With everyone saying “OMG, lockdown is just like prison,” I thought we’d find out. In 1995, Mark Clifford was found guilty of bank fraud. He spent the next 10 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, paid his debt to society, and now lives in California with his wife, three kids, and he is a mentor to the Fresno State Entrepreneurship Program. Let’s talk with Mark about what lockdown is REALLY like. (Hint, you can’t order in a pizza.)
“That time locked away, gave me a lot of time to think and sort out problems. I got the time to read which I never had before and read over 5,000 books in the span of 10 years.”– Mark Clifford
20 Minutes in Lockdown- _This ain’t prison,_ with Convicted Felon Mark Clifford #podcast
May 13. Hey guys, welcome to another episode of 20 minutes in lockdown. My name is Peter Shankman, you know, I’ve been ranting a lot lately because maybe it’s just that I’m staying home so much. You know what I’m saying? I’m so much, maybe it’s just that I’m, I’m, I’m, uh, not on a plane, which is kind of one of my happy places, but whatever, the reason I’m ranting a lot, and one of the things.
Obviously, but I’ve been ranting a lot about the fact that people won’t wear masks and that’s just cause people are idiots. But one of the other reasons that people are idiots that I’ve found is you have any idea. How many of my friends and people, I follow people that I found online and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever.
Have compared what we’re going through to being in jail or in prison, specifically the idiots who are protesting in the, in the, in the middle of the country, uh, about how their rights were being taken away. Quote unquote, we’re all screaming, Oh, this is worse than jail. Well, here’s a tip. It’s not fucking worse than jail.
And, but you know, you can’t take it from me because I’ve never been to jail. I came close once when I got arrested in central park for exercising before it opened, but I’ve never actually gone to jail. However, our guest today has. And I want you to meet Mark Clifford. I’ve had Mark on the Festa normal before.
He’s a hell of a great guy. He lives out in California. Now Mark spent 10 years in federal prison, all across the country for bank fraud and he paid his debt to society. He is a functioning member of set society. Now, one of the good people in society who does wear a mask and Mark, I am thrilled to have you back.
I’m really, really glad you’re here, man. This is, this is gonna be fun. First and foremost, first and foremost, on a scale of one to 10, the people who are complaining that they’re locked down, feels like prison. How stupid are they with one being very smart and 10 being incredibly stupid, I’d say between nine and nine and a half.
So, you know, they’re pitching, Oh, you know what? We can’t do this. We can’t that, I’m pretty sure that in the 10 years you were in, you know, in prison, you never got, you didn’t have the ability to have a pizza delivered at any given time. Right? No, no, we didn’t have a refrigerator that we could just walk to at any time and say, I want a hot dog, or I want to, you know, frozen pizza or something.
So tell us in your own words, talk about number, let’s start off with, tell us about your background. How’d you how’d you wind up doing where you were and what happened. Okay. So I was in, I was involved in a bank fraud scheme that was called the BCCI bank of credit and commerce international. Back in the eighties.
And I had acted as a consultant to my uncle and one day. Came down and everything got busted. They were gentlemen, my uncle Clark was 82 years old. They wanted to give him five years and I stepped into the picture and admitted to guilt and took the heat. And instead of five years, they said, you are young enough to do 10 and it was more involved.
So they gave me 10 years while I was in prison. Uh, I started out at Lewisburg. And I was there for three years. And while they were trying to find money, which nobody was giving up, they decided that maybe if they gave me what they call diesel therapy and diesel therapy, basically, as they keep moving, you.
Constantly and constantly. So from Lewisburg, I went to Atlanta, I was there for six months, went to Florida for a year from Florida. They flew me to Seattle at SeaTac. It’s called from SeaTac. I went down the Lompoc, California Lompoc. I went to sandstone, Minnesota and on and on, and I ended up back at Lewisburg in the end of this.
And. Th the thing is, is what you learn about being in prison is you don’t have any rights, no matter what they tell you, they give you this thing. And when you first go in and you have the right to this, you have the right to that. That’s all bullshit. Cause they can take everything away from you. Uh, what started out?
