Teresa Giudice Talks Prison Life, Reuniting With Family & Supporting Donald Trump

Teresa Giudice is ready for a new chapter.

The "Real Housewives of New Jersey" star was released from Connecticut's Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in December after serving nearly a year on charges of bankruptcy fraud. As she sat down to promote her new memoir, "Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again" on Access Hollywood Live, she told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover that her time behind bars provided a difficult but important learning experience.

"It was humiliating. It was something that I've never experienced in my entire life and I did what I had to do," Teresa said. "I'm out now, I'm happy and I'm just looking forward to the future."

The reality star recalled the night she arrived at the facility, and said it was hard to process what was happening to her.

"I think I was just numb. I was really numb," she said, adding that loved ones, including her husband, Joe Guidice, offered their support until the last moments. 

"I was texting with Joe the whole way there. And you know, all my friends, they were texting me too," she said. "I was just trying not to think. … I was just embracing [it], I was like, 'Whatever happens, happens. I'm just going to go with it.'"

Teresa said making the initial transition from civilian to prisoner may have gotten a bit more personal than she'd imagined.

"I didn't know what to expect," she said of the check-in process.

"When you go in, they strip search you. You have to bend down and cough just in case you have anything up there, which I mean, I would never," she added. 

Although Teresa said her fellow inmates were "really nice," she did feel as though her fame made her stand out from day one.

"It was like I was like an animal in a cage. Everyone was coming to check me out," she told Billy and Kit.

"Everyone was saying, 'Oh my gosh, she's here, Teresa's here, Teresa's here.' I kept hearing that," she said.

Some of the other prisoners even tried to capitalize on her celebrity, Teresa said.

"There were girls that brought in cell phones trying to take my picture. They were selling stories," she said. "They were making money."

Despite the additional attention, Teresa said she did find a group of women who helped her feel safe.

"The girls in my room were really protective of me, and they're like, 'Leave the girl alone,'" she said.

As for her living conditions, Teresa clarified that her surroundings were "not a country club at all," but she was able to practice yoga, eat a relatively balanced diet and experience a sense of openness not typically associated with prison life. 

"There were no bars, I was never in a cell," she explained. "It was camp and I wasn't behind a fence."

There was also the opportunity to enjoy a few minutes alone with Joe during his visits, Teresa said.

While she and her husband of 16 years were able to "make out" on occasion, Teresa said her fellow inmates had dedicated a space dubbed "the 'boom boom' room" for their own physical relations.

"That's what I called my room when I first got there," she said. "Because there was a lot of 'boom boom' going on. … Not that I heard it, because there was a big fan in our room, so they'd turn the fan on so I couldn't hear it."

Adding, "I just pretty much put my head underneath the covers and went to bed and turned my face toward the wall so I wouldn't have to see anything. … I just knew what was going on."

When asked if she ever felt pressure to get intimate with another prisoner, Teresa said it was clear to everyone that she was off the market.

"No, no, no," she told Billy and Kit. "I think everybody knew that, you know, that I'm with Joe."

Being separated from Joe and their kids was the hardest part of about her sentence, Teresa added.

"The worst thing was being away from my four daughters," she said, explaining that she'd missed Gia's eighth-grade dance and Adrianna's kindergarten graduation.

While the absence of her family weighed heavily on her throughout her sentence, Teresa said she came away from prison with meaningful new relationships.

"I did make friends there. I met some wonderful women," Teresa said.

"I think about them all the time," she added. "I hope that [they'll] come home soon and be with their families, just like I'm with mine."

Teresa may have been out of the public eye for the past year, but she seems to have kept up with current events.

The 43-year-old told Billy and Kit she's an enthusiastic supporter of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

"He's just like, real. Like how Joe and I are. Like, what you see is what you get," she said of the mogul, whom she got to know while appearing on "The Celebrity Apprentice."

"I just think there's a lot to be said about that," she added. "I think he'll make a great president."

-- Erin Biglow

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