Teresa Guidice ( inmate # 657003-050)of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”, you are going to the Federal Prison Camp (FPC) in Danbury, CT . When you’re there you’re going to sleep in my bed every night. I was formerly inmate there. The bed I’m referring to is the bed that I slept in when I was there. You will never wear orange because the uniforms in Danbury are olive green and the only place that orange is worn is in segregation. Orange is never worn outside of the Special Housing Unit (the SHU).Federal Prisons are run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) which a part of the US Department of Justice. The first thing than you need to know is that all policies do apply to you and a few rules of your facility will be adjusted for you.
There are only three things that you are allowed to bring to prison: 1) prescription glasses, 2) a wedding band valued at less than $99 and 3) money for commissary. Everything else including the clothes that you wear when you surrender will be sent back to your home. When I was a Danbury I heard from an inmate that, when Martha Stewart first got to FPC Alderson in West Virginia (where she did her sentence) the some of the other inmates gave her a hard time and were mean to her. Hopefully the woman telling me this was not one of those people and had been transferred to Danbury.
Visits from your immediate family are allowed except of course for your co-defendant. FBOP policy is that a co-defendant cannot visit his/her co-defendant. This means that your husband will not be allowed to visit you. I was with someone whose co-defendant was her husband and the prison denied him the right to visit her. The facility might initially deny your co-defendant/husband the right to visit you. But if your husband’s attorney makes a request to the warden they will let him visit because you have celebrity status.
How much will a prison photo of you, Teresa Guidice go for? You’ll never know. Most prisons do allow inmates to take photos with their families on visiting day or with other inmates. I met someone at Danbury who had done time with Lil’ Kim in Philly who said that inmates were not allowed to take pictures with her.
Mail is complicated. You can only be sent five magazines of books per package. Anything that’s not supposed to be in them gets returned to sender. Anything over what’s allowed is sent back. There are a lot of rules about the mail that the facility doesn’t really tell anyone. Like cards that are sent to inmates that have glitter or detachable parts will be returned. There are thieves among c.o.’s who sort the mail. At some facilities magazines and books that get sent to inmates were stolen in the prison mailroom and the only ones permitted to handle mail are c.o.’s. I know this because a woman I was with at Danbury got transferred to a different prison. I sent her magazines that she never got. Part of the envelope was sent back to me. (No, I should not be admitting that I wrote to someone who was in prison.) I will not the name the facility where an inmate’s mail was stolen.
You think that you are lucky being allowed to surrender at to FPC Danbury in January. You may get a rude awakening at 2 AM when a c.o. wakes you up to go and shovel snow. I went to Danbury in the spring. When I was assigned a job, I was assigned to grounds where one of the responsibilities of is shoveling snow. In the spring, summer, and early fall you have nothing to worry about. Inmates who surrender or get sent in the spring get to know the facility and which jobs are available. So if you knew that someone who worked in the kitchen was being released in September and you were friends with someone in the kitchen, you leave grounds in September and go work in the kitchen. No snow duty. Unfortunately if you surrender in January, you won’t have enough time to get to know how the facility works before the first snow fall. You will definitely end up shoveling snow at 2AM. If you are assigned to do it and refuse, you will be sent to segregation or the SHU. I left grounds in October and went to Unicor. I was made to shovel snow once outside the Unicor warehouse because the c.o. at Unicor was a jerk but it was at 10 AM.
All prison phone calls are recorded. When you’re on the phone there’s a really nice message that comes up that says, “This is a call from a federal prison.” You may only speak to one person when you make a call. You may not have a conference call with three of the producers from your show. Prison rules about phone calls are very strict. If you violate them, you can possibly get your phone privileges suspended. When you are in prison you should not be possession of anything that is not part of what you were given at the facility or sold on commissary. There are no electronic devices allowed in prison iPhone, smartphones tablets, etc. If you’re caught with something that you’re not supposed to have, you can be sent to segregation and/ or be transferred to another facility without notice. Additionally the facility can deny you the right to have anyone visit you because the belief would be that any contraband items were brought to you during a visit.
You are not most inmates. You are a reality TV show star. The prison administration should never get the impression from you behavior that you are trying to profit from being in prison. Again if they do, they have the right to take away phone privileges or visits. When you make release arrangements you have to tell the facility the make, model and license plate number of the vehicle you are leaving in. If it doesn’t match you have a big problem.
Lastly prison is a life transforming experience. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT. I was one of those women who survived on 12 cents an hour job for the first few months, I never had any visits, rarely got mail, and no one ever wanted to accept a phone call from me. When you get mail every day, have money for commissary, can make a phone call to someone who wants to speak to you. You are profoundly blessed. I lost everything before I went to prison. I was so happy to leave prison even though I had nothing to go back to. I’ve never looked back. You may not believe it now but when you go to prison and hear some of those women’s stories, you will realize how are profoundly blessed you are. You have a home, your children and incredible earning potential to go back to. You will never have the worries the majority of women leaving prison have. Yes, you have the challenges of your husband being incarcerated and being deported. But with patience and time but eventually everything will work itself out.
Some people say that there are better people for the experience. I feel that I am. The experience of being in prison can make you a better person. If you can find a new, better you, always allow yourself to always be that better person that prison may has taught you to be. If want to read a good book about prison, “Lessons from San Quentin” by Bill Dallas.