Jewish Journal

Bernie Madoff Goes to Butner

by Rob Eshman

July 14, 2009 | 4:50 pm

Welcome to Beautiful Butner!

Authorities transferred Bernard Madoff to the Federal prison in Butner, S.C. today. Curious about what his life inside will be like?  These descriptioons are culled from a prisoner’s web site.  No word yet on whether Madoff will be kept in Medium or Low Security, so here’s noth:

Medium Security:

Our loved one was one of the first 100 sent to Butner FCI Medium II, in September, 2006. He is older with many medical problems. He said a lot of folks coming in now have medical problems. The Butner Facility is broke down into 5 facilities, with 4278 inmates as of May 28, 2007: FMC the medical hospital, housing 991 inmates; Low FCI with 1,288; Medium I with 766; the Camp with 331; and Medium II FCI with 902, one being our guy.

It is practically a brand new facility as opposed to many others. It is pristine and well maintained. NO ROACHES or RATS. They have a woodworking shop that supplies all the shelving, cabinetry, benches, etc. for the complex. They have UNICOR which is going to be the 411 supplier for national information phone service.

They have 300 minutes/month for phones, with 15 minute calls [always go too quickly] and permitting 30 minutes between. In December/January they have 400 minutes for the holidays. You have to be on his list of those he can call and NO cell phones calls are permitted. Our guy uses some of his canteen money and transfers it over to his phone account {we found that was the cheapest way to go}. He is permitted canteen and that is sent by Money Orders to: FBOP, PO Box 474701, Des Moines, IA 50947-0001. I find going to the post office with the cash is the cheapest [.95 for the M.O.] I usually have an envelope reading to mail and just get the money order, fill it out and send it that day.

He said the food is pretty decent, they have a salad bar and hot meals most days, on the weekends it is more lax. He is in a 2-bunk cell, but since he is disabled, they do not have anyone presently with him. They have lockers. You can send him letters and cards and newspaper clippings. You cannot send books, complete newspapers or magazines from home. I have found that Amazon.com will send books to your loved one, just be sure to put his ID#, which will be 5 numbers and then 3 numbers [00000-000] on EVERYTHING you send. I buy the used books from Amazon.com for sometimes .01 and S&H!  You can also get him subscriptions from the actual magazine company, it just has to come from them. [Go figure?]

We had to fill out paper work to visit him and that took about 2 weeks as I recall. When you go into the facility you cannot take anything but your picture ID and $20 worth of change, NO CASH. You have to sign in and fill out a form stating you do not have any contraband on you; the year, make, color and model of your vehicle along with the license plate number. Do not take anything else in, they will make you take it back to your vehicle or put it in a locker they have there. They have vending machines with sodas, snacks and sandwiches you can microwave. The sodas are .75 and the sandwiches range from $2.50 - $4.00, I think. The change MUST be in a clear container. I went to the drug store and got a clear, see through, cosmetic bag with a zipper. If they cannot see through it, you cannot have it. The first time they will take your picture. They also do periodic drug testing, wiping a wand across your clothing. They did that our first time with my daughter, in a wheelchair. [I cried]. I was sure this place was picking on us, never having been in this situation before in our lives. If you remember to breathe, it does get better.  You then go through a metal detector and have to remove your shoes, just like going through airport security. They will stamp your hand with a ultraviolet dye and you will go through double doors, where you will put your hand under a wand that shows the guard you are ready to see your son. You are permitted to hug and kiss him at the beginning and end of the visit. {Make sure he is facing the guard at ALL times and he stays INSIDE the RED LINE, no one told us the first time and he almost lost his visiting privileges.}

When you visit the times are weekends 8:30-3:00, if you get there before 9:30 a half hour before count, they will usually let you back, but if not, then you wait until after count 10:00. I haven’t been there during the weekday, but we are going to see him on Friday and he said we could come after 4:00. I can let you know how that goes, if you like?

If you get online and type in BOP and then Butner, NC you can see their website and get more information. Really hope this helps! Oh by the way, we stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Creedmoor which is only 4-5 miles away. There is also a Ramada and Econo Lodge there. My daughter is in a wheelchair, so HIE is the only one with a handicapped shower. We pay about $75/night and it is right off I-85. Pretty easy to get around. Butner facilities are out in the country, so don’t worry if you start driving and think you have gone the wrong way! LOL Take care and good luck to you and your son! I understand your need for info. and a little morsel of peace.


I have a family member at low security. It isn’t too bad a place. I understand it was designed to be a women’s facility originally. One of the industries is the uniform factory. There are jobs in food service, too - probably other jobs that I don’t know about.

Some of the recreation includes crocheting, painting/drawing, ceramics (I think), and bead work. They have a walking track and exercise equipment. They transfer people there for medical treatment at the hospital nearby and some recuperate in low before being transferred back. The medical treatment is supposedly a model for the system. I’ve heard OK reports about treatment from general doctors (PA’s) and dentists, but I’m not sure about treatment for any medical conditions that are more serious.

Some residents are trained to assist the recovering patients. It seems like more & more disabled residents are being transferred there, however, it wasn’t really designed to be accessable, so that is a challenge for them.

The quarters are modules with 3 or 4 to a sleeping area. They have lockers - I can’t remember the dimensions. I can find out some more info about that if you want.

Our family has stayed overnight in Creedmore/Butner area as well as Greensboro when we’ve visited. I’ve flown into Raleigh/Durham airport once & other family has flown into Greensboro airport a couple times.


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