Americans gather on Thanksgiving to celebrate what's really important – family, friends, food, and community.
Even if Covid-19 is slowing down many reunions this year, it must be the toughest time of the year to be behind bars.
And the holiday that started on Thursday and lasts all weekend will certainly not be easy for one prisoner, Ghislaine Maxwell.
In the "glory days" of she and Jeffrey Epstein gliding through their spoiled world of private jets, Caribbean islands and accessible royal friends, the relentless British celebrity spent more than a month partying in billionaire circles during this "holiday season" Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida, which she and her pedophile buddy happily moved into.
And the holiday that started on Thursday and lasts all weekend will certainly not be easy for one prisoner, Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured).
Today as she languishes in her tiny solitary cell in the forbidden Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, her mind may wander back to the past of Thanksgiving – maybe the one she and Epstein at her grown-ups mansion in Palm Beach Friends Glenn and Eva Dubin, one of the best connected couples in New York, stayed.
Glenn, a billionaire hedge fund manager, and Eva, a former Miss Sweden and prominent Manhattan doctor, were old friends of Epstein; Eva was Epstein's ex-girlfriend.
And they remained so loyal that even after Eva was jailed in 2008 for recruiting a minor, Epstein's probation officer said they were happy to have him with them and mingle with their three children, including a beautiful young daughter .
(Virginia Roberts, prosecutor for Epstein and Maxwell, said in a 2015 lawsuit that Glenn Dubin was the first powerful man Epstein sent her to have sex with, a claim Dubin denies.)
Today, as she languishes in her tiny solitary cell (pictured), her mind may wander back to the Thanksgivings past
The Dubins, like so many of Maxwell's old friends, have since run into the mountains and insisted they knew nothing about the filthy allegations against the poisonous couple. Nowadays, 58-year-old Maxwell has more fundamental concerns.
According to her friends and lawyers, she can no longer take necessities such as soap, toothbrushes, bras, and even sleep for granted as she awaits trial in what a former jailer has named the most heavily burdened facility in the United States.
Authorities say they are just trying to keep her alive and make sure she doesn't copy Epstein, who was able to hang himself in jail while waiting for trial.
Her supporters, who are fighting for her bail release and rejecting claims that she is a flight risk, insist that she be recognized for her particularly harsh treatment as the main surviving villain in one of the most notorious criminal scandals in decades.
There certainly won't be a big Christmas party for Maxwell (who would have nothing to wear after swapping out her designer wardrobe for a regular T-shirt and leggings when she was transferred to the MDC in July.)
Indeed, for the woman who always knew everyone at the party, very little festive human contact is likely – except for the moment on Thursday when a security guard pushed a tray of traditional Thanksgiving dinner through her cell's meal – turkey, stuffing , Mashed potatoes, cranberry – and all the other ingredients a financially troubled prison system can afford.
For the woman who always knew everyone at the party in the forbidden Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York (picture), festive human contact is hardly to be expected.
As a vegan who reportedly has already lost 25 pounds thanks to the limited menu, she probably found it less tempting than it sounds.
Given the horrific allegations against her – that she not only found and cared for underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse them, but was at times involved in the attacks – it may seem ironic to some that her camp is now complaining that their human rights are ignored.
While Maxwell is undoubtedly facing damn evidence from the prosecutor, she has yet to be tried, let alone convicted, of something.
When Epstein committed suicide in his cell last summer 12 days after removing the suicide watch, Maxwell went down when the FBI made it clear they were looking for her.
Since their discovery and dramatic arrest in a house deep in the New Hampshire woods in July, prosecutors have successfully argued that Maxwell – who had three passports and huge funds – posed a serious flight risk and should be withheld on bail.
Since then, she and her expensive lawyers have tried desperately to overturn that decision.
They rumbled again this week after the U.S. Department of Justice told a judge in their case that Maxwell was now in quarantine after a prison employee tested positive for Covid-19.
In the "glory days" of she and Jeffrey Epstein (pictured together) gliding through their pampered world of private jets, Caribbean islands, and accessible royal friends
To reassure the judge that Maxwell was not selected for harsh treatment, the government letter revealed the extent of her now immensely restricted existence – like other affected inmates, she was only allowed out of her cell for 30 days, three days a week.
During these times, she was allowed to shower, make personal phone calls, and use the detention center's email system.
She was also able to phone lawyers for up to three hours a day and use a laptop in her cell for 13 hours each day to prepare for her defense.
However, she would not be able to see any visitors.
The letter also revealed that when Maxwell is not in quarantine, she is allowed to use the computer from her "isolation cell" every day from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm, prepare her defense, and receive hours of attorney visits.
It was stressed that Maxwell continues to have more time than any other inmate to prepare her defense.
Such assurances sparked a spiky response from Maxwell, whose attorneys promptly submitted their own letter, filling in the gaps in which they insisted that it was an "incomplete picture" of their detention conditions.
The litany of complaints included that Maxwell "is excessively and invasively searched and monitored 24 hours a day".
Her attorney claimed the inmate was watched by a surveillance camera in her cell – friends say she was only 9 by 7 feet, but a former guard said she was 10 by 12 feet – while another camera followed her. when she was released.
