A low security federal correctional institution with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp.

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Fort Dix is a large federal prison in New Jersey. The prison has three completely separate compounds. Two of those compounds, Fort Dix East and Fort Dix West, are rated as low-security federal correctional institutions. The other prison is a minimum-security federal prison camp. Prison Professor Michael Santos was confined at Fort Dix for eight years, between 1996 and 2003. He writes extensively about his experience at Fort Dix in several of his books, as he had a productive journey there. Michael has also interviewed several people who served time inside of the Federal Prison Camp, Fort Dix. We welcome reviews from others who may serve time in Fort Dix, either the FCI or the federal prison camp.

Inmate Gender:Male Offenders

Population:4,520 Total Inmates
4196 Inmates at the FCI
324 Inmates at the Camp

Judicial District:NJ


BOP Region:Northeast Region

User Reviews

  • 1. My name is:Sam
  • 2. I arrived on:Fort Dix N.J. arrived on Nov 2014 (after about 6 weeks in transit) the first time. Got out Aug 2015. Came back on a technical violation July 2017.
  • 3. I’m scheduled to leave on:Left on Aug 2015. Leaving again May 1st (or possibly Feb if I get halfway house)
  • 4.My judge sentenced me to serve how many months? 1st bit: 1 year 1 day. violation: 10 months
  • 5. In the past, I’ve been confined at the following institutions:Never been to prison prior to this bullcrap case and bullcrap violation.
  • 6. I was convicted of the following offense:Convicted of trafficking in counterfeit goods
  • 7. Pros of the facility:Pros of Fort Dix: We have rooms that we live in and we are not locked into the room or a cell, freedom to move around on the compound throughout the day, alot of very intelligent and talented good guys here (the other inmates), musical equipment available to use, lots of free weights to use, typewriters available to use, there are some classes here that can be beneficial however there is much more to say about this on the Con side, we eat real food here unlike whatever horsecrap they feed you in county, we actually get salad and lettuse on the “hot bar” a few times each week,
  • 8. Cons of the facility:8. Cons of Fort Dix:
    -Not to blame Fort Dix for this but there are guys here who do things that the majority of the guys do not engage in, however and as I’m sure you guys both know, we all get punished for their behavior.
    -The facility is RIDICULOUSLY over crowded to the point of it bordering on dangerous. The water was out for a measly 4 hours and in that short of a period of time there was so much crap built up in all the toilets that the stench inside the building was unbearable. If anything serious and long term happened to the flow of neccessatities here the guys here would be royally F*cked quickly.
    – There are constantly interuptions in the schedules for all kinds of crazy reasons. Ice recalls, snow recalls, fog recalls, heat recalls, lack of staff recalls, outside contractors doing work recalls, the list goes on and on. In addition to the interuptions, the schedule is continually getting changed due to new people taking on the shifts and lack of staff and lack of budget.
    – There is not any realistically usable classes available here. The inmates actually teach what they can to give anything they are able in the way of helping each other out. However, the facility doesn’t have much to offer. They had and HVAC class that I would of loved to take, but they didn’t have the budget to pay for the class. Yet, they were able to spend tens of thousands of dollars to buy additional excercise bicycles that we DON’T NEED. It’s not that we don’t need to excercise, it’s that they are so unorganized here that they don’t even know what they have. There was dozens of excercise bicycles in the education building. Also, there are no vocational trade classes here AT ALL. You can’t learn a trade in a classroom. You MUST DO IT to learn it. With the exception of a compter class that is halfway decent, there isn’t much in the way of accademic classes available that are realitically available. On paper is shows we have classes, but they are constantly getting interupted by this thing that thing and the other thing. Our classes and us are the last thing on the list of importance and sometimes were not on the list at all. Most of the guys want to better themselves but can’t. It’s quite frustrating. If guys could leave here with a skill and a certificate usable in the world for something, majority of the guys would take full advantage of that resource and leave here preparred to move forward in life being productive. There should be a CDL class here that you are able to actually GET a REAL LICENSE. But that also is not available. Only a class which does nothing to help you in the real world start working. There should be REAL computer classes. Ones that would help you get employed in the world. Long Story short, they do NOT have anything here to help you get employment when you leave. No trade classes, no academic classes, no financial classes. It’s all just a bunch of writing on pamphlets and talk. Nothing substancial or actually usable in real life.
  • 9.Food assessment of the facility:Food is so so. It’s real food but not the highest grade. Boxes say not consumable for human except military and prisoners. The meals could be much worse that’s for sure. I understand it’s hard and expensive to feed this high a volume of people, however, stop unjustly locking up hundreds of thousands of guys for every bullshit reason under the sun and that would help solve most, if not ALL, the problems of the facility and maybe even of this country.
  • 10.Recreational opportunities at the facility:Recreational opportunities are fairly good. There is lots of free weights, basketball courts, organized sporting events. I think it would be constructive to have boxing and grappling. Although these are fighting sports, they also teach you discipline and skills as well as let you use your energy in a positive way. Another suggestion would be to have real life trainers come here and train guys in different sports. Anything to help these men become better in life. I’m sure many of them would take full advantage.

