holidays the commissary will offer holiday items such as Christmas cookies, etc. You can also purchase cigarettes if you smoke.
The majority of the ladies that you meet are kind. You will not be attacked. I thought the same thing before I went to prison. I was going to be beat up or raped or both! It is nothing like that!! I made friends there that I will hopefully have for the rest of my life. Violence in a camp is rare. They are nice places as far as prison goes and if you fight you will be shipped someplace not so nice. Remember to be courteous to your roomates. Clean up after yourself and do your share of the cleaning. The CO's do room inspections. Just be neat and you won't have any problems.
Each prison will offer a variety of educational programs and recreation. If you don't have a GED you will be required to attend clasees. At Bryan the instructors for the local community college come in every evening to teach Information Management. You will receive college credit. There are also classes such as auto-cad, cosmetology and horticulture. Just go to the education department of the institution to see what they offer. Recreation offers bingo at some places. They have bags of goodies from Wal-Mart if you win. They also have a variety of other games. In Alderson they have roller skating in the winter. There are yoga classes and exercise classes. Each institution has a library, some better than others. I can go on and on about different programs that these institutions offer so if you have any specific questions just ask. I will answer what I can.
Your experience in prison will be what you make it. You can bemoan your fate all the time or you can use the time to reflect and work on whatever issues you feel you need to work on. You are already there and nothing will probably change that. Prison is not a fun place to be, but I did have some fun while I was there thanks to some of the lovely ladies I was there with.
I have gone on long enough here. I'm sure there will be things that I will think of later to add. As I said, if anyone has any questions I will do my best to answer them.

Chrisa
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Old 03-12-2004, 12:31 AM
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Thank you so much for such an indepth and wonderful post. You can't imagine how much better I feel now :-) If you don't mind, I have a couple of questions that I would like to ask.

1. You mentioned that that you are give 5 sets of underwear. Does this include bras as well?

2. In general, what sort of jobs are available?

3. If I already have a college degree, will I still be able to take various classes?

Thank you again! This stress ball sitting in the pit of my stomach is finally going away :-)
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Old 03-12-2004, 12:55 AM
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I'm glad I could answer some of your questions. Yes, you get 5 bras. You can take any class that they have available. There are many ladies in federal prison with degrees. As far as jobs go there are many. There is the kitchen, landscape, education, facilities. If you have a college degree you should go to education about a job as a GED tutor. They can always use good tutors and it is so rewarding!!
Please try not to worry. It is unnerving when you first arrive. There are many things to get used to. But you will be ok! Please feel free to ask anything you like!

Chrisa
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Old 03-12-2004, 04:19 AM
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You mentioned you were in for 4 years, and in that time you served in 4 different facilities.

I can't say I am surprised, but it seems like a good amount of transferring. Was there a reason why you moved so often and did it eventually land you back closer to home?

Chrisa....thanks a bunch for posting this! I am sure your personal experience will ease the fears of many who visit PTO!

Diane
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Old 03-12-2004, 06:15 AM
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I was trasferred from Carswell to Lexington because it was closer to home. I transferred from Lexington to Alderson for the RDAP program. Got to Alderson and the waiting list for RDAP was ridiculously long. They offered to send 48 of us to Bryan for the RDAP program because they said we would get in faster as Bryan's waiting list wasn't very long. When we arrived there it was s different story!
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Old 03-13-2004, 03:35 PM
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Default Good Info.....

Although I am not going to any of the prisons listed above, I just wanted to say that the post is very informative and I am sure it will be alot of help to alot of woman headed down that road. Chrisa, That is very kind of you to post your info and to be here to help others.......VERY COOL !!!!
Just wanted to tell you how great I thought it was.....Holly
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Old 03-14-2004, 10:34 PM
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I have had a few people pm me about the telephone system so I thought I would add it here. Soon after you arrive you will be issued a PIN number. You will also fill out a form and write down all the phone numbers that you will be calling. You have up to 30 numbers and can add/delete at any time. It will take a few days to add the numbers to your phone list. You are alloted 300 minutes per month, 400 in November and December. You can call collect but it is much cheaper to add funds from your commissary account to your telephone account. They have an automated telephone system and you can transfer the funds that way. When I left prison I think it was around $3.30 per call. You can only talk for 15 minutes at a time.
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Old 03-16-2004, 12:35 PM
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If it is not too much bother, I have yet another set of niggling questions...

