View Full Version : I hate to ask, but I really need to know ... What to expect at FCI Bryan & the feds

08-16-2002, 01:06 PM
I will be reporting to FCI Bryan for a 29 month visit in two weeks. I have never been to prison. I am scared to death!

Will I be strip searched? I have seen some horrible movies and they made it look like a rape.

Will men see me naked?

Will I have to fend off advences from other inmates?

Will I get to wear my own clothes?

Will my b/f get to visit me ... and touch me during the visits ... etc?

Just need to know all I can, I am one frightened lady.

Lissabeth, TX

08-16-2002, 01:29 PM
FCI Byan is right up the street from me and I happen to know a little about it. Another one of our members, Goldy is self surrendering there today. I am sure you will meet her once you get it.
As for your questions, let me try and answer a few of them for you.
I'll do so below in the quoted area.

Originally posted by bethbaby
I will be reporting to FCI Bryan for a 29 month visit in two weeks. I have never been to prison. I am scared to death!

Will I be strip searched? I have seen some horrible movies and they made it look like a rape.
There is a good chance that you will be strip searched. Since the security level there is low, it probably will just be cursory. At this level, the feds are going to be pretty respectful to you and you don't have to worry about any sort of sexual harrassment. I won't say it never happens, but it happens much less in the feds.

Will men see me naked?
No, you will only be seen naked by female officers unless something unusual happens. There are male C.O.'s (Correctional Officers) at Bryan, but they won't be watching you shower or anything like that.

Will I have to fend off advences from other inmates?
You will undoubtably come across inmates that are either bisexual or gay. My girlfriend was in the feds for 3 years and though they approached her, they never did an a aggressive way..

Will I get to wear my own clothes?
No, they have uniforms for you to wear. You will be able to purchase all other items at commissary. Sorry, no Victoria's Secret unless it gets smuggled in.

Will my b/f get to visit me ... and touch me during the visits ... etc?
Yes, he will most likely be able to visit you unless they deny him. Does he have any drug priors such as distribution or other felonies? You emmediate family will be able to visit right away. Everyone else will have to be approved prior to them getting in. All visits are contact visits, where you can "touch". You are technically allowed one kiss when you arrive and one when you leave but most people find the proper time to get plenty inbetween.. :)

Just need to know all I can, I am one frightened lady.

Lissabeth, TX

In addition to what I mentioned, you should search this forum thoroughly. There is quite a bit of info. You may also want to do a entire site search for "self surrender" and "FCI Bryan" and see what it pulls up. We have a great search engine here.

Also.. Keep in mind that you will do under 2 years on that 29 month sentence.. You will get 1/2 way house and home confinement for the last 6 months (most likely). There is information in here about that as well. I was at the 1/2 way house in Houston (where you would probably go) so I might be able to give you some insight on that too.

Keep your head up,

08-16-2002, 03:19 PM
Thanks for the info ... as to the "in between" you mentioned between the kiss at the beginning of the visit and the one at the end, am I correct in assuming that we will not be allowed to be intimate (physically) in any way ... ??? I am uncomfortable asking a man about issues of intimacy, mind you, but I really would like to know.

I am worried about how I may feel without that "special intimacy" in my life for so long. That is so very long a time.

Also, what about personal privacy, will I be showering alone or in a group setting? Will I be in a dorm or a private cell?

Will I be allowed to leave the premeses ever or will I spend two or more years in the same spot watching the world go by?

The more I learn the more I wonder about ... I hope you all don't mind.


08-17-2002, 10:58 AM

I can jump in here, & help a little too. AS far as intamacy in visiting, there won't be any. As David said a kiss at the beginning, & end. You will be able to sneak a few in in between probably, but that is the extent to any physical contact. You will be around a lot of other people & kids. I imagine it's not that much differant than state, being a low level they don't really sweat you on it, but they keep things in line. They draw the line at running your hands over each others body.

