Schuylkill FCI and Schuylkill FPC Virtual Tour

Surprisingly Bing Maps "Bird's Eye View" offers stunning pictures of the Schuylkill FCI facility including the camp.

Above is the Administration building. Parking lot for both staff and visitors at left. Those are six tables out in front of the marked "visiting" area. Inmates and visitors are allowed out there. I watched from the rock garden around the other side one summer day as a visitor walked around that corner and tossed contraband to an inmate who had exited from the door between the "medical and dental" and "video room", and who then ran around the building and back to Unit One.

If you track backwards with your line of sight from the "classrooms" and "weight room" you can see inmates walking on the sidewalk that leads back to Unit Two. Another inmate is about ten feet from the entrance between the "commissary" and "chow hall". The "cardio room" has stairmasters, treadmills and exercise bicycles. The "weight room" has full Olympic barbell sets including dumbbells from 5 pounds up to 115 pounds in mostly 5 pound increments. Also there are some leg press machines which use the weight plates. The equipment is like what you would find at a fitness center on the street.

The pool room has two full size and well maintained pool tables, which receive a lot of daily use.

The brown patch in front of the chow hall and other parts of the buildings was put down in the spring of 2006. Those are small brown stones. Before there were trees, bushes and very lovely flowers in the summer. The lilies and other flowers were and are still grown in the greenhouse. That triangle directly in front of the brown patch/chow hall had a 20 ft tree with flowers around it. A shame really what was done, but I was struck by the fact that no college I have ever seen was as beautifully landscaped as this camp at Schuylkill FCI before the tear down. The place still looks like a summer camp, and in fact that is how I referred to it, as a "summer camp for felons". 

Above are the two units where inmates live and party. Some of the ghetto residents on the street never go out to the rec area. They settle down with their cell phone, liquor, and dope and rarely make it to the chow hall even, cooking their meals in the microwave ovens provided in each unit. Ice machines are also on site. You see those blue arrows pointing into the trees? Those are key areas for hiding cell phones. The careful inmates who last bury their phones in a plastic bag until after the 4:00PM count. From then on there is rarely more than one CO on duty at the camp until 8:00AM the following morning. The exception is an evening rec cop who is there until about 9:45PM in the rec office by the pool tables. There are no Federal Bureau of Prisons officers on duty in the units at anytime. They only come through for the five daily counts (4:00 PM, 10:00PM, 12:00AM, 3:00AM and 5:00AM)and the occasional bogus "shakedown" search of lockers.

Your eyes do not deceive you above, the units are up on a hill looking down at the Administration building and the FCI prison below. The inmates live in the catbird's seat. CO's do not perform any labor on the job, delegating all such chores to inmates. I often joked that an "inmate architect" had designed the camp as everything was to the advantage of the inmate seeking to flagrantly break the rules. The design of the chow hall and kitchen is just as absurd. To prevent food theft would require the stationing of at least 8 CO's at strategic points inside and outside the building whenever the kitchen was not locked down. As it is you can see inmates strolling along those sidewalks all day long with their arms full of loaves of bread, fresh vegetables like heads of broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers and onions, as well as bags of cheese and cooked or uncooked meat.

If you look at the bottom of the picture where Unit Two meets the tree line you can see a door to the rear stairwell of the unit standing open. Those doors like the front doors of the units are unlocked 24/7/365. And the Federal Bureau of Prisons actually calls this a prison facility. No there is no fence along those trees. The inmates can leave anytime they want to, and often do. No one has ever been caught leaving, only returning.  

Above is the front view of the units and far side of the Administration building, as well as some of the rec area. The yellow arrows point to areas where contraband is hidden. My second day at the camp around 9:00PM I saw two inmates come down from the hill just to the left of Unit One, each dragging a very heavy Hefty plastic trash bag. They entered a door that you cannot see here by the staircase right where that patch of white concrete protrudes onto the strip of brown. Without doubt most of the weight were well wrapped bottles of liquor. Tobacco and food items were likely inside as well. Possibly some cell phones too. One inmate in Unit Two had a DVD player that he hooked up after the midnight count to one of the three TV's in the TV room and played fuck videos.

