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Federal Prison Guidebook – The Guide Book on Federal Prison Federal Prison Guidebook – The Guide Book on Federal Prison

The Guide

Fully revised and updated March, 2015

Read the latest review from
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers


As featured by: 

This is the essential information that you must have to survive federal prison.

 The most up to date federal prison information available today.

Federal Prison: A Comprehensive Survival Guide is an extremely important tool in helping to educate and inform the individual facing time in federal prison and should be required reading for not only the inmate to be, but also for his or her relatives and attorney.
Cheri Nolan Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Department of JusticeWashington D.C.

I am a former federal inmate. If you are headed to federal prison, this guide will help you to prepare and survive. If you have a loved one or client who expects to be sentenced to federal prison, this guide will help you to understand exactly what they are facing and what you can do to help. The information offered is relevant to both men’s and women’s federal prisons.

Federal Prison: A Comprehensive Survival Guide is the most accurate, up to date, and comprehensive guide about preparing for and surviving federal prison available today. The third edition has been painstakingly researched and builds on the second edition to include an additional 200 pages of invaluable information with an in-depth discussion of an array of new topics including:

  • Federal prison email system
  • Medical and religious diets
  • Inmate access to MP3 players
  • Furloughs (temporary release from prison)
  • Life in federal prison for sex offenders including those convicted of possession/distribution of child pornography
  • Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) – what it is and what to expect
  • The problem of sexual assault by staff and other inmates
  • The effect of the Second Chance Act (2007)
  • What to expect at a halfway house and ramifications for refusing placement
  • Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR) including a complete list of facilities with this program that offers the highest paying jobs in the federal prison system
  • Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) including details on how to qualify and receive a reduction in your sentence

For the inmate to be, this 420 page comprehensive guide will help to put your mind at ease, answer your questions, show you exactly what to expect and tell you what you must do now to properly prepare for federal prison or Federal Prison Camp (minimum security federal prison) and ultimately survive your time there. To learn about federal prison life, this is the one and only prison guide that you need. Choose from two options – instant online access only OR both instant online access AND a traditional paperback edition.

Why I wrote a guide about federal  
and who should read it.

On a warm August morning in Indianapolis, Indiana, after a year of constant stress and dread, I left my sentencing hearing at the federal courthouse with what had to be considered a very good result under the circumstances; six months incarceration in federal prison for submitting fraudulent student loan applications to acquire funds which were used to address a medical problem, help pay for school, and start a business. As my lawyer accompanied me to the courthouse exit, she turned and said, “It has been a pleasure representing you. Please do keep in touch.” And with that, she walked away. I stood there on the steps of the courthouse and I realized that while I had survived the legal proceedings phase of my case with the help of my lawyer, I was now utterly alone and completely unprepared for the penalty phase. I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare for my impending stay in federal prison. My mind was flooded with countless questions about life in prison.

  • Will I be assaulted?
  • What will the other inmates think of me?
  • Will I be extorted?
  • Will I be strip-searched?
  • Will I be given a body cavity search?
  • What will a normal day be like?
  • How will I pass the time?
  • Will I be able to exercise?
  • What will I eat?
  • Will I be locked in a cell?
  • What will the sleeping arrangements be like?
  • Will I have to shower in front of other men?
  • Will I have to go to the bathroom in front of other men?
  • Can I bring anything with me?
  • Which one of the hundreds of federal prisons out there will I be sent to?
  • What about my medications?
  • Will I be locked up with murderers and rapists?
  • What if I get sick?
  • Will everyone know the details of my crime?
  • What will happen to my business?
  • How soon and how often can I have visitors?
  • What will the prison look like?
  • Who will I eat with in the chow hall?
  • What about gangs in federal prisons?
  • Will I need money in prison? If so, how much?
  • Will I be forced to work? If so, what kind of job will I get?
  • Can I use the bathroom at any time day or night?
  • Will I be able to access the Internet or send email?
  • What about listening to music?

I immediately turned to the Internet and came across a number of websites offering federal prison survival guides. I purchased publications with titles like Surviving Jail!, Federal Prisons – Survive!, and Down Time. I read all of these prison guides front to back. After a few months in federal prison, I came to realize that all of these federal prison guides, while certainly offering some good information, had been severely flawed.

I too am being convicted of a white collar crime and this has been the scariest process of my life. Finding information on sentencing, prison life ect ect has been tough to do in language that people who have never been involved with the criminal system before understand. Thank you for writing this guide.
T.L. in Florida

The three glaring flaws in all the prison
books and guides that I read.

There were three glaring flaws in all the surviving federal prison guides that I read.

