1988 May 5 – 7th Sun of Easter (Prison Writings)
Intro to Camp Life
Up, up and away Jesus is taken up into the skies. This last dramatic act of Jesus’ in the Gospel of Luke is also the opening story in the book of Acts, Luke’s sequel. Luke was concerned with what to do with the Risen Body of Christ. He reports the account of Jesus’ Ascension to clear the way for Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Today I received word of Catherine Fagan’ s death. It has been a long and difficult struggle for Catherine, for Kenny her husband, and for their families. She suffered greatly and in the end — death was a welcome relief. She was a great woman of great faith. I loved her dearly as many of us did. Now that her long ordeal is finished, her body taken up, let us rejoice in her ‘spirit’ that Iives on in those she touched.
Each life well lived and to the fullest, in the end, has it’s own Pentecost. Let us rejoice in the spirit of Catherine living on in the lives of those for whom she made a difference. Right on, right on dear friend, rest in God ‘s peace!
CAMP LIFE: IT’S ALL COMING BACK TO ME. A Federal Prison Camp is a prison without walls, a Level One Prison, the lowest level security prison in the Federal Pr1son System. These joints are where the white collar, nonviolent criminals are sent to do their time. A world of greens and grays, open dormitory living, tennis courts, gyms, tracks, movies w1th popcorn on the weekends, lines to the mess hall, lines to the commissary, lines to the phones. A place where body counts are serious business and there are many; midnight, 3 A.M., 6 A.M., Noon, 4.P.M., 8 P.M., and 10 P.M. God forbid you should miss a count!! It’s a subtle cage, a laid back sort of place most of the time where jobs are assigned and people go about their business. How do I explain a prison camp? It’ a cross between summer camp, an all boys Catholic High School, Pre-Vatican and a mental institution. There are 150 rules in the Rule Book and the rules are always changing. Only 50 of them are kept. The others are brought into play when those in charge want to give campers grief. Disciplinary action can get you thrown in the hole, locked up in the main prison and on the road (a little diesel therapy) to a more secure prison. You could mess up your parole, your furloughs and your camp good time. Every so often the Camp Administration needs to make an example of someone to show who’s in control. Right now the hole is filled and things are quiet things but not for very long. A carrot and stick mentality – and the stick is never too far away.
Another sad thing about these places is the number of snitches – guys who go to authorities telling tales on other inmates. The System breeds such behavior. Half of the inmates are here because someone ratted (snitched) on them on the outside. Still, despite this “Alice in Wonderland” atmosphere, there is a good camaraderie among the men. Most guys push themselves to get along, knowing we are all in this together.
Marion Prison Camp is unique in the Federal Prison System. We are one of the smallest camps in the country. Our primary mission is to support the ongoing operation of the main prison on the site. The main prison at Marion is a level six security joint. It is the highest security level prison in the Federal System. The campers cook, do laundry and maintain the facility at the larger prison. The inmates in the Big House can ‘t do for themselves because they are locked down in their cells 23 1/2 hours a day, each day of the year. This total lock down has been in place for several years. It is a real hell hole where human rights are trampled upon. It is a prison cited by. Amnesty International. Beginner campers are almost always assigned to the kitchen in the Big House. The idea of being part of the support system for this obscene prison raises some moral questions for me. I have yet to be assigned. I plan to live one day at a time. PEACE .
P.S.: CONGRATULATIONS GRADUATES!!! Sorry I am missing all the parties. You are being held in special prayer this weekend by your jailbird pastor.