Eglin Federal Prison Camp in Florida, dubbed “Club Fed” by critics who say it is too soft on criminals, may be closed to safve money, says the Associated Press. The camp in the Florida Panhandle base and three others like it will be shut down to save about $38 million per year if Congress approves. That could increase costs for the Air Force, which uses the camp prisoners as cheap labor. Also on the closure list are camps at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., and Allenwood, Pa. An employee union charged that prison officials had exaggerated damage to Eglin from Hurricane Ivan to reduce the inmate population from about 750 to 219.
“Stand-alone camps are costly to operate,” said U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne said. The camps that would be closed are not near other federal prison facilities, meaning they can’t share resources and personnel with another prison. For example, when two federal prisons are near each other, they can share administrative workers or kitchens. Officials complain about Eglin’s “Club Fed” image, saying that all inmates must work and are deprived of their liberty just like any other prisoners. Eglin’s cells have held such celebrity inmates as Watergate figures E. Howard Hunt and H.R. Haldeman, former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel, baseball pitcher LaMarr Hoyt, fashion magnates Aldo Gucci and Albert Nipon, evangelist Richard Dortch and Richard Kelly, the Florida congressman caught in the Abscam bribery scandal.