Life for Pot Prisoner Paul Free Has a Birthday Coming Up on August 27th
One of my favorite marijuana POW’s, Paul Free, has a birthday coming up on August 27th. Paul will turn 65 years old and he just started his 21st year of incarceration on a LIFE SENTENCE for a nonviolent marijuana conspiracy offense. They are currently on lockdown at Atwater USP where Paul, along with fellow marijuana lifer Corvain Cooper and de-facto lifer Moe Foley, ostensibly “live.”
Paul writes me that this lockdown is the result of several incidents in the prison that culminated in a big fight that sent 9 people to the hospital. The warden informed inmates they can expect this lockdown to last between 3 to 4 months (but we never really know it could be longer, it could end tomorrow). Nonetheless, I know that supporters reaching out to Paul at this time would especially mean a lot. Please consider sending him a birthday card.
What Does a Lockdown Mean for Federal Inmates?
For the uninitiated, lockdown means all inmates, the entire prison, must stay locked in their cells. No outdoor time, the only time they are allowed to leave is for a quick shower every 3 days or so. There is no going to the chow hall either. Lockdown meals usually consist of a bowl of stale cold cereal for breakfast and a bologna sandwich (two slices of white bread with a single slice of bologna) for lunch and dinner delivered to the cell. Every inmate I have corresponded with in every area of the country knows better than to actually eat those bologna sandwiches, unless they want to get sick.
During a lockdown prisoners have phone and email communication cut off, snail mail is the only way for them to communicate and if they didn’t have stamps, paper and envelopes in their cell at the time of the lockdown, they are out of luck.
While a limited number of inmates were actually involved in the fight, the entire prison population will be punished for months for the incident.
Paul Free Needs Books
Anyone who is feeling generous or who has a couple of extra dollars and who wants to send Paul Free a birthday gift, the only things we are allowed to send to a prisoner are books and magazines. However Paul really needs things to read as he had only one book in his cell when they went on lockdown. While he has funds on his account from what we raised at last month’s Chalice event, he cannot use those funds as long as the prison remains on lockdown, so the only way he will have anything to do for the next few months is if we send him some books and magazines.
You can order books or magazines to be sent to the address below via Amazon or any retail book seller (you are not allowed to send them from home unfortunately, prison rules). I know Paul was especially looking for “Laughter is the Best Medicine” and books on sustainable living – (I sent two books already on building your own solar and wind power systems, but I know he is interested in off the grid living as an overall topic). His favorite fiction authors include Wilbur Smith, Pat Conroy, and Clive Cussler.
Write to Paul at the address below and learn more about Paul at this link.
Paul Free #42235-198
PO BOX 19001
Atwater, CA 95301
Notes on Sending Birthday Cards and Mail to Federal Prison
Always remember, all mail going to prison is read by prison staff.
The BOP is picky and has rules about cards. Cards must be only ink and paper, nothing glued stapled, taped, glitter, etc. is allowed. Likewise, many homemade cards, like the ones your kids make, would not be allowed although the POWs would have appreciated them. But a homemade card that consists of a drawing on a card would be fine. Just paper and ink/pencil.
What can you talk about in cards and letters? Pretty much anything as long as it is not illegal. Yes, you can talk about your cannabis activism, marijuana events, politics, etc. Marijuana prisoners, in my experience, love hearing how the movement is progressing. Rather than depressing them, these changes give them hope. Just don’t talk about selling marijuana or any illegal activities in prison mail.
Prisoners love to hear about your everyday life as it connects them to the world outside. Talk about the cute thing your kid said, something the dog or cat did that made you laugh, the latest delicious thing you cooked or ate, where you went on summer vacation, the last party you went to, etc. Prisoners see and talk to the same people and see the same drab concrete walls every day, so anything out of the ordinary is a welcome change.
You can also send photographs (up to 25 per envelope). Prisoners love to get photos — people, places, pretty scenery, pets, anything. BOP rules say no nudity in the photos, and pictures of actual cannabis probably won’t get through, although drawings and artwork featuring marijuana is usually not a problem.
Once again, books and magazines can only be sent to prison FROM A BOOKSELLER not from individuals at home. More Bureau of Prison (BOP) rules at the link below.
Paul Free #42235-198
PO BOX 19001
Atwater, CA 95301