  • 11.Programs available in the facility:Programs available – there aren’t many, and the ones that are available are lack luster and borderline a waste of time. The inmates actually teach good classes, however, as mentioned earlier you CAN NOT learn welding in a classroom on a chalkboard, Nor can you learn ANYTHING without actually REALLY DOING IT
  • 12.Best jobs in the facility:Best jobs – Facilities, the chow hall and education. Why – facilities keeps you busy, you work with real good guys who are very skilled in the trade field and your outside. The chow hall is decent to work because you are kept busy and you can make “money” smuggling the food out and have “money” to buy commissary for those who don’t have money coming in from the street. And education is ok to work because it’s a peaceful environment with guys who are intelligent and strong minded.
  • 13.Living Quarters in the facility:Living quarters are extremely over crowded. As mentioned, your not locked in your room but you obviously are locked in the building. The beds are bunk beds and uncomfortable mattresses but again better than county beds. EVERY problem of this facility, as well as many others I’m sure, would be solved by lowering the population.
  • 14.How would I assess safety in the facility? :I would lower the population to make this place more safe. Plus make sure no one who is on any kind of bullcrap doesn’t come here. Most of the guys have good and normal minds and character.
  • 15.What types of pressure did I feel in the facility?:I feel pressured mostly from the over populated situation and being in an environment that when ONE person screws up, we ALL get punished. It probably would help to have consistency in the staff and to have staff that have a good strong relationship with the guys here. The guys behave far better when they have authority figures that can do their job and still be respectful. Consequently they gain respect in return.
  • 16.What is my general review?:My general review is this place has much more freedom than other facilities which is a blessing and to be deserved and expected at a low. However, this place tends to not be structured like a low all the time. In fact it doesn’t seem to have an identity nor consistency. A certain part of the CO’s that work here are respectful to us and get respect from the guys. There should be more consistency in the staff, the policies and rules etc. This should be run more like a low. It would be extremely beneficial to improve the schooling here.
  • 17.On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give the facility a rating of:6
  • 18.Personal Blog:My case is total bullshit. I was a custom clothing maker. I sold merchandise retail at events all around the country and had a website. I made a living making MADE TO ORDER clothing. There was no confusion on the origin of the clothing. It was a blank garment that I put designs on after you requested them. Every custom clothing store everywhere in every mall is doing the same thing and no one is getting in any trouble. Only me. And I’m told it’s because I was in the one and only town in the country that would incarcerate someone. My violation is even more ridiculous. My experience has been extreme emotionally in everyway. Good and bad. Hard and moments of enjoyment and appreciation for some of the good guys I’ve met here. To sum things up, this facility would benefit greatly if they could be more organized.

