Frequently Asked Questions about Prison…
Everyone has questions, especially those individuals facing federal incarceration. Everyone wants answers, but most people don’t know where to go to get those answers. People facing federal prison have many questions. Due to the constantly changing laws and Bureau of Prisons’ Program Statements, few attorneys have the time to keep up with all the new rules and regulations. Jail Time Consulting has the time and expertise to not only keep up with all the changes in policy and law but to even anticipate them. That’s our job.
Below are a few of the questions that appear in Jail Time, the Book. Jail Time, the Book, currently has 130 questions and answers devoted to all aspects of prison life. Below are a sampling of the questions most commonly asked. If you have a question that is not included in this section, please call our office or send an e-mail to us at email@example.com. We will promptly respond to your e-mail.
Will I be placed in a prison of my choice and one close to my family?
Your initial placement in a federal prison will largely depend upon three factors. First, it will depend upon your security level. Second, it will depend upon your medical designation level. Third, it will depend upon the bed space available at the institution of your choosing. Other factors include co-conspirators in your case, Public Safety Factors (PSF), Management Variables (MGTV), and the facilities Rated Capacity. Since the BOP is extremely overcrowded, there may not be available bed space at the prison of your choosing and you may be designated to a prison further from your home or a higher security level institution.You may also have to spend some time in the SHU, Special Housing Unit.
How will I know what type of a security designation I will receive?
Your security designation depends on several factors. All of these factors will be determined by your Pre-Sentencing Investigation (PSI). Your past criminal history will be considered as well as the nature of your current offense. The severity of your current offense is also very important.
- Was a gun used in the commission of the offense?
- Were people in harm’s way?
- What is the amount of money that was at risk?
Your sentence length is also an important factor in determining your security classification.
What does the length of my sentence have to do with me being designated to a Federal Prison Camp?
If you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than ten (10) years, you cannot be initially designated to or transferred to a Federal Prison Camp.
I heard that Federal Prison Camps are coed. Is that true?
No. There are no coed Federal Prison Camps or Federal Prisons. There are female Federal Prison Camps and Prisons which may be located adjacent to higher security male institutions, but no fraternizing is permitted.
If I go to a Federal Prison Camp, will there be real criminals there?
If what you mean by “real criminals” is violent offenders, the answer is no. The BOP attempts to keep like offenders together, although inmates in higher security institutions can work their way down over the years to Federal Prison Camps.
What types of criminals are housed in Federal Prison Camps?
In a Federal Prison Camp you will normally find two types of offenders. The first and smaller group is composed of white-collar criminals. The second and larger group is composed of offenders convicted of drug related crimes.
How do I know if I am a target of a Federal investigation?
At first you will not know. Eventually, you may have some inkling from someone interviewed by the Federal authorities who leaked the information to you. If you have an attorney, he will eventually be told that you are a target.
I have heard a lot about sex in prison; do I need to worry about sexual assault?
At least in Federal Prison Camps and low security Federal Correctional Institutions, sexual assaults do occur but not frequently. Most prisoners are respectful of other prisoners. Most inmates will not undress in front of other inmates and when taking a shower will only disrobe after being in the shower and pulling the curtain. Of course, there are always exceptions. Inmates in an FPC are just like citizens in the “real world”. They are knowledgeable about sex and some enjoy homosexuality and some despise it. If an inmate has a desire for a homosexual relationship, he will have no lack of willing partners.
If I am given a self-surrender report date, can I ask for an extension?
Yes, the request for an extension should be made by your attorney to the sentencing court providing the valid reasons for the extension. The judge will determine if the extension is granted or not. Jail Time Consulting offers a Program for “Stay of Report Date”. Call Jail Time Consulting for details.
If I am remanded to federal custody will I be able to talk to my spouse or receive visits?
If you are remanded to federal custody in the courtroom, you may have a brief minute to say good-bye to your spouse and maybe get a quick hug, but that is about it. When you are transferred to a non-federal facility, a city or county jail, you are subject to the same rules as other prisoners in that facility.
Can I receive a phone call while in prison?
No. An inmate may not receive any phone calls.
What if there is a family emergency?
If an emergency occurs, your wife or family should call the prison directly and leave a message for you to call them. They should give the inmate’s name, inmate registration number, unit he lives in, and the name of his Correctional Counselor or Case Manager if they know it. Hopefully, they will get the message to you, but don’t count on it. If you are a client of Jail Time Consulting, call us. We can help.
Is there a limit on the amount of telephone calls I can make?
Yes, you are allowed 300 minutes (which you must pay for) per month. You are not limited on the number of calls, just the number of minutes. In the months of November and December the BOP increases the total number of monthly minutes to 400 per month. Minutes do not carry over from one month to the next. If you don’t use them, you lose them.
Are all telephone calls and E-mail monitored?
All personal telephone calls and E-mail are monitored. Calls are tape recorded then reviewed later. E-mail is routed for review also. Some telephone calls may be monitored while you are talking live. All legal calls, made to your attorney, are not monitored.
What about mail? Is my incoming and outgoing mail opened and read?
Yes, remember at a Federal Prison Camp and all Federal Prisons all incoming mail is opened and checked for contraband. Outgoing mail is not normally opened and read unless the BOP staff feels you are doing something illegal or against BOP policy. All mail can be opened and read, incoming and outgoing.
