Sam Bankman-Fried could go to a low-security prison and get out early if he plays his cards right, prison consultants say

Sam Bankman-Fried could go to a low-security prison and get out early if he plays his cards right, prison consultants say
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Sam Bankman-Fried.
Sam Bankman-Fried.

  • Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday.
  • Prison consultants think he could serve as few as 17 years — if he plays his cards right.
  • He’ll have to resist contraband and exercise impulse control, prison consultants say.

A court sentenced Sam Bankman-Fried, the fallen king of crypto, to 25 years in prison on Thursday. But whether he’ll serve all that time remains to be seen.

While officials decide which prison to send Bankman-Fried to, prison consultants told Business Insider they think he has the chance to make the best out of a bad situation — but only if he can control his impulsiveness.

SBF’s next steps could take weeks or months

At the sentencing in Manhattan federal court, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said he would recommend to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that it send Bankman-Fried to a medium or low-security facility in the San Francisco Bay Area to allow easier visits with his parents, who live in the area.

It could take weeks for that decision to be finalized. The length of his sentence would place Bankman-Fried on track for a medium-security facility. But federal prison consultants told BI that the Bureau of Prisons could grant a waiver for Bankman-Fried to be sent to a low-security facility based on his time already served and his eligibility for a 15% reduction based on good conduct.

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“In my opinion, he’s going to a low-security facility, not to a medium. It would be a PR disaster if he went to a medium and got hurt,” prison consultant Sam Mangel told BI. Bankman-Fried’s parents said they were worried about their son’s safety given his autism diagnosis in their sentencing letters to the judge prior to learning his fate.

“He could be subject to extortion, and it can be intimidating. I don’t think he’s going to have a problem with physical harm or rape or anything like that. That’s not what you see in a low, but it can be a pretty intimidating place, especially for such a young man,” Mangel added.

What SBF’s days in prison might look like

Once he is designated to a low or medium-security facility, it could be weeks more before Bankman-Fried actually arrives at his new home. Inmates are often relocated to different facilities along the way, traveling by bus and airlift, said Maureen Baird, a prison consultant at Baird Perdue & Associates.

“It’s not like they put him on a plane and fly him from New York and he lands in California the same day. It could take a while for him to get from Point A to Point B,” Baird said. “It could be a week, weeks, or months.”

Mangel called the process “diesel therapy” and said he’s seen it take as long as two months to transport inmates, who have to spend long hours shackled on a bus with dozens of other inmates.

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“It is an uncomfortable, humiliating process to go through, especially while you’re on the bus. You never know where you’re going to be stopping, and you never know when you’re going to get there,” Mangel said. “For his parents and his loved ones to try to figure out where he is, it’s difficult. The marshals, for security purposes, don’t tell anybody.”

Once he arrives at his designated facility, every day of the week will be strictly regimented, Baird and Mangel said. In a low-security facility, that means waking up at 6 a.m. and tidying the cell or pod, reporting to work or classes for the day, and later on, standing for an inmate count, which is usually followed by dinner and recreation time. Inmates are typically locked in for the night by 8:30 p.m.

Bankman-Fried will work and take First Step credits, which are anti-recidivism classes that also knock time off of his sentence, Mangel said.

“My recommendation is that he teaches classes. I think inmates there would be thirsty to learn some of the things that he could teach,” Mangel said. “He’s going to want to do things to pass the time.”

A spokesperson for Bankman-Fried declined to comment for this story.

It’s going to require impulse control

If he’s strategic, Bankman-Fried could get his sentence reduced by up to eight years, Mangel said. But that all depends on his impulse control in a facility that will no doubt have tempting contraband.

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“What’s going to happen, when all of a sudden somebody next to him has an iPad or an iPhone, and he has access to the internet, or he can make phone calls or things like that?” Mangel said. “He can get himself in a lot of trouble, and by doing that, he loses good time. He might get transferred to a higher-level security facility. But if he’s impulsive, the temptation might be there.”

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Kaplan underscored Bankman-Fried’s propensity for taking high-risk bets as one reason for the decadeslong sentence. Bankman-Fried had been toying with risky wagers — like thinking he could get away with one of the largest financial crimes in modern history — since working as a young professional at Jane Street Capital, a trading firm in New York, the judge said.

“That was the game. It started at least as early as Jane Street, and it continued to the very end. It’s his nature,” Kaplan said. “He regrets he made a very bad bet about the likelihood of getting caught.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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