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 Prison Reviews: My Review of Taft Federal Prison Camp 

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Michael Santos

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Review of Taft Federal Prison Camp

My name is Michael Santos and I would like to provide readers with my review of Taft Federal Prison Camp.

I arrived in the Taft Federal Prison Camp sometime in 2005. I remained in the Taft Federal Prison Camp until the fall of 2011. My judge sentenced me to serve a 45-year sentence for my role in selling cocaine. I was young and foolish. While in prison, I used my time to prepare for success. The story is well documented through various websites and books I wrote.

What Do I Know About Federal Prison?

Besides serving time in the Taft Federal Prison Camp, I served time in many other federal prisons. I began at the United States Penitentiary, in Atlanta. After about six or seven years at USP Atlanta, I transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at McKean. From FCI McKean, I transferred to FCI Fairton. Then I transferred to FCI Fort Dix. After about eight years at FCI Fort Dix, my security level dropped and I served time in minimum-security camps. I served time in the Federal Prison Camp in Florence and the Federal Prison Camp in Lompoc before I transferred to the Federal Prison Camp in Taft. From Taft, I went to the federal prison camp in Atwater, where I concluded my time in prison. Then I transferred to the halfway house in San Francisco.

Why Did I Go to Federal Prison?

All of my crimes related to convictions for trafficking in cocaine. The big crime was operating a continuing criminal enterprise. There were additional crimes that included perjury and conspiracy.

What are the Pros of the Taft Federal Prison Camp?

I found many advantages at FPC Taft. Primarily, the Taft federal prison camp is clean. It has plentiful showers with ample supplies of hot water. I ran dozens of marathon-length distances at Taft Camp. The commissary was exceptional. While I served time in the Taft Federal Prison Camp I had access to fresh fruits and vegetables. I also liked that I could maneuver my way into jobs that allowed me to write. I published several books while serving time in the Taft camp. I published books under my name and I also earned a living by ghost writing books for other people.

What are the Cons of the Taft Federal Prison Camp?

The biggest drawback at Taft, for me, was that visiting was only available one day each week. I am very close with my wife. We would have liked to visit more frequently. Some camps offer to visit three days each week. Also, the Jpay email system as it is used in the Taft Federal Prison Camp is not as good as the email system in the BOP. It’s not as good because Jpay has functionality limits that do not exist in the BOP. Still, email was not available to me during my first 24 years of imprisonment. I could always see the good in the Taft prison camp.

How was the Food at the Taft Federal Prison Camp?

Prison food is bland and unexceptional. If you’re looking for epicurean treats or a wonderful dining experience, prison is not the spot. Ordinarily, I used personal resources to purchase food from the commissary. I would avoid the chow hall in Taft and in other federal prisons because I preferred to eat alone, avoiding the crowds and lines of the chow hall.

What kind of Recreation is Available at the Taft Federal Prison?

To exercise, I spent my time on the running track and in an open field. While in Taft, I was in the late stages of my imprisonment. I did not need structure. I did not want structure. I wanted independence and solitude, which I found in abundance at Taft. I ran many marathon-length distances around the Taft track. I did thousands of pushups each each week. Others used the aerobic machines that include stationary bikes and stepping machines. The Taft Camp did not have a weight pile. That bothered some, but I did not mind. Taft offered pullup bars and dip bars for strength training.

Programs in Taft Federal Prison Camp

Taft camp was not heavy on programs. It did not offer the coveted RDAP program that so many people in prison want. People want to enroll in RDAP because that program can lead to up to 12 months off the sentence. People could participate in independent study programs that include speaking clubs. They could participate in counseling sessions. They could participate in religious groups. A computer lab was available for people who wanted to learn word processing and spreadsheets. I avoided programs. Other prisoners who lacked a sense of self-direction and resourcefulness found use in programs. They liked the structure.

Best Jobs in Taft Federal Prison Camp:

The best job is a value decision. I valued free time so I could write. I wanted to spend my time alone, writing, reading, or exercising. For me, the best job was an orderly position. As an orderly, I could work a few minutes a day by pushing a broom around a 10×10 area. Big deal. Then I could spend the rest of my time alone.

How Are Living Quarters in Taft?

The living quarters in Taft are very clean, as far as prisons go. Inmates live in one of eight large dormitories. Each dormitory holds between 100 and 200 people, depending on population levels. People usually sleep in two-man cubicles. When crowded, counselors may assign them to three or four man cubicles. I offer much more detail of these facilities in my various books.

How is Safety at the Taft Federal Prison Camp?

Living in Taft camp, like any other federal prison camp, is safe. It’s not totally absent of violence or volatility. But working in an office complex is not totally absent of volatility. But if a person chooses to avoid altercations, a person can do so in Taft camp. There is always pressure associated with living away from the people we love. But as far as prison is concerned, Taft camp offered minimal pressures.

General Review of Taft Federal Prison Camp:

I did not mind the time that I served in Taft camp. During the five-plus years I served in Taft Federal Prison Camp, I made significant progress. Of course, I made progress in every facility where I served time. Serving time is about an individual’s attitude—not about the institution. Still, Taft served me well as a place to pay my debt to society for the crimes I committed. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give the facility a rating of: I would give Taft a rating of 8. If Taft offered more access to visits and more access to email, I would have given it a 10.

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