As most of you know by now, Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. She was later sentenced to serve time in federal prison, a penalty also shared by the likes of dangerous criminals such as Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Martha Stewart (I’m sure staff kept a close eye on Stewart, thinking that she had plans to bake a cake containing a tasty filling made of files or hacksaw blades).
Huffman will soon face a huge challenge, setting foot in prison where she could become an even more hardcore criminal.
First, she, through her attorneys, has requested that she serve her time at FCI Dublin, a women’s correctional facility in California. Typically, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) allows inmates to serve their sentences at a facility within 500 miles of their home. This is to help maintain close family ties during long stretches behind concrete walls and steel bars.
What many of you may not know is that judges do not have the final say in where a federal prisoner serves their time. That decision is that of the BOP. Judges may recommend, but it is the BOP who has the final authority.
For now, let’s say Huffman gets her wish and the BOP assigns her to FCI Dublin, a “low security” correctional institution. Here’s what she can expect while serving her brutal 14 day sentence.
- Huffman is assigned an inmate an eight digit inmate register number. She must memorize this number because at any time during her time in “the system” she may be called up to recite it. This number is important because it tells staff vital information about the inmate. The first five numbers are unique to the inmate. It’s their specific ID. The last three digits signify the district wherein the offender was arrested and/or processed into the system.
If the feds use Boston, where she was sentenced, as a basis for the assigning district, the last three digits of her register number would be 038, the code for the District of Massachusetts (D/MA).
If her arrest location is used (I’m not sure of the exact location or district) one of the following would be the identifying numbers—097- Eastern District of California (E/CA), or 098 for the Southern District of California (S/CA)
Therefore, her official register number would be something like 12345-038 (Boston), or 12345-098 (Southern district of California.
- Huffman has been granted the option of self-surrendering to prison, meaning that her family will deliver her to the entrance of the prison where they’ll say their goodbyes with hugs and kisses all around.
- Next, Huffman will be escorted to Receiving and Discharge (R&D). It is at R&D where she’ll be processed—fingerprinted, etc.—and she will receive initial clearance by the Medical and Unit Staff. Afterward, she’ll be sent to the Admission and Orientation (A&O) sections of the Housing Unit where she’ll remain until she is classified (determination of her custody status—low, medium, high).
Should the medical staff find that Huffman has medical needs she will be placed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), otherwise known as solitary confinement. Inmates with medical needs may not be released into general population until cleared by a physician.
- Assuming all goes well, a counselor and a case manager will be assigned to Huffman. They will direct and follow her progress during the entirety of her confinement.
- New inmates such as Huffman will be expected to work within their assigned housing units when asked to do so by the Unit Officer.
- Huffman will be required to make her bed by 6:30 a.m. The bed-making deadline on weekends and holidays is no later than 10 a.m.
- As a new arrival, Huffman will be required to attend Unit Orientation within seven days of her arrival at the prison. This session details rules of the housing unit.
- Within thirty days of an inmate’s arrival to the institution, it’s mandatory that they receive an in-depth institutional orientation from each of the prison’s Department Heads and Executive Staff. This session lays out ALL prison rules.
Some of the rules Huffman is required to obey during her stay are:
- Khaki clothing furnished by the BOP will be marked with the inmate’s name and number (F. Huffman 12345-098). She must wear the khaki clothing while at work and during weekday breakfast and lunch meals.
- Baggy pants and excessively large shirts are not permitted.
- Khaki shorts may be worn after 2:30 p.m. and on weekends, except to Visiting, Education, and the Chapel. Shorts must be no shorter than above the knee. No sleeveless tops are authorized as outerwear at any time.
- Huffman may not hold hands with other inmates, and she may not, not ever, engage in sexual activities with other inmates or staff members.
- Inmates are permitted to watch television in the common area until 8:45 p.m. during the week, or until 11:45 p.m. on the weekends. She will be allowed to spend up to $320 per months at the commissary. If she has money “on the books” she’ll be required to purchase her own toiletries. Otherwise, those items—basic needs—are furnished by the prison.
- She may sunbathe on the weekends but she’ll have to wear a shirt and shorts. No topless or nude sunbathing allowed. Sunbathing is permitted only on the sundecks.
- Huffman, like other inmates in the system, may not possess cash or coins.
- Felicity must be completely dressed in full khaki attire by 6:30 a.m.
- She may not take away any food item from the dining room, with the exception of one piece of fruit. However, the fruit must be eaten before it spoils. It goes without saying that the fruit may not be used to make homemade alcoholic beverages.
- Huffman may not at any time feed birds or other wildlife.
- Sitting on stairs is prohibited.
Head counts are held at 12:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 4:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. An extra count is held at 10:00 a.m.on weekends and holidays. These counts are considered as Official Counts.Unofficial Counts may be held at any time and for any reason.
When staff announces a count, Huffman and her fellow inmates must be in their own rooms (unless they’re authorized to be elsewhere). Each and every day, at 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., inmates are required to stand for these official counts. An extra standing count takes place at 10:00 a.m. on weekends and all Federal holidays.
Okay, I could go on and on about the dos and don’ts of prison life, but there’s simply not enough time or space here to do so. Believe me, the list of rules, regulations, and procedures is long. Very long.
However, Huffman will only be in “the joint” for a couple of weeks. Not even long enough to make it to the main orientation. Not long enough to visit the commissary for the first time. In fact, I doubt she’ll be able to have her visiting list approved in time to receive a single visit from a family member.
Actually, Huffman will probably be in and out before she has a chance to get a gang or teardrop tattoo, make her first batch of pruno, or to join the prison softball team. Her sheets won’t have had time to wrinkle before she walks out of the front gate to leave prison life behind. Her sentence is so short that she couldn’t binge watch all episodes of Desperate Housewives before she’s released.
So many things to do and such a short time to do them…