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Joe had initially requested to be released from custody and allowed to return home to be with his family in New Jersey while they wait to see what happens with his ongoing deportation case. After that request was denied in September, Joe asked to be permitted to leave custody and fly to Italy while awaiting the outcome of the case, which was ultimately granted.
Joe explained this decision during The Real Housewives of New Jersey Special Event: Joe and Teresa Unlocked on Sunday, October 27. "You know what, sitting in immigration was just wasted time," he said via video from Italy. "You're doing a whole 'nother sentence for no reason in there."
In fact, his wife, Teresa Giudice, and their daughters all agreed this would be the best thing for everyone. "We were getting the phone calls every day and we all said he needs to go," Teresa shared.
Joe added, "There's no way I was gonna do another year in that county prison there. There's no way. Being in there is like having your head in a panini press, OK?"
The Real Housewives of New Jersey husband entered the ICE facility immediately after he completed his federal prison sentence at FCI Allenwood Low in Allenwood, Pennsylvania in March. He began his 41-month prison sentence at FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey in March 2016 before being transferred to Pennsylvania in 2017.
Joe said during the interview with Andy Cohen that the federal prison was much more tolerable. "In federal prison, I got my [high school] diploma, I did six months of computer courses, I did a lot of programming," he said before recalling his "terrible experience" in ICE custody. "I don't wish that on anybody... Five months I was locked down in a room. This room was small. There was eight people in this cell. For five months I was in there, and I literally was going bonkers in there."
Joe said that he was never put in solitary confinement in federal prison, but he spent one week in the SHU (special housing unit) while in ICE custody after he said that he opened a window to let air in the gym. "One week I was in there, and it's ridiculous. I mean, that place should be shut down," he said. "My wife and kids came a few times to see me, and it was terrible."
Later in the conversation, Joe opened up about growing up in the United States after coming over to the country from Italy when he was just a baby. "I mean, my mistake was I never became a citizen. Yeah, that was stupid of me. But when you're raised here as a kid, you go to school here, you do everything here, it's not a big deal... Especially when you're not a criminal," he explained. "All I did was I busted my ass my whole life. Believe me, I was a hard worker. I wasn't one of these guys that just sat around doing nothing all day. That wasn't me."
Joe addressed why he never got his U.S. passport. "I don't know why," he said. "I just never got one when I was supposed to get one."
Andy then asked Joe, "There's a moment in this season to come where you're on the phone with Teresa in the ICE facility and you blame her for your not getting a passport. Do you blame her for that?"
"No, I don't blame her," Joe said in response. "When you're in there, your mind is off. I blamed everybody in there."
Joe also shared an update on the current status of his appeal. "Basically, we just got to wait and see," he said. "We have a good lawyer on it, and hopefully these judges rule on it and just do the right thing."
Joe reflected on his journey while speaking out for the first time since his release from ICE custody in an exclusive video statement to The Daily Dish, which you can view, below. "Life, it's always better to look through the windshield and not through the rearview mirror, you know. It's a much bigger picture when you're looking through the windshield. But at the end of the day, people make mistakes. Nobody's perfect," he shared. "But I've learned a valuable lesson from all this and I know my family is the most important thing to me. But it's better that I'm out here than in there. I just want to let you know that I love you and I'm always here for you. You know that."
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