From the starchy food to 4am body counts, Heidi Fleiss, a former inmate in the same prison Felicity is in, tells HL what her days and nights will be like in FCI Dublin.
Spending 14 days in prison will be “easy” for Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and will make her a much more “interesting” person. So says Heidi Fleiss, the 53-year-old former high-class prostitution ring leader, who was dubbed the “Hollywood Madam” after being busted in 1993. Like the 56-year-old actress – who reported to a Northern California prison on Oct. 15 – Heidi once called FCI Dublin home.
Felicity is serving time for her role in the college admissions scandal, paying $15,000 to have someone cheat on her daughter’s SATs. Heidi spent 20 months of her 37-month sentence there for tax fraud before being released in 1999, and she knows exactly what the mom-of-two is now experiencing. “I was terrified when I got there and drove up in a prison van from a detention center in Los Angeles to the Dublin Camp where Felicity is,” Heidi tells HollywoodLife. “[It] was kind of weird because you’re outside, there’s no barbed wire or anything. It’s not fancy and all these inmates were surrounding me, saying, ‘Do you need coffee? Do you need cigarettes? Any tennis shoes? Do you need toothpaste?’ I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I said, ‘yes’ just to fit in.”
A former army barracks that has been converted into a minimum security prison camp, Heidi insists FCI Dublin is no “Club Fed,” but she believes that Felicity will adjust. “She’ll have it really easy. She won’t be assigned on a work cadre,” she says. “[Felicity’s] going to live in the barracks and those are horrible.” Heidi, who admits she hasn’t seen the inside of FCI Dublin in 20 years, adds, “There’s the barracks and then there’s these little rooms where there’s four people to a room and those are [for] the privileged people.”
Heidi describes daily 4am mandatory body counts that, according to the Inmate Camp (SCP) Admissions & Orientation Handbook, usually clear by 4:30am. She describes the showers as being like a “public park bathroom” – “very clean” but they “always look dirty.” “It’s like trying to take your shower with a drizzle sometimes… no water pressure…” she says. Raised a vegetarian, Heidi describes the food as being “horrible,” “a lot of starch.” “I don’t know if they do it because it makes you slower or non-violent but it seems like everyone…gains weight,” she says. “[Felicity] won’t though.”
Inmates have to be up at 5am and be back in their cells in time for the 9pm count, when their day ends and “quiet” time begins, according to the handbook. “It’s really easy,” Heidi says of the strict routine. “Look she’s an adult, she’s married, she has kids, she’s a mother. It’s not like you’re taking a Kardashian and changing up their life or something.” She adds, “[She’s] not staying up [all] night partying with her husband.”
As for her safety, Heidi – who describes FCI Dublin as being just like the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black – thinks Felicity has nothing to fear, because the federal government doesn’t “want anything to happen to her.” Indeed, Heidi thinks the actress will make friends because the inmates will “want something from her” when they get out, like a job.
Ultimately Heidi thinks prison will be a positive experience for Felicity. “It’s going to be like preparing for a movie role and I think it makes her a little bit more of an interesting person,” she says. “[If] you were at a dinner party and you [were] seated next to her prior to prison you’d be like, ‘Oh, whatever. Just some actress.’ But, after prison, you would probably have a few more questions for her.”