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Hard Time Or Spiritual Retreat? CNBC Goes Inside Danbury Federal Prison

Heather Bliss, serving 30 months at a federal prison camp in Danbury, describes it as a spiritual retreat.
Heather Bliss, serving 30 months at a federal prison camp in Danbury, describes it as a spiritual retreat. Photo Credit: CNBC screenshot

DANBURY, Conn. -- In the premiere episode of "White Collar Convicts: Life On The Inside," CNBC takes its cameras on a rare trip behind the walls of the federal prison camp in Danbury.

The one-hour documentary, reported by Andrew Ross Sorkin, airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, on CNBC.

"The documentary goes behind prison walls to capture the raw experience of convicted CEOs and other corporate swindlers who are doing time," says CNBC. "From inside traders to embezzlers and money launderers, this CNBC original tells the story of high-flying power brokers humbled by a fall from grace and forced to trade a life of wealth and prestige for one controlled by prison guards."

But it may not be quite what you expect. In the first episode, Sorkin speaks with Heather Bliss, a "once well-to-do" mother of four serving 30 months for mortgage fraud at the federal prison camp in Danbury and says it's not as bad as some might think.

Bliss, 39, who surrendered when she was eight months pregnant, was temporarily transferred to a one-year program for inmates who are new mothers. She got to spend 12 months with her newborn child while in the camp. "This doesn't sound so bad," Sorkin says.

She calls it a "rest" and a "spiritual retreat" to be in the federal prison, but says she "looks for the positive things to focus on," while serving her sentence. "If I were on the outside with my four children, I'd be running around crazy," Bliss says. "I have a lot of downtime here."

When Sorkin asks whether it should be harder to be incarcerated, Bliss says her prison term should be harder but for a shorter period of time.

But the college-educated Bliss was convicted along with her husband. With both of them in prison, their four children are now living with friends.

In other episodes of the original documentary series, CNBC profiles current and former inmates humbled by a fall from grace and forced to trade a life of wealth and prestige for one controlled by prison guards. Sorkin interviews former Tyco chief Dennis Kozlowski, former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, and former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio.

Federal prison camps, called "Club Fed" resorts by many, are home to thousands of white-collar felons who live alongside drug dealers, bank robbers and other hardened criminals, CNBC said.

Watch a two-minute preview of the Danbury episode here at the CNBC website.

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