Prison Pete

Friday, August 20, 2004
  Is Prison Pete For Real? Part 2.
[Editor] I thought I answered this question once before, but apparently some people are still not satisfied. So let me try again.

The short answer: Yes.

If you believe me, you can stop here and go back to reading the blog. If not, keep reading this post.

The slightly longer answer: Yes, he is real. But even if I post his personal information as some have requested (which I will never do), it proves nothing.

It would be easy enough for me to make up a name, or even search the web for a real prisoner's name and use it, and since prisoners have no Internet access, they would have no knowledge that any of this was going on. Neat scam, isn't it? I wish I had thought of it, but I didn't.

Given other scams with fake blogs, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that people don't believe this one. You just have to take my word for it that it's real.

Satisfied? If yes, go back to the blog. If not, keep reading.

The even longer answer: Let's assume that Prison Pete is for real (he is), how do you know he is really the one writing the blog? You don't, and I have no way to conclusively prove otherwise.

Some have said he sounds too smart to be a prisoner. Yes, he is smart, he claims to have an IQ of 140 (but I can't prove this either). IQ may not be meaningful to most people, so I will ask him what he got on his SAT. But how will you know I didn't just make that up too? You won't. OK, enough of this.

Smart people do stupid things sometimes and end up in prison. It sounds like Pete had a lousy lawyer, but even a good or expensive lawyer will not necessarily keep you out of jail if you did something really stupid. Just ask Martha Stewart. I digress.

Pete is a good writer, and has even thought of writing a book about his prison experiences. I guess this blog proves there is interest in his miserable life. Myself, I find it like a train wreck. I can't look away. Maybe it is the human fascination with someone else's misery. I don't know, I am a computer guy, not a shrink.

All that I do besides scanning his typewritten letters or typing handwritten letters (a real pain) is split up his letters into blog posts. Most letters are 6-10 single-spaced typewritten pages, and contain 4-7 blog posts (an entire letter would be way too long for one post, I try to keep posts to around 400 words (2,000 characters) for readability.

Lately I have been getting 3-5 letters per week from Pete, and I am having trouble keeping up with his writing pace, and dealing with the blog comments and controversy. Then there is the time lag problem. More about this later.

What I do is what any good editor would do, which is mostly clean up spelling and punctuation. I remove personal details he doesn't want posted and stuff I don't think is particularly interesting (but I will say there is very little that I don't think is interesting to someone on some level). I occasionally reword something that is confusing, for example if I read a sentence or phrase two or three times and say Huh? I have a choice: I can either leave it as is and let you say Huh?, remove it entirely (but if it is important to the story I can't do that), or reword it slightly (and I do mean slightly) so it makes sense.

I am not a journalism major or a writer as someone suggested, but thank you, I am flattered by the compliment. Someone asked if I have a blog. No, I have no desire to have one. I don't think my life is particularly interesting, in fact Prison Pete is about the most interesting thing that has happened to me in a very long time. I didn't even ask for it, but here it is. But that's enough about me, the blog is about Pete in prison, not about me. Satisfied yet?

The very long answer: I think I just gave it!

Obviously there are talented writers who can create entire elaborate fantasy worlds and write hundreds of thousands or even millions of words about it. The success of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter come immediately to mind. I am not one of those creative people. Just writing this long-winded explanation is tedious to me, and I hope the matter is put to rest, but I don't care because I don't have time to keep writing these explanations which will not convince the skeptics. After all, there are people who believe that we didn't really land on the Moon or that Lee Harvey Oswald was not the lone gunman.

Let me expand on this time lag thing. Prison Pete only became a Blog of Note this week (and thank you Blogger for this honor, I am new to blogging, but learning fast, and did not even realize what an honor it was until reading some of the comments). But ironically, Pete (if he even exists, ha ha, still not sure? I give up.) doesn't even know how popular his blog has become! After some sporadic posts in April and May, I started regular postings for him in June, and up until two weeks ago Prison Pete was averaging one reader per day. I think yesterday alone there were over 2,000 hits!

I sent Pete a letter Wednesday 8/18 informing him of this activity, but at best given the US Postal Service he will receive it today, but more likely not until Monday 8/23. By the time I get his reply, another week will have gone by. Maybe this is Pete's 15 minutes of fame, and it may all be over before he even learns about it!

Lest anyone think that Pete's posts appear on the day they are written - they do not, this is impossible given the fact that we rely on US mail, not email. Yesterday I received a letter with something he wrote 8/5, two weeks ago. I am having trouble keeping up with his voluminous writing, and am currently running several weeks behind.

