105. Insights from Federal Prison Camp
Innocent from The Inside Blog: By James Catlidge
James Catlidge is serving a 60-month sentence for a white collar crime. He is a businessman that got caught up in a criminal probe. Prior to surrendering, he began writing a blog. We are recording James’ blog, Innocent from the Inside, to help more people understand the challenges of surrendering to federal prison.
James serves his sentence with dignity, and readers may find hope in his positive mindset.
For more information, visit PrisonProfessors.com
Below is the written version of his blog from one of his entries, describing his second week in a federal prison camp.
There is a rhythm or an ebb and flow to the camp population here at Taft Camp. Every week men leave for home and new men arrive, either self-surrender or transfer from another prison. Oddly, those departing are sad and excited. We, also, are sad and excited. We share 24 hours a day, all meals, classes, recreation, church, deep talks, intense debates with each other, a bond, a trust. Respect is built quickly. Your true nature cannot be hidden here. You are not leaving. You cannot hide. This facility has developed a peaceful, rule following culture. The rebels are punished severely, only the smartest mavericks can maintain their rebellious nature. No slick talker lasts long. No hustler can maintain his hustle here.
The inmates provide the ultimate in social order. The C.O.'s (correction officers) operate control out on the fringe where the nutty inmates can't help themselves.
I'm having some clothes custom tailored this week (a real luxury in here) Our wardrobe is limited. We wear khaki slacks, white t-shirts, mesh athletic shorts, long sleeve white t-shirts and sneakers. There is only one tailor in the camp. Douglas is my friend. He has all my pants with custom pockets, tapered and hemmed at the bottom, the pockets are slanted and have a plush material for the inside to hold my photo I.D. Our issued pants from laundry have no pockets and are always longer or shorter than they should be. Douglas comes in to my cube and chalks waist, inseam and the slanted front pocket location. He even fits my shirts. He does not like it when his friends are walking around in ill-fitting clothes. We all look alike except for the custom features that Douglas creates. There is some pride in the custom clothes, very odd, I know.
Another unique luxury are the barbers. There are 5 barbers. Thank God, the white barber has outside experience. Some don't!! I get my haircut every 2 weeks. The cost is free but I tip him one tuna or a package of M&M's. He goes home to Vegas in one month (UH-OH).
My bunkmate, Steve, goes home in three months. I'll miss him. We walk together, 3 miles a day around the track while I'm recovering. We walk from 8:00-8:35 PM, while the sun is setting. We get amazing sunsets with brilliant orange, red skies as the sun works its way down behind the distant hilly landscape. It's just beautiful.
Each time a man leaves for home, it's a tradition give away your things to friends, almost a presentation of sorts. The more valuable items to the closest friends. You take nothing with you, that's the tradition.
This week, two friends will go home. We also have a pecking order based on seniority for a change in cubes, when a good one is vacated. There are 2 window cubes coming available this week, but I don't want to leave Steve, so I will not apply..
I'm recovering well, all soreness is gone and God's miracle remains an amazing memory for me and Dunn. here at Taft. I still get asked everyday to explain what happened and when I do, I know and they do, too, that God helped Dunn fix me that hot day in July!