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Sam Bankman-Fried in 'Good Spirits' in Rat-Infested Prison

The FTX founder has spent two days in sick bay at the Bahamas’ Fox Hill prison, where he will remain until a hearing in February.

4 min read
Sam Bankman-Fried spoke virtually at this year's DealBook Summit hosted by the New York Times. Image: Dealbook Summit/Screenshot

Two days after FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was remanded into custody in Bahamian prison after being denied bail, prison officials claim the disgraced crypto entrepreneur is faring well.

“He is in good spirits,” Bahamas Acting Commissioner of Corrections Doan Cleare told Bahamas paper The Nassau Guardian Thursday. 

On Tuesday evening, Bankman-Fried was processed at Bahamas’ sole penitentiary, Fox Hill Prison, following his bail hearing. Since then, he’s remained in the prison’s sick bay, undergoing assessment of health and risk of self-harm. Such assessments determine—typically in two days—to which section of the prison an inmate will be transferred.

Bankman-Fried will likely be kept in the sick bay at least one extra day, prison officials said.

Cleare insisted that Bankman-Fried is being treated like any other inmate at the 1,000-person correctional facility, as evidenced by the fact that the once-billionaire is currently living in Fox Hill’s sick bay with five other inmates, in a dorm-style setting. 

“He isn’t getting any special treatment,” Cleare told Bahamas state television network ZNS

If the prison determines Bankman-Fried either faces risks from other inmates or poses a particular risk himself, he could be sent to maximum security. If he’s determined to have “precarious health issues,” he may remain in the sick bay. Otherwise, he’ll be jailed with the prison’s general population. 

A 2021 report by the U.S. State Department found conditions at Fox Hill prison to pose “significant human rights issues.” The report cited extreme overcrowding, poor nutrition, and inadequate sanitation. Most of the prison’s cells, which measure six feet by ten feet and house up to six inmates, have no mattresses or toilets. Inmates often sleep on the ground and use buckets to dispose of human waste.

Many cells were reported to have been infested with a combination of rats, maggots, and insects. The report also cited a frequent inability for inmates to receive adequate medical care.

During Bankman-Fried’s first hearing in Bahamian court on Tuesday morning, the FTX founder requested he be permitted to apply a patch of a medication he had not had access to since his arrest on Monday. And pre-written remarks Bankman-Fried had planned to make before Congress on Tuesday prior to his arrest detailed that the crypto executive has a prescription for Emsam, a patch-administered drug for clinical depression.

Cleare said Bankman-Fried is now receiving his medication on time. 

In the days following Bankman-Fried’s arrest, some have expressed concern for the disgraced CEO’s well-being, even given his alleged crimes. 

The jailed entrepreneur’s own current legal strategy may likely prolong Bankman-Fried’s stay at Fox Hill, though. At his initial court hearing on Tuesday, Bankman-Fried refused to waive his right to fight extradition to the United States, where he has been charged with eight criminal counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, and money laundering. By refusing to waive that right, Bankman-Fried may have set himself up for a protracted legal fight that could take months, if not over a year. And all that time, he will likely remain incarcerated at Fox Hill. 

If Bankman-Fried relents to extradition, he may not fare much better in the American prison system. The crypto executive would await trial in New York City—where federal charges were filed against him—either in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, or Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. Those facilities also have been reported to feature filthy conditions, rodent and bug infestations, lack of adequate medical care, and violence and abuse at the hands of guards. Some have decried the facilities as “soul-negating” and “worse than Gauntanamo.”

Bankman-Fried will remain incarcerated at Fox Hill until February 8th, the date of his next court appearance.

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