The two most recent Connecticut politicians convicted of violating federal election laws may serve their time in some of the cushiest prisons in the country.
Former congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley, for example, was sentenced this month to a 10-month term, five of which must be spent behind bars. She asked to do that time at the West Virginia detention facility known as “Camp Cupcake.”
“FCP Alderson,” as it is officially known, has housed its fair share of felonious celebrities. Martha Stewart spent some time there, as did legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday.
Ex-beauty queen and securities fraudster Danielle Chiesi did her 30 months at Camp Cupcake as well as ex-Michigan Supreme Court Justice Diane Hathaway and Lynette Fromme, who was sentenced to life in prison after she tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford.
Fromme escaped Alderson in 1987 and was recaptured two days later. She was released in 2009.
Last month, Stewart took part in a roast of Justin Bieber, during which she made light of her time at Wilson-Foley’s new home.
“The first thing you’ll need is a shank,” Stewart told Bieber. “I made mine from a comb and a pack of gum. I’ll show you how later. It’s so simple. I found Bubblicious works best and it’s so much fun to say. You see, when I did my stretch, all the hood rats on my cell block wanted to break off a piece of Martha Stewart’s ass. I decided some b—- needed to be got. I walked into the chow hall, picked out the biggest bull dyke and I stuck her. From then on, prison was easier than making blueberry scones.”
When Wilson-Foley reports to prison on July 1, she’ll be assigned a room with one roommate, a bunk bed, a chair and a desk, with the freedom to roam the 100-plus-acre grounds nestled in the Alleghenys when she’s not working.
FPC Alderson is the temporary home to about 1,200 inmates with a staff of approximately 180. According to the 83-page “orientation handbook” produced for inmates by the Bureau of Prisons, the facility “was opened in 1927 and has a historic significance as the first federal institution solely for the incarceration of female offenders.”
“It has always been the mission of FPC Alderson to provide opportunities through work, education, recreation, and other self-improvement programs to help you prepare for a successful return to the community,” the handbook says. “It is your responsibility to contribute to a positive atmosphere and to abide by the rules and regulations of the institution. You are encouraged to use your time at FPC Alderson as an opportunity to prepare for a better tomorrow.”
Wilson-Foley was was sentenced after pleading guilty to charges that she sought to hide services provided to her campaign by former Gov. John G. Rowland, who himself was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his role in the scheme.
Rowland, too, may be sent to a minimum security prison, in his case the Federal Correctional Institution at Otisville, N.Y.
Bernie Madoff had requested to serve his 150-year sentence at Otisville, but was denied the request. It is a popular destination for Jewish felons, as the facility boasts kosher food and a full-time rabbi.
Otisville handles a little less than 1,000 inmates split between the medium-security prison and the adjacent minimum security “camp,” where nonviolent inmates like Rowland are kept.
“This is a community and although you did not choose to be here, you are expected to respect the rights of others, both fellow inmates and staff,” according to the inmate orientation package. “You are expected to obey the rules and conduct yourself in a responsible fashion. Staff are expected to be respectful toward you. We understand that this is a time of special stress for you and the most helpful thing that we can do is to facilitate your participation in the criminal justice system process.”
That’s not to say Otisville doesn’t house more dangerous inmates. In 2009, Curtis Quinones, also known as “Sha,” was convicted of attempted murder for trying to stab another Otisville inmate in the neck with a “shank” two years earlier.
Back in 2005, when Rowland was heading off to his first term in prison, Bridgeport’s Lennie Grimaldi — himself an ex-convict but more recently the proprietor of the local news website Only In Bridgeport — wrote about what the ex-governor could expect.
“Prison camp time is sort of like living with an invisible fence,” Grimaldi wrote in Connecticut Magazine. “Observe the posted boundaries and the cops won’t bother you. There is little violence in a prison camp in part because felons there have a lot to lose — good time, phone time, visiting, recreation, etc. In a high-security facility, a guy doing 30 years for carving out someone’s heart couldn’t care less about cracking open another guy’s head with a can of tuna in a sock.”