The coldest I have ever been | FAMM

The coldest I have ever been

Dear FAMM

I am responding to your request for stories from prison. Specifically on your request for stories that can debunk common myths about prison.

I share this story to debunk the myth of Federal Prison Camp being “Club Fed’ where prisoners are treated like country club members and live a life of ease. While Federal Prison Camp is no doubt monumentally better than what many prisoners face as far as conditions the camps themselves range widely in how an inmate is treated.

Let me begin by telling you that I have lived my entire life in a cold snowy climate. I grew up in a home where it snowed so much we literally had an avalanche in my backyard with chunks of snow as large as cars pushed up right next to our home. I learned to play in the snow and still to this day skiing and snowmobiling are my favorite hobbies. I give this background to help you understand that I am used to the cold.

In January of 2018 I arrived at Florence Federal Prison Camp in Florence Colorado. The climate in Florence is actually warmer than where I came from. The elevation is similar but Florence is further South and the winters are milder. I was placed in a 3 man cell on the top bunk away from the window. On this top bunk I found it cool but by no means was I cold. About 2 weeks into my stay my two bunkmates moved to other cubes and I took the single, non bunk bed by the window. I very quickly found out what cold was. There were a number of factors that contributed to how cold I was. First off, the window I was next to had about a one inch gap right next to my cell. The windows were welded shut so I could not move it open or closed. Secondly, as a new inmate I was issued one sheet and one thin wool blanket. Third, for some insane reason you will only come to expect in the BOP, the vent with cool air seems to run all winter. These three factors contributed to me feeling the coldest I have ever felt in my life. This includes getting frost bitten with wind chill below -60 while skiing and sleeping in a snow cave with scouts in temperatures below zero. In order to try to stay warm at night while sleeping by the window I would wear the following: 2 or 3 pair of socks, full upper and lower thermal underwear, 2 pair of sweats, my work jacket, 2 wool hats, wool gloves and a scarf. Even wearing this, I would wake up cold in the middle of the night most every night due to the cold. It was cold enough in my cube that I could leave sodas in my window sill day or night and they would stay plenty cool while other inmates would conceal buckets of ice under their beds to keep their sodas cool.

I did everything I could to try to get the situation with the window remedied. I was told that work orders had been submitted multiple times. Luckily after being there 3 weeks I was moved to another cube where the temperature was not an issue.

I am not complaining about this issue and along with many things about prison I just look at them as experiences I have learned from. The bottom line is that if you want to complain about the conditions in prison you can avoid all of this by not going to prison in the first place. I am simply pointing out that even prison camp can be incredibly miserable. Each winter the person in this specific cube at Florence Prison Camp will no doubt be freezing.

— Anonymous

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