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More what to do if you are busted...

  PART II - FEDERAL PRISON 

   A. STATE v. FEDERAL 

In most cases I would say that doing time in a Federal Prison is better than doing time in the state institutions. Some state prisons are such violent and pathetic places that it's worth doing a little more time in the Federal system. This is going to be changing however. The public seems to think that prisons are too comfortable and as a result Congress has passed a few bills to toughen things up. 

Federal prisons are generally going to be somewhat less crowded, cleaner, and more laid back. The prison I was at looked a lot like a college campus with plenty of grass and trees, rolling hills, and stucco buildings. I spent most of my time in the library hanging out with Minor Threat. We would argue over who was more elite. "My sentence was longer," he would argue. "I was in more books and newspapers," I would rebut. (humor) Exceptions to the Fed is better rule would be states that permit televisions and word processors in your cell. As I sit here just prior to release scribbling this article with pen and paper I yearn for even a Smith Corona with one line display. The states have varying privileges. You could wind up someplace where everything gets stolen from you. There are also states that are abolishing parole, thus taking away the ability to get out early with good behavior. That is what the Feds did. 

  B. SECURITY LEVELS 

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has six security levels. Prisons are assigned a security level and only prisoners with the appropriate ratings are housed there. Often the BOP will have two or three facilities at one location. Still, they are essentially separate prisons, divided by fences. 

The lowest level facility is called a minimum, a camp, or FPC. Generally speaking, you will find first time, non-violent offenders with less than 10 year sentences there. Camps have no fences. Your work assignment at a camp is usually off the prison grounds at a nearby military base. Other times camps operate as support for other nearby prisons. 

The next level up is a low Federal Correctional Institution (FCI). These are where you find a lot of people who should be in a camp but for some technical reason didn't qualify. There is a double fence with razor wire surrounding it. Again you will find mostly non-violent types here. You would really have to piss someone off before they would take a swing at you. 

Moving up again we get to medium and high FCI's which are often combined. More razor wire, more guards, restricted movement and a rougher crowd. It's also common to find people with 20 or 30+ year sentences. Fighting is much more common. Keep to yourself, however, and people generally leave you alone. Killings are not too terribly common. With a prison population of 1500-2000, about one or two a year leave on a stretcher and don't come back. 

The United States Penatentury (U.S.P.) is where you find the murderers, rapists, spies and the roughest gang bangers. "Leavenworth" and "Atlanta" are the most infamous of these joints. Traditionally surrounded by a 40 foot brick wall, they take on an ominous appearance. The murder rate per prison averages about 30 per year with well over 250 stabbings. 

The highest security level in the system is Max, sometimes referred to as "Supermax." Max custody inmates are locked down all the time. Your mail is shown to you over a TV screen in your cell. The shower is on wheels and it comes to your door. You rarely see other humans and if you do leave your cell you will be handcuffed and have at least a three guard escort. Mr. Gotti, the Mafia boss, remains in Supermax. So does Aldridge Ames, the spy. 

 More what to do when you are busted--->>

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