What about mail, am I restricted from writing to or receiving mail from anyone?
Yes. You are not permitted to write or receive mail from other inmates or anyone who is a felon. If your wife is also in prison, you must request permission from both Wardens to write to each other which will probably be denied. Jail Time Consulting can help with this also.
If I know a female inmate, may I send her flowers?
No. Inmates may not receive flowers or any gifts.
Can I, as an inmate, send flowers to my wife on her birthday or anniversary?
You should consult your Unit Team members concerning this. If you have money in your commissary account a member of your Unit Team may be able to coordinate this for you.
When will I be able to have my first visit?
If things go smoothly and you do what we suggest in Jail Time, the Book,you should be cleared for visits within 1-2 days after your incarceration.
Someone told me I could have conjugal visits, is that true?
No. Conjugal visits are not permitted in the Bureau of Prisons’ system.
Someone also said that if my family visits me on Sunday, they could go to Church with me at the Chapel since I am in a Federal Prison Camp. Is that true?
No. At one time family members were permitted to attend church services with an inmate on Sunday, but no more.
Who can a friend of mine contact about the rules and regulations for visiting at the institution in which I am incarcerated?
He can contact the Bureau of Prisons’ facility in which you are incarcerated or he can contact Jail Time Consulting for this information.
What is my commissary spending limit?
Currently, the commissary spending limit is set at $290.00 per month excluding stamps and ITS-telephone credits.
What if I exceed my monthly spending limit at the commissary?
You will not be permitted to purchase anything until your next monthly renewal date. There are no exceptions.
What is it like shopping in the commissary?
Basically, it is a pain! It is a tremendous inconvenience. Most of the time is spent waiting in line. If you are not one of the first 25 inmates per session, you probably will not be permitted to shop. Some inmates at the FPC waited in the commissary line for 4-5 hours prior to opening to get a spot in line. There are certain tricks of the trade and helpful hints. Jail Time Consulting can help you with these.
What is on the commissary list?
The commissary list varies from institution to institution. Normally, the commissary lists contain pre-packaged food items, toiletries, and athletic apparel not provided by the BOP. A Commissary list is provided in the Appendix.
What are the Health Services like in prison?
The quality of health services in prison is pathetic, appalling and inexcusable.
If I pay for it myself, may I use my own physician?
No. Inmates are the responsibility of the Bureau of Prisons and only Bureau of Prisons’ physicians or those contractually bound to the Bureau of Prisons may be used. You are stuck!
How do I get a job?
Your job assignment is totally based on the needs of the prison. Some jobs are matched with an inmate’s skills, other times an inmate’s job skills may prevent him from getting a job. If an inmate has skills as a manual laborer or a trade profession such as a plumber, he may be able to work as a plumber at the institution. If the inmate is a pharmacist, dentist, or physician or even has a medical background, he will not be permitted to work in the Health Services office.
Where will I make the most money at a job?
Inmates who work for Unicor make the most money of any inmates. Inmates, with non-Unicor jobs, start out at $ 0.12 per hour. Inmates working at Unicor start out at $0.23 per hour.
Is the food in the dining hall really that bad?
In one word, yes! Remember, every institution is different. But generally the food is terrible in both quality and quantity. Jail Time Consulting has current clients in almost every BOP facility and can provide information on each facility. Call us.
What if I get up late and miss breakfast?
If you miss a meal you are out of luck. The dining hall is only open a short period of time each meal; if you are late, you don’t eat. You do have the option of cooking commissary food in microwaves if you have one in your Unit.
What is the procedure for watching TV?
In order to watch television, an inmate is required to purchase a radio with a head set or ear plugs from the commissary. Television stations are programmed into FM radio frequencies. Without a radio you can still watch television, but you cannot hear.
Are inmates required to participate in physical exercise, sports, or other forms of physical exercise?
No, unless it is a program which is required by your Unit Team.
Are inmates required to take classes and participate in BOP courses?
If an inmate is unable to show that he has achieved a high school degree or its equivalent, he will be required to prepare for and pass a GED test prior to his release. In addition, during the course of a Unit Team meeting, the inmate’s Unit Team may make recommendations of courses to take or those that are required for release. It is to the advantage of the inmate to make sure these courses are taken.
When I get to a halfway house, can I have a self-employed job? Can I work for myself?
No and no.
Is the 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program really worth it?
Absolutely! The RDAP program is a very specialized program offered by the BOP which is of great benefit to inmates with a substance abuse problem whether it be drugs or alcohol. As an incentive for taking the program and successfully graduating from the program, the inmate may receive additional time off his sentence. This program is the only program available to federal inmates which can potentially reduce their period of incarceration in a federal institution by up to eighteen (18) months. This is in addition to any Good Conduct Time (GCT) earned. There are also three other programs which may reduce an inmate’s stay in federal prison. They are the Second Chance Act Program, the Compassionate Release Program, and the Commutation of Sentence Program. Jail Time Consulting has programs for each of these. Look on our website for details.
Is it true that graduates of the RDAP program spend the last six months of their prison sentence in a halfway house as opposed to the prison?
How can I find out more information on the Bureau of Prisons’ sentence reduction programs including the 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program, the Second Chance Act Program, the Compassionate Release Program and the Commutation of Sentence Program?
Contact Jail Time Consulting. We will explain each of the programs fully as well as the eligibility requirements required for admission to the program.