How to Survive in Prison As a Hedge-Fund Millionaire

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In RajRaj's case, make that "billionaire."
In RajRaj's case, make that "billionaire." Photo: ANDREW GOMBERT/EPA/Corbis

Life is tough for hedge-fund managers who go to prison for insider trading. There are no Bloomberg terminals, the food is terrible, and you have to associate with petty car thieves and drug dealers in the yard. But there are some things you can do to make your prison stay a little more pleasant.

Absolute Return has an interview with Jeff Grant, a former corporate criminal and head of the Progressive Prison Project, who now advises convicted hedge-fund managers and other white-collar criminals on how to get themselves ready for prison after a lifetime of upper-class privilege.

Lots of Grant's advice is reasonable: Arrange your finances ahead of time, maintain a "solid long-term address," instruct visitors not to wear clothing that will set off metal detectors, get on the good side of the prison gangs, things like that. But the most important piece of advice he offers is this: Ix-nay on the Amptons-hay.

Respect in prison is mostly a matter of learning what not to say ... In one case, a former hedge funder made the mistake of talking about the sale of his Hamptons property. I think you can imagine some of the difficulties.

Instead of complaining about how the Sagaponack zoning board just won't approve your Olympic-size infinity pool for whatever goddamned reason, Grant suggests talking about normal-people things: "More useful are concepts like respect, restraint, care, self-care, compassion, community, transformation, and spirituality." Hedge-funders who want to combine precepts of spirituality with their entrepreneurial zeal while in prison also presumably have options.