South China Post

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Reprint From – January 7, 2015 Issue

Prison time for VIPs a bit ‘like a boring Groundhog Day’

A prison sentence is called “hard time” for a reason – there’s nothing cushy at even the low-security American prisons where many a VIP has done time.

But with celebrity convicts in the news in the US – including Real Housewife Teresa Giudice who began her 15-month fraud sentence on Monday, and former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, whose sentencing was due yesterday – there is now renewed interest in what life is really like on the inside.

“It’s kind of like a junior college setting,” explained Larry Levine, director and founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants, which advises clients before going into lock-up. “I don’t want to call it a stress-free environment, but it’s a lot of hanging out with the other inmates.”

Levine, who served 10 years in federal prison for racketeering, among other charges, said that a typical day at a low-security prison camp starts with wake-up call at 6am, a mad dash to the overcrowded bathrooms (“You never want to be the last guy in the shower stall – ever”), breakfast at 7.15am, work duty, lunch, more work, a head count at 4pm, mail call, dinner an hour later, free time, another head count, then lights out at around 11pm.

It’s not girlscout camp, but it’s certainly not the HBO jailhouse drama Oz either.

“It’s like a boring Groundhog Day,” Levine said.

Danger, according to Levine, is the big difference between a “supermax” penitentiary and the type of prison camps with no barbed wire perimeter fences.