The Raleigh News & Observer colloquially welcomes Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff to its Butner federal prison. “You don’t mind if we call you Bernie, do you? Or do you prefer federal prisoner 61727-054?,” the newspaper asks. Butner is as fine as you can get, though, if you’re forced to spend your golden years inside barbed wire. Butner Federal Prison is actually a complex, with five units. It’s got a terrific hospital, a camp for those on their way out, and a low-security portion, for short-timers. There are two medium-security correctional institutions. Madoff is in the oldest one, a set of dormitories that are home to 725 drug dealers, bank robbers, and gangsters.
“The inmates at Butner have had a great deal of experience with prisons and the justice system, and all seem to agree if you have to do time in prison, Butner is just about the best place to do it,” said Sol Wachtler, the former chief judge of New York state, who wrote a book about his stint at Butner for harassing a mistress. Butner grew out of an old Army base. The secret to staying happy and healthy? Don’t scam anybody in the lunch room. It’s a tough crowd.