As it gets closer to November, I will just post all remaining letters even if they are huge posts because this will all end in November, one way or the other. Either he will be a free man and can create and manage his own blog and relieve me of this chore, or he will end up in a NY prison and I am not sure if I want to continue what has become like a second job for me, one that I really don't have time for. This whole blog thing started out as a way for him to get some discussions going and put him in touch with people who might want to write to him. I guess it has done that, in spades.

Bottom line: Do you enjoy reading the blog? If yes, keep reading, lead a clean life, and don't do anything that will land you in jail. It sucks. If no, nobody is forcing you to read, so stop reading the blog, lead a clean life, and don't do anything that will land you in jail.

Finally, you do not need permission to link to this blog. Feel free. I link Prison Pete to blogs that he has heard about or blogs that I like. I regularly print all of these blogs and mail them to him in prison. I also print out and mail him all comments from his blog, even negative ones.

Regarding these hateful comments, I have thought about disabling anonymous comments, or comments altogether, but that would sort of defeat the entire original purpose of the blog, and for now I am managing to keep up with it (barely), so keep posting your comments if you are so inclined. Even negative ones. Pete will just have to deal with them.

Updated Dec. 17, 2004: The good news is Pete is no longer a Federal prisoner. The bad news is that he is now a New York State prisoner. His NY appeal is still pending. If this appeal is unsuccessful, he will not be a free man until 2009 at the earliest.
Wow. I think that Pete should write a book. But the thing is, I think that you and him should get together and do one based on the blog. Tell about his stay in prison and how the blog came to be. Peoples reactions to having someone from prison on a blog page. Have pages from the blog that he wrote and then have the pages where you have made comments. To me that would be a really interesting book. Then again everyone has his/her specific opinion about each and every thing in this world. But seeing that this blog has become so popular, I think that the book would sell really well. Just a thought. I think that its great that you help him the way that you do. A friend comes to bail someone out of jail, but a true friend in sitting there with him saying "Hell yea that was a huge mistake!" Hehe. In this case, A friend will write to a friend in prison, but a true friend is the one that helps him write about his prison life on the internet. I agree that typing something that someone else has written and keeping it in their own words is really hard to do, and you are a true friend to him for taking on that responsibility, and you can tell that he really trusts you because he chose you to perform this difficult task. I really hope that this turns into something bigger than an internet blog for you guys. Make a big killing in the world of writing with this. Pete would have money to get his life back together and you could make a nice little nest egg for yourself or whatever you would need it for if you guys did the book together. Best wishes from this little town in SC and good luck in whatever you guys decide to do. =)

P.S. I am adding this to my favorites list. Its rare that I do that with a blog unless its one from an online friend in order to keep up with their lives. I like this one and I hope to be able to keep up with it.
People who don't like Pete need a cock punch!
Unfortunately I've got some experience with liars and I'm convinced you are one. With every word you added in assuring that Pete's real, I got more convinced of the contrary. I believe if Pete WAS real, he (or his 'editor') would not have bothered to write so much text.
Besides that, there are so many indications that the story is not true (the amount of links in the text, the similarity in writing-style of pete and his 'editor', the 'anonimity', the vagueness about the crime, etc, etc) that you don't have to convince me...
Not that I care, though.. :-)
Eh. He writes well. He answers the question, "What would it be like?" very vividly and realistically. Even if it were fiction (and what would be the point, really?) that insight would make it worth reading.

For my part, I'm willing to take this at face value unless there's some reason not to. This is exactly the kind of thing I'd want to do if I were in prison, after all.

It's too bad that the comments are so... Well, that they're like this. All accusations and posturing. An honest, ordinary conversation would be so much more interesting. It's not as though you have to approve of everything someone's done in order to be polite to them. If that were the case, if only virtuous people were deserving of courtesy, we'd all be spitting on each other all our lives. Let he who is without etc.

-Mary Messall
Why would someone make this up?
Prison Pete and his editor,

Thank you both for doing this. I've never been to prison (nor do I ever plan to go!), but I've read a good bit about the US prison system and I've come to the conclusion that it's barbaric. I find myself constantly debating the topic with ignorant co-workers who think that prisoners are "coddled" and shouldn't have access to education and whatever few privileges they do get. One day I snapped at a woman (who was complaining that prisoners get "free" education but she will have to scrimp and save to send her kid to college) "Well I hope your kid gets lucky and ends up in prison if it's such a good deal!"
In reply to Anonymous from another Anonymous :

>Unfortunately I've got some experience with liars and >I'm convinced you are one. With every word you added >in assuring that Pete's real, I got more ...
> ...
>Not that I care, though.. :-)

