A Former Convict Explains What Felicity Huffman Could Face in Prison: 'It Can Be Humiliating'
Felicity Huffman’s upcoming prison stint could be the longest 14 days of her life.
But if she does her homework and knows what to expect, she can get through her two-week sentence and be home with her family before she knows it, says federal prison consultant Justin Paperny.
“The reality is there are troubles and pitfalls every moment of every day at camp,” says Paperny, who knows more than most about how the federal prison system works.
Convicted of securities fraud in 2007, Paperny served an 18-month sentence at Taft Federal Prison Camp in California. Now he runs his own firm, White Collar Advice, helping convicted criminals get ready for prison.
“The reason people come out of it successfully is that they prepare,” says Paperny, who helps clients before, during and after prison.
On Sept. 13, a federal judge in Boston ordered The Desperate Housewives star, 56, to serve 14 days in prison for her role in the biggest college admissions scandal in U.S. history involving 50 others including Full House star Lori Loughlin.
Huffman pleaded guilty last May to paying disgraced admissions consultant Rick Singer $15,000 to have a proctor change her oldest daughter Sophia’s answers on the SAT after she took the test.
The Emmy Award-winning actress is scheduled to report to prison on or before Oct. 25. Her sentence also includes a $30,000 fine, 250 hours of community service and supervised release for a year post-prison.
It’s unclear where she will serve her sentence, but Huffman’s attorneys asked if she could be sent to Federal Correctional Institution Dublin, a minimum-security prison camp in northern California.
The camp has been described as a relatively comfortable retreat.
“People associate these camps with country clubs because they see a basketball court or a track,” says Paperny. “The reality is that you are confined.”
Huffman may not even end up at FCI Dublin. “Just because you ask the Bureau of Prisons to designate you to your desired prison, while that increases your chances it doesn’t mean you’re going to get it,” he says.
She could also be sent to FCI Victorville, which is about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles, where Huffman and her family live.
She could also be sent to a detention center, where she would be housed with a more violent population. That, he says, would be “measurably harder.”
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Check-in will be a difficult experience at any facility where she could be sent.
On the day she surrenders, she will be strip-searched, he says. How that goes depends on the guards who are processing her and their “level of empathy,” he says.
Even so, “it can be humiliating,” he says.
After she is processed by having her fingerprints and photograph taken, “she will be given fatigues and a mattress.
Some of her fellow inmates might be enamored with Huffman’s celebrity, helping her with chores or giving her toiletries. Others might “loathe her because she’s rich and has great lawyers,” he says. “Some might say, ‘She got too short of a sentence.’ For that reason you can expect a great deal of hatred.”
Early to Bed (Hopefully), Early to Rise
On the positive side, good habits like rising early can help her stave off trouble.
“If she can wake earlier and create a productive routine by herself then she’s avoiding the drama and nonsense many of the people caught up in,” he says.
During waking hours, she should hit the gym – hard – so she can fall asleep easier at night. “It can be very noisy in the dorm, with lockers closing, prisoners yelling, the cutting of the toenails, the fighting, and the whistling,” he says.
His best advice? “Be stoic and recognize that the goal is to get out of there without any problems.”