Everyone handles the deprivation of "special intamacy" differently, as it is a very personal thing. The bottom line is you have no choice in the matter.

As for personal privacy, it is pretty much non-existant. You shower in large showers & there are usually always someone in there, or will come in there while your in there. There are certain times of the day that are busier than others though.
In a low level prison you will be in a dorm, & there is no privacy there either, as things have to be fairly open so the CO's can see whats going on in the dorm. Even in a cell your celled up with someone else. There are very few one man cells in prison. Because of overcrowding most prisons have gone to double celling, & double bunking.

About the only way I know of to leave the premisis is if your on a work crew that works outside the fence. If you do get to get outside the fence you will be watched closely, & will have no freedom to do anything other than your work. The other way is if they transfer you to another facility. David would have a better idea as to how possible that is.

It is best to ask as many questions as you can before you go so you know what you'll be facing & things wont be such a surprise. When you go in you don't want to look scared, intimidated, or lost, even though you will be, you don't want to show it. Don't act like a hard ass either. The best way is to act like you've been there before, & nothing is surprising.

With all the advise David & others will give you we will have you as prepared as possible. Remember women go into & out of there everyday, & if they can make it OK, so can you!----Ken

08-17-2002, 11:57 AM
Thanks a lot for the information ... this sounds like it is not going to be a very pleasant experience. I had heard people refer to going to federal as "Club Fed" but from what I am hearing from you all and from friends and relatives, this is going to be rough. Especially, as I happen to enjoy a fairly active "social life" and really enjoy being with my guy.

Can someone tell me more about the uniforms I will have to wear ... type of outfits, colors, undies, etc. ?

Will the facility be air conditioned?

And perhaps scariest of all -- is what my ex-roommates boyfriend told me about a "body cavity search" for real? It sounds disgusting!


08-17-2002, 02:16 PM

You have certainly received great information so far. I have not been to prison--so I cannot tell you anything from personal experience. However, my husband is serving time in a Federal Facility. We tried to learn as much as possible before he left--but in many ways we were unprepared. What I can tell you is that it is not a pleasant experience--I guess it's not supposed to husband has been very open about his experience so far. What I've learned is that Federal Facilities are better than state ones. Low level facilities are more open in that the cells are dorm style. There is no privacy. My husband went in with a very positive attitude and continues to focus on the wonderful times we had before he left and the great future we have when he returns. We view this as a team effort--he's doing the time inside, me on the outside. We help each other stay strong. He said it is important to be strong and not let anyone/anything bring you down. He tells me the time passes quickly as he stays busy--work, reading, exercise. He takes care of himself first, has made some aquaintances, does not seek to get too involved with people, but does not remain aloof either.

It is definitely not Club Fed--but it is survivable. You have to learn to be patient, respectful (to yourself and others) and strong (weakness is not a good thing). His facility is air conditioned--I think that is rare though. As for the "body cavity search"--after each visit he must strip down and they check him. They DO NOT TOUCH him--but they do look closely. During the visits--we are able to hold hands--sometimes hug and a brief kiss or two. Real physical intimacy is not possible--yet, we find that our intimacy and bond has grown and become stronger. I would not have imagined growing stronger--yet we have. We share so much of ourselves during the visits--and have grown closer. I sometimes think of it as very long foreplay! Yesterday he told me that my support--I write each day, we speak for 10 minutes daily and visit twice a week--refuels his spirit. This he also does for me. I could not ask for more--when he comes home--we will be stronger than ever--but this is because we make us a priority.

I hope that I've been of some help to you. I wish you a safe journey and much support from your family and friends.


08-17-2002, 03:11 PM

LOL, there is no "Club Fed". you are going to prison. It sucks from beginning to end. As for body cavity searches, they don't do things like that unless they suspect you are smuggling something in a body cavity.Usually for a strip search They will strip you down, tell you to bend over spread your cheeks, squat & cough etc.