I mean the simplest thing, like right now, everybody’s talking like we can’t get toilet paper. Well, when I first went into prison, you used to get two or three rolls a week. Then it went down to one roll a week and you want to talk about thievery? Uh, I was in the bathroom one day and my toilet paper was down on the floor and someone ran in, grabbed it and took off.
Um, so the thing was then it was about making up. I take one roll and I saved all the cardboard inserts from other roles and I’d make up four or five rules from one role. And hide them in my cell so that no one would get them. Cause then the other thing was sometimes they go into yourself, steal your roll toilet paper.
Um, but the whole thing of prison is, and when I hear people say, Oh, this is like being in prison, they have no idea what, what it means. You know, you’re in prison, you have nothing. Can’t like you said, you can’t get a pizza unless you’re paying off a cop and you know, maybe you’ll get something. And you can’t just get up and go to your refrigerator at three in the morning.
If you need a snack, you, you can go to your locker and get something. If you bought something you’re you can’t go outside when you want. There’s only certain times you can go outside. You’re you’re relegated to eat at certain times of the day. So if you get hungry at two o’clock in the afternoon, you’re not going to be able to do anything.
So I keep hearing these people say, this is like prison. And I get upset because they don’t realize how much freedom they actually have being locked down. And you can still go outside your yard. You can still run to the store. You can still go for a drive with your family. You’re just having to stay in place during, you know, when you’re not doing anything.
And I don’t, I guess I don’t understand their thinking that they have no idea. And then. Go ahead. Let’s just say one of the things about prison is that you find that it’s not about sort of you anymore. You don’t control your choices, right? The choices are controlled by the people who are imprisoning you, the guards or the ward in that regard.
And so I think that what a lot of people are dealing with is the first time these are people who have lived in. America all their life, which as far as, you know, comparatively is a relatively free country. And for the first time in their life, right, they are being quote unquote, I use this term very, very loosely persecuted, right?
With huge air quotes. They’re persecuted in the respect that the persecution being, Hey, we’re trying to save your life. You freaking morons, right? Yeah. But no, and they don’t have anything else to equate that with. So in their small little minds, that’s our rights being taken away. I’m in prison. Right, right.
And it’s nothing like being encrypted. No. You know, and I keep hearing these people talk about conspiracy theories and this is a government takeover. And I start laughing because you know, when you’re in prison, everything is like you said, it’s dictated to you. This is what you do. You have to be in your cell at this time for con you have to do this.
You have to do that. You have to go to work and. Here. You’re getting the work at home. If you, if you can, you know, uh, your travels may be limited, but it’s not directly. Or did you can’t travel there just saying it’s advisable not to travel. I mean, I guess, you know, and everyone’s canceling seminars. Like I was supposed to be at the healthy voice seminar this past April and they canceled it, but they went online and they did did it then.
And we did the talk. So. For me, this lockdown has been pretty much normal, actually. It’s great. You know, like, you know, I mean I’m spending time, more time with my grandkids than ever. Uh, and that’s another thing you’re in prison. You don’t have visitation. Sometimes you don’t have your kids, you don’t have your grandkids there every day.
Although some days you don’t want them there every day. Uh, but the. I was in the store and I heard this woman talking to another woman and complaining about being locked up and saying, this is ridiculous. You know, they think they can order us. I said, you don’t know what order means. You know, you still can do certain things.
You can. I mean, if you want to, you can defy the governor or the mayor and say, I don’t want to wear a mask on prison. You can’t do that. If you defy, you’re going to go to segregation, which is even worse. And. That’s you know, locked down 23 hours a day. So I, it really irks me when I hear all these people on the streets saying, well, this is just like prison.
They’ve got to take over the country. And I’m like, they have no idea, you know, let’s move away from let’s. Let’s get, let’s get the idiots out of our head for a second. Talk about when you were there for 10 years and that’s, when did you serve your full 10? Yeah, I should say I was out for like a year on an appeal bond.
