What's the SD on "Club Fed"?

“Club Fed” is one nickname I’ve heard for what is essentially a cushy, white collar prison. According to popular folklore, “Club Fed” is any of several different semi-secret facilities within the United States federal prison system intended to house low risk, well connected inmates. Amenities at such facilities are purported to be much nicer than at more common institutions intended for more common inmates and include things like swimming pools, golf courses, much better food and satellite TV. Generally these facilities look much more like a golf course or resort with exceptional security than they look like a penal institution.

Allegedly, these facilities also serve as kind of a ‘retirement home’ for non-violent, well behaved inmates of advanced age or with special medial needs. Some people also claim that federal prosecutors will offer a transfer incarcerated witnesses to such a place as part of carrot-and-stick negotiations.

What’s the SD on this? Assume that I’m a wealthy CEO convicted of tax evasion. Where is the best facility to serve my sentence and how would my day differ from that of a average person serving in a typical medium security prison?

This is a few years old, but I suspect the slideshow is still applicable:

Note that there is a good argument for “cushy” minimum security prisons, albeit one that you may not like - cost. In spite of the “amenities”, the cost to keep an inmate in a minimum security lockup is much lower. Nowhere near as many guards to be paid, and so on. It makes sense to place inmates who will behave themselves in such places, and giving them a few perks sees to it that they really don’t want to find themselves getting shipped to a higher security prison.

Now my info is probably out of date and this particular Federal Prison is now a medium security one but here goes…

I spent my teen years in Big Spring Texas and we had a “Club Fed”. For one season my soccer coaches were inmates, I think they were required to answer our questions, anyway they did

The prison was not cushy at all, it was clean and pleasant but it was a prison, two to a cell with bunkbeds
There was no fence and the doors were not locked, nothing to keep you from walking out except the Federal escape charge and ensuing years in real prison
Some prisoners served on weekdays and went home on the weekends, some just served on weekends. Some were full time.
The whole thing was on a former AFB and the amenities were what you would expect from a 70’s Air Base, handball/racquetball courts and the like
AFAIK there were no serious criminals there, one coach had embezzled from his own company and was very close to his release date, I think that most of the prisoners there were short timers.
Pretty light for a prison but in no way resembling a country club


Jolliette prison, where Karla Homolka was held, has also been called a Club Fed. I think the term just gets applied to any jail that has looser conditions than the “hard time” jails from TV and movies.

Canada OTOH believes in rehabilitation and therapy:

There was a big to-do in the news at the time when it was revealed that he supposedly had a horse shipped out to the prison for his personal use.

I looked at that site. The amenities seemed to be things like a weight room at one place, or a foosball table at another and one even mentioned a library - shocking. I would expect most prisons to have those things.

Seriously? The warden’s name is Strother Martin? That’s the name of the actor who played the prison boss in Cool Hand Luke.

We used to have one nearby: the Lompoc Federal Prison Camp which was converted to a low, medium and maximum security prison in 1990. It was famous for being home to such luminaries as Ivan Boesky and H.R. Haldeman. It is now known as Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc.

This LA Times article describes it as:

I’ve worked in various levels of prisons, from the supermax to the Club-level.

Even at the best prisons, you’re still clearly in prison. The wondrous accommodations might at best equal what you’d get in a budget motel or college dorm.

At the best prison I worked at the luxuries were that every prisoner had his own room to sleep in (they still shared bathrooms and showers), they had basic cable plus HBO, and they could go back for seconds at chow.

There probably were a few white-collar criminals in the crowd but I never noticed any. The most common prisoners were young guys who had committed non-violent crimes like auto theft or drug dealing with some old timers who were essentially “retired”.

These minimum security prisons work out for everyone. The reduced security makes them generally cheaper to operate. It provides an incentive for prisoners to behave in order to either stay in an easy prison or in hopes of eventually being transferred to an easy prison. And it gives us a place to separate out low-level criminals from the more serious criminals who would target them in a maximum security prison.

Cool! I was born at Webb AFB which is now the Big Spring prison. I believe it’s privately operated.

Another base we were stationed at, Eglin AFB, had a Club Fed of some sort. I think some of the Wall Street criminal types were ensconced there. I seem to remember that the description matched Darryl Lict’s description of Lompoc (driven past the town on the 101 many times). It seemed a pretty low-key life, and the criminals were the sort that had great incentives to stay on the straight and narrow so they wouldn’t end up at a worse prison.

I did a double-take when I saw that also. I was unable to find much on the prison, but it does have a Wikipedia page. No mention of a warden Strother Martin; and I’d imagine that with a name like that, there would be. But it did have a golf course–from the Wikipedia link:

In addition, Thatcher was allowed to bring his horses, but (after more public outrage), that privilege was revoked.

On the subject of horses and prisons, the prison I described in my previous post (Wallkill Correctional Facility) has a horse farm. There are civilians that supervise it but the prisoners do the work. They learn about caring for horses and it’s considered a high-prestige job with a long waiting list. The horse are provided by the NYPD and other police departments that send their horses there for “retirement” when they’re too old to work anymore.

Sounds like there might have been some confusion when the prison officials were talking to the press. Yep, what we’ve got here… is a failure to communicate.

I’m smiling… That’s right. You know, that, that Rysdad smile of mine.

A friend of mine’s father was involved in the NY City Parking Violations Bureau scandal in the 80s (which stopped being funny when 1 of the participants killed himself), and was sent to Allenwood. From the little bit o research I did in the library (physically walking there, looking thru boox - pre-internet), it was described something like ‘minimum security for non-violent offenders, with the hope of rehabilitation. There are several physical recreational options, including team sports, a tennis court and a swimming pool’.
It took a lot out of my friend for her Dad to be a felon; she was ashamed, and her Dad was a totally different person after release. A prison is still a prison. Except, as any1 who’s seen “Office Space” knows, Federal country clubs are better than state pound-you-in-the-ass prisons.