It’s clear in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the movie based on Jordan Belfort’s life, that Belfort did jail time for his crimes. But it’s only shown briefly — and Belfort is only shown playing tennis there, as though it’s a country club — leaving some viewers wondering where exactly Jordan Belfort went to prison, and if it was really that cushy.
After pleading guilty to several crimes, Jordan Belfort was sentenced to four years in Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, CA, about 45 miles from Bakersfield. TCI is operated by a private corporation under contract for the federal government and consists of two parts the low-security main institution (the “low”) and a minimum-security satellite camp (the “camp”).
Belfort was in the camp, and it was more like no-security than minimum-security. As Belfort himself put it his book Catching the Wolf of Wall Street (the sequel to The Wolf of Wall Street):
“Taft had two separate facilities: the low and the camp. The low housed real inmates, whereas the camp housed campers, as the phrase went. While the low wasn’t filled with murderers and rapists, it still had its fair share of violence; the camp, however, had none. In fact, it didn’t even have a fence around it-you stayed there on the honor system and could walk away at any time.”
“Camp” is probably the best word for it, as Belfort goes on to describe the grounds, which featured tennis, soccer, horseshoe-throwing, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and bocce facilities as well as a rec hall, library, music room, dining hall, and an infirmary. Next to the basketball court were wooden picnic tables, for, well, picnics.
But was it cushy? Well, Belfort’s roommate, Tommy Chong (yes, that Tommy Chong), described it as more comfortable than a Manhattan hotel and gave it a nickname: “Camp Cupcake.” Belfort paid other inmates to do his chores and even paid one to be his full-time butler. TCI made CNBC’s list of the 14 best places to go to prison in the US.
Continue reading: Why Did Jordan Belfort Go to Prison?
US Federal Bureau of Prisons: CI Taft
Catching the Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
CNBC: The Best Places to Go to Prison