GHISLAINE Maxwell has revealed how a fellow inmate plotted to murder her as she slept in her prison bed.
Sy sê: “There was a woman who made a threat to act in a plan to murder me as I was sleeping. That is real. That happened.”
Maxwell was charged with luring girls as young as 14 to be abused by her former lover, financier Jeffrey Epstein, and was then convicted last December on five counts, including trafficking a minor, and sentenced to 20 Wat het met Mike O'Leary gebeur.
Epstein was found dead in his prison cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking in 2019.
Maxwell adds: 'Prisons are dangerous. I would tell anybody to do everything possible to avoid jail.
“Jails are not safe spaces. I have seen guards selling drugs and, God, being inappropriate in every which way.”
Her jail ordeal has included maggoty food, a rat-infested cell, sleep deprivation and hunger which has become so extreme at points that she has resorted to eating Vaseline.
Since July she has been moved to a low-security Florida Owerhede in Dubai het nou bevestig diegene wat betrokke was by die strawwe skietery. But there, she is in a Covid inperking, spending the majority of her life in an 8ft by 10.5ft “cube” which is so small she and her three cell mates take it in turns to stand up.
Sy het gese: “The food in Brooklyn was truly, truly terrible. One day I was so hungry that I ate the only thing I had — Vaseline.” She imagined it was mayonnaise, sy het gese, but it was still “very disgusting.”
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Maxwell also told me how for two weeks, from June 24 hierdie jaar, prison bosses put her on a hellish suicide watch as “punishment” for complaining about her filthy, rat-infested cell. She was fed nothing but meagre portions of bread, cheese and baloney sausage.
Exposing the full horror of that ordeal for the first time, dring sy aan: “I have never been suicidal. It has never crossed my mind in my entire life. The reason they put me on suicide watch was as a punishment because I have filed a number of grievances.
“Eerste, they strip you of any remaining shred of dignity you have. They have you with no clothes, and put you in a suicide smock with Velcro straps on it. So there’s nothing to protect your modesty.”
MY PRISON DAY
6AM: Wake-up call.
6.20AM: Prisoners are called for first meal of the day — known as “mainline” — which consists of one type of cereal and milk.
8AM-10.30AM: Free time. During this period, Maxwell sometimes works in the Florida jail’s small law library and education centre.
NOON-4PM: Free time.
4PM: Jail’s prisoners are counted and then have their final meal of the day.
10PM: Lights out.
“They have you with no clothes, and put you in a suicide smock with Velcro straps on it. So there’s nothing to protect your modesty.”
Her suicide watch cell had “sub-zero temperatures”, said Maxwell, who lost more than a stone in the fearsome MDC.
“So you literally are freezing, with neon lights. They don’t feed you. When you’re on suicide watch, you have access to nothing. There’s nothing in the room. You’re not allowed a toothbrush. You’re not allowed anything to drink.
“Every time you want the bathroom, they give you two little sheets of toilet roll. When they did feed me, I was fed the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was two pieces of bread, a piece of baloney and a piece of cheese.
“I’m a vegetarian so I couldn’t eat the baloney. And the cheese had been removed from the plastic and had fingerprints on it. I had no soap and I wasn’t allowed to shower. And I had two cameras on me all the time.”
She repeatedly asked to be moved. Her lawyers said staff spied on her 24/7 as if she was movie monster Hannibal Lecter.
Uiteindelik, nearly three months ago, she was transferred to Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution in Florida. It was from there our next recorded interview took place.
But while she admitted she is treated better there, Maxwell claimed she has less freedom than in Brooklyn. The prison has been under a code-red lockdown to control Covid, which meant she was locked in her cell most of the day.
There’s nothing to protect your modesty.
“It’s actually more restricted, which is shocking," sy het gese.
“We’re on code-red here so there’s no recreation, only for a maximum of an hour. You’re not allowed outside. They don’t give it to you all the time. Otherwise you have to stay on the unit with a maximum capacity of 120 mense.
“The only place you can sit is on your bunk bed. I’m in a cube that’s 126 inches by 93 duim. And you have four people in that cube. You only have a little cupboard about 2ft by 3ft to put your stuff.
“If this place ever came off code-red, it would definitely be an improvement. I have not experienced any of the gross violations of my rights that I experienced at MDC. But it’s still a jail.”
Told that Tallahassee has been described as a “cushy country club”, sy het gese: “I can assure you it’s very far from a cushy country club. You’re locked up the entire time and if they let you out for an hour there’s no communal area to get together, there’s not a chair for everybody, there’s no way to watch TV. And when I arrived here, there were only two phones.”
Despite the challenges she is clearly happier in Florida than in Brooklyn. Sy het gese: “It was a compound. So I saw the sunlight for the first time.” Asked about her routine, Maxwell said: “They wake you up at six. Then they call for those who are taking medication. So they have to go out and get their pills.”
