Prison Transportation System
If you are taken into custody immediately after sentencing or if you have to go back to court, you will be transported by prison busses and/or planes.
Unlike Greyhound the prison Transportation System has all the inconveniences with none of the comforts. You can end up spending several weeks at a hub or holding facility. Some temporary housing facilities are more pleasant than others, but none are anywhere near as comfortable as your assigned facility.
Sometimes a real life experience is better than cold facts. Here is one story in the inmate’s own words:
The transportation system of the B.O.P. is truly unique. It is not designed
for comfort, speed, or to take advantage of luxury accommodations. It
is designed to move large numbers of inmates from point A to point B
quickly and cheaply.
I was unable to self-surrender to my assigned facility on my own so I
turned myself in to the closest U.S. Marshalls office. I became just like
someone who was sentenced and taken into custody.
I was initially placed in a small holding cell awaiting transportation to the
federal holding facility.
All moves I made from here were very uncomfortable. You are required to
be handcuffed and shackled for all movements. The transportation means
are often old and very overcrowded.
After several hours of very slow in-processing I was moved across town to the
Federal holding facility at the city jail. My stay here was a nightmare. The
Facility was old, dirty, and very overcrowded. It housed criminals of all kinds.
There were some very scary people there. I saw several fights and many,
many shouting and shoving matches.
We were on lock down most of the time with no recreation time. The food
was not bad, considering, but there was not much of it. Eat it! You will need
all your strength.
Sleeping was difficult so sleep whenever you can. The noise level was
horrendous almost 24-7.
Early one morning I was called out to move with no notice. We were herded-out after
same out-processing to an old van, packed 3-4 to a seat. They were hard
bench seats with no seat belts. We were locked into the caged rear of the van. It
was an uncomfortable hour- plus ride.
Upon arrival at the county jail we were place in a small holding cell with
barely enough room for everyone to stand. After several hours we were finally
in-processed then moved to the federal holding pod.
There were 2-man cells with a large open bay with tables and a T.V. We had some
time out of the cells, but most of the time was spent in the cells, perhaps as much
as 16-18 hours a day.
The food was terrible and sparse. County jails make a lot of money
housing Federal inmates and that money “Helps” feed everyone else in the jail. So you
can expect to eat a lot of beans and rice. We were lucky to see meat every
It never failed that everywhere I went they finally let me go to the commissary and
we were moved the next day! Don’t buy much at the commissary because
you can’t take anything with you on your moves. I lost two bibles that way.
Finally one morning we were called out and told we had 5 minutes to move
down to the doors to meet the bus. We were then out-processed from
county and processed for movement by the B.O.P. It was our first contact
with the B.O.P. The guards on the bus do not mess around. Listen closely
to their instructions and do exactly what they tell you.
We were moved from here to our first Federal facility in Atlanta. Atlanta is the
processing center for the southeast region.
We were moved by a converted Greyhound bus to Atlanta. It had hard seats
with no seat belts. The entire bus was caged and barred. The guards were
armed with shotguns and side arms (Pistols). As I said, they mean business.
It was a long crowed bus ride.
Arrival in Atlanta was somewhat overwhelming. The Atlanta Penitentiary
has a well deserved reputation as a bad place to do time. It looks like an
ancient castle. It is very imposing and scary. The staff is tough and they do
not play games. In-processing is slow, tedious, and unnerving at times. Pay
attention at all times.
After in-processing we were finally divided into groups and moved to our
cell blocks. There are two man cells but most had four men in them.
The prison is very old and dirty. It is cold in the winter and sweltering in the
The food is okay but there is very little of it. Eat it all to keep up your
strength. You may or may not get commissary depending how long you
In Atlanta you are on lockdown 23 hours a day. During your hour out
of your cell you must get a shower and make your telephone call. The
lines are long for both so you may not have time to do both. Manage
your time out of your cell.
At approximately 2 A.M. one morning the guards woke me up to get
ready to move. Several hours later they came and got me. They moved
me to out-processing. Again, it was slow and tedious but it had to be
done. Be patient and be quiet.
We boarded a similar bus we had ridden on earlier. This time we were transported to
Tallahassee, Florida. It was a long bus ride with many, many, many, stops.
Arrival in Tallahassee was very much like Atlanta in-processing without the
fear factor. It was orderly but not overwhelming and intimidating.
Tallahassee has two men cells but they normally have four men
per cell. They are exceedingly over crowded. Your are only locked down at night
The food is excellent and plentiful. If you are hungry in Tallahassee it is your own
There is also a nice recreation area but it is small. You may get outside only
an hour a day. Get out side and get some air. The weather is nice there.
My final trip on my B.O.P. journey was again by bus. It was slow and we
had to stop many times. But I finally arrived at my final destination.
Try to avoid this if at all possible by self-surrendering at you designated facility.
You’ll be glad you did.
There are many stories like this. All those interviewed advised you should eat. The stress and uncertainty will be compounded by hunger.
Although the B.O.P. denies it, there are many accounts of inmates being transported from facility to facility for short periods of time, sometimes even a day or two. Then they would be whisked away at night to another destination somewhere far away.
It is rumored these are inmates that had filed too many complaints. More likely the cause is when an inmate has many co-defendants that testified against them. Someone reports that they are not supposed to be together so the newest inmate gets back on the bus.
Anyway it is a favorite horror story to new inmates that one person knew someone from somewhere else.
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