Published February 4th, 2020
Club Fed. Rich man’s prison. Those are what most people think about when they hear the word “white-collar prison”.
Indeed, even in incarceration, wealth and influence still come into play. Small town thieves with no connection whatsoever get thrown in a regular jail. While high profile people can expect cushy accommodations.
But is it really as luxurious as it is portrayed? Or is it all just a myth created to stir public outcry?
Here’s what we found out about what is life actually like in white-collar prisons:
IT’S NOT AS CUSHY AS YOU THINK
We often think of white-collar prisons as this cushy hotel where the incarcerated rich and famous hold their soirees. Well, folks, it might not be as cushy as you think.
For one, they don’t get to hold soirees. Also, those reports about swimming pools and private golf clubs are a bit exaggerated. Though most white-collar prisons have better facilities than regular ones, it’s still not five-star quality.
Inmates still have to use communal bathrooms (albeit much cleaner). Some of them also have to sleep in overcrowded dorm rooms. They usually have to make do with dilapidated facilities and equipment too.
BEING FAMOUS IS ACTUALLY A BAD THING
As opposed to the outside world, being famous isn’t going to give an inmate special privileges in prison. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Because they’re famous, whatever they do in prison tends to get media coverage. If the press gets wind of any special privileges given to an influential inmate, they’ll surely descend on the facility like hawks. Public outrage is sure to follow. And that is the last thing prison administrators want. If anything, famous inmates usually get fewer privileges than their non-celebrity counterparts.
WHITE-COLLAR INMATES WASH THE DISHES TOO
Yes, you read that right. They mop the floors and do physical labor too like all the other inmates.
Even Jack Abramoff, the famous Washington lobbyist had to do the dishes for six months. Bernard Kerik, the former NY police commissioner who served four years had to mop the floors. Other known personalities have also shared about doing prison jobs when they were serving time.
FOOD IS USUALLY BETTER THAN MOST PRISONS
Prisoners don’t get the best meals. After all, it’s called “prison food” for a reason. But inmates in white-collar prisons have it better than others.
Otisville Federal Correctional Institution (the very same prison where Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is detained) even have kosher foods on their menu. Other white-collar prisons have coffee shops, cafeteria and vending machines. Inmates can help themselves with sandwiches, candies, and pastries if they have the money. And we all know that’s one thing white-collar inmates never lack for.
IT’S NOT FILLED WITH WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINALS
If you think that white-collar prison is only for white-collar criminals, then you are sadly wrong. The population inside is as diverse as that of the United States.
Technically, there’s no such thing as a white-collar prison. People who have committed white-collar crimes are placed in a facility befitting their sentence. If they receive less than ten years, they’ll be detained with other minimum-security inmates. Generally, the longer their sentence is, the higher security prison they’ll be in. (Related: Top Five Prisons For White-Collar Criminals)
As a result, a prison can have both white-collar criminals and violent drug cartel bosses roaming its halls.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of sharing knowledge. Having extensive experience in the prison industry, she wants to share what she knows with the world. Judy also loves to write about political and legal topics.