J. Lewis reports to prison in Florida

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis reported late Friday morning to a minimum-security federal prison in Florida to begin serving his four-month sentence for using a cellular phone to facilitate a drug transaction instead of an Alabama facility he requested.

Lewis' lawyers asked for their client to be assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., but federal prison officials wanted to avoid potential contact with inmates convicted in the same investigation into drug activity in an Atlanta project.

Lewis arrived at Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola on Saufley Field at 11:40 a.m. Friday and was photographed, fingerprinted and assigned a dark khaki uniform prior to orientation.

"We place an inmate based on individual security needs, and in this case we felt this facility was the most appropriate location for him," U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Dan Dunne said. "The prison is a work camp and inmates are required to work if they're medically able.

"It's not unusual for this prison to house high-publicity inmates. It's a very generic facility in terms of accommodations on a traditional military base. It's not 'Club Fed.'"

Lewis will serve the entire four months because of federal regulations that don't grant time off for good behavior for prisoners serving under a year, Dunne said. The majority of the 557 prisoners at the auxiliary base to Pensacola Naval Air Station are at the work camp for drug-related or white-collar offenses, said Dave Fagan, the prison's public information officer.

"Jamal wanted to get it done and over with," said Jerry Froelich, Lewis' Atlanta-based attorney. "He just wants to do his time quietly and get back to his family and football."

Because Lewis is wearing a special boot on his right foot after recent ankle surgery, he's unlikely to be able to initially participate in work details that include grounds maintenance and sanitation duties.

However, Lewis will have access to medical care and exercise facilities and could be allowed to see a specialist for his ankle rehabilitation, Fagan said.

"We have a recreation area for inmates with exercise equipment, a jogging track, a basketball court and a softball field," Fagan said. "If an inmate has an injury, we generally treat it on location, but outside specialists often will be used. The prisoners have the opportunity to improve their overall wellness."

Lewis will be allowed to have visitors on an approved list on Fridays, weekends and holidays. Inmates are allowed to watch television (basic cable) in the prison dormitories.

Fagan said prisoners are carefully screened and added that the minimum security prison doesn't allow sex offenders. There's a fence and perimeter security around the prison and escapes are rare, Fagan said.

Fagan said the prison is accustomed to celebrity convicts, but they aren't granted favored status.

"There are no special perks, we're not a privileged camp," Fagan said. "We have inmates from all walks of life, and he'll be treated the same as everybody else."
After Lewis is released, he will serve two months in an Atlanta halfway house.

He's also required to perform 500 hours of community service and was fined $20,000 under the terms of his plea bargain. The punishment stems from an investigation in 2000 after Lewis was drafted fifth overall by the Ravens and prior to him signing a six-year contract worth $35.3 million.

Lewis was suspended by the NFL for two games without pay and fined another two game checks for a total of $761,000 in lost salary. He also paid for an expensive legal defense that included lawyers Ed Garland, Don Samuel and Froelich.

Lewis, who led the NFL with 2,066 yards in 2003, is hoping to be available for training camp, which begins July 31 at McDaniel College.

"Jamal is looking forward to putting this behind him," Froelich said. "He's looking forward to having a big year next season with the Ravens."

As well as a being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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