  • 1. My name is:Michael Santos
  • 2. I arrived on:I arrived at Fort Dix East in 1996
  • 3. I’m scheduled to leave on:I transferred from Fort Dix to go to a minimum-security camp in 2004
  • 4.My judge sentenced me to serve how many months? I was sentenced under the old-law. That sentencing scheme changed in 1987. My judge sentenced me to served 45 years. Of that term, I received more good time credits than the current sentencing laws authorize. I completed my sentence after 26 years, in 2013.
  • 5. In the past, I’ve been confined at the following institutions:I started serving my sentence at USP Atlanta in 1987. Then I transferred to FCI McKean. From FCI McKean, I transferred to FCI Fairton. Then I went to FCI Fort Dix in 1996. I remained in Fort Dix until 2003. Then I transferred to minimum-security camps. I served time in the federal prison camp in Florence. Then I transferred to the federal prison camp in Lompoc. I transferred to the federal prison camp in Taft. And finally, I transferred to the federal prison camp in Atwater. I have a lot of experience in prisons of every security level. Shon Hopwood and I started PrisonProfessors to provide guidance that others can use.
  • 6. I was convicted of the following offense:I was convicted of crimes related to the distribution of cocaine.
  • 7. Pros of the facility:Fort Dix has many advantages. It is a large prison, confining thousands of people in three separate compounds. The people who serve time in the different compounds do not have any interaction with people who serve time in the other compounds. For example, an inmate at the federal prison camp in Fort Dix would not be able to interact with an inmate in the Fort Dix low-security prison.

    Fort Dix offered opportunities for people to get physically fit. It included people from all over the Northeastern USA, and many foreign countries. With more than 1,500 people in the prison that held me, I could learn from many people. The level of violence felt minimal. I liked that visiting was available five days each week. Inmates can easily find jobs that help pass time. All in all, I liked Fort Dix while I was there. But again, as I’ve written elsewhere, making good progress in prison isn’t about the institution. It’s about a person’s attitude.

  • 8. Cons of the facility:The biggest cons of Fort Dix was the lack of privacy. Most people served their time in large rooms, with between six and 12 people. Those who had seniority in the prison could transfer to two-man rooms. That was much better. The rooms do not include bathrooms. People use community bathrooms. With more than 500 people in a housing unit, the bathrooms did not always look clean. Still, I found ways to adjust.
  • 9.Food assessment of the facility:The food in Fort Dix was like all prison food. It is acceptable, but not necessarily good. By the time I transferred to Fort Dix, I was experienced. I had about ten years in the system. That experience made me understand more about the nuances of prison food. Each week we had cheeseburgers. chicken. spaghetti, beans, and rice. We had eggs for breakfast a few days a week. I didn’t mind the food. But I frequently avoided the chow hall and ate food that I purchased from the commissary. Still, I would say the food assessment at Fort Dix was average. People who are not used to prison food may not like it at all.
  • 10.Recreational opportunities at the facility:Fort Dix has many opportunities for people who want to decompress. Fitness was always a big part of my journey. At Fort Dix, the compound is really large. Two laps around the compound is more than a mile. Runners can appreciate the distances. The prison also has a weight room that rivals many gyms. It has indoor and outdoor racquetball courts. It has a basketball court like a high school. Movies are available for people who like to watch films. There are card rooms and hobby shops and painting classes. It’s easy to find something to do.

