FCI Petersburg Snubs Christian Pastor, Puts Her In Tears

By Christopher Zoukis

The plot thickens.  Last weekend I was called to the FCI Petersburg Visitation Room to visit with my Prisoner Visitation & Support (PVS) visitor, a woman who’s also a Christian minister.  On my way through the initial search area I was harassed by the prison guard (“Guard #1”) assigned to the Visitation Room because my clothing wasn’t ironed.  The guard tried to inform me that there was new Federal Bureau of Prisons policy on the matter, but after a short conversation, he begrudgingly agreed to allow me to have my visit.*1  So, after my frisk, I was allowed into the FCI Petersburg Visitation Room.

Once in the Visitation Room, I handed another guard (“Guard #2”) my inmate identification card and looked for my visitor.  I didn’t find her.  So, back to the guard’s desk I walked and asked Guard #2 where my visitor was.  After a short exchange, he informed me that my visitor had been “embarrassed,” and had to leave prior to my arrival.  Guard #2 and I returned to the visitation screening area and spoke with Guard #1, the one who had harassed me about my clothing.  Guard #1 informed me that my visitor, a Christian minister, had realized that her pants were see-through and had left in embarrassment.  I was not amused.  Upon returning to my housing unit, I submitted a complaint to the FCI Petersburg Captain.

Two days later I received a post card from my PVS visitor.  She informed me that the guards had terminated the visit, but that she would be back two weeks later.  She also expressed her profound sorrow for the visit being terminated prior to my arrival.  She had not left on her own accord.  Either Guard #1 or Guard #2 had officially terminated the visit prior to my arrival in the Visitation Room.

To say that I was upset about this would be an understatement.  But my lack of amusement turned to anger several days later.  While working out on the FCI Petersburg recreation yard, another man who had a visit that day filled me in.  He said that Guard #1, the one who had harassed me, had terminated the visit because of my visitor’s pants.  The man said that my visitor had been told to leave because of her pants being too transparent (he said that the guard claimed that he could see her pockets through the pants) and that she had burst into tears because of the situation.  According to the man, my visitor, the Christian minister, had cried all the way out of the prison.  I’m sure that she didn’t only feel terribly embarrassed by the whole situation, but probably a bit insulted and dirty too since Guard #1 was staring at her pants for a period of time.

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The Art of Shawn Jones


Beauty, as ritual and symbol, are as necessary to human beings as air and water.  The recognition of beauty marks us as human, and gives us identity.  And that is why the inquiry into the makeup of beauty, and its constituents, becomes influential.  Is beauty an illusion; is it a mere commodity?  Is it only a credit card receipt away?  Or is it something more ethereal?  Is it substantial or insubstantial?  Is it purely and only physical; is it spiritual?  In other words, are the Thomists right, or should the Manicheans take precedence?  What is beauty?  And how does it impact us as individuals?  As members of a society?  How does it impact and influence our culture?  Or does our culture influence our opinion of beauty?  And of course, all these interrogatives are pertinent and important; yet the most salient question is this:  how, what, when and where is beauty?  In other words, what is the epistemology of beauty? 

Thus as part of an inquiry into beauty, will exhibit works of prison art.  Although produced by prisoners or ex-prisoners, from one perspective, the designation ‘prison art’ is moot.  For in the end, art is art.  Whether it was created by a prisoner or a student or a farmer makes no difference.  However, from another perspective, the term ‘prison art’ speaks volumes.  For according to some, prisoners and/or ‘criminals’ are devoid of any sense of aesthetics.  Of course, this viewpoint is wrong.  The recognition and admiration of beauty is universal.


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