What Felicity Huffman Can Expect in Prison: Bad Food, Kitchen Duty and a Roommate (Exclusive)
By Antoinette Bueno
Joseph Prezioso / AFP
Felicity Huffman's time spent at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, will definitely not feel like a vacation, former inmate Amy Povah tells ET.
On Wednesday, ET spoke to Povah -- who previously served nine years at the same jail that 56-year-old Huffman turned herself in to on Tuesday to begin her two-week sentence -- and she described what the actress can expect. Povah is the founder of the nonprofit foundation CAN-DO, which advocates clemency for all non-violent drug offenders.
A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons tells ET that Huffman has a projected release date of Oct. 27. She will be spending 13 days at the Federal Correctional Institution after receiving credit for one day of jail time, for a total of 14 days.
"First of all, I take issue with some of the publications that have referred to Dublin as a luxury resort," Povah, who was released in July 2000, says. "I can promise you there's no such thing as a federal luxury resort in this nation and it's an insult to refer to these institutions as luxury resorts for all the men and women that are serving time in them."
"I can't stress how traumatic it is initially," she continues. "Especially when you're first admitted into a federal institution. Because you remove all of your clothes, you turn over all of your clothes, including your undergarments, you are given a set of clothes to wear including underwear that has been worn by other people time and time again. And you also are asked to squat and cough. You are inspected nude and I don't think there's anyone in the world who would think that that's normal, acceptable and certainly nothing that would happen at a luxury retreat as has been reported by some other news sources, which is offensive. So, the initial process I think is going to be extremely traumatic because it's uncomfortable."
Povah says Huffman can expect to be put on kitchen duty when she's first admitted.
"For the most part, everybody is supposed to serve a number of days working in the kitchen which is ... they get you up, like, around 4 a.m. in the morning, march you over, initially you do pots and pans and again, it's not something that Felicity is probably used to," she muses.
According to Povah, the worst part of being in prison is the food. According to the prison menu obtained by ET, Huffman's breakfast choices on Wednesday include hot grits, fruit and a piece of bread, while her lunch choices consist of a hamburger (with a vegetarian option) with french fries or a baked potato and fruit. Dinner will consist of pasta, spinach, salad and a piece of bread.
"Well, the food is certainly nothing to celebrate," Povah notes. "I can remember specifically one time going to food service which was, for me, the worst part of my incarceration. ... Everyone stands in long lines. Food service is very loud. I would have to close my eyes and try to calm down because I just had my anxiety attacks when I was first incarcerated when I was going through food service. And I remember one time getting a piece of chicken and when I peeled back the skin, there was no meat. It was just the bones. And I think it was freezer burnt and those type of situations make you avoid meat."
"I haven't been there in 19 years at the Dublin complex but I do know because I communicate with many women who are in those facilities there at Dublin that the food quality has gone way down," she adds.
As for where Huffman will be staying, Povah says the actress can expect to have at least one roommate in her cell.
"It's my understanding that Felicity will be in a cell with one other woman, but people need to understand this is not a camp," she explains. "It's referred to as a camp but the FCI Dublin camp was leveled a year or so ago because it was structurally unsound and had black mold and so they moved the women over to a holding facility that is built and is very similar to a jail. So, there's steel doors which is different than if you were at a camp. It has more of a feeling of being in jail with the bunks bolted to the wall. And there is a sink and a toilet in the cell, but hopefully, she will just have one roommate as opposed to three roommates because at the institution where I was, they are now putting four women to a cell ... It's like sardines."
Povah says that Huffman will most likely not get any special treatment.
"I think they treat everybody pretty much the same. Everyone has to follow the same rules," she says. "I'm sure that she'll have a little bit of benefit of the fact that she has celebrity status, so therefore I'm sure a lot of people will not treat her as they would just your average person, because sometimes we do see some little harassment depending on the officers' personality from prison staff, and I promise you they won't be doing anything to her that later might come back to bite them and just having personality issues."
Povah says she hopes the former Desperate Housewives star will take the time to interact with other women in jail.
"With regard to Felicity, how she should serve her time, that's certainly completely up to her and her comfort zone," she says. "I think she's probably been getting good advice and we have eyes and ears in all the institutions -- when I say 'we' I'm talking about the CAN-DO Foundation. So there are people at that camp who are probably going to assist Felicity and make sure that she knows the ropes and who is maybe better to hang out with than, you know, there's always a few troublemakers. And so the most important thing is connecting with somebody on the inside who can sort of guide you through the process, and I think that she should interact with the women. I think she should get to know the women and I really hope that when she comes out, maybe she'll be a voice for some of the -- what I would refer to as injustices that I'm sure she will encounter while she does time in there. Because there's a lot of people who are serving Draconian sentences and they're first offenders or people who are in there for nonviolent crimes."
On Tuesday, a source close to Huffman's family told ET that her husband, William H. Macy, drove her to jail and that she has lots of support from her loved ones.
"Felicity was resigned to the fact she has to pay her dues to society," the source said. "She is looking forward to putting this all behind her. Bill drove her there and dropped her off. Bill is supporting her and standing by her. He’s a rock and very supportive. She has a lot of family and friend support around her."
Last month, Huffman was sentenced to 14 days behind bars for her role in the college admissions scandal. She has admitted to paying $15,000 to help get her eldest daughter, 19-year-old Sophia, into an elite college by cheating on the SAT. In a statement after the sentencing, Huffman -- who formally pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and honest services mail fraud back in April -- said she accepted the court's decision.
"I accept the court’s decision today without reservation," the statement read. "I have always been prepared to accept whatever punishment Judge Talwani imposed. I broke the law. I have admitted that and I pleaded guilty to this crime. There are no excuses or justifications for my actions. Period. I would like to apologize again to my daughter, my husband, my family and the educational community for my actions. And I especially want to apologize to the students who work hard every day to get into college, and to their parents who make tremendous sacrifices supporting their children."
"I have learned a lot over the last six months about my flaws as a person," Huffman's statement continued. "My goal now is to serve the sentence that the court has given me. I look forward to doing my community service hours and making a positive impact on my community. I also plan to continue making contributions wherever I can well after those service hours are completed. I can promise you that in the months and years to come that I will try and live a more honest life, serve as a better role model for my daughters and family and continue to contribute my time and energies wherever I am needed. My hope now is that my family, my friends and my community will forgive me for my actions."