Posts

When Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were sentenced to relatively short sentences as a result of a college admissions scandal. Both women served their time at FCI Dublin, a federal prison in Dublin, Ca. located 25 miles east of San Francisco. The Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin (FCI Dublin) is a low-security prison for female inmates. The facility also has an adjacent satellite prison camp housing minimum-security female offenders.

Huffman, bless her heart, barely had time to blink, have a shower, and enjoy fine prison dining before her time was up and she was back at home (11 days).

Loughlin, though, had to do hard time, counting the days one by one until she would once again be a free woman. I’m sure returning to society after serving her grueling two-month sentence was an eye-opening experience as it is for others who serve long sentences behind bars—the world had changed, planes now fly around the world, we have cell phones and microwaves and color TV.

However, no matter how short the sentence, prison policy and procedure remain the same for all. It’s a regimented system that helps maintain tight control over inmates, even the prisoners whose lifestyles on the outside are gold-plated. Once someone enters “the system” they become part of the prison population. They’re no longer movie stars, bankers, doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, or drug dealers. They’re simple another inmate who’s known by their last name and register number.

Here’s a sample of what life is like at FCI Dublin

  • Upon arrival at Dublin, inmates are taken to the Receiving and Discharge (R&D) area for processing and clearance by the Medical and Unit Staff.
  • If cleared, new inmates are housed in the Admission and Orientation (A&O) sections of the Housing Unit.
  • Within 28 days of arrival, inmates will participate in the Admissions and Orientation Program. However, if the physical screening indicates an individual has medical needs, they’re housed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU, AKA “the hole”) and are not released to the general population (GP) until the Staff Physician clears them for housing with other inmates.
  • A Counselor and Case Manager is assigned to each inmate.
  • Each inmate is expected to work within their assigned unit when asked to do so by the Unit Officer.
  • Beds must be made by 6:30 a.m. daily, except for weekends and holidays.
  • Unit Orientation is conducted by the Unit Team within seven (7) days of the inmate’s arrival.

“A Unit is a self-contained inmate living area which includes both housing sections and office space for Unit Staff. Each Unit is staffed by a Unit team directly responsible for those inmates living in the Unit. The Unit Staff offices are located in the Units, so staff and inmates can be accessible to each other. The Unit Staff includes a Unit Manager, two (2) Case Managers, two (2) Correctional Counselors and one (1) Unit Secretary. When available, the Staff Psychologist, Education Advisor and Unit Officer will sit in on a Unit Team meeting and be considered a part of the Unit Team.” Federal Bureau of Prisons

  • After completing the orientation program, approved inmates will move into general population.

Rules, Rules and More Rules!

  • Inmates are not authorized to be in any area which is less than ten (10) feet from the perimeter fence.
  •  Entrances to housing units are “Out of Bounds” to inmates who do not reside in a particular unit. Out of Bounds infractions could result in disciplinary action.
  • Clothing is issued by the facility and is marked with the inmate’s name and Register Number.
  • Official inmate attire must be worn while at work and during weekday breakfast and lunch meals. Inmates who alter institution clothing (cutting off sleeves or pant legs, etc.) are subject to disciplinary action and will be required to pay for damages. Blouses must be buttoned at all times, minus the top button.
  • Sexual relationships between inmates are prohibited.
  • Inmates must dress in an unprovocative fashion.
  • Boots must be worn while in uniform.
  • Pregnant inmates may be approved by Health Services to wear a jumper during their pregnancy.
  • No hand holding or other physical contact between inmates.
  • Each inmate is responsible for sweeping and mopping her personal living area.
  • Lockers must be neatly arranged inside and out. Inmates may have one completed hobby craft item in their room—oil painting, leather craft, ceramics, etc., and one project in progress. Additional completed projects must be sent home at the inmate’s expense.
  • Inmates are not permitted to possess cash or coins.
  • Inmates may not retain Polaroid photos.
  • Sun bathing is prohibited.
  • Haircuts and hair dye are only permitted in the designated Beauty Shop.
  • Inmates are not permitted to go outside when heavy fog is present.
  • If any person desires to send money to be placed on an inmate’s account, they must send it in the form of a U.S. Postal Money Order. Checks, cash, letters, pictures, etc., may not be included in the envelope.
  • Inmates must present their photo identification/inmate account card to shop at the commissary.
  • Inmates may shop only once per week.
  • Large dollar items (radios, sneakers, watches, etc.) are available for purchase – Special Purchase (SPOs).
  • Inmates are limited to spending $320.00 dollars per month no matter how much money is in their account. Inmates refer to the funds in their accounts as “money on the books.” “I only have three dollars on the books. I sure will be glad when my mom sends me more money.”
  • All inmates are to be in full uniform with beds made and the room ready for inspection by 6:30 a.m. each workday. On the weekends, beds will be made prior to the 10:00 a.m. count.
  • 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. There is an additional count on weekends and holidays at 10:00 a.m. Inmates are required to stand during the 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. counts. Special counts may be called at any time. Inmates are not permitted to talk or move during count times.
  • All inmates are subject to mandatory random drug testing. Refusal results in severe disciplinary action.