The most shocking claim was that Maxwell is woken up every 15 minutes at night by a torch that guards put in her face to check that she is still alive.
Maxwell complained that she could face an additional 21-day quarantine unless she agreed to two nasal swab tests.
She was then ordered to remove her protective mask for an oral inspection to further increase her risk of exposure to the virus.
There was more: first, she was quarantined "without soap or toothbrush", medical and psychological staff who checked her every day before quarantine stopped coming, and an unidentified man entered her cell to take photos during the quarantine do.
Even the 13 hours a day to prepare their defense are "insufficient", as the files already contain 1.2 million documents.
Maxwell, her attorney said, was a "nonviolent, model pre-trial detainee with no criminal history" and no history of mental health problems or suicidal tendencies.
As such, she was "overwhelmed" under more restrictive conditions than convicted terrorists and murderers detained in Colorado's tough Supermax prison, where Mexican drug cartel king Joaquin & # 39; El Chapo & # 39; Guzman and the hate preacher Abu Hamza were alive.
Reflecting on Maxwell's notorious arrogance, her attorney asked MDC director Heriberto Tellez to be brought to justice.
The Maxwell legal team is assisted by veteran UK public relations consultant Brian Basham, an old friend of the Maxwell family who believes Ghislaine is the victim of a lynch mob.
Mr Basham, who started Operation GGO ("Get Ghislaine Out"), has claimed Maxwell was forced to wear paper clothes and even refused to wear a bra because he feared she might try to hang herself with it . (He thinks she has since found her underwear.)
He says Maxwell once went without food for 20 hours – "She just wasn't fed," he claimed, and when she complained that she had lost 25 pounds, her prison guards removed her scales to keep her from weighing.
He added that even without being woken by torchlight, there was so much noise from guards shouting outside her cell that she got little sleep.
The prison, which has a long history of neglect and brutality, does not allow inmates to have any personal belongings other than an "approved" religious item such as a Bible.
Mr Basham said he had offered his services to the Maxwells free of charge in disgust at the way US authorities treated Ghislaine with "vengeful cruelty".
"I firmly believe that she should not be in jail and not be able to carry out her defense," he told me.
He noted that even the predators Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby were released on bail – though he neglected to mention Epstein.
Mr Basham insists that Maxwell was hiding from the media, not US prosecutors – an allegation that has been flatly contradicted by the authorities. An FBI chief compared her to a snake that slipped onto a beautiful New Hampshire property before she was arrested.
Mr. Basham is in contact with Maxwell's 70-year-old twin sisters Christine and Isabel, successful IT entrepreneurs who live in New York and California and who have led the family's efforts on their behalf.
Although family members were able to visit Maxwell outside of quarantine, he reported that no one had seen or spoken to her since she was incarcerated.
"She only has a limited amount of time to speak to anyone," he said. "The family doesn't want to waste valuable time talking to their lawyers when all they can do is say, 'How are you? "So they didn't speak to her. Which makes her very sad because they are a very, very close family.
"But the sisters take off their socks to help the lawyers compile the evidence."
He says even the internment camp guards – their only human contact – have stopped talking to Maxwell.
"It gave an impression of her as an angry woman," he said. “Sex offenders are always treated appallingly in prison because people are people.
"What is done to her is absolutely mean."
Mr. Basham is confident that the conditions of detention will not affect Maxwell's state of mind. & # 39; She is as strong as an ox. She is convinced of her own innocence, ”he said.
Her sisters, who are being taught by the attorneys, tell him Maxwell is "upset" and finds it "humiliating and uncomfortable", but he added, "there is no chance she will commit suicide".
He continued: “Your father lost his entire family in Auschwitz. She was brought up to know where (rock) soil is.
"And downstairs, uncomfortable and vengeful as it is, there isn't a cell in New York."
While attorneys argue over her quarantine conditions, Cameron Lindsay, a former MDC director, told the Mail that she was effectively living under lockdown even without the coronavirus.
Since the detention center houses prisoners of all levels of security (from scammers awaiting trial to convicted murderers before sentencing), they are separated wherever possible for security reasons.
The MDC doesn't even have a canteen because inmates eat in the cells. As a suspected sex offender, Maxwell is at risk from other inmates who would consider it a "badge of honor" to harm her, he said.
He believes the claims that she has a torch every 15 minutes are exaggerated, but the assigned guards are instructed to do so on night patrols to ensure they see "moving, breathing flesh".
When she is on a suicide watch, a security guard or a specially trained “companion” should observe Maxwell day and night directly (through a small window in her cell wall).
It would be highly unusual, but not inconceivable, to have a camera in her cell, he added.
"I think you are taking extraordinary, perhaps unprecedented, action with her," said Lindsay.
“But that's because of the incredible sensitivity of your case to what happened to Epstein.
"I can't think of a more important witness / defendant who needs to be kept alive."
Mr. Lindsay had said the first time she went in that Maxwell's transition to the bleak MDC would be a "devastating experience" for her. He might have had a point.
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