Club Fed | 

Ghislaine Maxwell begins 20-year sentence at prison that inspired Orange is the New Black

The low-security facility has already been home to a number of high-profile prisoners including singer Lauryn Hill, reality TV star Teresa Giudice, and Piper Kerman, author of the 2010 memoir
Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein

Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Ghislaine Maxwell is beginning her 20-year sentence behind bars today at a federal prison that was the inspiration for the Netflix hit show Orange is the New Black.

Convicted in December of last year of luring young girls to massage rooms to be molested by Jeffrey Epstein between 1994 and 2004, the term, handed down in the Manhattan federal court, means the 60-year-old will spend much of the rest of her life in jail.

However, the fallen socialite has now been moved from Brooklyn's grim Metropolitan Detention Centre, her home for the past 23 months, to Danbury Federal Correctional Institution in Connecticut.

The low-security facility, which has separate male and female prisons, has already been home to a number of high-profile prisoners including singer Lauryn Hill, reality TV star Teresa Giudice, and Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black.

The American author penned the 2010 memoir that tells the story of her money laundering and drug trafficking conviction and subsequent year spent in a federal women's prison.

The book was adapted into the Netflix comedy-drama Orange Is the New Black and Danbury is partly used as the inspiration for the fictional Litchfield Correctional Institution in the prison drama TV series.

According to Justin Paperny, whose company, White Collar Advice, advises high-profile clients on coping with life behind bars, Maxwell’s new home will be “like Disneyland” in comparison to Brooklyn.

While Maxwell's offences are too severe for her to be placed in a 'minimum security' or open prison, Danbury has its own running track, a baseball pitch and a manicured lawn with trees and pathways.

The facility offers a “wide variety of hobby craft and music” for inmates as well as circuit-training, gardening, aerobics and 'over-50s' fitness. There is also a library and chapel.

Unless they are sleeping or working, inmates are allowed to spend the rest of the time roaming the facility.

However, some former lags have taken issue with its supposed depiction in the TV show which, they say, has encouraged a misleading perception of it as 'Club Fed', with an almost holiday camp atmosphere.

They have claimed that inmates are often shackled during childbirth and that Muslim women have hijabs forcibility removed from their heads.

Prisoners are also supposedly given intimate pat-down searches by male guards checking they aren't smuggling food from the canteen.

But before Maxwell can make use of the facilities, prison psychologists will evaluate whether she once more needs to be placed on suicide watch and isolated from other prisoners.

Maxwell's own lawyers have claimed that her life is at risk, and that “there are numerous prison inmates who would not hesitate to kill Ms Maxwell – whether for money, fame, or simple ‘street cred’.”

Since her arrest in New Hampshire nearly two years ago, her legal team had fought to make her miserable conditions a factor in her trial and sentencing.

However, her lawyers submitted to court a letter from a fellow inmate at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Centre, who wanted to express her “positive impressions” of a woman portrayed by prosecutors as a “monstrous” predator.

Tatiana Venegas recalled how the Englishwoman introduced herself to everyone with a handshake, a “genuine, kind” smile.

Soon after arriving in the unit from solitary confinement, the former Oxford scholar had also volunteered to teach both yoga and English as a second language, as well as to help her fellow inmates study for the GED (a high school equivalency diploma).

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