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An aerial view of the Coleman Federal Prison in Coleman, Fla.

Reinhold Matay/Reinhold Matay/AP

Forget orange jumpsuits, manual labour and gruel. Here's a look at what prison life was like for Conrad Black during his two-year, five-month stay at the low-security facility at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in central Florida.

His dormitory dwellings were no New York City Park Avenue apartment or Bridle Path mansion, but going from life as a Lord to life as a Lord in prison didn't necessarily mean his social circle changed.

Lord Black acknowledged in a diary column that appeared this June in the British magazine The Spectator (which he used to own) that he had run into some "dodgy" people in jail. But he was quick to add that their ethics didn't differ much from those of some people he knew outside the compound, including some of the judges and prosecutors he had encountered.

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The former newspaper baron continued to write book reviews for the National Review, the British Journalism Review and The New Criterion while in jail. Lord Black spent at least an hour a night reading books he received from friends or borrowed from the prison library before he went to sleep.

In a New Year's greetings to readers of The Spectator this year, he showed signs of both humour and ambition from his Florida jail cell.

"This is not a country club but life here is not uncivilized and has its entertaining moments," he wrote. "I am enjoying … practicing (sic) the piano, writing and shaping myself up physically for my next career move."

Lord Black, dubbed "Lordy" by his fellow inmates, gave lectures for prisoners on a variety of topics, including post-revolutionary U.S. history and current events - a promotion from his initial task of washing dishes, the Daily Mail reported.

His writings indicate he had a passion for his work. He helped several dozen inmates graduate from high school. According to a National Post column he wrote last year, the most popular essay topic he assigned to inmates was, "Describe the sexiest woman you have ever seen."

Even though Lord Black was physically incarcerated, he said his mind lived outside the facility. He spent several hours a day composing e-mails, keeping in touch with friends and staying on top of world events - no doubt ensuring a smoother reintegration into life outside prison gates.

With a report from Sarah Boesveld

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