Former U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy and tax evasion, faces several years and perhaps a decade in federal prison, says the San Diego Union-Tribune. Sentencing is set for Feb. 27; he’ll likely go to a minimum-security prison camp. “Prison is bad,” said Barry Minkow, who spent more than seven years in prison for the ZZZZ Best Co. scam. “But if you’re going to be in prison, camp is the way to go.” Even so, a prison camp is no country club for a 63-year-old man accustomed to power and luxury.
“There is no Club Fed,” said Stephen Richards, co-author of “Behind Bars: Surviving Prison” who spent three years in federal prison in a drug case. “All of the prisoners will know he’s a congressman. If he acts like a congressman, he’s in deep trouble.” It’s a myth that most of the 188,232 federal inmates are white-collar criminals. About 53 percent are drug offenders, 14 percent are in for weapons violations, and 11 percent for immigration violations. Fewer than 1 percent are in for banking or insurance fraud, counterfeiting or embezzlement. Cunningham most likely will start out washing pots and pans, cleaning shower stalls, buffing floors,or mowing grass for 12 cents a hour. If he behaves, he could move up to a higher-paying, more desirable job that might allow him to go off-site for short periods of time. Top pay is $1.15 an hour. In 1995, Cunningham co-authored the “No Frills Prison Act” to prevent “luxurious” prison conditions. It would have prohibited unmonitored phone calls, in-cell TVs, coffee pots or hot pots, viewing of R-rated movies, food better than what enlisted Army personnel get or unauthorized hygiene products or clothing. Luckily for him, the bill failed.