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What's the life of a prisoner convicted of a white-collar crime really like?

There isn't really a "good" place to go to prison, since anywhere you go, you are having your freedoms severely curtailed. That being said, there are places to go that can be seen as "better" than others.

Syracuse readers might remember this topic of discussion because it often comes up when a person convicted of a white-collar crime, like Martha Stewart or Bernie Madoff, has to report to prison and cable TV hosts squawk that they are being sent to "Camp Cupcake" or to a spa.

Calling a prison a spa is an exaggeration of course, but one of the goals of modern prisons is to better the inmates so they don't return to a life of crime. That's why some prisons have art programs, recreational facilities and college-level courses.

A news organization recently compiled a list of the "best" places to go to prison. Here are a few of its top choices:

  • Federal Prison Camp Yankton in Yankton, South Dakota, occupies a former college campus, so its buildings are gracious and authoritative-looking. Inmates here can volunteer for nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and can enroll in art and music lessons.
  • Federal Prison Camp Alderson in Alderson, West Virginia, was Martha Stewart's home as she served her time for insider trading. Inmates here can play tennis, basketball and racquetball; they can even go roller skating.
  • United States Prison Lewisburg in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, is renowned for having a contented staff. That means former inmates like John Gotti, Al Capone and Jimmy Hoffa probably received good treatment when they stayed there.

What are your thoughts on this? As we said, one view is that inmates who improve themselves in prison may be less likely to commit crimes when (or if) they are released, but other people counter that prison is a punishment, not a college.

Source: CNBC, "Best Places to Go to Prison," last accessed Feb. 13, 2012

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