If he’s lucky, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who enters a federal prison camp in Oxford, Wi., today, will get an uneventful strip search, a pair of comfy khakis, a bottom bunk in a room devoid of snorers, and a job that gives him the potential to earn the maximum salary of 40 cents an hour, says the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. “The hardest part is being separated from your family,” says David Corcoran, a retired chaplain whose protests against torture and war have earned him two six-month stints in that federal prison in the past six years.
With no cell phones or e-mails allowed, Corcoran had to make the best use of his maximum 300 minutes of public phone time a month. While the stereotype of a “Club Fed” country club existence is wrong, so is the idea that prisoners risk assault whenever they venture into the shower, Corcoran says. Corcoran, 73, is the same age as Ryan, who faces a 6½-year sentence. “There are no fences or bars, or anything like that, but you can’t sit around and do nothing,” he said. Corcoran had a job cleaning the kitchen. Some clean bathrooms. Others handle landscaping. Inmates prepare all the meals. “The thing I found really disconcerting, they check you six times a day to see if you are there,” Corcoran says, recalling waking in the middle of the night when the beam from a guard’s flashlight would hit his face. A missing inmate means everyone must get up and be counted.