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WV judge’s prison lacks fences, offers amenities

Charleston Daily Mail file photo by Craig Cunningham Judge Michael Thornsbury on his way to the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston to be sentenced.
Charleston Daily Mail file photo by Craig Cunningham
Judge Michael Thornsbury on his way to the Robert C. Byrd Federal Courthouse in Charleston to be sentenced.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The federal prison where ex-Mingo County judge Michael Thornsbury could spend the next several years has intramural soccer, arts and crafts, Bocce ball and a sunbathing porch.

The minimum security Florida camp does not have fences.

“There’s no fence,” said Laura Shank, spokeswoman for Federal Prison Camp Pensacola.

Thornsbury reported to the facility Tuesday. He faces 50 months in prison after pleading guilty to depriving a man of his choice of attorney.

There are about 750 inmates at the prison camp, according to the facility’s website.

“Minimum security institutions, also known as Federal Prison Camps (FPCs), have dormitory housing, a relatively low staff-to-inmate ratio, and limited or no perimeter fencing,” states the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ website.

“These institutions are work- and program-oriented.”

Shank said orientation for new inmates takes about 30 days, at which point Thornsbury could be assigned a job.

“We’ll take that time to assess him and see where he fits in best,” Shank said.

58-page inmate orientation handbook outlines some of the expectations of prisoners and accommodations at the site, located near but not on a Navy base.

Inmates can have visitors on Fridays and weekends, wear shorts in certain circumstances, receive medical care (after a $2 co-pay) and participate in numerous activities. Pink salmon is available for $2.85 and racquet balls cost $5.85, according to the order sheet for the camp commissary.

While some activities are required — inmates are typically assigned a job that pays between 10 cents and 40 cents and hour — they can also choose to play sports, watch movies or enjoy other forms of recreation…

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