Prison View – Welcome Home – 5

Prison View

Federal Corrections Institute-Petersburg is massive.

The camp part of the compound is expansive and covers 3 square miles of terrain near Richmond, Virginia in nearby Hopewell.  The beginning of the compound starts with the visitor parking lot and continues with a service road all the way down to the gate and a concrete wall surrounding the Medium Security Prison.

The Medium Security Prison contains inmates serving 20 years or more for crimes such as murder, rape and other various acts of violence.

Around the corner from there and around some woods near the James River, Jabari and Plants emerge from their Barracks wearing their winter coats.  As the first chilly gust of wind hits the both, Plants reaches into his jacket pocket and puts on a beanie hat, which he promptly puts on.

As Plants reaches back into his jacket pockets, he turns to Jabari.

“Hey.  Sorry, I don’t have another set, I’d give them to you.”   Plants says as he pulls a single glove out of each of his coat pockets.

Jabari nods.  “It’s all good.  I lived up north for a few years, so I’m used to cold winters.” Jabari says as he feigns not being cold.

“Alright let’s go.” Plants says as he dons his gloves and they proceed down the steps.

After arriving at the bottom of the steps of their barracks, they make a right and walk towards the visiting room.    As Plants points out the visiting room, he explains that it holds 85 people at a time and it is used for meetings.  The visiting room contains two soda machines, a food vending machine, and two microwaves.  Families can come to visit and play games.  As they reach the front doors of the Visiting Room, Plants stops and looks at Jabari.

“Just remember not to go in there without permission.  It is out of bounds for us and can get you thrown in the SHU.” Plants says before they continue their walk.  Further down the path, they run into another three-story building.

“This is where you will be spending most of your free time while you are here.” Plants says before they both walk up to the building.   Jabari glances at the top of the building which reads “Bldg. 21”.

“This is our multi-purpose building.  You can spend your time in here until 8:45 pm when we get recalled for count.”  Plants says as they stop at the front doors before entering.

The first floor contains a Dentist Office, a Clinic, a Music Room, a Cardio Room and a small Barber Shop.  For entertainment, there are two pool tables, a table tennis table, and two televisions.

As they continue to walk around the first floor, before reaching the stairs, they reach a Laundromat which contains six washing machines and six dryers.  After pointing out the Laundromat to Jabari, they ascend the steps to the second level.

Here, they walk around looking into a small Library, the Education Staff Office, the Psychological Staff Office, a multidenominational chapel with 25 seats and a teaching classroom.

“One more level.” Plants says as they exit the teaching classroom and round a corner which leads to another set of steps.  At the top of these steps are four rooms:  two rooms for GED classes, a Re-Entry Services Office and a Testing Center.

“Really, not much to see up here, but I wanted to give you the grand tour.” Plants says before they turn around and begin heading back out to the compound.

As they exit Building 21, they head east, where they skip the chow hall.  As they walk by, Plants begins again.

“Breakfast is 6-7 from Monday to Friday.  7-7:45 during weekends.  Lunch and Dinner are always the same.  10:45-11:45 and 4:45-5:45.”

Jabari once again nods and rubs his arms a little to get some feeling back into them once Plants looks away.

After the chow hall, they run into a small basketball court and a weather-exposed weight pile.  When they stop at the weight pile, Plants turns and looks at Jabari.

“Make sure you buy gloves if you want to lift these.  Also, wear old clothes because rust will get everywhere.”  Plants says to Jabari who is eyeing the weight pile before they continue walking.

Plants points to a baseball field.  “That’s ‘Felony Field'” Plants says to Jabari as they continue walking.

“That’s…clever” Jabari says as they stop.

“Over there-” Plants points to a huge building to their west. “Is the PrivCor building.  We service private industry here for hangers.  Pay is $1.40 per hour, which is the best you can make here at Petersburg.”

Plants then turn back towards the North and the 1/3 mile track.

“And finally that is the track just passed by those tractor trailers.  We won’t continue walking because it’s wet and muddy over there right now.”  Plants turns and looks at Jabari.  “Further passed will be a pond and then the Medium Security Prison.”