Time to Work!

  • All medically cleared inmates are required to work. Jobs include orderly duties (cleaning, etc.), library clerk, landscaping—mowing, weeding, and more. FCI Dublin operates a Call Center where inmates are properly trained to process incoming phone calls for directory assistance. They’re taught to accurately and efficiently use a computer, as well customer service, sales, and telephone manners and techniques.
  • The Food Service Program provides on the job training which includes menu planning, budgeting, procurement, preparation, serving and sanitation. Inmate work assignments in Food Prep include clerical work, cooking, baking, meat cutting, salad preparation, and dish washing.
  • General wake-up time for all inmates is 5:00 a.m.

Meal times:

Weekday schedule

Breakfast – 5:30 a.m. to 6:15 a.m.
Brunch – 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Dinner – Units rotated after the 4:00 p.m. Official Count (Unit A at 4:15, Unit B at 4:30, Unit C at 4:45 etc.).

Weekend schedule

Breakfast – 6:30 a.m .to 7:15 a.m.
Brunch – 11:00 a.m .to 12:00 p.m.
Dinner – Units rotated after the 4:00pm Official Count.

  • Visiting hours are – Saturday, Sunday, and Federal Holidays 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Any inmate who cannot provide proof of a high school diploma or GED certificate within 60 days of arrival will be enrolled in the GED program. MANDATORY attendance is required until the inmate has achieved a GED certificate.

Time for School!

FCI Dublin offers the following educational programs:

1. General Education Development (GED)

2. English as a Second Language (ESL)

3. Vocational/Occupational Training

4. Adult Continuing Education (ACE)

5. Post-Secondary Education (PSE)

6. Family Program

7. General Library Services

8. Law Library Services

9. Apprenticeship Program

10. Recreation Program

Yes, Inmates Enjoy Reading

Leisure libraries offer a variety of reading materials, such as  fiction, non-fiction, reference books, and periodicals and newspapers. Federal institutions also participate in an interlibrary loan program with local, state, and college libraries.

Fun Time

Special Activities may include inter-unit holiday tournaments, bingo, and ping-pong.

Early Release

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 allows the BOP to grant a non-violent inmate up to 1 year off her or her term of imprisonment for successful completion of the residential drug abuse treatment program. If drugs are not a proven part of an inmate’s background they are not eligible for the program.

Job Training for Women

FCI Dublin offers programs to assist in preparing women for non-traditional jobs, such as auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers, forklift operators, propane tank filling, and painters.

Help!

Several programs are available for female inmates who have a history of physical and/or sexual abuse and/or traumatic life events

In-house mental health programs are designed to help inmates with severe emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems.

 

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…