  • 11.Programs available in the facility:Fort Dix offers the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) that many people want to enroll in. That program is popular because people can receive 18 months off their sentence if they complete the program. To qualify for the program, a person must take some action steps before surrendering to prison. There are also some simple GED courses and some vocational courses. A bicycle repair program was popular. There were vocational programs where people could learn about electricity or other trades. The Fort Dix camp had some automotive type programs, as I recall.
  • 12.Best jobs in the facility:The best job would depend on how an individual wants to spend his time. At Fort Dix, I wanted jobs that did not require much effort. I value free time. With free time, I could write or work toward goals I set. I thought the best job would be an orderly job in the housing unit, or an orderly job in the visiting room. Others may like to work in food service. Others would like working in recreation. For people who want to earn prison wages, the Fort Dix commissary or the UNICOR factory would offer the best pay.
  • 13.Living Quarters in the facility:The living quarters are not great at Fort Dix. It is an old Army barracks, with several large rooms. The buildings are three stories tall. Long hallways are about the length of a football field. Each side of the hallway has rooms that hold between six and 12 people. At each end of the hallway, there are two-man rooms. Those two-man rooms were very nice. Getting into the two-man rooms was difficult, taking more than a year on a waitlist.
  • 14.How would I assess safety in the facility? :Fort Dix federal prison is safe, as far as I was concerned. The prison is low-security, or minimum-security–depending on the compound. People serve time for nonviolent drug crimes or white collar crimes. If people served time for violent offenses, they showed good behavior in prison. Of course some problems would erupt from time to time. For the most part, I consider Fort Dix a safe prison.
  • 15.What types of pressure did I feel in the facility?:I did not feel any pressure at Fort Dix. Again, by the time I arrived, I had more than 10 years of prison behind me. Someone who surrendered to Fort Dix to begin serving a sentence may see it differently. New prisoners feel pressure because they’re not used to the environment.
  • 16.What is my general review?:My general review is that Fort Dix is a good place to serve time. It’s as good as it can be for a low-security prison. At least I felt that way. Since the prison is close to New York and Philadelphia, inmates could access good radio stations. I made excellent progress during the eight years I served at Fort Dix.
  • 17.On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give the facility a rating of:9
  • 18.Personal Blog:At and on the I published many articles about Fort Dix. I hope that others will use this forum to write more about Fort Dix for people who may surrender. Family members, too, should share their experiences. Below is a letter that I received from another prisoner who served time at Fort Dix, and other federal prisons. I publish it without editing:

    Michael, if you send this to anyone it might be best to accompany this and the other on FMC/Lexington with the “treatise” I wrote titled “What I wish I had known before being incarcerated ” (or something similarly titled) as I skipped some of the generic knowledge regarding behavior.

    Fort Dix (NJ) Federal Prison Camp

    Located just under an hour from Philadelphia, FT. Dix remains a fully operational joint military base of 7000 acres that includes both the camp (population down from a maximum of 408 to its current 320) and a low security prison (approximately 4200) which together qualifies it as the largest federal prison facility in the country.

    Prior to Arrival
    Provide contact (phone/email/address) info on all those you may want to contact with one individual who you can email once inside so that it can be emailed to you. It is very unlikely you’ll be allowed to retain such info through processing and placement in the camp.

    Have someone wire money (preferably the maximun monthly spending limit of $360.00) in your account by ensuring they have your 9-digit register number. They should reference and follow the instructions provided at for doing so (to Des Moines, IA.) They should do this the day AFTER you surrender so it will be available on the first day u=you can go to the commissary.

    Do not be stupid and show up under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whether you transfer in or self-surrender, you will be processed through the low security prison’s R&D unit. Ensure they know that you are designated to go to the camp (an error they have made more than once, the first indication being that you are outfitted in khakis as opposed to greens).
    * Do not bring more than 3 days worth of prescription drugs (but ensure they are in their original bottles).
    * Wear Goodwill quality shoes and clothing and have the articles donated.
    * No watch, phone, or anything else. You will enter the camp with nothing you initially possessed.
    * Medical, which may take days, has to approve any exceptions for you, particularly a low bunk for those needing such accommodation. Until Medical does so, you are not entitled to such exceptions (but may be accommodated if possible). DO NOT complain once you’ve made them aware of your problem, it will do no good as medical staff, not corrections’ staff, are the only ones who may allow such exceptions/accommodations.

    The camp (using a figure of 350 inmates now) is comprised of approx. 150 whites overall, 35-50 of which are white-collar seniors, about 175 non-whites, about 75 Puerto Ricans and the rest a variety of of races, ages and backgrounds. About 2/3’s of the inmates are drug offenders, the remaining white collar primarily from NY and north NJ.


