Ghislaine Maxwell’s new prison ‘will be like Disneyland’ compared to New York cell, expert says

Her legal team criticised the conditions she faced in her New York cell, describing them as a “living hell”

Grace Almond
Thursday 30 December 2021 14:02

Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty on five charges

Ghislaine Maxwell’s new prison will be like Disneyland compared with the “wretched, dank, cold” New York detention centre she was detained in while awaiting trial, an expert has said.

Maxwell, 60, has been convicted of five of the six charges against her at her sex trafficking trial in New York, potentially carrying a combined prison sentence of up to 65 years in prison.

A date for her sentencing is yet to be arranged and following Wednesday’s verdict, she returned to her cell at Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where she has been held since July 2020.

Metropolitan Detention Center is considered to be one of the toughest facilities in the US.

A multipurpose room on the Metropolitan Detention Center administrative maximum (ADMAX) Special Housing Unit (SHU) range that is equipped for detainee medical examination

Her legal team has previously criticised the prison’s conditions, claiming that Maxwell was enduring a “living hell”.

Maxwell said she shared her cell with rats and her food was infested with maggots. She has also claimed that she was abused by guards.

Her lawyers will submit a prison preference when her pre-sentencing report is prepared, and it is believed they will push for Maxwell to be moved to the low-security Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury, in Connecticut.

A bunk bed in a typical Metropolitan Detention Center administrative maximum (ADMAX) cell

Justin Paperny, an expert on federal prisons and advising clients on how to reduce jail time, said Maxwell may see significant improvement in her living conditions once she is transferred to another facility.

Mr Paperny told The Times: “Her case is different because she’s already endured so much time in custody.

“She’s been in this wretched, dank, cold, filthy detention centre in Brooklyn which has really conditioned her for confinement.

“She’s really endured the worst of what prison can offer — in solitary confinement, dealing with Covid and quarantine and arguably the worst detention centre in America.

“People are surprised to hear that once she is sentenced and makes her way to the federal correctional institution, she will actually feel like she’s in Disneyland compared to where she is now.”

Metropolitan Detention Center is considered to be one of the toughest facilities in the US

Due to the severity of her crimes, a minimum-security prison is no longer an option for Maxwell’s incarceration. However, it is believed that wherever she is sent will have much more freedom than her current detention centre in Brooklyn.

Describing the facilities, he said: “You have access to a [running] track, to a library, there may be agriculture, the chapel. You have room to roam potentially all day other than when you’re sleeping or working.”

Follow live updates on the Ghislaine Maxwell trial

Mr Paperny said Maxwell may find herself at Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury, which has a history of high-profile inmates including Lauryn Hill and Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black, which inspired a Netflix series of the same name.

Mr Paperny also highlighted the difficulty many prisoners face being transported between different facilities. He explained that Maxwell may find this much harder than her detainment in her Brooklyn cell.

Paperny said: “Time and time again, prisoners say the absolute hardest and most wretched part of the experience was enduring transit for weeks and potentially months on end. That will be harder than what she’s enduring now.”

He added that Maxwell will most likely not be targeted by other inmates, considering her decision to not co-operate with the government and become an informant. He believes this may give her some credit inside, adding that she may receive better treatment if she does not “act privileged or entitled”.

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