Locked up is no way to live.
That's the position the family of Ghislaine Maxwell has taken as she waits behind bars at a Brooklyn detention center during her sex trafficking trial.
Her family has written to Attorney General Merrick Garland, requesting that authorities stop using four-point restraints to shackle her hands, waist, and feet when she is moved from a holding cell to the courtroom. They have also asked the country's top prosecutor to make sure she receives a food pack and a bar of soap each day and be allowed to meet with her attorneys for at least 30 minutes a day before and after court.
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“Ghislaine’s physical welfare and her right to have proper and timely access to her counsel during the trial have been entirely overlooked,” the family said. “On behalf of their sister, her brothers and sisters urge Attorney Garland to intervene immediately today to grant the simple, fair and just remedies requested."
Her family members said they are going directly to Garland because he is head of the agencies involved in their sister’s custody and transportation, including the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons.
Garland should intervene “in the interest of justice and common humanity to change the shocking daily regime which Ghislaine is subject to during her trial,” the family said.
Maxwell, 59, is on trial for recruiting and grooming underage girls to have sex with Jeffrey Epstein. If convicted of the six charges against her, she could be sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Her lawyers and family have frequently petitioned the court to make conditions in her jail cell up to the British socialite's standards.
Her lawyers have argued that Maxwell's hair has lost its bounce, she's gotten skinnier, and her eyesight is shot because of her tumultuous time behind bars, where conditions have left her so exhausted she has been unable to prepare properly for her defense. They also claimed the guards are getting too handsy during pat-downs and have requested items such as eye masks to make lockup feel more luxurious.
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They have submitted dozens of court filings to protest her living conditions and likened her supervision to "Dr. Hannibal Lecter's incarceration" because they claim guards are trying to make up for the incompetence surrounding Epstein's 2019 jailhouse hanging.
Maxwell has been at Brooklyn's Metropolitan Defense Center for almost 17 months, after being arrested last year at her sprawling New Hampshire estate.
Her defense team said she has been denied access to the prison commissary, subjected to regular cell searches and open-mouth inspections, served a moldy salad, exposed to the odor of overflowing toilets, deprived of a desk or other writing surface, given only 30 minutes a month for personal phone calls, and harassed by guards who shoved her into her cell and then forced her to clean it as retaliation for reporting physical abuse.
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The government has denied the claims and said Maxwell has access to television and computers, can work on her defense for most of the day, and makes her allotted eight hours a month of social calls. She's also been given a notebook and her own room to review evidence and "receives more time to review her discovery than any other inmate" in jail, prosecutors told the court.