The federal judge who sentenced Elizabeth Holmes to more than 11 years in prison for fraud recommended that the Theranos founder serve her time in a Texas prison.
U.S. District Judge Edward Davila wrote in a court filing that Holmes had to surrender to authorities on April 27 and suggested she be sent to the federal prison camp in Bryan, Texas.
Though the decision isn’t final, as the Bureau of Prisons will ultimately determine where Holmes ends up, a former inmate of the all-female facility says the place is “terrible.”
Lynn Espejo, who served 24 months with Bryan on a fraud conviction and now works as a criminal justice reform attorney, told FOX Business she “wouldn’t say it’s the BOP’s hell hole, but it’s close “.
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Espejo has blogged extensively about Bryan’s conditions and alleged corruption, saying it’s difficult to put into words “what the atmosphere is like or how the abuses work there.”
Like any federal prison, Holmes is first strip searched upon arrival and her street clothes are sent to her family and replaced with a khaki uniform and boots. If the federal government’s COVID-19 public health emergency is still in effect when Holmes arrives, she can also expect to quarantine for at least 14 days.
The former inmate says one feature of Bryan that’s better than some other facilities is that it’s not a big open barracks and has small concrete rooms where women can be assigned.
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Espejo says the quarters are cramped, with four women in one room, bunk beds, and a high school-size locker for personal belongings.
Holmes is paired with a fellow inmate who helps guide her, known as “Big Sister,” who guides her through filling out her first commissary sheet. Inmates must purchase all of their own personal hygiene products, such as soap and shampoo, and are allowed to spend up to $350 a month on such items.
New inmates at Bryan typically work in the kitchen for the first 90 days before they can apply for another job. Espejo says the “newcomers'” kitchen shifts start at 4:30 a.m. and last until around noon.
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Inmates can also email family and friends through a paid system called TRULINCS and buy up to 300 minutes a month to call loved ones.
“Divide that by 30 days, that’s about 10 minutes a day to talk to your family,” Espejo noted. “It’s not a lot, and if you have young kids, try to help the parents,” like Holmes, she says, “it must be really difficult.”
At Bryan’s, Holmes should be able to receive visitors on weekends and there is a recreation area and an outdoor trail to walk around. Unlike some other lower level security features, Bryan is surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
Espejo says that as a professional, Holmes is likely to get a job at the facility where she tutors other inmates within her specialty, which could help them find employment after they are released.
Holmes will certainly make friends with other inmates, Espejo says, because nonviolent offenders in particular tend to cluster around each other and try to help each other cope with their situation.
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Espejo says Holmes’ situation will be more difficult than her own given that the Theranos founder was sentenced to so many years behind bars with a young child and another on the way.
“Of course it’s traumatic to have your freedom taken away from you,” Espejo told FOX Business, “but just to be separated from your family like that. … My children are grown. I can’t imagine how it’s going to feel for her that she has very young children that she can’t raise.”