How Sam Bankman-Fried Spent His First Week Behind Bars

Photo: Mario Duncanson/AFP via Getty Images

Upon Sam Bankman-Fried’s arrest in the Bahamas earlier this month, he planned to hold tight in the Caribbean, preferring detention abroad to facing criminal charges in the United States. At his first appearance last week in a courthouse in Nassau, his attorney told a judge that he planned to fight the Justice Department’s extradition order, which was issued after it indicted him for his alleged plot to defraud customers of his crypto exchange, FTX.

But then SBF served a few days at the Fox Hill correctional center. After the judge denied his request to be released on $250,000 cash bail with an ankle monitor, he was moved to the Bahamas’ only prison, where he will stay until his February 8 extradition hearing. According to a human-rights report issued by the U.S. State Department in 2021, Fox Hill is a rough place: Its cells are infested with vermin like rats and maggots, its medical care is inadequate, and some inmates are forced to sleep directly on the ground in cells where the only toilet is a bucket.

In his week or so of detention, Bankman-Fried doesn’t appear to have experienced these conditions himself. According to a report from Bloomberg News, he has his own room in the medical block of the maximum-security wing, and his family even reportedly called in to ask if he could receive vegan meals. The Washington Post reports that he has plenty of amenities: He has been watching movies and reading articles about himself, which suggests he may have access to a phone. Still, he remains on edge. When other inmates reportedly asked as a joke how he made so much money, he did not laugh.

Last week Bankman-Fried’s attorney said that he intended to fight extradition, a costly process that can take years and still result in a forced return. Without the comforts of an ankle monitor at home, Bankman-Fried walked into court with the plan of dropping his extradition fight on Monday. But it appears that he failed to tell his lawyer, Jerone Roberts, that he would comply with the effort to return him to the United States. Roberts said he was “shocked” to see him in court on Monday and requested a 45-minute break to speak with SBF. A local defense attorney, Roberts told reporters after the hearing that his client defied “the strongest possible legal advice.”

When he returns to the United States, SBF probably won’t be thrilled by his likely home for pretrial detention: Because he was indicted in the Southern District of New York, he will be placed in either the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn or the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. (Ghislaine Maxwell is currently serving at MDC, while her co-conspirator, Jeffrey Epstein, died in his cell at MCC in 2019.) Both sites are notorious for their horrific conditions. Last year, the Department of Justice briefly closed MCC to address chronic overcrowding and other problems, while a former warden at MDC called it maybe the “most troubled facility in the Bureau of Prisons” after it went a week without power in January 2019.

How Sam Bankman-Fried Spent His First Week Behind Bars