My mom had died. I’d gotten out a week before she died and we had to go through an appeal bond to get it done. And I was out for that little bit of time. Okay. Talk about how you were able to not only stay. At a, at a certain level, that same level that you went in on, but how you were able to better yourself with such limited choices.
Because I think that a lot of the people who are, are complaining, you know, from me, I mean, I won’t lie. I met and I’m very fortunate, you know, I, I have an apartment, I have a place to live. I have, I have some room, you know, um, But I miss the things that kept me. Most of the things that kept me saying, I still have, I have my bike, I could still run.
But for instance, I haven’t slammed in eight weeks. Right. And I used to do two long swims a week and I miss that and that, you know what you are, you get to prison, you don’t have anything like that. You have access to the yard or gym. I’m assuming I’m capacity. But what were you doing to sort of keep yourself saying, keep yourself at the same level and maybe even improve yourself.
While you were locked down. Okay. Uh, I was, I was never a big reader. And when I went to prison, I started reading crazy and I ended up over there over the 10 year period reason, 5,000 books. Wow. Of all different aspects. I mean, from history to nonfiction to fiction, um, And what I did is I kept a list of every book I wrote, read the author, and I’d always write a little note about what it was about and the whole, the whole thing was, it was something I had never taken the time to do.
I never had time before kind of like what you go through. Um, You know, you’re busy. I mean, I follow you all the time and you’re always flying here, flying there. And what I realized is that my, my, my life is in 48 hours of traveling or, you know, 48 hours of giving a speech. My life is 47 hours of traveling and one hour of getting a speech.
Yeah. And it’s like, crazy. I mean, I follow you. And I’m like, how does she do it? You know? And I think back to my days, I mean, I was an investment banker. I worked umpteen hours a day, six to seven days a week. Uh, and, and all of a sudden, one day I’m locked up and I’m not working umpteen hours a day. I’m in the cell.
That’s the hardest thing to face more so than like, just going to prison. The whole premise of I have nothing now. Yeah. You know, it’s funny. I went to prison and due to family, friends, and family connections, I had a lot of things already there waiting for me, but what wasn’t there? Yeah. What wasn’t there was my life.
My life has totally flipped. Now I’m inside and I’m at the Beck and call of a warden or a CEO or whatever, uh, before I made the Beck and call. So I want this broker to do this and we need to close this deal so we can get some money in the office. Now it was a matter of, I only have so many minutes a month to make phone calls 300 minutes a month, which is 10 minutes a day to make one call or break it up.
Uh, I already can spend $300 a month at commissary. You get. Extra food and things. And what became is all of a sudden I’m isolated and having ADHD as you well know, that’s not a good thing that really, you know, that really threw me for a loop. And, but what it did was for 10 years, not only did I read, but I studied more about my ADHD, came to understand it, uh, dealt with it a lot different and.
That time locked away, gave me a lot of, lot of time to think sort out problems. Think of things I had done in the past and what I could have done better. I imagine I imagine that in a way, I’m trying to figure out how to phrase this in a way. Was it freeing? I mean, your choices, you know, for me, like that’s where ADHD choices kill us when choices are taken away.
I can imagine in some way that must’ve been a little freeing for you. Right. You know, it was nice. It’s not having to worry about, I had a place to sleep at night, always had a bed. Uh, I got three meals a day. If I wanted to eat, uh, I was limited to my phone calls. No one could call me. I had to call them.
Right. Uh, it was kind of nice because I didn’t have anyone complaining or I didn’t have to hear about. You know, stock report. If I didn’t want to hear it, I didn’t need to go watch TV, you know? And that’s, there’s another, you don’t have the TV in your room, so you have to go to one of the TV rooms and it was broken up this way.
There was a white TV room, a black TV room, a Spanish TV room and a sports TV room. I always went to the Spanish room. Because they never fought cause they only had one or two channels back then that they could watch. So, you know, you go to the white TV and they start a fight because they want to watch this channel or that movie or this, the blacks the same way, the, the, you know, sports the same way who wants to watch soccer, who wants to watch baseball, but.
