I too served a bit of time at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp, where I met the spirited Beatrice Codianni. It was her wisdom and support that made my time there bearable and purposeful. With all the media circus around another famous celebrity sentenced to serve time there, she was swamped with phone calls about what Mrs. Guidice could expect. Beatrice decided to speak up and out… appearing on several news programs. Yes, of course all the meaningful stuff was edited out, yes, she was taken out of context. So in effort to walk in truth, she penned this important and powerful piece that appeared first on the Reentry Central website where she is the Managing Editor and in the paper I am Editor-in-chief of, the Inner-City News. Beatrice and I are friends and Sisters in the hyper-mass incarceration struggle. Babz Rawls Ivy, Online Editor and Content Curator.
What the Tabloids Did Not Tell You about Prison and Teresa Guidice
By Beatrice Codianni
Originally posted in Reentry Central on January 7, 2014
When it was announced that Teresa Guidice was going to be sent to Danbury Federal Prison Camp for crimes involving bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, Reentry Central was inundated with phone calls from the media asking if we would speak to them about what it would be like for her in the Danbury Camp.
At first we were apprehensive. We did not want to be a part of exploiting Teresa’s situation. But when several reporters suggested that prison camps were comfortable, laid back places I felt that, as Managing Editor of Reentry Central, I had to speak up on behalf of the women, Teresa included, who are incarcerated at the Camp.
The following are just some of the facts I spoke about that unfortunately ended up on the cutting room floor:
- There are 2.2 million people incarcerated in America, the largest incarceration rate in the world.
- One in 28 children in America have a parent behind bars.
- There is a hugely disproportionate amount of African Americans behind bars, and the criminal justice system is racist.
- Most parents who are sentenced are not afforded the opportunity of serving staggered sentences as Teresa and her husband were allowed to do.
- Many children of incarcerated parents end up in foster care.
- Prison camps are a waste of taxpayers’ dollars because people can only be sentenced to a prison camp if they are not a threat to society. It is much more cost effective to sentence a person convicted of a non-violent crime to an alternative-to-incarceration program.
- The majority of people who are released from prison have a really hard time finding a job, or a place to live, (unlike Teresa who stands to profit from her experiences via paid interviews, a book, and maybe a reentry reality show.)
I knew when I was asked to speak that the focus was going to be on Teresa Guidice, but I was hoping that a crucial fact, or two, regarding the harsh realities of America’s criminal justice system would be reported. I was wrong. The prison camp at Danbury is not “cushy.“ Nor is incarceration funny as is portrayed in the Orange is the New Black series. Until the media focuses on the real story about mass incarceration in America instead of on a few celebrities who go to prison, there will continue to be public apathy toward millions of average human beings warehoused behind bars.
The truth can only set us free if we are aware of it. What Teresa can buy on commissary should not outweigh the real facts concerning mass incarceration.
Beatrice Codianni is the Managing Editor of Reentry Central. She is also a member of Real Woman, Real Voices, an organization created to educate the public about issues that women, particularly mothers, face during incarceration and reintegration back into the community. Beatrice served 15 years in federal prison. www.reentrycentral.org