Watch out listening to people who haven't been to prison, or don't have someone in prison. Thats whats great about everyone here. We have been there, or have someone going through it. There are many stories, & misconceptions on the streets regarding prisons. At least here you will get the straight story. The advise David, & Molly gave you is right on the money. Don't look to eagar to make friends. DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT PERSONALLY INVOLVE YOU. It takes awhile on a yard before you know who you can & can't trust. Most people on a level 1 yard are like you, first termers, who just want to do their time, & go home, but there are trouble makers too. Just like in life, there are good people, & bad people.

As for clothes they are usually drab colors, or khaki. They don't always fit right, usually things are either too big, or too small. When you get there, they will give you a number of items (not just one of each), & you will get bra, & panties, socks & shoes, Blouse, & pants, (or jump suit).

If you have any more questions just ask. Keep checking back as I'm sure others will have more advise for you too.----Ken

08-17-2002, 04:17 PM
As always Ken--your advice is straight and to the point.

Lissabeth--people here do give great advice and they typically preface it with where they are coming from--FedEx and Ken have done time--I have not--yet my husband is doing it. I think we all have much to add--so keep asking questions.

As in life--one must qualify both the individual and situation. You will need to do this in prison--in some respects--more so. Ken was correct in his statement about not getting involved in things that don't personally involve you--my husband has pointed that out to me. He also said to be observant without being obvious. He described to me that he feels that he must be "on" all the time--meaning he does not let his guard down ever. I was not one to always qualify people--neither was my husband--we were both very trusting and wanted to see the "good" in everyone. While this is not a bad thing--we're learning to be more cautious--again--qualify the person, the information, the advice, etc.

Please feel free to continue to seek out information from this site--ask the difficult questions!


08-18-2002, 01:34 AM
Just remember the 3 monkeys, see noth'n, hear noth'n, say noth'n!!

Your not a friend, so don't try to be one, for at least 30 days.
Polite when confronted, but a loaner might be a good picture.

If your not use too evaluating peoples actions/reactions to what type person they are, you best learn fast. This isn't a social gathering! As too clothing, most likely what a person would wear, cleaning up a messy yard, but warn daily.

You might do just fine from the get-go? But withour the "club fed" mentality. Friendships are made inside, but with evaluation.

That's my take from what I've picked up here at PTO

08-20-2002, 04:00 AM
From the Penthouse to the Big House

David Novak did time as a white-collar crook at Eglin Federal Prison Camp, aka Club Fed. Now he advises first-time felons on how to survive life on the inside. Hey, Ken and Jeff ( and Bernie and Sam and Dennis ), would you like his number?

"Throw the bums in jail!" That's the prevailing response to corporate scandal. David Novak knows what the bums can expect once they get there. After pleading guilty to mail fraud and falsely reporting a plane crash, the onetime flight-school operator spent nearly all of 1997 at Eglin Federal Prison Camp, a minimum-security facility near Pensacola, Florida. Because of its location and its nickname, Club Fed, first-time offenders routinely request Eglin as their prison of choice. Fashion maven Aldo Gucci did time there. So did Watergate conspirator E. Howard Hunt and former Maryland governor
Marvin Mandel. Disgraced shoe designer Steve Madden was scheduled to arrive in August. Since his release, Novak has turned his prison sentence into a second career. He is the author of Downtime: A Guide to Federal Incarceration and ( we kid you not ) has become a $125-an-hour consultant to corporate felons, setting them straight about what to expect on the inside.

Did Eglin live up to its nickname? When you arrive, you see this wide-open space devoted to recreation -- soccer and softball fields -- and as a visitor you probably think, "This is great. It is like being at a country club." There are old oak trees with Spanish moss. Aesthetically, it's gorgeous.

Just how minimal was minimum security? There was no barbed wire, fences, or guard towers. When you visit an inmate there, you can almost maintain the illusion that it isn't a prison.

So what kept inmates from escaping? There was a yellow line painted around the border of the compound, and you were supposed to stay behind it. Of course, if you wanted, you could simply leave. It's called a "walk away." Several people did it while I was there.

