Preparing to Fail: Federal Bureau of Prisons Sells Mailing Envelope for When MP3 Players Break

By Christopher Zoukis

The other week I prepared to shop in the FCI Petersburg’s institutional commissary.  New commissary forms had just been printed, this one with “Feburary” printed on it.  I was looking to see if there was anything new available for sale.  After all, some items change each quarter, when they issue the new commissary forms.  Well, I wasn’t to be disappointed.

As I scrolled down the commissary list, I came across an entry called a “MP3 Envelope.”  Seeing this I assumed that they were finally selling a soft, clear, rubberized carrying case for the $69 SanDisk MP3 player which they’ve been selling for some time.  This clear case — with a neck strap, no less — is sold at other prisons for around $1, or even given away with the MP3 player purchases.

Later in the day, while at the commissary window retrieving my purchases, a small yellow envelope was passed through the slot.  The inside of this envelope contained bubble wrap.  On the outside, there was a label for the Advanced Technologies Group — the contractor who installs the software on the MP3 players sold by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  I was sadly disappointed, but didn’t hand back the envelope because I wanted to share this with my friends so that we could all remark at the principle behind selling this padded, labeled, envelope; an envelope designed for use upon product failure, an apparently expected outcome.

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