Best Prison To Go To
“I saw your video about tips and tricks and got your sentencing calculator. I had no idea that I could ask for a specific federal prison at my sentencing,” an upset white collar defendant texted to me early this morning.
He continued, “My useless lawyer told me that asking for a specific federal prison is not allowed. Now I’ve been designated to Schuylkill Federal Prison Camp in Pennsylvania, which does not have the Residential Drug Abuse Program. My federal prison sentence is 41 months. I have a history of substance-abuse in my PSR, but I’m so incredibly upset that I’m going to a prison that doesn’t have RDAP. I am so upset, and there’s nothing my lawyer will do to try to help me. I’m devastated.”
It’s unfortunate that despite ample opportunity to prepare for his federal sentencing, mistakes were made. It’s a shame his defense attorney is doing nothing to rectify the situation.
While some lawyers don’t value prison consultants for reasons I get into elsewhere, there’s obvious reason that some prison consultants, or at least this one, don’t fully value criminal defense attorneys. I’m specifically referring to white-collar defense attorneys who try to offer prison advice, or who do not fully understand specific policies that guide the Bureau of Prisons.
I’m frequently asked, “What is the best prison to go to?”
Certainly, the answer will depend on your goals, values. In this case, it would’ve been wise for his lawyer to ask for a specific federal prison that has the residential drug abuse program. In this case, based on his location, that request should have been Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp. Understandably, it is of high value to him to get into the program and get up to 24 months off his federal prison sentence.
This gentleman would be eligible for the program immediately upon his surrender. Now, he must get approved for the RDAP program, then get transferred. Further, he might have to endure the prisoner transit (con air) to get there. It is an unfortunate experience that could’ve easily been avoided with some planning.
When considering the question, “What is the best prison to go to?” one has to assess their values and goals.
For example, some prisoners would rather stay busy during the day and have longer work hours. Staying busy throughout the day enables them to avoid boredom and feel as if they’re not serving hard time. If that type of defendant we’re on the West Coast, I’d suggest he go to Lompoc Federal Prison Camp, before Taft Federal Prison Camp, where I served time. History tells me that prisoners work longer days at Lompoc.
In my case, I never felt bored in federal prison. I didn’t get a job to feel productive and help pass the days. I wanted a job that would take me as little as time as possible. That way I could pursue my release goals and prepare to overcome all the obstacles that awaited me. For that reason, Taft Federal Prison Camp was a better prison for me.
When assessing what is the best person to go to, our sentencing calculator can help determine if it is in your best interest to go to a prison camp that has a big or small population. There are pros and cons to each.
In a large camp, for example, it is easier to blend in and manager your affairs, like running a business, writing a book, or just avoiding staff. It is easier to lay low, ignore people and end friendships that get in the way of your proactive prison adjustment.
In a small federal prison camp, like Atwater Federal Prison Camp in Northern California, it is harder to blend in, because there are so few prisoners. Each action you make is easy to scrutinize. If you associate with the wrong people it will stand out—there’s just so few prisoners. Resources are more scarce in a smaller federal prison camp as well.
The length of the sentence should also determine what is the best federal prison camp to go to. Proximity to your release address, educational programs, furlough opportunities, and more should determine what federal prison you should ask for at your sentencing. But to be clear, you should ask for the federal prison of your choosing—after all 74% of judicial recommendations are followed by the Bureau of Prisons.
For clarity, there are many similarities amongst big and small federal prisons. Dodger Stadium might look different than Yankee Stadium, but at the end of the day they are still both baseball stadiums. Still, given the data that exists on each prison it makes sense to pick the best one for you and your family.
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Let me get back to this text message I received this morning. I’ll do my best to help this defendant address some of the bad decisions that were made at his sentencing, and we will work towards a redesignation to Lewisburg Federal Prison Camp.
My work is highly ethical and there is no guarantee we will be successful. I told him as much when we spoke. I reminded him that one of the most important traits of a successful federal prison term is understanding what we can change versus what we cannot.
Understanding what I could influence versus what I could not had a major impact on my life. This gentleman cannot change the fact that his lawyer did not prepare him for sentencing. No anger, yelling, or disgust will change this reality.
Nothing will change that his lawyer took $100,000 from him, but did not think to spend 10 minutes with him to prepare him for the probation interview. And nothing changes the reality that the lawyer has not responded to one of his messages since his sentencing last month.
I empathize with this good man. My team and I will do all we can to get him rerouted to the federal prison of his choosing. If we are unable to, we will ensure he gets admitted into the residential drug abuse program at Schuykull, then we will oversee his transfer to a facility that has the program.
To those reading this: Profit from this good man’s losses. Once you access your values and goals, use the resources we avail you to pick the federal prison that is best for you.
P.S. Our sentencing calculator also tells you the best date to surrender so you can serve up to 6 fewer days in prison.