I go to the Spanish room and I didn’t understand a word they were saying, but I knew there was only one or two channels that they could watch. So there was never a fight in that room for someone with ADHD. That was beautiful. I could sit there. I just, and then people say, I didn’t know, you spoke Spanish.
I don’t, but I’m just like sitting here cause it’s relaxed. You know? So I dunno, you know, like when I hear like now, like people say, you know, I can’t deal with this. I mean, How can you not deal with this? It’s not that bad. And for me being locked up as well as now, you know, I mean, I used to be in shelter, so it doesn’t bother me, but it helps me with my ADHD.
It makes it easier to deal every day. With what’s going on because I can block out things in even now, like, like what you’re saying about choices. I can, I can still block out those choices because my mentality of, I hate to say it, but being in prison has stuck with me no matter, I don’t care what anyone says, you know, you may not get a.
What’s the word. I can’t think of it, you know, indoctrinated in prison until after maybe 20 or 30 years. But even after 10 years, you have certain things that stick with you when you leave. And go ahead. No, please finish this. Doesn’t fold up like toilet paper. That’s a commodity to me and my wife laughs because I freak out with down the one role, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a basket case.
Like we’re out, we’re out of toilet paper and there might be, you know, I just didn’t see a role or whatever, but I freak out like that’s, that’s no go. I’d rather die than not have toilet paper reading and um, uh, learning. You said ADHD and reading. What else did you do? How’d you keep yourself physically saying where you’re working out.
Did you start it and where did you exercise prior to this prior to going to jail. And did you start when you were in jail? When I was out, my thing was swimming. I swim every day. Cause I had polio as a child. So swimming was always my exercise and it was the least, um, what’s the word? Taxing on the body.
Yeah. Yeah. So I used to go, I used to spend one to two hours every day, seven days a week, swimming. I, that was the one thing I missed. I missed that block out between 12 and two. And so in prison, I used to walk the track. I started lifting weights, which I had never done in my life at all. Um, So that was kind of interesting.
And you know, you got all these guys that they’re in there. I was in the penitentiary. These guys were doing double life, triple life, and they’ve been working out for years and their arms were back. Then. I only weighed when I first went into prison, I weighed 165 pounds. It was this little shrimp, their arms were bigger than me and I used to look out since these guys are huge, you know, and, uh, they would just be out in the weight pile all day long.
So you do things, you start finding things. To make yourself active, whatever we started, we started playing golf. I was just telling my daughter this story the other day, we try to play golf. Now think about this in the penitentiary. They have softball teams. Okay. So they have baseball bats. And they play it every day or whatever.
So we wanted golf clubs with football so we could play golf. And the warden says, well, golf clubs are dangerous. And I looked at, I go, what about the baseball bats? So we started taking baseball bats with softballs and we’d play golf with a softball. We use the Frisbees that have the hole in them. And those were our holes.
We had a nine hole golf course in the middle of the yard, and we were allowed to play one morning. Every Sunday morning, we could play nine holes. You do what you have to do to make yourself survive. And well, I think that’s the key point. You do what you have to do to make yourself survive. So what, you know, one piece of advice you can give to everyone who’s screaming.
Oh my God, this is like jail. It was like prison. What’s that one piece of it is that it do what you have to do or what else you have to think of what happened I ever done. In this pump in this time, what haven’t I done that I’d like to do that I never have time to do? And it could be homeschooling your daughter.
It could be having, you know, taking breaks where you can walk around with your daughter and spend the whole entire day or your son or whatever that you never get a chance to do. And that’s what you do. You do something that you’ve never done or never had time to do. Because it’s going to make this time easier.
You’re going to understand that. Okay. Wow. Look at, go smell the flowers. I mean, I built the pizza oven the last couple of days I’ve been working at it. So I went out, bought all the breads and it’s a portable one. You just take it when you move, you can take it down. But I, that was what I did to keep myself occupied because I was going stir crazy because I’ll be honest, even.
I mean, even now I still go a little stir, crazy. I need to get out once a week. Like I’ll yell at daddy, come on and take me for a ride. I don’t care if we just drive around for an hour, I need to get out, you know? And, uh, it’s not like I can’t go outside, but it’s still the idea that you, you don’t, you know, but, um, Oh, there’s a quick question for Spencer later, this is being released and you maintain any relationships and they went from president either currently or formerly incarcerated.
