Cushy Life for Crooks


| October 7, 2002


Cushy Life for Crooks

'If any jail sentences result from the Enron hearings,' writes Russell Wild of the Detroit alternative weekly Metro Times, 'the time will likely be served at Allenwood.' This may not satisfy incensed stockholders, for the Allenwood Federal Prison Camp -- where salad bars replace metal bars and cribbage groups outnumber gangs -- seems more like a membership to a men's club than a punishment.

Allenwood, in rural Pennsylvania, is one of about 10 minimum-security prisons in America. It holds 725 inmates, many of whom are high-level white collar criminals. The prisoners share copies of The Wall Street Journal, teach each other the ins and outs of accounting or the rules of Latin, and crowd the Allenwood library day and night -- working on their appeals.

'They're bright, educated, and ooze charisma,' says Wild. 'They're also unlucky.' White collar crime costs 10 to 20 times more than all street crime, yet 'a mere crumb' of the 14 millions arrests last year came from a penthouse office, and only a quarter of those arrests will be imprisoned. Certainly, these 'Camp'-mates are used to the 40-hour work weeks they endure at Allenwood, but the 11 to 32 cents-per-hour wages are quite humbling.
--Abbie Jarman
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