Noble Vigilance

 by Jeffrey S. Bell If we remain present in our experience, we’ll discover teachings all around us. I’m an inmate volunteer in the hospice program at a federal medical center. Our mission is to provide comfort and aid to the terminally ill patients incarcerated here. My most recent patient, Paddy, suffered from lung and brain cancer. Paddy was a very gracious man who though terminally … Continue reading Noble Vigilance

The Real Thing: Paddy Mitchell

(This piece was written in January 2007, shortly before Paddy’s death, by Jeffrey Bell,  a friend of Paddy’s at Butner Medical Centre.) “THE REAL THING:  PADDY MITCHELL”         By:     JEFFREY S. BELL In prison, you meet a lot of bank robbers – at least you meet a lot of guys who claim to be bank robbers.   Some may have committed less glamorous crimes so they become bank … Continue reading The Real Thing: Paddy Mitchell

Paddy’s Last Word Series #5: Christmas in Prison

[Note: This is the fifth of Paddy Mitchell’s seven final blog entries, written shortly before his death on January 14, 2007, and mailed to Ottawa to be posted on his blog. The series is being published posthumously between January 21 and January 25th.]  My good friend Jimmy Allen also has been an inspiration to me this past year with the success of his book: “This Firefighter’s Life”.   What … Continue reading Paddy’s Last Word Series #5: Christmas in Prison

Paddy’s Last Words Series #2: Chick Lit has changed

[Note: This is the second of Paddy Mitchell’s seven final blog entries, written shortly before his death on January 14, 2007, and mailed to Ottawa to be posted on his blog. The series is being published posthumously between January 21 and January 25th.]  These places afford people (inmates) plenty of time to read.   Dozens of periodicals come every day in the mail; newspapers come daily from all over the … Continue reading Paddy’s Last Words Series #2: Chick Lit has changed

Christmas package from the Bureau of Prisons

[Note: Paddy’s posts are not always in chronological order, as he sends his handwritten blog posts to Ottawa to be posted on the blog for him – they don’t always arrive in order.] It is Friday 9:00 a.m., December 23rd, and I’m up and about.   My cellmate just made his first cup of cappuccino (4 heaping tablespoons of cappuccino mix and one heaping tablespoon of Folgers coffee in … Continue reading Christmas package from the Bureau of Prisons

Top Twelve Tips for Getting Along in Prison

1) Don’t be too friendly too fast. Inmates are always suspicious of new guys. The Feds are well known for their deviousness and although the guy arriving is in fact a convicted criminal, the Feds may have made a deal to cut his incarceration time for some information from a target within the prison. 2) Don’t just walk up to a table in the chow … Continue reading Top Twelve Tips for Getting Along in Prison

Writers in prison

Another morning, another urge to write.    You’ll never know (unless you’re a writer) how good the feeling is; because so many mornings I just don’t feel like writing.  If it lasts any more than a couple or three days, we call it “writer’s block”, every writer’s worst enemy.This is Sunday morning – 9:00.    I’m propped up on my bed, scribbler on my knees and have … Continue reading Writers in prison

A day in the life

Do you want to hear how my days go by in this place? How my time is spent? Okay, I’ll give you a detailed description: The cell doors of the whole institution are opened by 6:00 a.m. and immediately the P.A. system starts making announcements. There’s no letup all day: dozens of announcements for visits, hundreds for patients to report for bloodwork at the lab, … Continue reading A day in the life

Breakfast, chemo, Muslims & banks

It’s Sunday morning. I’ve been up since 7:00, have been to breakfast – consisting of a bowl of bran flakes, a whole wheat bagel, cream cheese and jelly, crushed pineapple, coffee and milk – came back to my room, made a cup of coffee and listened to a one hour segment of National Public Radio news. The story I’m most interested in is the Pope’s … Continue reading Breakfast, chemo, Muslims & banks