Yes. I have the ones that can legally do it. Let’s put it that way. Good point. Good point.
No, no. I was going to say there’s some that come out that are on parole or probation and they can’t have interaction with me. So understood. So what’s a you’re out in California, right? And you guys are still shut down as of now. Yes. What’s it looking like out there? Um, it’s kind of crazy. The, uh, the insanity first, you get the people that are complaining being locked down.
Like I said, yeah, you, uh, they’re starting to open up little by little and both like one restaurant are opened up early and they find them $10,000. Good. Um, you know, and the thing is everyone’s crying to be released from persecution and, you know, it’s like, What you don’t understand that that effect could be detrimental to a hundred people, just that one person.
And that’s what I don’t, I can’t understand that it’s like, um, and if you relate it to prison, it’s like saying, okay, there’s a guy locked up for murder and you’re going to let him out and you know, he’s going to do it again. So, you know, um, but then there’s these people that are out there that are trying to.
Raise awareness of what’s going on. And then you have the issues of whether you have to wear a mask or whether you don’t wear a mask. And then the best one is how do you wear a mask? I I’ve been seeing people wear the mask where it’s below their nose. And I’ll be honest. I understand because having a mask on your face is restrictive and I have a heart condition.
So I find it real hard, but I also don’t want to die from Corona, not being able to breathe because your dad is also pretty restricted. You know, I’ve started, I’ve started, I’ve started passing and I’m gonna probably get stabbed for this one day. But I started passing people on the street in New York. And if there were, if they have the mass down around their neck, Ah, that’s a good way.
Yeah. Your neck is protected. Fortunately, your neck is protected. Yep. Yeah. You know, we were in the doctor’s office yesterday and they, they said it was mandatory. You’re aware of mass. So you’re, I am at the cardiologist dying. There’s people behind me. They’re not wearing a mask. And I’m thinking what? I don’t understand this.
If they have a sign that says you have to wear a mask and there’s nurses there, why aren’t they making people wear a mask and. I don’t understand that. I don’t understand that logic, you know, and trying to figure it out. The more I try to figure it out, the more I just get a headache, it’s not worth it.
Right. Right. And I like being locked down. No matter how you look at whether you were in your home or in a cell, you do a lot of thinking and you start looking at things from a different perspective. I mean, I, I grew up and went into wall street and had a different, you know, that’s an entirely different perspective than prison.
All I was doing is about making money, making money, making money, and working, and working and working. And all of a sudden, I go to prison and I’m making a dollar a day as a teacher. And I worked in it. I worked with, um, doing GED classes for the cause. When you go to prison, you have to get your GED. It’s mandatory in federal prison.
So I would spend, that was my day. Monday through Friday, I was a teacher and all of a sudden I’m like, wow, I don’t know if I like this, but I was making a buck a day. So, you know, that’s pretty good, you know? And like people would say, well, how much do you earn a dollar a day? And that’s a far drop from making.
Three or $4 million a day on a deal and, and traveling and having a ball. And all of a sudden my travel was going down the staircase to go to the yard, exact to the cafeteria. So give me one second. Hold on. All right.
We’re probably going to call it anyway. It’s a pass 20 minutes, a lockdown. Okay, Mark. Sorry about that. We’re actually on the call anyway, where we’re just passing 20 minutes. So we’re actually going to call it the 20 months locked out, but God, I want to thank you so much. This was really eyeopening. No question about it.
Really. I only have you back in a couple of weeks as we continue to do this. Okay. Great. All right, Peter. Thank you guys. Thanks for watching tomorrow. We are going to be talking to the nutritionist. So we learn how not to gain 500 pounds as we’re sitting, still locked out. But next month that we have, I took my temperature the other day with one of those thermal scanners and I looked at it, it just said fat.
So we’re going to learn how to do better with that. Okay, Mark. Thank you so much at one 30, everyone. Have a great day. Bye bye.