Source: Corrine Brown to report to Central Florida prison camp

Former congresswoman expected to begin 5-year sentence on Monday

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter, Eric Wallace - Senior Producer, I-TEAM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After a federal appeals court denied Corrine Brown's request to remain out of prison during her appeal this week, a source told the I-TEAM that Brown has been assigned to a Sumter County women's prison camp and will likely report Monday.

The source said the 71-year-old former Democratic congresswoman has been assigned to a minimum-security prison camp for women that is adjacent to the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, a medium-security federal prison for men.

The prison camp is about a 2½-hour drive from Jacksonville.

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, there are currently 391 female inmates at Coleman.

Brown, who was convicted of federal corruption, conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud, can report earlier than noon Monday to the Sumterville prison camp, but the I-TEAM source said that she will likely stretch her freedom as long as she can.

She is expected to attend a church service Sunday in Jacksonville.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has already assigned Brown a federal inmate number: 67315-018.

Prison life

Based on federal sentencing guidelines, all inmates must serve at least 80 percent of their sentences, so Brown will be at Coleman until she's nearly 75 years old.

Last November, the I-TEAM got an insider's take on what prison life might be like for Brown.

A Jacksonville grandmother who served five years at the same Sumter County prison camp that Brown is assigned to told News4Jax that women at the camp live in a dormitory-like setting with no bars on the windows or fence around the facility. They sleep in 10-foot-by-10-foot cubicles with two to three women per cubicle.

The woman, who we identified only as "Alice," added that guards do not carry guns and there aren't nightly lockups. Doors are left open at all times. The only time Alice recalled them being locked shut was during a tornado warning. Prisoners do have two mandatory headcounts daily, lining up to be counted at 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Alice said the food was horrible but the guards were respectful and some women even received decent medical care.

She said age was not a consideration for those sentenced to the camp.

"You were expected to do what any 20-year-old could do," Alice said. "They didn't care."

Alice, who is in her 60s, estimated 90 percent of all female prisoners are required to work Monday through Friday, unless they have a documented medical condition from a doctor.

She said jobs include: cleaning up around the compound, cooking, trash pickup, lawn mowing, pulling weeds, laundry, cleaning inside the nearby men's prison, electrical work, warehouse work or serving as a driver.

"It is that movie, 'Groundhog Day.' You wake up, you go to work, you come back and you go to bed and then you wake up," Alice said. "Time doesn't move the same inside as it does outside."

But she said because of that you become glad to have tasks to accomplish.

"If you don't stay busy in there, time will stand still," Alice said.

Alice said the inmates will see Brown as a celebrity right away. But the guards won't.

"(They) will look at her and say, 'You may have been somebody out there, but in here, you are just another inmate,'" she said.

Alice said the hardest part was the initial transition. All new prisoners are given military-like uniforms and steel-toed boots. They can buy sweets, T-shirts and sneakers once their families put money in their commissary accounts.

Prisoners also can't see family and friends until they each pass the approval process, which includes background checks. For some women, Alice said, the process takes two months.

Brown shouldn't expect any privacy, even for weekend visitation, Alice said.

"It was one big room, and it was crowded," she said. "There would be 200 to 300 people in one room, and you just sit and talk, and you learn to talk loud."

She said the facility is kept clean -- by the inmates.

"They make you keep it clean. You are waxing and polishing and shining concrete floors," Alice said. "They are the shiniest concrete floors I've ever seen in my life."

She reiterated that age is not a factor to the government, and she personally saw three elderly women die in prison from natural causes.

Alice said the experience was humbling and that it changed her.

"Everyone comes through the gates saying, 'I didn't do it. I'm not guilty,'" Alice said. "At some point you sit down and say to yourself, 'I must have done it or I wouldn't be here.' Then you say, 'I did it. I just have to get through this time.'"

Bond denied

Brown's request to remain out on bond as she appeals her 18 federal convictions was denied Monday.

So was a motion to delay the start of Brown's five-year prison sentence by 30 days.

READ: Brown motion to delay start of prison term | Brown motion to extend appeal deadline

Brown had asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow her to remain free on bond while she appeals her conviction, and her attorneys filed a motion Monday with the federal court in Jacksonville, requesting a 30-day extension to Brown's prison reporting date while the appeals court considers the bond motion.

Both motions were denied later Monday.

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