1. I like making little dolls out of FIMO (a type of clay)...is it possible to get this clay sent to me so I can continue making them?

2. My mother would like to know if she can send me things like shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, body shampoo etc...

3. I have heard that there are cosmetology courses available at certain camps...would you happen to know which ones and how would I go about taking these courses?

4. Am I able to have photographs sent to me? May I bring some with me?

5. My friends and family will be sending me Japanese magazines and books...will this be an issue?

Thank you again!
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Old 03-16-2004, 03:11 PM
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Thank you so much for the info. As I am heading to Coleman in couple weeks, I have couple more questions:
1. Hair color - is it possible at all?
2. Jogging - Is there place for jogging in Camp? Are you allowed to?

Thank you again
Jenny
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Old 03-16-2004, 04:05 PM
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Mimikitty-at the camps I was at you can buy fimo clay on commissary and they also have classes you can take.
No, you can't have anything brought or sent to you. You can buy what you need on commissary.
They do have cosmetology classes. Go to the Education department and ask about it. There are certain time requirements, I think you have to have at least 18 months left on your sentence. A lot of ladies take cosmetology because it is far less expensive than what you would pay on the outside. When I left it was $150.
You can have photographs sent in to you as long as they are not polaroid. You can have up to 25.
As far as Japanese books I don't believe it will be a problem. Ask when you arrive.

Kapara, yes you can purchase haircolor.
Yes, you can go jogging. Lots of ladies do. There is a track where you can jog.
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Old 03-16-2004, 08:02 PM
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Hi,
I have just a few questions:
1. bunkbeds... I know that women over 50 get bottom bunks and I'm not yet 50 so that doesn't apply to me... but, what about short people??? Are the beds very tall? I'm five feet tall... will I have trouble getting in and out, especially if I need to get up suddenly in the middle of the night?
2. How would I keep a diary safe and private?
3. Are sketchpads sold at the commissary?
4. I have sensitive ears and special earplugs... and a letter from a speech-language pathologist explaining my need for those earplugs. Will I have any difficulty getting those earplugs in?
5. Today, we had a blizzard. And, until nearly a foot of snow landed on my house, I hadn't even considered the possibility of inclement weather. My self-surrender date is April 6, and, where I live, that is really borderline winter/spring. What will happen if I fail to show up on time due to a storm. Should I just call and explain?
Well, that's enough questions for now, I suppose.
Thank you for your assistance.

"meowmachine"
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Old 03-16-2004, 11:10 PM
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Meow, they don't really take into consideration how short you are. I had a bunkie who was 4' 6" and she was on the top bunk. There are ladders on the beds.
Yes, they sell sketchpads, at least the institutions where I was. You can keep your diary in your locker. You will have to purchase a lock from commissary. They also sell earplugs. As far as special earplugs, it souds like that is an issue for medical so I really don't know one way or another. If you are self surrendering I would take them along with the letter and see what they say.
I think that greyghost would be the one to ask about your last question. I really don't have an answer.
Hope this helps some.
Chrisa
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Old 03-17-2004, 05:42 AM
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Thank you so much for your responses! Knowing that I can make my little FIMO dolls is strangely reassuring I know, it seems silly, but right now, it is the little things that are keeping me together.

Would anyone here have a basic list of the items sold at the commisary? Would you happen to remember the types (brands) of cleaners and such?

As for the cosmetology course...What do they teach exactly? Hair? Nails? Make-up? All of the above? Once you complete the course, are you fully licensed?

