Here you will find original articles relating to preparing for and surviving federal prison. For comprehensive information relating to these topics and more please see The Guide.
In 1930 the then seven federal prisons were brought under a single system known as the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
There are currently 195 federal prisons managed by the BOP and another 16 privately owned prisons that hold federal inmates.
As of mid 2012, there are 205,357 federal inmates.
There are five different security level prisons including minimum, low, medium, high, and administrative.
Approximately 7% of federal inmates are women.
While an attempt is made to place inmates within 500 miles of their home, the government is under no obligation to do so.
A federal judge may recommend that time be served at a certain prison, but the BOP is under no obligation to follow this recommendation.
No. While some states allow conjugal visits, such visits are not approved for federal inmates.
Commonly referred to as Federal Prison Industries (FPI). UNICOR is a government corporation, which uses federal inmates to produce goods and provide services. By law FPI can only sell to the federal government. UNICOR jobs are often desired by federal inmates as there is the opportunity to learn a marketable skill and to earn significantly more money than inmates working at non-UNICOR jobs.
Good Conduct Time is the time that is deducted from an inmate’s sentence for good behavior. While the BOP employs a complex formula, GCT equals roughly 15% of the inmate’s sentence. See the Sentence Calculator
to compute exact GCT.
Federal parole has been abolished for sentences that were handed down after 01 November 1987. There is parole for offenses committed prior to that date.
Yes. When a person commits a crime both against the state and the federal government, it is not uncommon for them to be released from federal prison only to be picked up and sent to a state prison.
This report is the result of the Pre Sentence Investigation (PSI) conducted by a member of the U.S. Federal Probation office. It outlines a defendant’s entire life history and details the alleged crime. Ultimately it makes a recommendation as far as the sentence to be served. The PSR is used by the federal judge in determining an appropriate sentence.
In the lower security level federal prisons, serious violence is rare. In the higher security federal prisons, it is more common.
While it does take place, especially in the lower security federal prisons, sexual assault (either by an inmate or a staff member) is very rare. It is more common in the higher level security federal prisons, but is best estimated to effect less than 1% of federal inmates.
When you surrender to the prison, you are permitted to enter the grounds with only a handful of items. The official BOP list of approved self-surrender items is as follows: A two-day supply of medication in its original container may be permitted; Plain wedding band (no stones or intricate markings); Earrings for females only (no stones) with a declared value of less than $100; Medical or orthopedic devices; Legal documents; Religious items as long as they do not present a threat to the security of the institution. (Religious medallions and chains must have a declared value of less than $100); Prescription eyeglasses.
At sentencing, the judge will either allow the convicted to return home and later report to prison on their own recognizance or they will order the convicted to be taken into custody immediately. Obviously it is much preferred to be able to go home and prepare and get one’s affairs in order.
Yes. Unless allowed a restriction by medical staff, all federal inmates must work. Work detail varies from prison to prison.
Inmates are paid 12 cents to 40 cents an hour depending on a number of variables. Inmates who work in the UNICOR program may earn from 23 cents to $1.35 per hour.
Yes, as long as it does not interfere with the running of the institution and as long as it is not considered a threat to the safety of the institution.
Those with serious medical conditions will likely be designated to Federal Medical Centers where hospitals are located onsite. The care received is generally far less than what one would experience in a non-prison hospital.
Yes, special diets are possible in prison, but only if the inmate has a documented religious belief or medical condition. Even then, many inmates find they can adhere to their diet and enjoy higher quality food by picking certain items from the food served to the majority of inmates and by purchasing foodstuffs from commissary and the black market.
A wide range of goods can be purchased from the commissary in federal prison including basic clothing and foodstuffs. All of the food items available are generally non-perishable.
This depends of course on the inmate, but to live comfortably, at least $300 a month is recommended with $500 being recommended for initial one time expenses for things such as a radio, athletic shoes, sweat pants etc.
No. Since 2004 all federal prisons have officially been tobacco free. Cigarettes may be available on the black market at extremely inflated prices and with serious consequences for their possession.
A furlough is an authorized absence from an institution by an inmate who is not under escort of a staff member, U.S. Marshal, or state or federal agents. There are two types of furloughs: transfer and non-transfer.
This depends on many factors including who you are, what crime you committed, and what security level prison you do time. Generally low, medium, and administrative security level prisons are relatively relaxed and as long as the inmate acts with common manners, they will avoid problems. Inmates at medium and high security federal prisons are at a greater risk of violence and sexual assault.
No. However through a new program they can send and receive email to people who have been approved for communication.
Aside from watching TV and listening to the radio, inmates entertain themselves by playing cards, playing board games, writing, playing musical instruments (some prisons only), and exercising.
The physical fitness options available depend greatly on the prison. Most federal prisons have running tracks, sports fields, basketball and handball courts, and pull up bars. Some still have weight training equipment, but this is being phased out of all federal prisons – when the machines break, they are taken away rather than being repaired.
All telephone numbers that an inmate calls must first be approved by the institution. Federal inmates may call up to 300 minutes per month (400 minutes in November and December). Calls are limited to 15 minutes and at the end of the call an inmate must wait an hour before placing another call. All phone calls are recorded. Call costs per minute are 6 cents for local, 23 cents for long distance, 35 cents to Canada, 55 cents to Mexico, and 99 cents to all other countries.
No. Pornography is considered contraband.
The hole is the unofficial name for the Special Housing Unit (SHU). The SHU is a high-security building on the prison compound that consists of one- and two-person cells. Inmates are placed in the hole for a myriad of different reasons, primarily as either a disciplinary measure or as a means of protecting the safety of an inmate who has come under threats to their person. The hole also houses new inmates who have not yet been admitted to general population.
Unless it is marked as official legal mail, all mail sent to federal inmates will be opened and inspected. Mail that does not meet the guidelines of the instition will be returned to the sender.
Generally only letters and cards may be sent to federal inmates. An exception is Federal Prison Camps where paperback books may be sent. Inmates at other security level federal prisons may receive books from the publisher (Amazon.com and the like.)
Pedophiles are generally at the bottom of the totem pole. This includes those convicted of distribution/possession of child pornography. Due to the fact that pedophiles are placed in the same federal institutions, in the federal prison system they generally avoid physical abuse.
The showers in federal prison are not communal. There are separate stalls with plastic curtains. The exception is in the SHU where the shower is in the cell and there is no curtain.
The bathrooms in federal prison have stalls and urinals in male prisons. The stalls do not lock.
A khaki uniform is issued and must be worn during the certain hours of the week. Most inmates purchase sweat pants and a sweat shirt to wear outside of these times.
A halfway house is a residence located within a community where people are placed to serve all or part of a sentence, or to serve a period of time after being released from federal prison. The official purpose of halfway houses is to allow inmates to prepare for reentering the community by providing a place for transition from prison to free society.
Supervised release are rules imposed by the sentencing judge that apply to a person once he is released from federal prison. If those rules are broken, the person may be returned to prison.
Yes. Once supervised release is over (and in rare cases, during supervised release) felons do not lose the right to possess a passport and travel outside the United States.