January 31, 2016
“This place is just too boring for me, too many staff and just too much damn time on my hands,” a fellow white collar offender said to me while washing dishes at Taft Federal Prison Camp.
I shared that quote with a white collar executive about to be sentenced, and who wanted to know what life would be like in federal prison. He and his lawyer were considering their options at sentencing. Apparently, this defendant learned of my work about 8 months ago, but did not think to take appropriate action, because he was under the impression he would receive a sentence of probation. The government’s position paper, however, is asking for a sentence of 18-months. Hence, the research.
“I read parts of your book and Taft seems like a good spot. Should I ask for it?”
Through this call I explained that Taft was best for me, and most of my clients. Why? Well, Taft Federal Prison Camp does not have the rigid work structure of some prison camps, such as Lompoc. Yes, I worked in the kitchen (and did my job unlike some white collar offenders who outsource it), for about an hour or two a day, five days a week. But compared to Lompoc, a Bureau of Prisons facility, that is pretty modest. Because my work schedule wasn’t overhwhelming I had more time to work on my goals. Namely, writing, reading, teaching and fitness.
Taft also has more favorable “cubicle like” living conditiions. And from my research the restrooms are cleaner.
Now, I have said to clients, and through some of work with Pretrial Services, that living conditions are not reason enough to choose a prison. There will be aspects of discomfort regardless of where a defendant serves time.
My point was simply to convey some positives to Taft Prison. But all of the positives nothing trumps the more flexible schedule to work on yourself and prepare for your inevitable release.
Why was Taft not right for some white collar defendants?
Well, there are more staff. Taft Prison Camp is privately run. Because of that there are more staff floating around the compound compared to a BOP Facility, like Sheridan Prison Camp or Lompoc Prison Camp. The prison hustle, while active at Taft, is not as pervassive as some other federal prison camps.
For prisoners who lack focus and a plan it can become boring. For that reason, some prefer a place like Lompoc where you can spend your days working with Unicor. The work keeps them busy, and distracted from the obstacles awaiting them.
For some reading this, I know, you might have to work to make money. Prison can be expensive.
But if cost is not an issue, and you have big goals in prison and upon your release, then I would suggest choosing Taft Federal Prison Camp over any other prison on the West Coast. That is what I told this defendant.
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