Thank you again! You are all fabulous assets to this board!
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Old 03-17-2004, 09:31 AM
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Hi Chrisa,

Thank you so much for the answers that you could give. It's a relief to know that I'll be able to have a diary and a sketch pad in prison. I was very concerned about those tall beds and knowing that there is a ladder is a big help. After I was arrested, I spent the night in the county jail, and there were no ladders... you just had to climb up. Fortunately, someone taller than me agreed to take the top bunk and I slept on the bottom... it was hard work for me to get on top of that bed with my short legs.

When the storm finally ended last night, the total amount of snowfall was fourteen inches... and a record-breaker. Wow!

meowmachine, covered in snow
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Old 03-17-2004, 09:32 AM
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Hi Mimikitty,

What are FIMO dolls? Please describe for me what one looks like.

Thank you!

meowmachine
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Old 03-17-2004, 09:39 AM
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Yes, they teach all those things in the cosmetology program. The commissary list varies depending on which institution you go to. But they have things such as Pantene shampoo and conditioner, Dove soap, all name brand things basically. But as I said, it will vary institution to institution, some are better than others.
I'm glad that I can answer some of your questions. It's frightening enough just knowing that you are going to prison and it helps some to have an idea as to what to expect!

Wow, thats a lot of snow, Meow! It's 65 degrees where I am!
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Old 03-17-2004, 10:27 AM
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Good job, Chrisa!

Don't forget to mention you can crochet! LOL
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Old 03-17-2004, 12:01 PM
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Yes, Vicki and and I were crochet partners in Alderson. We crocheted A LOT!!
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Old 03-17-2004, 12:32 PM
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Default Great Information

This is all wonderful information. It is almost funny all the little things we each need everyday to keep us sane. And how the thought of not having something is going to push us over the edge... I think it is the unknown that panics us...

I could list thousands of questions. But what I really need to know is ...

If I self-surrender can I have on me papers with my addresses and phone numbers of family and friends. I understand it can take some time to get commissary and your phone card activated and also visitation. For phone calls and visitation - what info on someone do you need? Name, address, do you need their social security number? drivers license number? anything else?

Also, I will be heading to prison with lots of restitution due... What do you know about them deducting funds from your account for restitution? How much do you think would be safe in a commissary account? $50, $100, $200 ???

Do they issue any personal hygeine items? or do you have to pay for all of that yourself?

Thanks,
Sheryl
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Old 03-17-2004, 12:41 PM
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You can spend $290 per month. If you take money with you it will post in your commissary account either the same day or the following day.
As far as the visitation forms-you will send the form to the person that you want to visit you and they will fill it out with their information. They will then send it directly to your counselor-not to you. Make sure you tell the person that. There will be an address to send it to on the visitation form.
Well when you arrive they will give a couple of little trial size items. Shampoo, soap, toothpaste. But they don't give out these items on a regular basis, at least not in my experience. The only place that did this was Bryan. So yes, you will have to purchase your own hygiene items.
I don't know if you will be able to bring anything with names an addresses. Once you get designated you can call the institution and ask.
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Old 03-17-2004, 02:53 PM
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Default crocheting cat

Oh! Crocheting! One of my favorite hobbies! What sort of yarn is available? How about thread? (My friends have been teasing me about making doilies with Martha.)

meowmachine
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Old 03-17-2004, 02:55 PM
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You'll see people doing a whole lot of crocheting! They have all different colors of yarn, and also thread. I still crochet!

Chrisa
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Old 03-17-2004, 03:08 PM
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Chrisa makes beautiful angels!!!! She gave me a copy of her pattern when she left Alderson for Bryant!!!!!
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Old 03-17-2004, 05:18 PM
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You 2 were in together?

You are really making a difference here with the help you have offered! It shows a true spirit of PTO...and we feel blessed to have you here with us!

Diane
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Old 03-17-2004, 05:32 PM
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Someone else mentioned this once before on PTO....

You can "mail yourself" a list of names,address's and phone numbers the day before you surrender. This way if the one you go in with is lost or not allowed with you, you'll have a back up on the way!

I thought it was a good idea....

Diane
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