Nyeh dude, if you didn't care, why did you bother commenting, eh? You OBVIOUSLY felt the need to say something, because it was on your mind. Even if it was on your mind and didn't care, you wouldn't have bothered posting. I for one enjoy reading Prison Pete's blog, and I feel that you're a real retard for simply accusing The Editor of being a liar without hard proof/evidence. Just your speculation, blah blah blah, la la la. Sure, speculate aheaaaad, conspiraciiiies here, conspiiiiracies there ... EVEN if this is all fiction and made up, it's interesting. Until you come up with something, i'm more inclined to believe that YOU are a little pompous arsehole who is just jealous of the attention prison pete is getting! :-)
I would love to see Pete end up on the Tonight Show or something like that when he gets out in November.
I feel that you're a real retard for simply accusing The Editor of being a liar without hard proof/evidence.

lmao, and you DO believe him without "hard proof/evidence"? I personally believe him, but I don't absolutely believe him.
And as to the question of why someone would do this if it's not real, a simple, reasonable explination would be boredom. He wanted something to do so he made up this person, reaserched the topic, and started the blog just for the sheer hell of it. I'm not saying it's likely, just that it happens. I'm also not saying that that's any kind of evidence for or against it.
But look at me, I'm posting becasue I'm bored, and partly becasue I don't like self-rightous people that spew off a bunch of sarcastic comments that don't logically argue anything whenever anyone says anything they dissagree with.
Which does kind of describe what I am doing, but some sort of hypocracy is nessecary for existence, eh?
Congratulations to both you and Pete, because this wonderful blog you've created together is the first one to be showcased in the blog I've created just for such a purpose. Hope you like what I wrote: http://babybearsdiscoveries.blogspot.com/2004/09/prison-pete.html
Hi. Congratulations, Editor. It must not be easy to deal with the rising popularity of this blog. It sure must be time consuming! It takes a big person to do big things. As for Pete, wow. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences of life in confinement with us. You're both admirable.
How sad how sad...

Who cares if it is real or fake. You act like he is trying to give the world a bogus cure for Cancer! It doesnt matter. Let him have his freedom from the tyranny of life! If it is really that distrubing to you then dont read. People blog for a lot of reasons...therapy...communication...hope...love... so fiction or fact doesnt fall outside the boundaries of blog content.

If you really want a hobby start a blog of your own...you might enjoy it because clearly you dont have enough to do...

And unlike you I dont have to throw rocks/comments "Anonymously".
stay well, and may the time pass quickly for you.

I have just gotten through reading your bolg for over 30 minutes (not a great use of my time, but hey, it was interesting.) and realized that you are a gifted writer.

May time pass you by qickly.
Some days I really do walk away with a better attitude for life in general after my daily Prison-Pete reading.Why?? Well,I spent 4 and a half years in prison,and sometimes the internet can take me millions of other places in my mind....forgetting where "I" came from.So reading somebody's day-to-day life still in prison tends to keep it fresh in my mind.Helps me to remember where I came from,and how easy it would be to go back.
Push up Pete,and thanks to you too editor for taking the time out to do this.
Tammi In Texas
Hi to Pete's Editor,

I posted a comment to Pete's latest blog, and wanted to post one specifically to Pete's Editor. First off, I believe Pete's real (of course - is an editor going to make up stories about an inmate working at his job? No. And the people who don't believe? Who cares about them?!). But secondly, and more importantly, I think a lot of people totally appreciate the work you've been doing for Pete's blog. I know you said you're considering stopping in November - don't do that if worse comes to worst. See if you can get some help. Ask the other bloggers if they'd help you. It may seem an onerous task, but it's worth it. I could go all into the connectivity of the world and the people, but why? You probably already know. Good job. You are appreciated.
Hello to all -

Folks, this appears to be the real deal - I used to perform financial audits of UNICOR as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Justice and have been inside many Federal Correctional Institutions. The descriptions included herein by the editor/Pete are entirely accurate - Federal prisons generally are clean, well-kept, sanitary & orderly. The pay rates described are correct, the statement that inmates do not have access to the Internet is correct, and that he states that he is in a WV Federal institution is consistent with the fact that there are 3 male Federal institutions in WV - Beckley, Gilmer & Morgantown - the first two are medium security and the latter is minimum security. There is a 4th WV Federal institution which is Alderson - a women's prison camp - this is the facility to which Martha Stewart has been assigned.

So, from my perspective - I believe this editor is truthful.


Hey this is one of my first few times to read this blog. I first looked at it because it was linked from one of my regular viewings. I think that the blog itself is very interesting. I do think that Pete should look into the whole book idea. That might be pretty neat! On another note....I have no doubt that this is true, but it would make the blog so much more intreging(sp?) if he would just tell us what he did. We all make mistakes and I personally believe that people can change and learn from their mis-happenings. Who knows...telling what he did could actually help him deal with his mistake. That is just my two cents, take it as you will. Either way keep posting, I personally enjoy it!
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