24 October 2012

Minimum-security Federal prisons

"...the most interesting part to me was hearing Conte talk about his four-month prison sentence at the Taft Correctional Institution (near Bakersfield, CA). It's a privately-run minimum security federal prison with 1,700 inmates, and Conte's account of the goings on there is astounding:

Sports complex "The first morning, when I woke up it was a kind of university-campus like setting. I walked out and in the middle of the courtyard was a huge sign that said 'Sports Complex.' Basketball, football, baseball, soccer, bocce ball, volleyball, handball...

Rec center ... there were six pool tables, six foosball tables, six ping-pong tables."

Music department "... this huge music department... We have a routine on Friday nights and the bands play concerts outside.'"

Drugs This is my first 10 minutes -- I was on the compound I started walking with some guys around the walking track and I went [sniff] -- 'Are they smoking weed around here?' And they said, 'Yeah! You want some weed?'... But yeah, anything that you wanted -- alcohol -- any and every type was $25 for 8 ounces. They had meth, they had steroids, they had cocaine."

No fences "...That Christmas, about 25 guys just walked out on the freeway and they had their families pick them up and they left. So it's kind of an honor system."

Female prison guards as hookers "... they had several really nice-looking female correctional officers there... And they said 'Listen, you want some action?' I'm telling you the straight scoop. My understanding is on average they were making about $30,000 a month."
Further details (and a video of the interview), and a comment thread at BoingBoing.  This is the type of for-profit prison facility where white-collar criminals (bankers, lawyers, politicians) would be imprisoned.


  1. Mother Jones has an interesting counterpoint here: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/10/solitary-confinement-shane-bauer

    1. See also this old post -


  2. Reminiscent of 18th century British prisons where the prisoners were permitted to have access to their property in their cells. Friends, family, sex workers, and even tourists (for a pence or two the guards would allow you to gawk at prisoners scheduled to be executed) could come and go as they pleased.

    Associates brought food, booze, money to bribe the guards, and all manner of other things into the prison. Particularly in the Tower of London where wealthy people might be imprisoned you could pay the jailer for preferential accommodations and set up a nice little flat for yourself.


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