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My boring prison stay

by Larken Rose

Many of you have asked what my prison stay was like. It’s hard now for me to believe that it was a whole year. (Time flies when you’re having fun.) Of course, it was annoying not being home, and being censored, but other than that being there wasn’t really all that bad. I missed out on all the exciting stuff you see in prison movies (violence, gang warfare, etc.), mainly because I was in a federal prison “camp.” There were no locks, no fences, and the “guards” were unarmed. Though calling it “club fed” is a bit of an exaggeration (it’s not THAT much fun), anyone there could have walked off whenever he wanted, though of course anyone who did would be put in a lot worse place (with extra prison time) if he did. There were a little fewer than 200 guys there, covering a wide range of ages, income levels, education levels, cultural backgrounds, etc. Most of the people there were there for non- crimes: mainly possessing a substance without government approval. Though a few of them actually committed real crimes (the kind with victims), they were all non-violent, white-collar stuff. No one who commits violent crimes is sent to a camp, and no one stays in a “camp” if he gets into fights or threatens people. So the place was not at all scary. I kept busy working on half a dozen different projects (writing books, music, etc.), when I wasn’t working at the powerhouse. (The whole place is pretty much kept running by the inmates, who do the food preparation, cleaning, maintenance, etc.) I also spent lots of times wandering around the outdoor track, which overlooks woods and a really cool pond… that I wasn’t allowed to go to. I saw plenty of wildlife: deer, coyote, skunk, turkey, groundhog, heron, turtles, frogs, snakes, salamanders, a zillion kinds of birds, etc. There were a few interesting folks at “camp” (all of them inmates). Mostly I hung around with one particular militant moderate who was aspiring to achieve apathetic complacency… and failing horribly. (I think I contributed to pushing him off the political spectrum entirely, though he didn’t need much of a push.) Hail, the Great Raytarri! Most of the “guards” (who are called “camp officers,” not “guards,” probably because there’s nothing for them to actually guard) were decent enough, though there was the occasional control-freak, aspiring tyrant. The staff was an interesting blend of thinly veiled control freaks and incompetent bureaucrats, with a few exceptions. (Anyone who likes big government should go to prison for a while and see what it’s like when they run everything.) As far as I could tell, I received no special treatment (positive or negative) for being an “enemy of the state.” The folks at the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) pretty much do their thing, and probably don’t care much what the IRS thinks. On average Tessa and Elyssa visited me every other week. (It’s 150 miles from my house, so that was a bit of a challenge.) A few other people visited along the way, too. Because of the “points” system they use, limiting the number of visits per month, I kept my visiting list limited to family and close friends. Mostly it was boring and uneventful, though I got a lot done on a lot of projects. It was, of course, tough being away from my family for that long, not being able to help them at all. But we all survived. And I’m sure it will come as a shock to all of you that my “correction” apparently was not a success: I still like freedom, and still dislike liars and thieves (IRS, DOJ, etc.). They did terrorize me into giving them money I know I don’t owe, and signing returns pretending my income is taxable, to minimize the torture of my family. (Ah, what a swell country.) But, I’m happy to report, my soul is still my own.   Originally published at March 13, 2007.   Find out more about Larken Rose at

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