I want to tell you about my friend Gene and how, despite serving 86 months in federal prison (a portion of which was completed under house arrest), he was able to rescue some dogs from the prison compound and have them shipped across the country back to his home.
But first, you need a small bit of back story and a picture to help with the imagery.
During my first ever visit to federal prison for a very specific type of credit card fraud (among other things) I was able to go to a lower-security setup.
USP Pollock Setup
The compound had a super max security, it had a medium security, and then it had us for the lowest security classification. Because we were such a low risk, we could freely move between the different areas of the compound.
In fact, because of our mandatory prison jobs, we had to be able to move freely throughout the compound.
Take a look at the picture below and look for the tiny red x:
That red X marks the building where us lower-security inmates stayed. To give you an idea of the size, that one tiny building with the red X housed hundreds of us.
The large swath of land to the left of the picture housed thousands of higher security inmates. Each of those funny shaped buildings are 3 stories tall.
The piece of land towards the top of the picture was the super high security inmates. I believe there were 1,200 guys in that compound and, at the time, 78% of the inmates there were doing life without parole.
Keep in mind, this is federal prison, so they’re not going to have the husband who got mad and shot his wife. They won’t have the two guys that get into a fight and one comes back later to exact revenge. These people are murderers on a federal level which often involve kidnapping, extortion, or some level of involvement with the drug cartels.
We even had some guys that had Taliban involvement and some of the Somali pirates that were depicted in the Captain Phillips movie.
Anyways, sorry, I know you came here for a heartwarming story about dogs, but I just wanted to set the scene.
As you can see from the picture, there are roads that make the entire compound easily accessible. Don’t worry though, those two higher security compounds each have their own massive electric fences with half a dozen armed guards on watch at all times.
Civilization is a mere mile or two away.
One day when we didn’t have work call, didn’t have programming, and essentially had nothing going on, we were all just hanging around outside.
These two dogs evidently made their way into the compound and ran right up to Gene.
Gene was once listed as one of the top 10 attorneys in the country for his respective field of work. He was having a lot of trouble adjusting to prison life and was just in terrible shape. These dogs immediately sparked some kind of change in him.
I’m pretty sure those two dogs were the reason that he had smiled for the first time in years. They were awesome dogs, but they weren’t anything special, just some mutts.
Gene immediately runs to the phone to start coming up with a game plan with his wife and mother. As he’s running in to use the phone, he’s trying to pay people (in commissary food) to keep an eye on the dogs and hide them from the corrections officers.
After about an hour of research and asking around he discovers that if he can get the dogs to the Grant Parish animal shelter, and if nobody claims them within 7 days, he can officially adopt these dogs.
Gene then sets his sights on the corrections officers. He is essentially begging them to simply call the animal shelter and he’ll hold on to the dogs until they arrive. Now, CO’s are not known for taking inmates’ suggestions, but Gene, being the amazing attorney that he was, convinced the COs to let him hang on to the dogs while they called the local animal rescue place.
His house, wife, and family were pretty far away, and they weren’t going to make the trip for these two dogs, but they did agree to help in any other way that they could.
Because there were so many guys on this compound, we constantly had people coming and going. Gene found someone who was set to be released 7 days after the dogs had been picked up.
He offered to pay this person $2,500 + airfare if they went and officially adopted the dogs and had them sent back to his home state of Arkansas.
Wouldn’t you know it, someone who had been locked up for a decade LOVED the idea of making some extra money. And, despite being in prison, Gene was still a millionaire.
He coordinated everything right there from a prison phone with his family, this freshly-released inmate, and the Grant parish animal shelter. It was amazing.
About a week later Gene got some pictures in the mail of his wife and these two ugly ass dogs that had sparked some light in him. A light that he needed in order to power through the raminder of his sentence.
From that point on, Gene was a new man. He did his time like a champ and rolled with the punches. It turns out that he was hilarious and very quick witted. Everyone soon loved him and he was guaranteed to make you laugh. I’ll definitely be posting more Gene stories later.
Sadly I have to end this story on a sad note.
Not too long after being released from prison, Gene was unable to handle the pressures of returning back to the real world. Officers were called to a lake-front property for a welfare check and discovered Gene Cauley had taken his own life.
Many people wonder why on Earth someone would kill themselves after serving their prison sentence. Prison takes a toll on you mentally, especially if you’re there for a while. You have someone telling you when to eat, what to eat, when to shower, even when to go to the bathroom sometimes.
Eventually you get used to having no responsibilities and are just put on autopilot. Mix that in with the physical and mental abuse that many inmates will see, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
The Bureau of Prisons tries to reintegrate inmates back into society, but their reintegration programs are almost just as bad as prison is. Many states don’t have a re-entry program for their inmates.
If you know someone who has just been released from prison, reach out and check on them.
If this is your first time here and you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy the story about Jeff and I winning the prison rec yard horseshoes tournament. You might also want to subscribe to the mailing list to get notified of new stories. (I’ll never spam you.. there aren’t even any ads on this website)