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February 10, 2012

"The Best Places to Go to Prison"

Best-place-prisons-yanktonThe title of this post is the headline of this interesting slideshow from the folks at CNBC.  As this brief description of the slideshow reveals, the headline should really have the word "federal" somewhere as the list only reflects federal facilities:

Ever wonder what prison life is like for high-profile white-collar criminals like Bernie Madoff, or how Martha Stewart got through her time in prison?

The prison experience all depends on where you wind up, according to Alan Ellis, a criminal defense attorney and co-author the “Federal Prison Guidebook.” Ellis, who specializes in defending federal white-collar criminals, has made a career of bargaining to get his clients the lowest possible sentences and get them into the best prisons possible.

The worst federal criminals wind up behind bars in U.S. penitentiaries. But there are also medium-, low-, and minimum-security prisons. Of those minimum-security facilities, known as federal prison camps, some are adjacent to higher-security prisons and others stand alone. It’s the stand-alone ones that Ellis believes are most preferable. “The staff is less stressed out,” he said. “As I like to say, happy staff makes happy inmates.”

Federal prison camps also have limited or no fencing, and “zero” violence. Ellis cautioned, however, that these are no country-club — or “Club Fed” — facilities. The inmates are still in prison and away from their loved ones. It’s not just the camp accommodations that made Ellis’ list. For the low- to medium-security inmate, there are choice assignments, as well.

So where are the best places to do time? Click ahead to see the names Ellis believes should be on every federal inmate’s wish-list, in no particular order.

I have reprinted here what struck me as the most appealing looking of the facilities that made this list, and here is the CNBC description of FPC Yankton:

Number of prisoners: 868

Location: Yankton, S.D.

This stand-alone federal prison camp is in downtown Yankton, S.D., and was once a college campus. Inmates have the opportunity to leave the prison site and go into the community by volunteering for local nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity. The inmate and charity must be approved, and the prisoner is supervised by a representative from the organization.

Those who stay inside the prison camp may play sports, take art lessons, or play any of the instruments in the music room. There is also a library with hundreds of books.

February 10, 2012 at 03:28 PM | Permalink


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if you ask me, spending winter in South Dakota would qualify as "cruel and unusual punishment"

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Feb 10, 2012 3:44:15 PM

would love to see ratings on the best MDC & MCC facilities also MDC L.A. should rank right up there, quite an impressive edifice right in the center of downtown with easy access to mass transit to boot

Posted by: timebandit | Feb 10, 2012 4:15:47 PM

LOL i'm with you virginia! back in the 70's i had to send jan/feb/march there....while in the air force. It was NOT fun

Posted by: rodsmith | Feb 10, 2012 7:08:43 PM

What happened that Oxford Federal Prison Camp didn't make the list? A couple of year's ago it was touted for having a salad bar, the inmates can spend time outdoors, there are no locks on the doors, visitors aren't searched.

Posted by: msyoung | Feb 10, 2012 9:53:29 PM

The slide show did show mostly low security or camps. Federal Prisons do have lovely landscaping and infra-structure. That's a perk for the community where they are located. Another perk is employment.

It's interesting that there are many first time offenders who are non-violent who are serving time in USPs with high security. This is just a function of the length of their sentence.

Posted by: beth | Feb 10, 2012 11:47:37 PM

Wow!! I can’t believe it took me so long to find you! THANKYOU!

Posted by: Cheap Nike Dunks | Feb 11, 2012 1:08:40 AM

Heh I always thought that you should feel bad in prison, but it looks some prizons could be in fact quite pleasant places.

Posted by: Keanan | Feb 11, 2012 8:05:46 AM

Re Cheap: Obviously you haven't been to one or visited a loved one there. Trust me, it's still prison.

Posted by: bigFed | Feb 11, 2012 9:23:02 PM

My pick for the prettiest prison ever from the outside was the former Staunton Correctional Center which was located on the original location of Western State Hospital.

Here is an article about its restoration and conversion into a mixed use project: http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2011/january-february/artful-restoration-1.html

Of course, the developers do not seem to be very eager to advertise the fact that they are selling "luxury" housing in a former prison and mental hospital since they do not mention it at all on their homepage (but offers plenty of photographic evidence that this was the prettiest prison ever!)


Incidentially, staying in a hotel/spa being built in an historic former mental hospital/prison sounds very romantic - definitely more romantic than Red Lobster and bowling ;)

Erika :)

Posted by: virginia | Feb 12, 2012 8:24:54 AM

Wow, by the sounds of it I've been in worse hotels! In UK prisons some inmates are allowed games consoles.

Posted by: Charles | Jul 12, 2012 9:22:24 AM

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