Did you ever think about walking away? Sure I did. In fact, you'd almost prefer to be behind a fence. But if you escape, you will get caught. I don't know of anyone who didn't. And then you have to serve an additional 18 months or more in a higher-security facility.

When were you most afraid? The first day. A guard escorted me to my cubicle and was like, "Here's your bunk. Bye." I was scared to death to touch anything. As I was standing there holding my bedroll, a guy walked in and said, "My name's Jim. Since the commissary is closed, I'll lend you some toiletries." He gave me a new toothbrush and soap,
and I thought, "Oh God, he wants me to be his girlfriend." But he was just being kind. Jimmy had been in prison for 10 years on drug charges. He's still there.

How were the living arrangements? Each dorm had 32 cubicles, and each cubicle contained a narrow bunk bed, a folding chair, and a cramped writing desk. The newer roommate was given the least favorite place, which was usually the top bunk in the cubicle closest to the bathroom
-- what inmates called "waterfront property." You were also
guaranteed to have the worst pillow and mattress, because when someone left, everyone else in the dorm swapped [their bedding] if they thought it was better. The bed was about half the size of a normal twin bed. I'm six-one, and when I laid down, an inch of each shoulder extended over the mattress and my head or my feet hit the rail. I've slept on better things while camping. The first few days, you don't sleep. You're too scared. Then you recognize that this is
survivable, and you relax.

What was the hardest adjustment? The noise. It was so loud in the chow hall that it was hard to carry on a conversation. Prison is basically a crowded, cramped place. I can't recall a single period of time when I didn't hear someone yelling, talking, snoring, or flushing the toilet. There's never any silence.

What kind of work did you do? I worked in the bakery, so I was awakened by a guard at 3 AM to report to work by 3:30. We made mostly hot-dog and hamburger buns and occasionally fun stuff like birthday cakes. There were seven guys on my crew. All white-collar. Pretty high net worth. Everybody was a Republican. I was the only person
without an advanced degree.

Do the white-collar criminals get along with the other inmates? Prison is just like anywhere else. The drug dealers ate together; the white-collar types ate together. The drug dealers gravitated to the
basketball or softball teams, while the white-collar criminals
attended Toastmasters meetings. It wasn't uncommon for color lines to be crossed, but it was uncommon for socioeconomic lines to be crossed.

Did you make any friends? There was a group of us who ate together on a regular basis: a large drug smuggler who now sells mega-yachts, a Colombian money launderer, a telemarketing guy from Florida, and a dentist. But I don't think you make friends. You make acquaintances.

How much contact did you have with the outside world? I spoke three times a day with my wife, Currie, who was my girlfriend at the time. We would talk at 7:30 AM, at 5 PM, and then at 9 PM. Now the Federal Bureau of Prisons limits each inmate to 300 minutes of phone time a month. I can't imagine maintaining family ties with so little time.

How do you help your clients prepare? I talk about what-if scenarios. What if there's a problem with your kids? Or your taxes? Sometimes I suggest that they tape off a six-by-eight-foot area in their living room and get used to spending time there. I also encourage my clients to set achievable goals while in prison. I've had clients who decided to learn how to play guitar, study Spanish, or write a novel. The week before I went in, I came across a list of the 100 greatest English-language novels. I had already read about 40 of them. I read the rest in prison.

Is there anything you miss about prison? I want to be very careful how I say this, but occasionally I miss the freedom from responsibility. You get up, you get your three hots and a cot, and you go to bed. In many respects, it was the least taxing period of my life. I had hours every day to read, and I miss that. But would I be willing to go back? Absolutely not.

08-20-2003, 09:35 PM
I read your letter and I can only hope that you are doing ok now. I have similar fears for my mother who is awaiting sentencing. We have alot of the same fears; and if you have any information for us we would appreciate it. My mom will probably be going to Bryan.

