During my lecture at The Marshall School of Business, I addressed the question, “What Happens In Federal Prison?“.

It is a fair question, I think. Our federal prison populations have exploded over the years. More people are curious about federal prison, including how prisoners spend their time on the inside. There are a number of “prison you tube channels” that I find fascinating and funny. While funny, some of those channels glorify prison, life on the inside. That is not the goal here at White Collar Advice.

Rather than offer tips about how to show in the commissary or how to make tacos with food from the commissary, we address the larger, more complex problem: Namely, how does one thrive after going to federal prison? I am not suggesting this video, What Happens In Federal Prison, will fully answer this complex problem. Still, it is a start.


On average ten people a day reach out to White Collar Advice to learn more about the ways we can help.

Twenty one percent of those people are home from federal prison. Many are continuing to struggle as a result of their time in federal prison or a minimum security camp. When we re trace their time in federal prison it is easier to understand why some are still struggling: too many wasted their time on table games, television and reading books without a purpose or strategy.

Last week, a released prisoner told me he read five books a week in prison. That is impressive, no doubt. When I asked him to provide me summaries of the books or express how that knowledge would assist him upon his release, he could not answer. Reading books without a plan or purpose is like watching television, in my opinion.

Let me own that I was on my way to also wasting my federal prison term. I spent my first few months in federal prison exercising all day, relaxing and decompressing. I rationalized I had earned the right to relax after fighting my criminal case for more than three years.

In time, however, I noticed many of my fellow prisoners, including friends, were wrought with anxiety over their looming release:

  • What will probation be like?
  • What will I do for work? I no longer have my law or accounting license?
  • Where do I go from here?
  • A few months into my prison term, I began to change course. As better described in Lessons From Prison, Michael Santos began mentoring me. He also began to hold me accountable.

In this short video, I try to address the reality of what really happens in a minimum security camp or federal prison. While some higher security prisons have violence on a daily basis, that was not the case in a low security prison or minimum security camp (FPC or SCP). Sure, I saw a few fights on the inside, a little violence. But a few fights is different that the stuff we see sensationalized on television shows.

Our goal, or one of our goals at White Collar Advice, is to get people to think about what life will be like after federal prison. Successful prisoners begin with the end in mind. They are pro active. They put first things first. They seek to create win-wins.

If prisoners think about what they want their life to be like after prison, they will use their time in prison more wisely. That is they goal of this short video: I want YOU to think about what you hope to accomplish in federal prison. What are your plans, goals? Who will you share those plans and goals with? Without someone holding you accountable, you may fall off track. Do not waste your time in federal prison. I beg you to use your time to prepare for life on the other side. I hope this video helps you create your plan.


Justin Paperny

P.S. Click here to enroll in our free five day prison preparations course.