    You may be contacted by informally-organized religious groups who will offer new inmates “care-packages” that consist of a few hygiene items (shower shoes, shampoo, soap, soap dish, toothbrush and toothpaste) that are necessary until you can visit the commissary. Puerto Ricans are extremely helpful as well to those new the system. (IMPORTANT: No nudity, except inside a shower stall and always wear some kind of footwear….especially shower shoes inside the shower stalls).

    You will not be able to email or call until you receive access numbers from staff which may take 2-3 days (or may not, depends on a variety of circumstances. This is important for your loved ones to be aware of BEFORE you enter the system.

    Expect that those you will most likely associate with will be similar in age and race and live/reside close to where your bunk is.

    You will be in VERY close proximity to numerous others, many of whom do not share your background. Do not reduce the toleration level by :
    * “Ear hustling”: The tempting, but very unwelcome, tendency to comment or ask questions regarding something you overhear others talking about. It is perfectly natural to have questions, particularly when new, however, seek answers for your questions (however they originate) from those of similar background/age/race.
    * “Eye hustling”: Again, because of the close proximity to others, you may see things that others would prefer you not see (usually the breaking of a minor rule). Look elsewhere when this happens and don’t let your curiosity get the better of you by asking about it.

    Inmates may easily find out why you’re incarcerated and for what duration (and will be more motivated to do so if you avoid the question regarding such), so tell them if asked. Do not complain about your sentence, particularly about its length. There are those in camp who have been in many, many years and no one will feel sympathetic toward anyone who is a whiner.


    EVERYONE must work, sometimes in a rather restricted fashion until cleared by medical. No job pays well, most under $20.00 Remember that saying, “Another day, another dollar”? You could only wish.

    The best job (2), is as a town driver, transporting inmates to Philadelphioa (airport and bus terminal) or NJ airport. Difficult to get and easily lost with transfer to another location (after being penalized) when to succumbing tptemptation.

    The largest group of inmates are assigned to DPW (Department of Public Works) and leave the camp to work at various sites around the base cleaning offices, barracks and other structures. The pay is around $15 (in 2013).

    The highest paying positions, as in most facilities, are with Unicore (Federal Prison Industries). Fort Dix had two areas for Unicore, one was classic recycling, the other sorted incoming items that were classified as surplus from various government entities (Dept. of Defense, BOP, FBI, etc.).

    There was a fairly strong need for tutors BUT some of the inmates who are required to obtain their GED do not have any desire to meet the requirements so it can be extremely frustrating.


    By far the best selection of footwear and close to the top in variety of edible items compared to the other three locations I was at (Philadelphia, FMC/Lexington, Lompoc/CA). Bit of a distance if you’re buying a lot of heavy items.


    Everything at Fort Dix (two dorms, library, exercise gym, chapel, medical, offices for staff, two TV rooms, barber shop, schoolroom AND chow hall and kitchen) is under one roof so the narrow hallways at meal lines are especially congested. Despite that, the food is decent, cold/hot bar always well stocked. Fruit was better than two other sites but not nearly as good in variety as the camp at Lompoc.


A low security

federal prison camp

with an adjacent minimum security satellite camp.

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Freight and non-USPS parcels



Federal Correctional Institution



Inmate Mail



Federal Correctional Institution

P.O. BOX 2000





Federal Correctional Institution

P.O. BOX 2000


Inmate Money

Do NOT send money to an inmate using this facility’s address. All funds sent through the mail must be addressed to a processing center in Des Moines, Iowa. This applies to all Federal inmates, regardless of where they are incarcerated.

Staff Mail



Federal Correctional Institution

P.O. BOX 38


Visiting Schedule
FCI General Visiting Hours*

Sunday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Monday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Tuesday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Thursday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Friday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Saturday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Federal Holiday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
FCI CAMP Visiting Hours*

Sunday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Monday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Saturday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
Federal Holiday 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM
*About Visiting Hours

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