Prison Pete

Friday, May 14, 2004
  I have spent the last eight years of my life in prison.
So now that I have spent the last eight years of my life passing my time living in various federally and state funded gated communities, is there anything about the experience that is of interest to the rest of the free world?

The gated communities have been several county jails in North Carolina and six years on a lovely mountaintop prison in the future federal prison capitol of the United States, West Virginia.

One of the major problems is the degradation of my communication skills. The vocabulary of the average inmate around here is somewhat limited, and while off-color language (hmmm that could have interesting political correctness implications) is the norm, the rest of the world still uses less off-color words. So with the exception of the “Raw and Uncut” section, I will hopefully be able to communicate in a clever, intelligent, and clean (although not always politically correct) way.

The second issue is what to write about. The way I am going to start that is by listing different areas and giving some discussion starters. While it would be great to have a bunch of running discussion groups, I am willing to do most, or even all of the writing, provided I get some feedback that tells me someone is looking at the writing. That is all; just one reader of an area and off I will go giving more and more words. If there is a section that seems to be missing, feel free to ask for a new area.

Although I was a computer programmer before my career change to living off the taxpayers (I do apologize for that and promise to never let it happen again once I get out), the use of blogs is totally new to me. This is also going to have a pretty low-tech front end. I will type the text and send it to my friend who then will scan the pages using OCR software and load it up to the blog. Since you are reading this, the system is working to some extent. So here’s to hoping that this will be a worthy expenditure of my time and that my handy computer contact on the outside will have smooth sailing on loading the text up to the blog.

Areas of interest

Raw and Uncut
This area will be the prison experience at its most basic -- unfiltered and politically incorrect. The language and phrasing of same will be as heard without the benefit of any cleaning or reconstructing. The opinions expressed in this section will not usually be those of the writer and I hope I will be able to present an accurate picture of the day-to-day communication that occurs here. It should be made clear that profanity will be in almost every sentence -- not to shock -- but because that is just how it is. The spell checker will love this section.

Your Tax Dollars at Work and Play
This section will be the area for stories about daily prison life minus the colorful language and with insight and commentary from the few intelligent beings around here.

NPR - Proof That Intelligent Life Still Exists
This may be one of the few areas where I can be on the same page with my readers (yes I am hoping for more than one) and can share the laughter and joy that great radio can bring to soothe, comfort, and occasionally challenge.

Has Anyone Else Read This?
Having spent many, many years never reading a book, the past eight years would not have been possible without the hundreds of books that I have devoured. This section deals with the books I have read. Some may be pretty obscure but not all. Yes, I have read the Davinci Code.

God – Yes, He Is Here Too
This area will contain the way the Federal Government deals with God in the prison system along with the way various inmates find or hide from God. See the first story about running away from Elvis on Easter!

But I Paid for 6 Inches
One of the ways we find out things are not as they are supposed to be is when repairs or changes are made in the buildings. As far as the title of this section goes, we were doing some plumbing additions and according to the blueprints, the sewer lines we were supposed to tap into were of the 6" variety. Well, when the holes were made to install the new toilets, we found that the pipes were of the 3" variety. The obvious question is: what did the government pay for -- 3" or 6", and did they come up short? Remind me again about who the crooks are. Another problem was a leaky main hot water pipe, and to properly repair it we needed to shut the hot water off to half the prison. Apparently a few valves that should have been installed got skipped over. Hmmm, I wonder if Halliburton builds prisons too?

Easter, Elvis, and God
Today is Easter Sunday and I am at work. Work for me involves keeping the paperwork straight for a portion of the Recreation Department. There are three of us who work in what is called the Tool Room. We have the luxury of a small radio to listen to. The choice of stations is limited; the one that comes in the clearest is an Oldies station. On Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons the station broadcasts the nationally syndicated Elvis Hour. Today being Easter, the entire hour was devoted to Elvis singing gospel. That was too much religion for my co-workers, so we switched over to one of the two Country stations we can get here.

Easter - It is the only church in town
The message that the chaplain delivered today was an interesting blame game for who crucified Jesus. According to the chaplain, it was the crooked Jews in the temple who were responsible for the crucifixion. I found this hard to swallow since he went on to say that we (the Christians) were the ones that had it right because we believed in the Trinity and the fact that yes, Jesus did rise from the dead, and God is all powerful.

