Why is Ghislaine Maxwell getting special treatment behind bars?
The controversy surrounding Ghislaine Maxwell’s prison stay continues as the disgraced socialite received some seemingly preferential treatment in recent weeks. Maxwell’s prison situation has been complicated from the beginning, largely owing to the strange circumstances of her one-time associate Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide.
Ghislaine Maxwell has been under intense scrutiny while being held in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York. So far, Maxwell has been on suicide watch, guarded 24/7, and even had her phone conversations recorded. Maxwell’s lawyers were quick to push back against these stringent measures, arguing that no other inmates were subjected to such treatment.
Now, it appears Maxwell has received some “special treatment” while behind bars. Let’s take a look at why Ghislaine Maxwell’s getting a few privileges sent her way.
Watching around the clock
Although the complaints are flowing from Maxwell’s lawyers about her treatment in prison, Ghislaine Maxwell has certainly been a priority for the Metropolitan Detention Center. Anxious to avoid another embarrassing Epstein debacle, the prison has kept an eye on Maxwell.
For some time, Ghislaine Maxwell was kept on a suicide watch, wearing paper clothes, being woken up every few hours, and having her every move documented by her guards. Her lawyers even claimed that some of Maxwell’s guards were prison psychologists, sent to keep a watch on her mental state.
A luxury hotel it’s not
Maxwell’s lawyers argued that the 24/7 surveillance of their client subjected her to “uniquely onerous conditions”. Considering Ghislaine Maxwell had her hopes pinned on awaiting her trial from a luxury hotel, a year’s stay in a Brooklyn prison might be aptly described as “onerous”.
Due to the sensitivity of her case, Maxwell has been kept in isolation from the other prisoners. Yet, Maxwell & her lawyers pushed for her to be allowed into the general population. It’s a rather counterintuitive request since Maxwell could face harm from other inmates or increased chances of exposure to the coronavirus in gen pop.
Since Maxwell’s lawyers also complained that Maxwell’s guard has been interfering with her ability to focus on her defense, some changes have been made. Previously, Maxwell was only allowed three hours a day to research the documents of her case, now her time has been increased to thirteen hours a day.
The first shall be last
Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Detention Center had suspended in-person visits between lawyers & inmates. A report from The New York Daily News stated that Maxwell was the first prisoner in seven months to receive a visit from her lawyer.
The backlash over Maxwell’s perceived preferential treatment was intense and only grew when it was revealed that the normally one-hour time limit on visitations had been increased to three hours for Maxwell.
However, in a letter to the court in the Eastern District of New York, Acting U.S. Attorney Seth Ducharme set the record straight by noting Maxwell was not the first prisoner to receive an in-person visit. Another inmate received a visit just the day before.
Ducharme wrote Maxwell’s lawyers had requested a longer visitation period. “While routine legal visits will be scheduled in one-hour blocks, case-by-case visits can be longer, if requested.” Ducharme also claimed that Maxwell lawyer’s responded to the Federal Bureau of Prison’s request to test-run reopening in-person visitations.
Absurd & unjust
Not everyone was convinced by Ducharme’s letter. Sean Hecker is a lawyer involved in a lawsuit specifically aimed at the Metropolitan Detention Center’s halting the in-person visits for inmates & lawyers. Hecker revealed he was “troubled” by the fact Ghislaine Maxwell was able to have a visit from her lawyers.
Hecker responded to Ducharme’s letter by stating there were inmates on death row and with serious mental issues who have yet to meet with their court-appointed lawyers since the beginning of the pandemic seven months ago. Maxwell meanwhile, has been behind bars for two months.
Sean Hecker stated that he found Maxwell’s lawyers’ visitation ahead of other inmates to be “absurd and unjust”.