I recently started listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Wikipedia describes Rogan as an "American martial artist, stand-up comedian, actor, writer and color commentator."
In the latest episode Rogan interviews Victor Conte. From Conte's Wikipedia entry:
Victor Conte (born c.1950)is a former musician with Tower of Power and the founder and president of BALCO, a sports nutrition center in California. He served time in prison in 2005 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering.
I enjoyed the entire interview, but the most interesting part to me was hearing Conte talk about his four-month prison sentence at the Taft Correctional Institution (near Bakersfield, CA). It's a privately-run minimum security federal prison with 1,700 inmates, and Conte's account of the goings on there is astounding:
Sports complex "The first morning, when I woke up it was a kind of university-campus like setting. I walked out and in the middle of the courtyard was a huge sign that said 'Sports Complex.' Basketball, football, baseball, soccer, bocce ball, volleyball, handball. And I looked around and there were about 500 guys there. And they all had on equipment; there was a soccer game and a baseball game going on."
Rec center "I looked over I saw the rec center. And I walked over to that and looked in and there were six pool tables, six foosball tables, six ping-pong tables."
Music department "Then I went through this door and there was this huge music department. Three different musical groups were practicing. I said, 'Do they have concerts here?'
'Oh yeah! We have a routine on Friday nights and the bands play concerts outside.'"
Drugs This is my first 10 minutes -- I was on the compound I started walking with some guys around the walking track and I went [sniff] -- 'Are they smoking weed around here?' And they said, 'Yeah! You want some weed?'
I said, 'Listen, I don't want anything to do that with this kind of stuff. I don't want to get in any more trouble that I'm already in.' But yeah, anything that you wanted -- alcohol -- any and every type was $25 for 8 ounces. They had meth, they had steroids, they had cocaine."
No fences "There's no fences around the the place, about every 200 feet they have a sign on a stake that says 'Out of Bounds.' I got there on December 1 of 2005. That Christmas, about 25 guys just walked out on the freeway and they had their families pick them up and they left. So it's kind of an honor system."
Female prison guards as hookers "It didn't take me long to figure out, they had several really nice-looking female correctional officers there. You know, hair done up, big chest. It was kind of stunning to me. And they said 'Listen, you want some action?' I'm telling you the straight scoop. My understanding is on average they were making about $30,000 a month."Some prisoners don't want to leave "This young kid came in that same first day I was there and my cubie was a guy named Evil. And he said 'Evil, I'm going to have to do something bad because I'm supposed to go home tomorrow.' And I said 'You're supposed to go home and you want to stay here?' He said, 'Yeah if I go home I've got to start paying rent!'"
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.