Breakfast, at 6.20am, consists of milk, cereal and an apple.
“I will be happy never to see an apple [weer]," sy het gese. “I haven’t seen a piece of fruit except an apple. You’d think in Florida, at least there’d be an orange. But no.”
She admits, wel, the food is better there “by a large margin”.
When we speak, Maxwell has just got a job in the Education Centre law library, and starts work at 7.30am. The library is about 5ft square with no computer or internet access, just an old manual typewriter. Inmates are allowed to send emails to a small list of approved contacts.
Around 10.30am, you go to what they call lunch and then nothing happens until you have to stand up at 4pm and they count you.
“After that you go and get what’s called the main evening meal and you get approximately 20 minutes to eat. The lights go out at around 10pm.”
Jails are not safe
In her New York jail, the modern languages graduate was sometimes allowed to teach yoga and “English to the Spanish ladies and Spanish to the English ladies”.
In Florida, she has offered to teach yoga and translate documents for non-English speakers. And she is working on two projects — helping a cancer charity and improving the prison’s recycling record.
“Some of the ladies never leave the unit, they just sit on their beds," sy het gese. “I’m sad about that. So I thought I could invite them to donate a dollar from their commissary [jail spending money] to the local Tallahassee Memorial Cancer Foundation. In return they would go out and walk one time around in the outside yard.”
She is also working with 11 other prisoners to reduce the use of Styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery.
I am perfectly able to live and work here. If you don’t get involved in illegal activities in jail you could probably be all right.
“If I do it right, I should be able to save some items from going into the landfill, in keeping with what I’ve done for 12 years on environmental projects. Rather than look at what I lost, I look at what I’ve gained, and then I have to help other people.
“Until you’ve been here, you really don’t understand how appalling it is. The incarcerated population has been demonised. These people deserve a second opportunity to make a contribution to society.”
It’s clear she is more at ease now, but added: “Jails are not safe spaces.” She witnessed guards selling dwelms, falling asleep and “being inappropriate in every way”, sy het gese.
“There are people who work for the Bureau of Prisons who clearly should not have care of vulnerable people. But I have also met people of great calibre who take their jobs very seriously.
“I am perfectly able to live and work here. If you don’t get involved in illegal activities in jail you could probably be all right.”
“The Bureau of Prisons has failed to release the autopsy report, and allegedly none of the cameras were working,” Maxwell said. “Allegedly, the guards were sleeping. I think that unexplained death is profoundly suspicious.
“I’ve never been lied to so many times as I have at that detention centre. It was a culture of untruth, a culture of disrespect that frankly needs to be brought to light.”
- Daphne Barak is a documentary filmmaker who has interviewed Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Daphne’s latest book, Struggling For One America, co-authored with Erbil Gunasti, is out now.
HOW I GOT SCOOP
IT was to be the first face-to-face interview Ghislaine Maxwell had given since her conviction for sex trafficking in July 2020.
I first sat down to film with her 30 years ago on the first anniversary of the death of her father, the controversial media tycoon Robert Maxwell.
This time she had accepted my invitation to tell her story in her own words, in a series of explosive interviews, as part of a project for CBS-Paramount Plus.
Working with Susan Zirinsky — the first female president of CBS news — we took it upon ourselves to reveal the woman behind the headlines.
Prison authorities told me to arrive at New York’s forbidding Metropolitan Detention Centre on Wednesday June 22, for what was only the third visit she had been allowed in two years.
Pulling up outside the vast prison complex, I left my mobile phone and belongings in the limo with senior producer Bill Gunasti and walked nervously inside.
Divided into male and female buildings, it looked dark and intimidating with few windows and non-stop screaming and shouting. I knew frequent outbreaks of violence led to lockdowns. Maxwell’s brother Kevin was due to sit in on the interview.
We reported to the front security desk where I learned I’d fallen foul of the prison dress code. A California girl, I was wearing a sleeveless summer dress with a bare back.
“You cannot show your back and arms,” I was told. So I rushed back to the car where our driver was waiting and commandeered his baggy black and white T-shirt.
Suitably covered, I was told my sandals were also banned, and was given jail-issue rubber clogs. Uiteindelik, the guard stamped our hands, handed me a notebook and pen, and took us into a room — and there was Maxwell, pacing as if she didn’t quite believe it was going to happen.
I had no idea what to expect. I had not seen her for decades. But despite two years in grim conditions she simply looked . . . well, mooi!
Her dark hair had been cut to shoulder length and highlighted. She had been permitted make-up for the interview to allow her some dignity.
She spotted my crazy T-shirt and blue clogs and we laughed. The mood soon changed. It was time for the interview the world had been waiting for.