08-22-2003, 05:36 PM
Thanks for asking all the questions that I have been wanting to know the answers to. I am waiting on sentencing also which is scheduled for November 3rd. My attorney thinks I will probably be sent to FPC Alderson. I am scared to death too! First (and last) time to ever be in trouble. Any information is appreciated!

08-22-2003, 11:23 PM
The questions are helpful. First time posting. I am awaiting sentencing also. My date is November 10. I beleive I will be going to Bryan also. The Federal Prison Camp. Any details?

08-27-2003, 12:07 PM
This is my first time posting. I self surrender on Sept. 2 for a 30 day sentence. I'm being sent to Cass County Jail in Michiban because they are contracted by the Fed BOP and it's close to home. I'm scared and don't know what to expect. This not anything I ever imagined doing in my life.

09-13-2003, 07:59 PM
I'm headed to Bryan on 3/1/04 for a 37 month "vacation." My sentencing happened on 3/27/03 and they gave me until then to surrender. No one here has ever heard of such a long time between sentencing and actual surrender. I guess I got lucky - I'm able to tie up some loose ends and continue with school while watching my 15-month old and 5-year-old grow up more. I'm nervous about going, but I know 1 girl who's already there and she gave me some of the daily routine: up at 5:30, breakfast at 6, work from 7-11, lunch, more work or school until 4, dinner at 5:30, then free time until lights out. Nothing really intense, but a lot of time to think (which can be more intense, I think). I'm actually only doing 7 months and then the ICC boot camp for 6 months so I can go home. I am really nervous about the boot camp - they've said it's like Marine/Army boot camp on steroids for 6 months. I hope I can do that. Otherwise, I'm in there for 2 years. I don't know how to keep up with school there, though. I know they have educational stuff, but I wonder if I can have my textbooks sent to me from school so I can keep up? My husband is really supportive of me - I'm lucky to have him since he has put up with all of my BS for the last 8 years. I'm going in for bank fraud, by the way. Anyone from San Antonio, too?


09-14-2003, 09:27 PM
I to have been senteced to spent time at Bryan I will be self seredering on Jan 6, 2004. I to like yourself am scared to death. This forum has realy help me know what to except when I get there. I called the prison and they told me the only thing I can bring is one ring one pair of earings no stones and a religious medalion also only up to $300.00 in cash or money order. Not to bring anything else even the clothes you are wearing will be shipped back home. I am worried about being able to keep up the the physical activities of the boot camp. How hard are they? Can anyone tell me? I would appreciate any new info any one has.

07-04-2012, 05:43 PM
Went to sentenceing june 13th got 12months and have to surrender july 19th. Still not sure where im going destination hasnt been given. im hoping for Bryan cause my family and kids are close. Apart of me is prepared and then I get depressed and cant stand it. Please someone give me some kind of comfort of this situation.

07-05-2012, 09:03 AM
I left Bryan in July 2010, after 18 months. First thing: Do not be afraid!! Forget every prison show you ever saw! You got some good answers to your specific questions, so I'll just add some extra thoughts. Feel free to ask more and you can PM me if you want. The biggest problem may be boredom, although Bryan has lots of activities and classes. I told the new short-time girls (and you are short-time, even though it doesn't feel like it now) to think of it as a no-star spa. You'll have time to be selfish and work on yourself... take classes, learn a craft, work out, go to the library (one 6-month girl aimed to read every book on the shelf and got to 586 before she left!), plenty of chapel activities if you're interested in that.

As for privacy, because there are male CO's, so you are not allowed to change clothes openly. Must go into the bathroom. There are doors on the toilet stalls, and individual showers with doors. Strip searches are only done by females. Males can do pat downs, but not allowed to touch breast or privates, and they are usually careful to have someone else present to prevent false accusations.

Do not be afraid!! After 3-4 weeks, you'll have your routine settled. I have two friends who will be there until 2014 and 2015, well after you're gone, so keep things in perspective. This is just another learning experience.

Good luck.