If you are facing a possible prison term for a white-collar crime like fraud or embezzlement, there are things you should know about life in a minimum-security prison. The more you know now, the better you can prepare yourself for the future.
There is no such thing as an ‘easy’ prison
Federal minimum-security prisons are called “camps,” and they often have more relaxed facilities than medium- and maximum-security institutions. But don’t be fooled. The stereotype that white-collar offenders do time at “Club Fed” facilities where inmates play tennis all day is based on a 60 Minutes report from the 1980s. These days, the fact that the prison may not be high walls and a lot of locked doors does not mean it is not hard time for the inmates, according to an article in Institutional Investor.
You will have a job
Most inmates are assigned jobs, such as janitorial work, tutoring fellow inmates, and working in the kitchen. These jobs pay between 12 and 40 cents an hour.
Prison is boring
As menial and low-paying as the jobs are, at least they give the inmates something to do. Free-time activities are mostly limited to watching television, playing cards or sports and reading. Many current and former minimum-security inmates compare life there to the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray experiences the same day over and over again, according to the Institutional Investor article.
The food is terrible
Don’t expect high-quality meat or fresh fruits and vegetables, the article said. Meals include “pork gristle in a small cup with beans on the side. If you want something else, you have to buy it yourself in the commissary, where they sell packets of tuna and mackerel, oatmeal, peanut butter and spaghetti sauce.”
Things can be especially tough for women
Sexual harassment by guards is not uncommon, and female inmates can get pressured into performing sexual favors for things like phone privileges, the article said. Prison officials ignore complaints about such treatment, according to one former inmate.
Guards can be cruel
While some guards at minimum-security facilities are professional and fair to the inmates, others abuse their power over the prison population. They force inmates to perform humiliating tasks and use racist and anti-semitic language.
Life after prison is often humbling
It may be impossible to resume your career after you are released. With a white-collar crime on your record, you likely will not be able to regain your professional licensing, and no reputable firm may be willing to hire you anyway. You may have to take a much lower-paying and prestigious job than you had before.