Above is a view of the entire rec area. A baseball diamond center and behind that horseshoes. That patch of trees is known as the "Rock Garden". An inmate dentist -who left that trade to try to pull off a $100 million mortgage swindle- designed and organized the building of that area during the beginning of his seven year sentence. Close up it looks much like something out of Better Homes and Gardens, if not Architectural Digest. Tame chipmunks live there year round and will eat nuts from your hand, even sit on your hand while you feed them. Garter and Ring Neck snakes along with field mice live there also, as well as many kinds of birds, which build nests there. There are four metal tables in that patch of trees as well as many areas with stone benches, so well built into the landscape that you have to look closely to notice that they are benches and not just more large rocks. In the upper left corner is the chow hall. Notice the arrow and "exit". Sometimes in the summer I would take my lunch or dinner tray and walk out there and head straight for the rock garden and eat picnic style, then return the tray when finished.

The building marked "weights" has full Olympic barbell sets and benches, with dumbbell sets up to forty pounds. While racquets were available from the rec office, mostly handball was played on those courts.

Often in the evening dear would appear on the hillsides above the track, up to seven at a time have been observed. Wild Turkeys showed up along with a pair of ducks, one white and one Mallard, that would spend 6 weeks walking all around the camp grounds from rec to the kitchen to the outside of the units. Skunks were plentiful in the evening with the occasional opossum. During the day woodchucks would prowl the hillsides and behind the units.

At the top center you can see the greenhouse and vegetable garden. Those rectangle plots are all vegetable patches. The majority of them are beefsteak tomatoes, along with roma tomatoes, green bell peppers and cucumbers. The beefsteak tomatoes are some of the best I've ever tasted. They made terrific tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches.

The Unicor facility is part of the Federal Prison Industries business which primarily makes office furniture sold to other branches of the Federal government. This facility here is where packing for shipment of Unicor items is performed. Top wages run up to around $2.00 per hour. The typical prison job pays 12 cents per hour.

On the blog the post about Federal prison camp describes how someone could just ride up to the rock garden area one afternoon and unload a cooler of beer and kick it with the inmates. Above is "Prison Rd". This is the entrance road to the Schuylkill complex. There is no gate to go through, no guard posted. Anyone can drive in. I've seen people just drive up to the rear of the kitchen area, park and then go in through there or through the door into the building at the end of the sidewalk that is lined up dead center of the word "classrooms" above. Cars sometimes pull up and park at the rear of the Unicor building which is completely out of sight of the prison personnel below. The front office cannot see anything over there. I was always surprised at how hard inmates made it for themselves going through the woods at night to "get their package". Of course, the camp has an enormous number of rats, and many who continue to tell after they settle in at the camp. That is mostly what they worry about. When they sneak out at night it is to avoid other inmates, not prison staff. I saw many inmates wearing shoes not sold by the BOP, wearing watches far too expensive for the BOP ever to sell to inmates, but I never saw a camper wearing a "Stop Snitching!" T-shirt. Wear one of those at the camp and you might get your ass kicked.

And yeah they could kick ass if they need to. Lots of weights and plenty of creatine during the day. Partying is at night. The last six months they hit the weights hard so they look the part in a muscle shirt when they hit the street.

At the camp, the rat race is over, and the rats won. If you're from Philly or New York, I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that Schuylkill FPC is full of snitches who filled up FCI's with your homies. If your home boy caught a new case behind the fence, then the snitch got transferred to a camp like Schuylkill. And if you enter a name of someone at the camp right now, the BOP Inmate Locator will tell you that he's at Schuylkill FCI. No one is ever listed as a resident of the camp if it's on the grounds of an FCI or USP. So when that suspect homie gets home and starts telling you about the "boooolshit", better get confirmation from someone known to be behind the fence that Mr. "boooolshit!" really was behind the fence for his whole stretch the way he says. If not then he might be snitchin' for a livin' and the next thing you know your ass is in court, and Mr. "boooolshit!" is pointing at you. That 360 behind the fence is no joke.

Oh that's right, Obama is in da house. He changed those crack laws. It's only a 355 now!