  1. First, they were full of gross exaggerations, especially when it came to violence and sexual assault.
  2. Second, they exemplified only extreme points of view. Some authors were so politically correct that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was all but commended as an outstanding organization that demonstrates the utmost concern for all inmates. Other authors appeared on the other end of the spectrum, labeling inmates as being the subject of constant abuse, neglect, and ridicule by the same BOP. The more balanced (and more truthful) view was simply not represented.
  3. Third, they attempted to cater to everyone. The fact is that the different security level federal prisons are vastly different in numerous ways; inmate and staff attitudes, rules–spoken and unspoken, sleeping and living arrangements, prevalence of violence, level of bureaucracy and much, much more. Any general guide then that attempts to address inmate concerns at all federal prisons is bound to omit important specifics and provide erroneous information that is simply irrelevant at best and dangerous at worst.

    It should come as no surprise that the information that an inmate at a minimum security Federal Prison Camp (where there is not even a fence to prevent escape) will find useful and relevant will not be of much help to an inmate at a high security facility where guards with shoot to kill orders patrol the perimeter of tripe razor wire fences.

    In the interest of profits it seems that many authors have turned a blind eye to the facts. While certainly helping to boost sales, implying that a single guide will be helpful to all federal inmates is in my mind grossly irresponsible and indeed outright negligent.

What makes this guide different
and what this means for you.

This federal prison guide differs in a number of ways from the others that have been published to date

  1. First, I have been careful not to embellish or exaggerate. While making sensationalised claims of impending gang fights and attempted rape may help to sell books, it is simply not the reality for the majority of federal inmates. Having said this, violence and sexual assault in prison are a fact of life and I have detailed with care as to what to expect and how to keep yourself safe.
  2. Second, I have taken great care to write a balanced and objective view of life in federal prison. Where the BOP deserves credit, I have commended them. And where they have in my view abused their authority or ignored their own rules, I have not backed away from detailing the offending behaviour and criticising them. For this I make no apologies.
  3. Third, because I did my time in a Federal Medical Center (FMC), which is basically government public relations talk for one prison housing inmates of ALL security levels adjoined by a small clinic, I am in a unique position. With triple razor wire fences, controlled moves and many inmates doing decades and even life, the security level at a FMC is similar to that of a low security Federal Correctional Facility (FCI). At the same time, daily life, inmate attitudes, prevalence of violence, spoken and unspoken rules, and the general culture of the prison is comparable to that of a Minimum Security Federal Prison Camp (FPC).

For these reasons and more I can state unequivocally that this 420 page guide will be of enormous assistance to the individual who has been or expects to be sentenced to serve time in one of three different types of federal prisons:

  • Federal Prison Camp (FPC) Typically non violent offenders sentenced to under 120 months (referred to as minimum security federal prisons).
  • Federal Medical Center (FMC) Offenders of all security levels who have a documented physical or mental medical condition, which requires ongoing care.
  • Low Security Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Typically those sentenced to over 120 months, who are not considered at extreme risk of becoming violent or attempting escape. Also sex offenders even if they are serving less than 120 months.

These three different security level federal prisons currently house approximately 55% of all federal prison inmates.

The guide will also be helpful to anyone who will be spending time at a Federal Detention Center (FDC), a Federal Correctional Complex (FCC), a Federal Transfer Center (FTC), a Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) or a Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC).

If you are headed to a medium, high, or maximum security federal prison or if you expect to serve your sentence in a county jail or state prison, while this guide will have a lot of relevant information, it has not been written specifically with you in mind and it would be irresponsible for me to claim otherwise.

This 420 page guide will help you by:

  • Reducing the stress that you are currently experiencing by revealing many of the unknowns that are worrying you. The guide paints a vivid picture of what to expect on the inside of a Federal prison.
  • Keeping you relaxed and calm during the first few days and weeks of your sentence when you are exposed to new and difficult challenges. You will know what to expect and how best to react.
  • Ensuring you are as comfortable as possible during the initial stages of your time in general population by showing you exactly how to prepare and providing vital details on commissary, phone, visitation and mail.
  • Showing you how to keep your sanity during the many days or even weeks that you may spend in the hole upon your arrival (even if you have been designated to a Federal Prison Camp).
  • Maximizing your personal safety by clearly explaining how to avoid becoming the target of another inmate (or CO).

You will learn vital strategies for
prison survival including:

  • The Thirteen Golden Rules of Inmate Etiquette
  • How to make your time in the hole as comfortable as possible
  • The 5 things to do immediately upon arrival
  • How to avoid a physical assault
  • How to avoid a sexual assault
  • How to create the right impression and fly under the radar of the COs
  • How to navigate the black market
  • What to do when offered a “gift” by another inmate
  • How to watch TV as a new inmate without triggering a confrontation
  • The way to save big on prison phone calls
  • And much, much more

Limited time bonus offer!

For a limited time, each order of Federal Prison: A Comprehensive Survival Guide includes invaluable bonus documents.


The first is the original Admissions and Orientation (A&O) Handbook given to all new inmates. This 40 page document will give you a very clear view of the official rules and what is expected of you as an inmate.

