Jasiel Correia II may be making upstate New Hampshire his home soon, as an inmate of the federal prison in Berlin.
In Correia’s latest motion to delay or avoid incarceration, his defense attorneys noted that the former Fall River mayor is due to report to Federal Correctional Institution Berlin in northern New Hampshire on Jan. 28. If his motion is denied, he’ll have to make the drive up later this week and settle into his new quarters: a prison dormitory.
Correia, 30, is supposed to start serving a six-year prison sentence after being convicted of wire fraud, extortion and extortion conspiracy last May. Here are six things you need to know about the prison that could be his new residence — at least temporarily, if not for the next several years.
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FCI Berlin has two main units
FCI Berlin is a medium-security prison, with a minimum-security satellite prison camp. The medium-security facility has 723 inmates, with another 34 in the prison camp.
According to the Bureau of Prisons, minimum-security camps “have dormitory housing, a relatively low staff-to-inmate ratio, and limited or no perimeter fencing.” People can, and do, simply walk away from places like this. They almost always get caught fairly quickly, then face prosecution for escaping prison with very harsh penalties.
Medium-security prisons have much greater restriction of freedom, including “strengthened perimeters (often double fences with electronic detection systems) … an even higher staff-to-inmate ratio than low security FCIs, and even greater internal controls.” Berlin’s medium-security unit is surrounded by tall chain link fences surrounded by razor wire, and is monitored by motion detector systems and patrol vehicles 24 hours a day.
The whole facility is new, having opened in 2012. It even won a merit award from the Design-Build Institute of America.
The prison is not full — at capacity, it can hold over 1,150 inmates in the main unit and 128 in the camp.
It’s not yet known in which facility Correia will serve time — but nonviolent fes with no prior criminal record of criminal crimes, like him, tend to spend the bulk of their time in low- or minimum-security facilities.
Questions answered:What will Jasiel Correia’s life be like in prison?
‘Your adventure starts here’ in the Great North Woods
Berlin, New Hampshire, is about a four-hour drive away from Fall River, the only city in that state’s most northern county of Coos. That county, a little farther north of Mount Washington and the White Mountains, is a large but sparsely populated part of the state, an area known as the Great North Woods.
It’s so far north, you could be in Canada in a little over an hour.
Berlin is a very small city, 9,400 people, once home to logging and paper mills and whose primary industry these days is outdoors tourism. Recent economic development has been centered around, of all things, the prison industry. About 350 people work in the federal prison, and another 200 work at its next-door neighbor, a state prison.
Berlin’s city motto, introduced in the middle of the last decade, is “Your adventure starts here.”
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Prisoners have a long, full day
A prisoner’s day in Berlin begins at 6 am According to the official prison handbook, beds have to be made by 7:30 am
Correia’s day would be taken up partially by a job assignment — every prisoner who is medically fit has one. An inmate can expect to earn between 12 and 40 cents an hour at most jobs.
Inmates in the minimum-security satellite camp are also part of the labor force for the main unit. They work in facility maintenance, the kitchen, laundry and landscaping.
Inmates have to be present for a count at least five times throughout the day. There’s also time for recreation, and Berlin has several options for that, including games, sports, fitness, hobbies and crafts, music and art. It also has a library.
Berlin offers inmates educational opportunities, too, like Occupational Education programs to get an associate’s degree or certification in certain occupations. There’s also an apprenticeship program at Berlin if he wants to learn a trade, or Adult Continuing Education courses.
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He will have to curb his spending
During his trial, was heard that Correia squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in investor money on luxury items, including expensive clothing, Rolex watches, meals at high-priced restaurants and cars. His spending will have to be curtailed in prison.
Like all federal prisons, Berlin has a commissary where Correia would be able to buy extra items he wants. He can either spend the money he earns at his prison job (again, wages are 12 to 40 cents an hour) or he can have people on the outside send money to his account.
It’s not unlimited, though. Inmates at Berlin have a monthly spending limit of $320.
The prison commissary is like a convenience store, selling over-the-counter medicines including aspirin ($1.30), toiletries like hair gel ($3.20) and mouthwash ($4.65), and food and snacks, from crunchy peanut butter ($3), chicken breast ($3.70), Oreo-style cookies ($2.85) — even Adobo seasoning ($2.10) and olive oil ($2.60) if you want to spice up your meals.
If he wants to buy clothing, the Berlin commissary sells sweatpants ($18.20), T-shirts ($5.20), crew socks ($1.30) and other assorted items. His uniform will be khaki, and the commissary will only sell white or gray clothing.
He could buy an MP3 player ($69.20, earbuds are another $5.70), and download approved, non-explicit music available only on the prison’s TRULINCS computer system, which is the only Internet access inmates have. Songs cost between 80 cents and $1.55 each.
The most expensive item in the commissary is a watch, but it’s not a Rolex. It’s a G-Shock by Casio ($80.60).
Some inmates want items not sold at the commissary, and there’s a black market for that — but it can come with a steep price. Several inmates have been caught, convicted and charged at band for having contra years, according to the Department of Justice. And in 2019, a prison chaplain at Berlin was convicted of smuggling drugs, tobacco and cell phones into the prison for inmates and decided to 40 months in federal prison himself.
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FCI Berlin has stopped all visits due to COVID
Visiting FCI Berlin is impossible at the moment — due to the COVID pandemic, all visits have been suspended indefinitely.
Under normal circumstances, visitors have to go through a pre-approval process and can only visit on certain days. Due to COVID, even when Berlin was allowing visits, visitors had to be socially-distant, with no inmate physical contact at all. That would mean no hugging or kissing his wife goodbye.
Correia, who married his wife, Jenny, this past August, can still wear his wedding ring in prison, however.
He’ll be able to call his wife, or anyone else, using the prison’s TRUFONE system — 300 minutes per month, for a maximum of 15 minutes at a time, and he will have to pay for calls or dial collect. The phone service shuts off at 9:30 pm if he’s housed in the FCI, or 11:30 pm if he’s in the camp. All his phone calls would be recorded and monitored.
Berlin is seeing a COVID outbreak, but not many severe cases
The main reason why Correia has requested another delay to report to prison is because of the COVID pandemic, and his defense attorneys cited a COVID outbreak at FCI-Berlin.
According to a report from the Conway Daily Sun newspaper in New Hampshire, there is a major outbreak of COVID at the federal prison, with 167 inmates and 29 staffers testing positive last Wednesday.
The newspaper, citing a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson, wrote that “the Berlin prison has been placed on a Level Three modified operations status, which requires facility-wide masking, social distancing and daily symptom screening.”
The newspaper also noted that “only one case from the prison required acute care and many inmates are asymptomatic,” and that a “high vaccination rate at the facility likely played a role in reducing the severity of the cases.”
Dan Medeiros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News today.