Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury
|Location||Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut|
|Security class||Low-security (with minimum-security prison camp)|
|Population||1,200 (220 in prison camp)|
|Managed by||Federal Bureau of Prisons|
The Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury (FCI Danbury) is a low-security United States federal prison for female inmates in Danbury, Connecticut. It is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, a division of the United States Department of Justice. The facility also has an adjacent satellite prison camp that houses minimum-security female offenders. It was announced in the summer of 2013 that FCI Danbury would transition from housing women to housing men with the female inmates transferring out between August and December 2013 and the male inmates arriving in early 2014. The satellite camp will continue to house female offenders.
FCI Danbury is located in southwestern Connecticut, approximately 55 miles from New York City.
FCI Danbury was opened in August 1940 with the purpose of housing male and female inmates. It housed several high-profile political prisoners during World War II. Conscientious objectors, including poet Robert Lowell and civil rights activist James Peck, were housed there for refusing to enter the military draft in the early 1940s. Robert Henry Best served most of his life sentence at FCI Danbury after being convicted of treason in 1948 for making propaganda broadcasts for the Nazis during the war. Screenwriter Ring Lardner, Jr., a member of the Hollywood 10, a group of filmmakers who were charged with contempt of Congress in 1947 for refusing to answer questions regarding their alleged connections with the Communist Party USA, served 9 months there.
FCI Danbury became exclusively for female inmates in 1993.
In August 2013, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced that FCI Danbury was going to be reverted to an all-male facility to alleviate overcrowding across the entire federal prison system. The female inmate population will be transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution, Aliceville in Alabama, which opened in 2013 and has over 1,500 low-security beds for female inmates. It was estimated that the change would be completed by December 2013. However, female inmates were not transferred to other facilities until April 2014.
Deadly 1977 fire
On July 7, 1977 at about 1:15 AM, a fire began in an inmate's clothes hanging on wooden pegs in one of the prison washrooms, and before it was extinguished about 45 minutes later, five inmates had died of smoke asphyxiation. The most significant factors contributing to the deadly fire were the presence of fuels that promoted rapid flame and smoke development, the failure to evacuate occupants quickly and reliably (the two primary exits were blocked by the fire and a broken key in a lock, leaving a narrow catwalk as the only exit), and the fire not being extinguished in an incipient stage. An automatic sprinkler system would have been the most reliable fire defense, however, even without automatic detection and suppression equipment, the fire safety system, with little expenditure of money, could have been more effective by revisions to emergency procedures in the fire plan. The Danbury Fire Department was not called until about 15 minutes after the fire's discovery because of a fire plan that called for initial use of the institution's firefighting resources, but the inmate fire brigade was never released from housing units and the institution's fire apparatus was never used. The ensuing public outcry led to several investigations and reviews of the prison's fire safety systems and protocols. A comprehensive program of fuel control, additional fire detection and suppression equipment, and training and planning sessions have also been established, not only at FCI Danbury but throughout the rest of the federal prison system.
Correction Officer Michael Rudkin
In 2008, supervisory staff at FCI Danbury discovered that Correction Officer Michael Rudkin had been having consensual sexual relations with a female inmate. When questioned, Rudkin, who was married at the time, admitted to the affair and stated that it had been going on for approximately one year. An FBI investigation revealed that Rudkin had had sexual encounters with other inmates as well. Since it is illegal for prison staff to have sexual relations with inmates under their care regardless of consent, Rudkin pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a ward and was sentenced to prison at the United States Penitentiary, Coleman, a high-security facility in Florida. Rudkin was subsequently convicted in 2010 of attempting to hire a hitman to kill his former inmate paramour, his ex-wife, his ex-wife's new boyfriend, and a federal investigator assigned to his case while at USP Coleman.
In popular culture
In a Season 7 episode of CSI: NY, entitled "Identity Crisis", it is revealed that the biological mother of Detective Jo Danville's adopted daughter, Ellie, is serving a long sentence at FCI Danbury.
In season 6 of the HBO television series The Sopranos, Phil Leotardo, a captain in the Lupertazzi Crime Family, remarks that imprisoned family Boss John Sacramone is "folding laundry in Danbury" in reference to FCI Danbury.
In the 2001 film Blow, cocaine trafficker George Jung, played by Johnny Depp, is incarcerated at FCI Danbury and meets Diego Delgado, a character based on Medellin Cartel founder Carlos Lehder Rivas. Delgado is played by Jordi Molla.
In the 1995 film The American President, White House aide Lewis Rothschild, played by Michael J. Fox, says "Say what you want. It's always the guy in my job that ends up doing 18 months in Danbury minimum security prison."
|Inmate Name||Register Number||Status||Details|
|Leona Helmsley||15113-054||Released from custody in 1994 after serving 18 months.||Upscale hotel owner and leading real estate investor in New York City; convicted of tax evasion in 1989 for failing to pay $1.7 million in taxes from 1983 to 1985; known as the "Queen of Mean" for her tyrannical management style.|
|Sun Myung Moon||03835-054||Released from custody in 1985 after serving 11 months.||Leader of the Unification Church; convicted of tax evasion in 1982; the prosecution, United States v. Sun Myung Moon, serves as a landmark case involving taxes and religious organizations.|
|Lauryn Hill||64600-050||Released from custody in October 2013; served 3 months.||Grammy Award-winning singer and actress; pleaded guilty in 2012 to not reporting over $2.3 million in income by intentionally failing to file tax returns for five years.|
|Piper Kerman||11187-424||Released from custody in 2005 after serving 13 months.||Pleaded guilty to money laundering in 1998; authored Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, which chronicles her time at FCI Danbury, in 2010; the Netflix television series of the same name is based on Kerman's book.|
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