One man shares his experiences.
Forget everything you’ve ever heard about prison. Forget about the stories of tennis courts on one extreme, and dropping soap on the other. How these myths, among others, began is beyond me. I suppose that the subject of prison is ripe for exploitation, in that nobody really knows anything about it without physically going there and experiencing it – and that’s something nearly everyone in right mind avoids at all costs. As a consequence it is open to distortion by politicians, victim’s rights advocates, and anyone else who exploits it for personal gain. Those who experience prison distort it, too, for selfish reasons. Many of them want to exaggerate it in order to seem tougher to family and friends – or the old ‘take pity on me’ agenda.

I’ve spend nearly six years in prison, most of that within federal facilities, over the course of eleven years. I did my time in installments – three of them. My crimes against society have ranged from failure to pay taxes on firearms, to violating my probation by marrying my fiancée without permission, and ending (so far) with the misrepresentation of the source of my income on an automobile loan application. I could point out how in every case I set new precedents in criminal law; that nobody had ever been charged with any of those crimes alone before I was; that the law was manipulated by forces in government that were taking aim at my religious identity. All true – but that’s not the focus of this story.

I’d been at the Federal Correctional Institution at Elkton, Ohio for only a week. I’d arrived there from a jail in Michigan with a good friend of mine that I’d met while there; while be both attempted to beat our cases, lost, and now were acclimating to our new home.

Home. That’s how I was told I’d have to think of it, many years before at the start of my first federal sentence in Colorado. If I didn’t think of it as “home,” I’d slowly drive myself insane. It was a form of psychological acceptance, and I found it to be true in practice.

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