This was my first Christmas in prison. I was asked, “What’s it like to be in prison during Christmas?” I can truly say there are things I would rather be doing that serving time at the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp in Atlanta. But if I had my choice of places to serve time, this is the best place to be.
The atmosphere is different here than in a high-security prison. The fact we are able to walk around a campus-like facility rather than pace in a small cell makes a big difference. This relaxed atmosphere makes it easier to serve one’s time. I was surprised to find out that suicide is a major concern in prison during the Christmas holidays. Inmates are separated from their families and they start off focusing on their loss. But the relaxed atmosphere of a camp makes it easier. We get to make phone calls to friends and family throughout the day. Then there is email, and of course, visitation, which makes up for some of the loss.
Two days before Christmas, prison guards delivered gift bags to the inmates. The bags contained cookies, candy, cakes and chips. Everyone also got a toboggan. So that was nice.
On Christmas Eve there were some extra recreational activities. There was a Bingo Bash and a pinochle tournament. Both of these events increased morale and gave participants something extra to do. These special recreational games will continue through New Year’s Day.
Christmas Day started normally for me. My prayer and devotional reading session started about 6:15 a.m. This takes about 90 minutes. Around 7:15 a.m. the prison kitchen staff brought our dinner sandwiches. We got a ham sandwich, chips and cake. All of this was in a brown bag. This replaced the 5 p.m. meal. The Christmas midday meal was served around 11:30 a.m. It consisted of a Cornish hen, macaroni and cheese, a piece of ham, greens, mashed potatoes and gravy. We had a piece of pie for dessert. It wasn’t bad at all. It was more than I could eat.
Of course, this is a prison so some things don’t change. Before the midday meal we had a “Stand-Up Count.” Prison guards go to the eight dorms and count the prisoners. This is to make sure that none of us have decided we wanted to go home without permission. No AWOLs here on this day. The count took some time and delayed the meal but everyone was present or accounted for.
After the midday meal, the prison Unit Manager made the rounds. He is in charge of the dorms and regularly inspects them for cleanliness. It’s a violation to have unauthorized boxes and other items stored under the beds. So he made an inspection of all the inmate cubicles.
Then a spades tournament and a handball tournament were held. So that was fun for the participants, and it made the day more fun.
I was wished a “Merry Christmas” by a lot of the inmates. Some read Bibles and just spent the day quietly like I did.
It’s back to normal on Thursday, and the next holiday is New Year’s Day. All and all, not a bad day on “The Rock.”
Even with all the fun, I would rather be back in Knoxville, Tennessee, with my church family at Lincoln Park United Methodist and with my close friends and confidants.
Merry Christmas everyone, and have a happy New Year!
You can email Bernard Addison at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he will answer any questions you have or reply if you just want a comment. He is serving 46 months for Federal Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Also, you can send your questions or comments by postal-mail to: Bernard Addison/ 44863-074/ FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D/ P.O. Box 150160/ Atlanta, GA 30315