Rich people’s prisons

It goes without saying that the wealthy get privileges that are denied to the rest of us and so it should not be a surprise that even on the rare occasions when they are convicted of crimes and have to go to prison, they are given preferential treatment. This article in the upscale magazine Town & Country describes some of the facilities where you don’t have to mingle with the riff-raff and some of the rich people who went to each. Just the exterior alone tells you that these are no ordinary prisons.

Here is one in Pensacola, Florida and a description of what it offers.

Alan Ellis, a California lawyer who for the last decade has compiled the Federal Prison Guidebook, a sort of Fiske Guide for felons, tries to persuade judges to send his clients (including Alfred Taubman) to stand-alone minimum-security federal prison camps (FPCs). For women there are only two possibilities (Alderson, in West Virginia, and Bryan, in Texas); for men, five (Yankton, South Dakota; Duluth, Minnesota; Montgomery, Alabama; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Pensacola, Florida). Prisons on military air bases (Montgomery and Pensacola) are preferred, because they offer air conditioning and superior medical care. And the personnel on the bases are less edgy, because they’re not also working with violent offenders across the yard. “Most minimum-security facilities are situated within larger, multi-designation prisons,” Ellis says. This is not the setup at bases. “I’ve seen people use their terms as independent study periods or sabbaticals — reading books they never got around to and reflecting on the costs of ambition.” Other perks are liberal TV privileges, regular Internet access, and (for men) step aerobics classes, ceramics, crocheting, and knitting.

I actually don’t grudge these people such treatment. I just would like all prisoners, not just the affluent and well-connected, to be treated equally well.


  1. says

    The culture war between the rich and everyone else is over; this is the “mopping up” phase.

    It’s not just that the rich have nicer prisons, but they are less likely to wind up in one (because they can spend $$ on lawyers and plea bargains) and won’t stay as long if they do (because they can spend $$ on lawyers and appeals). The whole system is completely corrupt. You’ve got guys who are serving life sentences for holding small amounts of dope, and guys like Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, who are fined a smallish (about 10%) of their net worth because that’s the only part of their crimes that can be pinned on them, then they’re out in a few years.

    Wanna bet that prison doesn’t even have a solitary confinement cell? Meanwhile, in poor people’s prison, if you look at the wrong person the wrong way you’re in solitary for months as a “suspected gang member.”

  2. Anton Mates says

    I just would like all prisoners, not just the affluent and well-connected, to be treated equally well.

    Exactly. Why are “air conditioning” and “superior medical care” luxuries that rich prisoners have to finagle? Lab monkeys get air conditioning and medical care. We’re in basic “this is how you take care of an animal without it dying” territory.

    The proper functions of prison are containment, deterrence and rehabilitation. Way too many of my fellow Americans seem to think that the point of prison is torture, or protracted murder.

  3. robert79 says

    If these prisons were used to drain the rich of their wealth. and have the proceeds go into improving the conditions of the rest of the prisons, I might be okay with it.

    You want a hamburger instead of beans and rice for dinner? That’ll be one million dollars please!

    Unfortunately, I suspect any proceeds from these rich man’s prisons go into the pockets of other rich men (prison owners mainly.)

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