Prison Pete

Sunday, October 31, 2004
  Footprints in the sand.
I have to be honest and say that this is not a God-forsaken place. Although I no longer partake of the organized religious services provided here, I know there is a God and I know he is always walking with me. The wonderful poem/poster "Footprints" is the picture that I have in my mind at all times.

In case you are not familiar with it, it is basically about a person who looks back on the beach he is walking on, and at certain points there are two sets of footprints and at others there is only one set. The man complains to God that he has deserted him, and God simply responds "No, those are the places where I carried you."

One of the earlier posts refers to me going to several different religious services. That was when I was working in the chapel. Actually, the ironic part of that experience was, after all the years I have "worked" in and for the church, it took me going to prison to get paid for it!

I do not get any "credit" for going to the services, as noted in the previous post on time off for good behavior, but it was just convenient to attend all the services since I had to be there as a worker.

I enjoyed worshiping with the different groups, and I have to admit the "spirit" was certainly present in the Spanish group. Since there were not (and are still not) any staff chaplains who speak Spanish, we were lucky to have a local couple that spoke English and Spanish who came in twice a week to lead the service and Bible study.

On a somewhat related note, related that is to the arrival of Martha Stewart to the great state of West Virginia and the women's camp at Alderson, there is a group of five to seven Spanish people that make the trip from the Washington, DC area once a month for a two-hour Saturday afternoon service.

Then they travel "down the road a piece" to Alderson, staying over in people's homes, and then lead a service at Alderson. This is all done on a volunteer basis, and they receive no funding from the BOP at all, not even for travel expenses.

That is truly a beautiful thing they do. I have to admit that one of the "problems" with the Religious Services Department is the idea that the chaplains are also considered cops too.

Another digression, everyone that works at the Federal prison is considered a cop: the secretaries, the teachers in Education, the medical staff; you name it, they are all cops. Each fall, at the start of the new fiscal year, (October 1) all the staff must re-qualify for their firearms certification.

The first few years here at Club Fed, this testing took place several miles away at the local police firing range. For the last four years or so they have been able to use the onsite outdoor range which was built just outside the fences here.

While it is just over a little hill and we cannot see it, we can certainly hear it. So for three weeks in October, all throughout the day, 7:30 AM to 3:00 PM, we walk around the compound to the rat-a-tat of pistol and rifle fire. It does wonders to lift one's spirits to be sure.

The point is that each and every employee must qualify, but there is apparently an option for the chaplains. However, some of us think that at least one and possibly both of the chaplains would love to see a few inmates' faces on the targets.

This is only a guess. No information is available to confirm (or deny) this allegation.
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