Convict advice for Joe Nacchio

Now that former Qwest CEO and convicted inside trader Joe Nacchio has been ordered to report to prison on April 14 -- and presumably has to file his income tax return a day early -- we want to make sure his stay goes smoothly, pending the outcome of his never-ending appeals.

Just what should a big-wheel executive take with him to prison? Should he act as one of the guys or try to lord it over lesser-compensated inmates? Aside from not bending over for the soap, what kind of practical survival skills must he develop?

Fortunately, Clive Sharp has already tried to clear these matters up. Sharp is the author of How to Survive Federal Prison Camp: A Guidebook For Those Caught Up in the System, a handy little volume designed more for the federal prison novice than the seasoned con. Among its invaluable tips:

1. Get your teeth cleaned right before you show up at the gate: "Most prison dentists would rather pull out all of your teeth than repair them. You could emerge toothless at the end of your sentence."

2. Bring cotton socks. The white socks issued in federal camps are acrylic, and they suck.

3. At low-security federal camps, the possibility of being turned into someone's bitch is much less than being victimized by a snitch. "You have to assume that EVERYBODY is a snitch," Sharp warns. His advice: Don't be one.

4. Making the most out of visits from loved ones takes some ingenuity. "It is customary at some prison camps to cut the pockets out of your pants so that you and your visitor can grope each other easily... The convict should always have at least one handkerchief and a full can of soda with him for cleanups."

5. "If you are a skilled gambler, you can make good money... [but] you are better off if you do not gamble. Not only do you run the risk of losing, but it is against prison rules and can get you shipped out [to a higher-security prison]. If you gamble and lose, do not fail to pay up promptly."

And finally, most important of all -- are you listening, Joe? -- don't try to be the smartest guy in the room:

"It is in your best interest to be courteous to your fellow convicts, according to the unwritten code that you are all forced to live by. Don't demean other convicts, or make fun of them, even if they are clearly foolish. Don't throw your weight around, or flaunt your education or financial resources. You are all members of the convicted class, and in that respect you are all equals. Don't ever forget that."

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