Topics include:

  • Unit Management
  • Unit Living
  • Inmate Dining
  • Health Care Services
  • Employment
  • Safety Rules and Regulations
  • Maintaining Outside Contact
  • Inmate Telephone System
  • Visiting
  • Money and Commissary
  • Institution Programs
  • Release
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Prohibited Acts and Disciplinary


The 3-page Special Housing Unit (SHU) Bulletin for Inmates. This guide is given to all new residents and will show you exactly what is expected of inmates doing time in the hole.

Topics include:

  • Commissary
  • Counts
  • Clothing & Linen Issue
  • Duress Alarm Button
  • Feeding
  • Hygiene
  • Law Library
  • Orderlies
  • Personal Property
  • Reading Material
  • Recreation
  • Searches
  • Telephone Calls
  • Visitation
  • nmate Bedding
  • Inmate Clothing Attires\
  • Cell Lights
  • Cell Appearance
  • Movement Within Unit


The complete visiting regulations for FMC Devens. Learn how many visitors an inmate may have, what they can and can’t wear, acceptable physical contact and more!

Topics include:

  • Visiting Times
  • Frequency of Visits
  • Number of Visitors
  • Regular Visitors
  • Special Visitors
  • Attorney Visits
  • Media Visits
  • Visiting Procedures


The complete commissary list of FMC Devens. This list is representative of the selection of items and prices that can be expected across the BOP system.


Truly unique, this includes the first hand accounts of six current and former federal inmates presented raw and unedited. This is the first time that their stories have been made public. Learn about the circumstances that led to their incarceration, their experiences in the federal prison system, tips and suggestions for the new inmate, and life after release for those fortunate enough to have reached the end of their sentence.

I just came home from a six month sentence at a Fed Sat Low facility. Found your website – You have done an excellent job. I wish your product had been available before I went in – your descriptions are EXACTLY what I observed. Well done.

J.M Virginia

One Year 100% Money Back Guarantee

You risk nothing when ordering Federal Prison: A Comprehensive Survival Guide because the guide is guaranteed for one full year. I know what you are thinking. Great, a one-year money back guarantee is going to do me a lot of good in prison. But before you declare this just another disingenuous marketing ploy, let me explain.

Before you go to prison, leave your order number and my email address with a friend or relative. Once you have adjusted to life on the inside, if at any time within one year, you don’t agree that the advice and information revealed here genuinely and sufficiently helped you in your transition to life in prison, ask that person to send me an email and I will issue a complete refund directly to them. It’s that simple. The same policy applies in the case that a friend, relative, or attorney purchases this guide on behalf of a federal inmate. You risk absolutely nothing.

How to Order

When you purchase Federal Prison: A Comprehensive Survival Guide you are free to choose between a digital version with instant online access (Windows Only) and a traditional paperback edition.

But let’s be honest. This is about more than just a guide. This is about your peace of mind. This is about your physical safety and mental well being. This is about preparing for what will likely be the biggest challenge that you have ever faced.

By studying this guide and following the advice given, your life as a federal prison inmate will be made far more comfortable. You will enter prison prepared and confident. You will avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that can cause undue hardships throughout your entire sentence. How much is your peace of mind, physical safety and mental well being worth?

Right now the  paperback with all 5 bonus books is available for just $197, about 10% of what you would pay for a meeting with a self appointed “professional prison consultant” and likely a tiny fraction of your legal bills to date.

Before you start thinking that this is too much to spend, carefully consider the far greater cost of walking into federal prison unprepared and unequipped to deal with the challenges that will confront you from day one.

Your life now – before your sentence or surrender, and your life as a federal prison inmate can be made far more comfortable if you take action now. As I stated earlier, unless your lawyer was previously incarcerated, he or she is not qualified to give you more than the most trivial advice on your impending stay in prison. I have stood in your shoes. The information I have compiled will be of enormous assistance to you.

If you are happy to wing it or rely on the advice of internet forums and outdated “unauthorized” prison survival manuals and such, that is of course your prerogative and in all sincerity I wish you the best of luck. However, if you wish to completely prepare yourself, then this guide will show you everything you need to know.

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Thank you Jonathan. Good luck to you. Your guide is a real blessing to clients and will be helpful to me in ensuring that they understand what is facing them.

Shaun G. Clarke Shaun G. ClarkeHouston & New Orleans

Let’s face it; going to Federal prison (even minimum security federal prisons) is not easy. You are losing control over your life. There are a million unknowns and a million things to worry about. But with the right information, your current stress and anxiety will be greatly reduced and the transition to your new life in Federal prison will be made as comfortable as is possible.

I know how difficult this time is. For what little comfort it may offer, I can tell you that the stress surrounding your impending incarceration and indeed your time in Federal prison will pass. I wish you the very best.

Warm Regards,