Former Maryland governor Marvin Mandel has completed the orientation program as a prisoner at the U.S. prison camp at Elgin, Fla., and has been assigned to work in the clothing department.

Mandel's wife, Jeanne, who along with her son, Paul Dorsey, visited the former governor over the Father's Day weekend, said her husband has lost weight as the result of exercise but otherwise is unchanged by the routine of prison life.

"I can tell you it certainly isn't a country club," Mrs. Mandel said yesterday, after her return from her second visit to the prison where her husband began serving a three-year sentence a month ago. Mrs. Mandel said she also saw the two of Mandel's codefendants who are imprisoned at Elgin, Irvin Kovens and Harry W. Rodgers III, and that both "looked well."

Since the start of his sentence on May 19, Mandel has become active in the prison's Jewish fellowship organization, and has been put on the executive board, Mrs. Mandel said. She and her son attended the Jewish religious service at the prison chapel Friday night with Mandel.

Mrs. Mandel said the two-term governor's assignment to the clothing shop was "natural, because his father was a cloth cutter, and Marvin worked in a tailor shop when he was going to law school."

A prison spokesman said men assigned to the clothing shop fold and stack linens, distribute clothing to inmates and sort clothing for the laundry. s

Harry Rodgers is working in the prison kitchen, Mrs. Mandel said, but she did not know what assignment had been drawn by Kovens, Mandel's longtime friend and political fund-raiser.

Prison Camp Superintendent Larry Kerr said Mandel moved into one of the camp's four new carpeted and air-conditioned dormitories, which feature individual cubicles with a bunk and built-in cabinets and bookcase.

Mandel, the first American governor in 43 years to be convicted while in office, will be eligible for a hearing before the U.S. Parole Commission in about three months. He, Kovens, Harry Rodgers and his brother, William A. Rodgers, W. Dale Hess and Ernest N. Cory Jr. were convicted in August 1977 on charges of political corruption. Hess is serving a three-year sentence at the federal prison camp at Maxwell (Ala.) Air Force Base; William Rodgers is performing community service work for a year in Baltimore, and the ailing Cory was granted probation.

Mandel, 60, and his friends at Elgin are "just doing routine prison life . . . time is going on for them," according to Superintendent Kerr.

"They have adjusted," said Mrs. Mandel. "They are doing everything everybody else is doing (there). But it's very difficult for me to go there and then walk away."