Becoming a prisoner in the federal prison system — Surprising courtesy at a seminar no one wants to attend

The orientation for the new people takes place in a lovely corporate-style boardroom with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that give a sweeping view of the harbor.

Half-a-dozen officials walk the newbies through the procedures they will face in this next phase of their lives: where their assignments will take them; details on getting email and phone service; all the usual sort of HR stuff.

But these individuals, approximately 20 in number, aren’t going to a new job. They’re going to prison.

Our image of how the convicted enter the prison system is shaped by movies like “Shawshank Redemption,” where new prisoners are stripped naked, deprived of all worldly goods, given a jumpsuit, assigned a cell and so on.

Surely that goes on in some places, but some folks in the Federal Bureau of Prisons realized that it was a waste of time to keep on answering the same questions over and over again for each individual entering the prison system. So they hit upon the idea of doing a seminar, complete with a multi-page PowerPoint, to answer all questions.

A friend of mine, whom I’ll call Fred, told me about these seminars because he recently attended one.

Fred was involved in some financial transactions that securities law frowns upon, earning him a guest booking of several years in a minimum security federal prison camp in…

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