What Real Housewives of New Jersey Star Teresa Giudice Can Expect Behind Bars

01/04/2015 AT 06:30 PM EST

Starting Monday, Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice will be trading her sexy designer duds for elastic-waist khakis and a poly-blend button-down shirt when she begins her 15-month prison sentence for fraud.

She'll be sleeping next to strangers and could be assigned to a job scrubbing toilets or washing dishes. If she wants sunglasses, she can buy them for $1.50 in the prison camp commissary.

"For somebody who has lived life on a reality TV show, prison is going to be hard," says the star's former legal crisis counselor, Wendy Feldman.

Feldman knows firsthand what Giudice faces, since she herself served time in a federal prison camp. After pleading guilty to securities and wire fraud in 2006, Feldman was sentenced to 27 months in a women's prison camp in Arizona, serving a 16-month sentence in the end.

After she left prison, she took what she learned and created Custodial Coaching to help clients through their own court cases, prepare for incarceration (if necessary) and reenter society when they leave prison.

Giudice, 42, is said to be heading to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, a minimum security prison camp for women that inspired the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black, based on the memoir by Piper Kerman. It's also possible, though, that she could be sent to the Alderson Prison Camp in West Virginia, where Martha Stewart served five months in 2004 and 2005 for obstructing justice and lying to federal investigators about a stock sale.

Before Feldman dropped Giudice as a client in the fall, she gave her plenty of pointers about what she can expect when she walks through the prison camp doors Monday.

What Real Housewives of New Jersey Star Teresa Giudice Can Expect Behind Bars| Orange Is the New Black, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, TV News, Teresa Giudice

From left: Teresa, Gia and Joe Giudice

Dave Kotinsky / Getty

Her Arrival

After Giudice gets dropped off, she'll begin the Admissions and Orientation (A&O) process. Once inside prison walls, she will be taken to the receiving area for processing. "She will sit and wait because other women will probably be received that same day," Feldman tells PEOPLE.

During processing, she will be strip-searched and urinate in a cup in front of an officer. "They do that to see if someone is on something, in case they have to go through any kind of detox," Feldman says.

Giudice will also have to do the "squat and cough." "They do that because the majority of people incarcerated in the U.S. are there for drug crimes," Feldman says. "They want to see if you are hiding drugs. It's standard procedure. They do it to everyone."

After she is photographed, she will eventually don the khaki pants, button-down shirt and black, steel-toed work boots that will become the staple of her wardrobe for the next 15 months. At Alderson, the A&O handbook says, "The clothing issued will be clean and presentable but not necessarily new or 'in style.' "

What She Can and Cannot Keep

Giudice will have to hand over the bra, underwear, shoes and clothes she wore to prison, Feldman says.

She will be allowed to bring a metal wedding band with no gems or stones and a metal religious medallion on a necklace and eyeglasses – but no earrings.

"She can bring photographs with her and a certain amount of legal paperwork, which they will go through," she says. "She can bring a list of medications and addresses, and that's it."

Settling In

Giudice will set up her new living area – a far cry from the opulent $3.9 million New Jersey mansion she calls home now.

"They will show her to the laundry area, where she will get her bedding: sheets, a blanket, a pillow, and a couple of bras, underwear and socks, among other things," Feldman says.

Since she is a newbie, she will initially be assigned the top bunk of a metal bed, Feldman says. "She's young and she has no seniority. The more seniority you have, the better chance you have at getting the bottom bunk," which is easier to get in and out of, she says. (In higher security prisons, inmates want the top bunks for safety reasons.)

While Danbury has cubicles, it is crowded there, so she may not get one, Feldman says: "It depends where she goes. If goes to a camp that's crowded and is using a television room as a dorm, she will sleep with everyone else. It just depends where she goes. Both Danbury and Alderson are crowded and are using their television rooms as sleeping areas."

Guards walk the dorms all night long to make sure everyone is behaving: "You are supposed to be in your assigned area all night long, unless you have to go to the restroom. And then you had better go nowhere but to the restroom and back to your bunk."

Making Friends

Giudice will be interacting with inmates from the get-go. "Once you go through receiving, an inmate shows you to your bunk," Feldman says. "Then other inmates will show you around."

Since prison is "a microcosm of the real world," says Feldman, Giudice will meet some people who will welcome her – and some who might not: "Some will be very friendly because they want her to join their Bible group or clique for whatever reason. Some will not be so friendly."

"There are always going to be some nasty people," she explains. "So somebody might say, 'Hey! We have waterfront property for you!' That means you get the closest bunk to the toilet."

"This isn't the staff who does it. It's an inmate who does it. The staff is professional. An inmate can't pick where you will stay, but an inmate might build it up to you and say, 'Look what we got for you,' and make fun of her. She's gullible. She's scared."

