For Dance Moms star Abby Lee Miller, release from prison doesn’t mean she can waltz back into her old life. “She’s being placed in what’s called community custody, or a halfway house,” Larry Levine, a federal prison expert and founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants, exclusively tells Life & Style. “You’re still property of the bureau prison. You’re not on supervised release yet.”

Abby, 51, began a 366-day sentence for fraud on July 12 and spent the first seven months or so at California’s Victorville Federal Correctional Institution. After some time in the halfway house, “the next phase will be more home confinement,” Levine says.

As trying as prison life was, Abby kept a positive attitude. “I’m surviving,” she Instagrammed on Feb. 19, “because the fire inside me burns brighter than the fire around me.” Abby’s former student Sarah Hunt recently confirmed to Life & Style in an exclusive interview that the choreographer is doing as well as she can behind bars.

According to the 12-year-old — who communicates with Abby via email — her mentor is still super involved in her burgeoning dance career. “Every couple of weeks we write back and forth and it is my favorite thing to hear from her again and again. I swear, the first email she wrote my family and I was this super long message — telling me what she wants me to work on, and focus on, and do while she is gone,” Sarah explained. “Miss Abby even sketched my solo costume while in jail on a sketch pad, with all of the details boldly stated, and had Miss Gianna forward it to me and my mom to have made.”

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