Robert Claridge


The prison at Danbury, Connecticut, stands as one of the most progressive in the modern federal correctional system. White and scrubbed, it lies anchored in a rolling landscape. An observation tower just outside is the visitor's only hint that the sprawling structure he approaches is a prison and not a school, factory or corporate headquarters. He enters through electric sliding doors to the spacious prison compound whose athletic fields are bordered by administrative offices and by glove and cable factories. Lining the compound's perimeter on the left and right are dormitories named after nearby towns and states. To the front of the institution on the left are the individual locked cells that make up the "Intensive Treatment Unit" or "hole" that is used for disciplinary punishment. But medium security Danbury Federal Correctional Institution does not have the harsh atmosphere that often surrounds a maximum security institution. Since sentences at Danbury are relatively short, discipline is normally less than severe and there is variety in programs and personnel. Some of Danbury's approximately 700 inmates are serving the final months of sentences that began in higher security federal institutions. Others have been assigned to the FCI to serve either short, fixed terms or sentences which are flexible and give a chance for early parole. Most inmates have been convicted of property crimes-ranging from car theft to bank robbery-or of drug offenses.

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