Ghislaine Maxwell on Wednesday was facing the grim prospect of spending the rest of her life behind bars – but she will ‘feel like she’s won the lottery’ when she moves out of her current jail, a prison expert said.
Ghislaine Maxwell is seen in a photo submitted by her lawyer in April, with a black eye – which they argued showed she was being abused in jail. Now convicted, she is awaiting sentencing and will be moved to a federal prison which will be luxurious by comparison with her current jail
It is unclear in which of the 29 facilities housing female federal prisoners she will serve her sentence, which could be up to 65 years.
Her lawyers will submit a prison preference during preparation of her pre-sentencing report, and one expert told DailyMail.com they thought she could opt for Danbury prison, in Connecticut – where previous inmates have included singer Lauryn Hill, reality TV star Teresa Giudice, and Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black.
Maxwell, who turned 60 on Christmas Day, was found guilty on Wednesday of five of six counts in her federal trial for sex trafficking, which she carried out in conjunction with her late boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein, a pedophile financier.
A date for her sentencing has not been set, and on Wednesday night she was returned to her cell at the infamous Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where she has been held since July 2020.
She will remain under close watch to prevent suicide. Epstein hanged himself in jail in August 2019.
Maxwell is seen in 2005 with Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in jail in July 2019
Maxwell is currently being held at the MDC in Brooklyn, in conditions which her lawyers and family say amount to torture
A visiting area inside the MDC is pictured
A room inside the MDC, which is used for medical examinations
A typical cell in the MDC, with a combination toilet and sink fixture
Maxwell – the jet-setting daughter of a wealthy British newspaper tycoon; a glamorous society darling who mingled with former presidents, billionaires and royals – complained that her treatment in the MDC amounted to torture.
Her family wanted to take the case to the United Nations, claiming that she was subjected to inhumane treatment – fed rotten food, kept in excessively hot and cold conditions, and living in a cell that flooded with raw sewage.
Justin Paperny, a federal prison consultant, said that wherever she ends up next, it will mark the beginning of a significantly improved phase in her incarceration.
‘Her prison life won’t dramatically improve until she is sentenced,’ Paperny told DailyMail.com.
‘She’s enduring a difficult situation in Brooklyn.
‘It’s a very difficult place to serve time.’
Another prison expert told The Times her new situation would be ‘like Disneyland’ by comparison.
Paperny said the MDC had been infamous long before Maxwell set foot there.
In the winter of 2019, the power and heating failed, leading to outrage among relatives of 1,636 male and female inmates, and among activists.
A scathing report into conditions inside the jail commissioned in the aftermath was suppressed by the Bureau of Prisons until July this year, and the jail was described as violent, filthy, overcrowded and decrepit.
Paperny said the difference between the MDC and her post-sentencing prison will be stark.
‘Once she reaches prison she’ll feel like she’s won the lottery,’ he said.
Maxwell could be sent to the Danbury prison in Connecticut, according to a prison expert
An aerial view of the Danbury prison, where Maxwell could serve her sentence
Orange is the New Black, the Netflix show, is based on the real life story of life inside Danbury prison
‘She will be able to walk to the library, able to walk to the exercise track, able to make phone calls.’
He said she may be able to use the internet, but that was up to the warden, and there may be access to television and films.
Before her prison is decided, Maxwell and her lawyers will sit with a probation officer for her pre-sentencing report.
Despite their likely intention to appeal, the lawyers will lay out in detail Maxwell’s background, financial situation, lifestyle, and any substance abuse or mental health issues.
The report will be submitted to the judge.
Paperny said he expects Maxwell will be sent to a low-security prison, but given the nature of her sex crimes she will not be able to follow in the footsteps of Martha Stewart and Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman and opt for a ‘minimum security camp’.
Stewart spent five months in federal prison in Alderson, West Virginia, on charges of lying about the sale of stock.
Huffman spent 11 days behind bars in Dublin, California, last year after she was convicted of fraudulently getting her daughters into elite colleges.
Paperny said their prisons were nicknamed ‘Club Feds’ for their relaxed outlook.
Martha Stewart is seen in July 2004 after she was sentenced to five months for fraud
A view of the Alderson prison in West Virginia, where Martha Stewart served her time in 2005
‘Maxwell won’t be eligible for the County Club prison type place as hers was a sex crime, so she’ll be fenced in.
‘A lot will depend on the warden. But she will certainly be allowed visits from relatives, once COVID restrictions are lifted.’
Maxwell, who has British, French and U.S. passports, was arrested at a home in New Hampshire.
If she had pleaded guilty, she could have had some chance of arguing for detention in one of those countries, but going to trial has ended that avenue, Paperny said.
The prison is usually within 500 miles of a release address, meaning that a New England facility is most likely.
There are two in New York City – the Metropolitan Detention Center, where she is now, and the Metropolitan Correctional Center, in Manhattan.
The only other facilities on the east coast are in Philadelphia and Danbury, Connecticut – which Paperny thinks will be the most likely choice.
Felicity Huffman served her sentence at the Dublin prison (pictured) in California
Huffman is seen with her husband, actor William H. Macy, after being sentenced in September 2019
‘COVID has meant that many federal prisoners have been released, so there is space in the system and if she really wanted to go to another facility she could make an argument and that may well be considered,’ he said.
But, he argued, she should worry less about the facility and more about managing her mindset.
‘For now, her focus should be on being productive, avoiding problems, and accepting that this is her new life,’ said Paperny, a former Bear Stearns stockbroker who was convicted of conspiracy to commit fraud in 2008 and served 18 months at the Taft Correctional Institution in California.
He now runs a business helping people adjust to prison life – reportedly including Stewart and Bernie Madoff.
‘Maxwell is easily facing two decades in prison,’ he said.
‘So she needs somewhere with good programming, and somewhere she feels safe and can live a productive life.
‘That can be anywhere. The place doesn’t matter as much as your mindset.
‘Anyone that has had some success in life is in a position to impart that on other people, and hopefully she’ll see that.
‘Sure, her lawyers are telling her she will be able to prevail on appeal, but the prospect of that looks pretty bleak.’