What Hastert's life will be like in federal prison

  • Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert leaves the federal courthouse in Chicago following his sentencing in April on federal banking charges.

    Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert leaves the federal courthouse in Chicago following his sentencing in April on federal banking charges. Associated Press

  • Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert will begin serving his sentence Wednesday at the Federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility in Rochester, Minnesota.

    Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert will begin serving his sentence Wednesday at the Federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility in Rochester, Minnesota. Courtesy of the Post-Bulletin

 
 
Updated 6/20/2016 7:12 PM

Austere conditions and numerous restrictions await Dennis Hastert, the former U.S. House speaker who will be known as inmate 47991-424 when he begins serving his 15-month prison sentence Wednesday at the Federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility in Rochester, Minnesota.

Hastert, who defense attorneys said has diabetes and the lingering effects of an infection and a 2015 stroke, will be one of 678 inmates housed in the medium security prison. It is located less than 10 minutes from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester's renowned medical research hospital, which cares for inmates who require hospitalization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If he observes prison rules and stays out of trouble, Hastert will be eligible for a sentence reduction of up to six days for each month served. While in federal custody, he's subject to strict rules and restricted movement.

Inmates have breakfast at 6 a.m., lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner at 4:45 p.m. on weekdays. The lunch menu includes fish tacos, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sloppy Joes and scrambled eggs, among other items. Dinner entrees include spaghetti, pork roast with green beans, chicken fajitas, turkey burgers and pepper steak.

Inmates must make their beds and clean their cells by 7:30 a.m. according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

They can move about the facility only during tightly controlled, 10-minute periods each hour. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays they can visit the commissary and buy toiletries, snacks and other items including notebooks, photo albums, earbuds and a sewing kit.

Hastert pleaded guilty to structuring cash withdrawals to avoid bank reporting requirements as part of a hush money payout to a former student whom Hastert admitted molesting when Hastert taught and coached wrestling at Yorkville High School from 1965 to 1981. Hastert subsequently admitted sexually abusing several other former students, though he has never been charged.

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Hastert will become the highest-ranking elected official in American history to serve time behind bars.

In prison, Hastert's possessions will be limited to what can fit in a locker, except for a fan, an alarm clock and a reading lamp he can have in the open in his cell, according to the Bureau of Prisons. He can put photos of his immediate family on a bulletin board in his cell.

Inmates receive medical, dental and mental health treatment as well as substance abuse treatment if they need it. If prison officials determine he is medically fit to work, Hastert will receive a job assignment.

Prison guards will periodically search his cell for contraband, and he is also subject to regular urine tests.

In his free time, Hastert can participate in crafts like ceramics and leather-working; he can play table games, exercise, watch television or visit the prison library.

Inmates have the option of attending religious services and pursuing vocational education. They can take drawing and painting classes, enroll in college correspondence courses and receive landscape management training as part of the prison's occupational therapy program.

While Hastert can have unlimited visits from his attorneys, his other visitors are subject to a point system that awards each inmate 16 visitor points each month. The prison assesses one point for weekday visits and two points for weekend and holiday visits, which are limited to two hours between 8:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

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