Trading in her silky blouses and designer suits for a plain brown shirt, khaki pants and prison-issue bra and panties are not the only life-style changes that Lori Loughlin is probably dealing with right now, after starting her two-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Calif., on Friday.
The disgraced TV star traded in the luxury of her $9 million Los Angeles-area mansion for the life of a federal prison inmate after pleading guilty for her role in the college admissions scandal.
Big picture-wise, this means the 56-year-old Loughlin has given up total control over her time, personal space, privacy and freedom, according to former federal inmates. Other women in the low-security Dublin prison also may resent her wealth and fame, while guards may make it their mission to demean her.
The COVID-19 pandemic could make Loughlin's first days in the Dublin facility even more onerous than they normally would be for a newly designated white-collar felon.
For one thing, the former "Full House" star must spend 14 days in quarantine because of the coronavirus, said Holli Coulman, a former federal inmate and consultant for Wall Street Prison Consultants. That means Loughlin could be confined in the Special Housing Unit, which is typically associated with disciplinary or safety issues, said Coulman, who served 15 months in the women's prison at Victorville after being convicted of fraud involving the use of a company credit card.
Or, Coulman said, Loughlin could be housed in an area of the prison that has been turned into a make-shift quarantine unit. She may be alone, or she may be with other "newbies."
In quarantine, Loughlin won't be able to leave her cell or unit, and meals will be delivered in brown bags, Coulman said.
Being in quarantine "is not pleasant," Coulman said. "There is nothing for her to do. I believe they have reading material but other than that it's a really long day and night for her."
While Loughlin should be able to get access to a phone, she'll have to wait her turn with other inmates, Coulman said. She won't be able to enjoy visits from her family, including her daughters Olivia Jade Gianulli, 20, and Isabella Giannulli, 21. The ban on visits could extend past quarantine, as Coulman said the Dublin facility is currently in lockdown because of COVID-19.
When Loughlin surrendered to the Dublin prison and became Bureau of Prisons inmate No. 77827-112, she also had to say goodbye to her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, for the next five months or more.
Both Loughlin and Giannulli, 57, pleaded guilty last May to paying $500,000 in bribes to get Olivia Jade and Isabella fraudulently admitted to the University of Southern California on the pretense of being recruits for the school's rowing team. Giannulli was sentenced to five months in federal prison and, like Loughlin, was ordered to surrender by Nov. 19.
Loughlin had asked to serve out her time at the federal prison in Victorville, located in the California high desert and about two hours east of Los Angeles, but Coulman said Loughlin may have decided to surrender early if space opened up at the Dublin prison, which has incarcerated other famous felons including Patty Hearst, Sara Jane Moore, Heidi Fleiss, Michael Milken and Loughlin's fellow Operation Varsity Blues defendant Felicity Huffman.
Coulman said the space may have become available because some Bureau of Prison inmates with health problems have been receiving compassionate release due to COVID-19. People magazine reported that Loughlin was anxious to start her sentence sooner rather than later so that she could be home by the holidays.
"She hopes to be home by Christmas, but she'll definitely be home by New Year's," a source told People last week. "She had everything in order, so she decided a couple of days ago to report to prison."
"Of course she's dreading it, but she's resigned that it's the way to get this behind her," the source added. "She's already thinking about how 2021 will be better for her, and she'll be able to move forward."
Loughlin reportedly was working with a prison consultant, like Coulman, who would have warned her that getting access to the commissary, to stock up on certain items, can help make day-to-day life in the prison tolerable.
Those items include snacks and medications — such as Benadryl to help with sleep — as well as ear plugs to keep out the noise from other inmates snoring, talking or crying at night, decent shampoo and other toiletries and hygiene products and additional clothing to stay warm in the "freezing" facility, Coulman said.
The only toiletries Loughlin would have received upon entering the Dublin facility would be a toothbrush, and small packets of toothpaste, soap and conditioner.
After Loughlin gets out of quarantine, she will join the general population, most likely in FCI Dublin satellite camp, Coulman said.
There, she will have to learn to live a " Groundhog Day" existence, with a schedule that looks the same every day and that dictates when inmates get breakfast, lunch and dinner, stand for count, go to work assignments and have free time to shower, make phone calls, read or exercise, said Larry Levine, the founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants who served 10 years in prisons around the country after being convicted on racketeering, securities fraud and narcotics trafficking charges.
According to the inmate handbook for FCI Dublin, inmates must wake up by 5 a.m. and be in their housing units for daily counts at 4:30 am. and 9 p.m. Loughlin also must make her bed every day and can be disciplined if she doesn't keep her space tidy and if she sleeps in, misses meal time or is late for a work assignment.
Loughlin might get a break in the daily monotony with a job that includes clerical work, cooking, baking, food prep, dishwashing or cleaning. At the commissary, she could also buy a prison-approved radio or mp3 player, or she could visit the library or take part in some craft classes and exercise programs or use the outdoor sports field.
Above all, Loughlin should do her best to avoid drama with other inmates, with many coming from less privileged backgrounds and serving far longer sentences for drug crimes, Coulman and Levine said. Loughlin should show respect, not expect special privileges and not whine about her case. While some inmates may try to befriend her to get special favors, other are likely to resent her, Coulman said.
"I'm doing more time on the toilet than your entire sentence," is something Coulman can imagine another inmate telling Loughlin.
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