Charlie’s New Home: What Life Is Like In Prison For Former State Senator Carlos Uresti



John Hughes
The Southside Light

Beaumont, Texas—Former State Senator Carlos Uresti was up in Austin this time two years ago working for members of his State Senate district that encompassed a very large swath of Southwest and South Texas. Now, Uresti is spending his days the Federal Correctional Institution in Beaumont, Texas.

A federal jury last year convicted Uresti of 11 felonies for his role in defrauding investors in an oil-field services company that prosecutors said was a Ponzi scheme. For his role in the scheme, Uresti was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution to victims. But what does a day consist of for the former State Senator now that he serving his time in a federal corrections facility?

Uresti is listed as being in the low security unit at FCI Beaumont. However, sources tell us the he is actually serving his time in a satellite minimum security camp adjacent to the low-security facility. Inmates there are considered to of considerably low risk and are mostly drug case co-conspirators and white collar criminals such as himself.

Sources close to Uresti today say that he is having a hard time adjusting to the new role as State Senator turned prison inmate, but he is adjusting well. Uresti lives in a warehouse type of environment with about 200 other men. Where he sleeps is a cinder block cubicle about the size of a standard workspace that he shares with two other inmates. There are no locked doors or bars. In fact, there are not even fences around the remote camp where Uresti is housed.

He wears a facility issued set of green work clothes, complete with a khaki brown belt and black work boots. Offenders housed at the satellite camp usually wake up and head to breakfast at around 6:00 before heading off to work, exercise or attend required meetings as set out by his Bureau of Prisons assigned case manager.

Yes, Uresti likely has a job that does actually pay him while he is incarcerated. The job can pay anywhere from a few cents an hour to a few dollars an hour, depending upon what exactly he is doing. Likely, because Uresti is a lawyer by trade, he is working in either the camps law library or tutoring other offenders in the GED program. An average monthly check for Uresti is likely between $12-40 dollars.

Offenders in the Beaumont Satellite Camp work to support the prisons function, as well. They manage warehouses, drive forklifts, assist corrections officers and kitchen staff when the medium and maximum security units go on restrictive lockdown, and perform other daily tasks as needed to make sure the facility functions properly.

Uresti, who can still receive money from family and friends can also go to the facility’s commissary once each week to buy items such as snacks, sodas, stamps and standard issue prison clothing accessories.

Those accessories include a wrist watch or white t-shirt, jogging shorts and tennis shoes.

Uresti will likely have plenty of time to write letters, send emails and listen to the radio that he can purchase off of the facility’s commissary.

His lunches and dinners are well rounded and actually nutritious, whereas in a prison like here in Texas, he would likely be given carbohydrates and a water fruit drink. He will have access to a limited lettuce and tomato bar with plain mayo salad dressing.

While some might call it “Camp Cupcake” as a joke, it isn’t. While Uresti is in a far better and more rehabilitative environment than his peers in the state system, he does not have it easy—which might bring some comfort to the South Texans who lost money in his Four Winds Logistics scheme.

For the most part, Uresti will have to pay his debt to society by being away from his family and friends for the next several years. The United States Bureau of Prisons does not show him to be eligible for release until 2029.

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