Even so, Giudice should be able to make friends, she says: "I made friends that I am still friends with. If she has listened to me at all, she will be humble and understand that the goal is to get home and that everyone else in there has the same goal – to be with their children. Everybody in prison with her wants to be with their children. She is not unique."

Giudice will have more in common with the women there than not, says Feldman. "Number one: you are all where you don't want to be; number two: you all want to be with your children; and number three: you all want to get the hell out of there," she says.

Nobody will care that she's on a TV show, either, Feldman says. "They do not care that she is a celebrity," she says. "They don't like white collar offenders at all. That's the problem, not that she's on a TV show. There is a belief that white collar offenders behave in an entitled fashion. They would rather have people who are more used to the drill because they are easier to deal with. Sometimes white collar offenders will say, 'I'm going to get a better bed because I'm white collar.' No."

Threats of Violence

There's little if any violence at a women's prison camp, Feldman says: "People at women's prison camps are well-behaved for the most part, because they don't want to go to 'real jail' – county jail or a detention center. Those are the only other options."

If you don't go to a camp, then you go to a more locked-up environment, she says. "A camp is a place where nothing is locked. It has no cells," she says. "Camps like Danbury have cubicles like in Orange Is the New Black. The bathroom is down the hallway with a stall door and the shower is private."

Visits from her Children

Feldman says she encouraged Giudice to have her children visit her. "I spoke to her about this many times," she says. "I firmly believe these children should visit her. They can sit in her lap. They can give her kisses. She can touch them and hold them and love them. They can spend the day with her on Saturdays and Sundays. They don't go inside with her, but they have a visiting room. She's not behind glass."

The first time the girls see her in prison will be a little scary, though, Feldman says. "She will wear her uniform, but so what? She won't look like a freak. She will look pretty much like Teresa. She will be able to wear makeup. She will be able to look okay. It will put their minds at ease because there are two things kids want when their mom is in prison. They want to know, 'Is my mom safe?' These are smart kids who grew up on TV. They will look around at the other women. They also want to know, 'Does my mom still love me?'"

"Teresa and I talked about this a lot and if there is anything she listened to, she listened to that. I feel that these kids will have a valuable experience with their mom there. The Bureau of Prisons does a lot to make these visits comfortable. Every camp has a kids' room with toys and everything."

Her Daily Routine

Giudice will wake up at 6 a.m. Once she has finished orientation the first week, she will be assigned a job – anything from working in the kitchen washing dishes to working in the bathroom cleaning stalls to doing landscaping or commissary work, Feldman says. While she is able to work at her prison-assigned job, "she can't conduct business while she's there," she adds.

She will probably start her job at 8 a.m., says Feldman. "At 3 p.m., the job is over. At 3:30 you have to get your [sleeping] area ready for count time. It must be perfectly clean. The bed must be made. They inspect it. That won't be a problem for her because she is a very neat person."

At various intervals during the day – especially at 4 p.m. – she will and the other inmates will be counted. "You stand up and put your ID card in your hand and the staff will come around and count you," Feldman says. "It's called count time. They want to make sure you are still there."

"After count time, you are released and it's dinner time. Then it's free time to have classes or recreation time or TV time or showers or whatever you want to do. She will also have phone time at night and she will have 300 minutes a month. You have to pay for it. It's very expensive."

Shopping Time

Giudice will go to the commissary once a week to buy extras she might need or want, such as microwavable meals or snacks. "She can buy sweats and tennis shoes so she doesn't have to wear the uniform all the time and be able to be more comfortable because when you aren't working, you can wear sweats and wear tennis shoes and be more relaxed," Feldman says.

She'll probably want to add a radio to that list of extras, Feldman continues. "Without a radio, you can't hear live news or anything that you want to hear," she says.

While the prison camps do offer TV, "It's hard to get into the TV room. At some of the camps where they are very crowded, like Alderson, the TV is on a frequency so you need a radio to hear the TV."

What Real Housewives of New Jersey Star Teresa Giudice Can Expect Behind Bars| Orange Is the New Black, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey, TV News, Teresa Giudice

Gia and Teresa Giudice

Allison Joyce / Getty

Making the Best of Prison Time

So how will Giudice fare in prison?

"In prison, generally, there's always a group of women who sit together and bitch and moan the whole time and their time is hard time and all they do is focus on the negative and complain," Feldman says.

"Then there are women who cause trouble. I don't think she will be one of those. They will be doing things with contraband or with each other. I don't foresee that one at all. That's not going to happen."

"There's always a group that is into Bible reading. Then there is the group that kind of fits in and rolls with it and realizes where they're at and makes the most out of it and sometimes has fun with it. I was that group. I don't think she'll be in that group. I think she will be in the group that's complaining. That group does hard time because being miserable makes your time pass slowly."

At some point, Feldman says, "You realize that you have to make a change and you have to make the best out of where you are and if you can do this, you can make this into a really valuable learning experience."
blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners