Corrine Brown To Begin 5-year Prison Sentence Monday

Jan 29, 2018

Corrine Brown is under court order to begin a five-year federal sentence at a women's work camp in Central Florida on Monday.

The 71-year-old former Democratic congresswoman has been assigned to a minimum-security prison camp that is part of the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, according to our News4Jax partner.

The complex is in Sumter County, which is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Jacksonville.

Brown, who was convicted of federal corruption, conspiracy, tax evasion and fraud, must surrender by noon to the Sumterville prison camp.

Brown's request to remain out on bond as she appeals her 18 federal convictions was denied last Monday. So was a motion to delay the start of Brown's five-year prison sentence by 30 days.

Members of Bethel Institutional Baptist Church in downtown Jacksonville reported seeing Brown at the morning service on Sunday, saying the congregation held hands and prayed for her.

Carla Wiley, the woman who founded and unregistered charity that Brown was accused by federal prosecutors as a personal slush fund, pleaded guilty to related charges and was also expected to report begin serving her sentence Monday, but in a federal prison in Virginia.

Richard Pari, who worked as a corrections lieutenant at Coleman, and a woman who is only using the named Alice, who served most of her five-year sentence for insurance fraud at the facility, described what Brown will likely experience at the prison to our News4Jax partner.

Pari said Brown will be given a green jump suit, a locker that's three-feet-high and two-feet-wide for her personal belongings and be put in the general inmate population. She will then share a ten-by-ten-foot cell with another woman.

"They enter a new lifestyle, and you have to adapt to that new lifestyle," Pari said. "Everything is taken from you."

Statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons show that only 23 of nearly 400 prisoners at the Coleman facility are over the age of 64. Brown is 71.

Alice 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."

Both Pari and Alice said that Brown's name and reputation will precede her.

"Let's put it this way: Being high profile, people might try to exploit you for money and commissary (credits)," Pari said. "And even then, hypothetically, she has a lower bunk. She could be strong-armed for that."

"The inmates will probably know her. A lot of them will. The guards will definitely know who she is, but it won't mean anything to them. They're going to let her know, 'Just because you were somebody out there, you're not going to be anybody in here,'" Alice said.

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

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.

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.'"