This is based on my experience reporting to the Alderson, WV Camp during Covid. Other self-surrender experiences may differ.
I knew my first day would be very stressful due to all the unknowns, so I arrived early. When I arrived at the gate, there was a phone on the wall with instructions to dial for assistance. I told the guard my name, register number and that I was a self-surrender. My family was not allowed inside so I said my goodbyes right there. After a few minutes of waiting, a correctional officer came in a van to escort me to the intake area (R&D, Receiving and Discharge).
At R&D, I was asked to fill out some consent forms relating to recording telephone calls, video calls and opening incoming mail. After the forms were turned in, I was asked what size clothing I wore and then handed my temporary intake clothing. These included pants, shirts, shoes, bras, socks, and underwear. After collecting my items, a female guard escorted me to a changing room and stayed with me while you undress completely. The guard will do a visual check of your hair and mouth and ask to see any scars or tattoos you may have. The final part is probably the hardest part of the intake. I was asked to turn around, squat and cough three times. It is over very quickly.
After getting dressed, I was driven to another building and placed in a room that looked similar to a prison cell. However, the cell was not always locked. Here I was given a brown bag meal, and waited. When I was called, I was fingerprinted, photographed and given my new inmate ID badge on a lanyard.
The next person was the psychologist who gave me a social screening. The main question here was “Do you feel there is any reason you should not be in general population?” I was then taken back to the cell to wait while other reporting inmates were processed.
When everyone was done with processing, I was given my bedding, towels, and some basic toiletries in a mesh bag. I was assigned to my unit and taken there by van.
When I arrived at my assigned unit, I was instructed to enter the building and ask anyone for help. This was the most daunting task of the whole ordeal because I was suddenly surrounded by women looking to help and some who were watching out of plain curiosity.
Some women were eager to help. I was shown to my ‘cell’, my new bed, met my bunkies and shown the proper way to make my bed to meet prison standards. Many women offered me items to make sure I was comfortable the first night, since I was only given the bare minimum of supplies such as soap, a toothbrush and tooth “gel” during my intake.
This was my first day of Federal Prison Camp. I maintained a courteous and respectful attitude in this new environment. This day should only happen once in my life and I was thankful when it was over.
Aillyn Aulov is a member of the Ministry’s White Collar Support Group that meets every Monday evening on Zoom.