The 43-year-old reality TV star spent just under a year behind bars after she was initially sentenced in October 2014 to 15 months in jail. Teresa, a mother of four girls, was released from Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, CT, on December 23.
"I mean there was mold in the bathrooms. There was not running water constantly. The showers were freezing cold... I mean, the living conditions were really horrible. Like, horrible," Teresa said during a Tuesday appearance on Good Morning America.
"There were some nights that we didn't even have heat... It was -- it was hell."
When Teresa first got there, she bought headphones the very next day because of all the unpleasant sounds she heard at night. For example, her female inmates reportedly engaged in a lot of sexual activity.
"So thank God for commissary," Teresa said while laughing. "But I just went underneath the blanket. And we had a fan in our room. Like, this huge fan. And they would put that on every single night, so you can't hear anything."
Teresa luckily got a job in her prison's kitchen, where she basically fell into a nice daily routine.
"I wiped tables after breakfast. Three days a week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. That was my job. I loved my job," Teresa said on GMA, adding that she earned 12 cents an hour and her first paycheck was for $1.60.
While Teresa insisted her fellow inmates were "amazing" and helped one another, there were a lot of altercations that resulted in some women getting "shipped out."
"Believe me... I got pointed at and they were trying to start drama with me. But I just walked away... It was nothing like being on The Real Housewives of New Jersey," Teresa explained.
"Let me tell you... when you go to prison it's a whole different -- there's a lot of drama. That's all there is, is drama. And I never lived with so many women in my life before. I mean that's all they -- they thrive on drama. It was crazy to me."
But Teresa found relaxation and an escape through yoga. She told GMA she worked out three times per day, and sometimes her fitness regiments included Pilates and outdoor track.
"Yoga changed my life. I'm going to get certified in yoga," Teresa said.
FOLLOW REALITY TV WORLD ON THE ALL-NEW GOOGLE NEWS!
Reality TV World is now available on the all-new Google News app and website. Click here to visit our Google News page, and then click FOLLOW to add us as a news source!
Teresa and her husband Joe Giudice, also 43, were charged with 41 counts of financial fraud -- which included failure to pay taxes, hiding assets and submitting fake loan applications -- in March 2014. Joe will spend more than three years in jail beginning next month.
The former The Celebrity Apprentice contestant said she didn't even realize she was breaking the law.
"There was no intent to commit a crime. I didn't know I was committing a crime," Teresa said.
"I got sentenced. I got served time. I did what I had to do and now I'm moving past it... It, you know, broke my heart because I was always growing up the good girl, always did everything right, crossed every 't,' dotted every 'i.' And, you know, so it was... I was sad for my daughters. And I was upset."
Luckily now, Teresa's legal troubles are pretty much behind her.
"[We're not in] foreclosure any longer, thank you, God. And our restitution's paid off. We're in -- thank God -- you know, in good shape," Teresa noted.
"Maybe I needed that time for myself to reflect and just and everything and life and just to become, you know, a better person and grow and just to be a better mother, better wife, better daughter, better human being through all this... We're just taking one day at a time. I'm just, you know, happy to be home, be with the girls, be with Joe. Can't get enough of them."
The reality TV star, who recently got taken off house arrest, now hopes paparazzi will come around more for positive reasons going forward.
Teresa's tell-all memoir Turning the Tables: From Housewife to Inmate and Back Again hits shelves Tuesday, February 9.