This sets us apart from all others and makes us the righteous ones. Following that logic, how can such a powerful and almighty God allow a bunch of mere mortals, crooked Jews at that, to kill his Son? Not going to happen in my book. Okay all you atheists out there; I am siding with the fact that the error in the chaplain's message is in the blaming of the Jews, not as others may say, the lack of power in God the Father. He had a much higher purpose in having His Son die on the cross!

Obscure Woman Writers
One major source of escape from the cold emotion of the daily grind that is prison existence for me has been reading. In particular I have found reading of what some might call "romance novels" a source of an emotional tugging at the heartstrings. The authors/books have ranged from pure sap to outright "sexcapades." Some of the names have gone on to become "real" writers and might either try to hide their tacky past or reissue the older writings and cash in on their current fame. I realize there is a possibility that some of the books may have even been written by men under a female pen name.

What I am interested in is if anyone else has actually read any of these books and has any thoughts other than, yeah I read it, and that was all. For example, if the book is truly written by a female and contains some sort of sexual/romantic scene, is it there to satisfy a prurient interest, wishful thinking on the part of the writer, or a way to vent against the perceptions of the male ego and the "we know what women want".

To start off at the most sexual, has anybody read any of the writings of Roquelaure, A.N.? I have heard that she is either the sister of Ann Rice, a pen name for Ann Rice, or some former male now inhabiting a woman's body (Ah the wonders of modern medicine). I knew of three books written by this author and managed to read two of them before it was decided that the books were too "dirty" to be allowed into the prison.

The short version of the story is that each week the education department of the prison gathers up to two book titles per inmate and submits this list to the library in town. The library takes a week and gathers up the books that are available and a staff member picks up the books and then distributes them to us inmates. As you will come to realize if you read some of the other musings, the Federal Prison System way of doing most things is never the shortest or most efficient way. It should be pointed out that I have received several books from this library where someone has taken whiteout and covered the places where the name of God is attached to a curse or swear word.

So after having read two of the books, Beauty's Punishment and Beauty's Release the local librarian mentioned to the prison staff that the books are really very dirty. The next thing you know the books were suddenly "not available" to us anymore. Well, while I do not remember all the story lines of the following books, I would be interested to hear from anyone who has read the books and would care to take the time to enter a comment.

Price, Nancy - Night Woman
Copeland, Lori - Only the Best
Allen, Charlotte Vale - Illusions
Brown, Sandra (yeah I know she is pretty prolific) I have read over 20 of her books
Cameron, Stella - Sheer Pleasures, Guilty Pleasures, True Bliss
Coulter, Catherine - Beyond Eden, Impulse, False Pretenses
Goudge, Eileen - Such Devoted Sisters, Garden of Lies
Hoag, Tami - Dark Horse
Howard, Linda - Dying to Please
Jackson, Lisa - Cold Blooded, The Night Before
McBain, Laurie - Devil's Desire
Roberts, Nora - another prolific writer, I have read 12 or so titles

This is just the initial writing for the women writers section. What are they trying to tell us? Your input or lack of it will guide its future direction. Comments such as –- I wish my partner would read these books because it is really stuff he should know -- are welcome.

Well as this whole blog thing is new and trying to run it "remotely" is also not the fastest way to do it, be patient and let us see where this may go.

Still the first shot and already an update: I am almost through Iris Johansen's The Face of Deception. I also see I have read Body of Lies and Final Target. The plot involves the killing of the president and substituting a look-alike double. The story is action-packed to keep your interest but there seems to be more attention to the emotional aspects of the story and how each character is dealing with the way each plot twist affects them emotionally. Could it be wishful thinking or do women writers spend more time on the feelings of their characters to make it seem believable. In the back of the paperback is an ad for ordering some of Nora Roberts' books. The lead line on the page is "The seductive novels of romantic suspense from Nora Roberts”. Not something that would be used to describe Tom Clancy or John Grisham.

The question I have is: does it do us males any good to read this stuff and claim that we have learned how to better deal with the emotional side of life? The other point may be: are these book written for other women to pick up and read? Without the emotional information, do the members of the opposite sex (opposite to me, not the author) say “too superficial” and “not worth my time”? Well as I ponder, if someone issues criticism and no one hears it, is it criticism? I await to see if anyone "hears" this.

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