Yoga & crochet: what could prison look like for Elizabeth Holmes? | Crime News

Elizabeth Holmes, once hailed as the youngest self-made female billionaire and icon of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, will likely spend the next few years in a comfortable minimum-security prison camp with access to activities like crafts or tennis, and no perimeter fence.

The 37-year-old Stanford University dropout was convicted on Monday of massive fraud at Theranos Inc., the blood testing startup she founded, and faces up to 20 years behind bars . But prison counsel and legal experts say Holmes may serve just three years in one of the least restrictive facilities in the federal penal system for nonviolent white-collar criminals. She is likely to appeal her conviction and could spend even less time in jail if she wins.

Holmes could be sent to a women’s prison camp in Dublin, California, where actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin served time for their roles in a college admissions scandal, and newspaper heiress Patty Hearst spent time in the late 1970s for bank robbery. Holmes could also end up in a similar jail in Victorville, downstate. Either would be less restrictive than the medium-security facility British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is likely to face following her conviction last week for sex trafficking.

“His time will be punctuated by boredom, noisy inmates and staff, and just monotony,” prison consultant Christopher Zoukis said of the former Theranos chief.

Holmes will be surrounded by other women serving sentences for non-violent crimes like drug trafficking or money laundering, and the facility is relatively safe for inmates because physical conflict is rare. Holmes “will have some notoriety because of her crime, but I don’t think she’ll have a target on her back,” Zoukis said.

As of now, Holmes remains free on bail and his sentencing date has not been set.

If, as expected, Holmes is sentenced to less than 10 years, she would be eligible for Dublin’s minimum-security camp which has no fences or barbed wire to keep inmates in. According to the facility’s inmate handbook, it offers arts and crafts such as embroidery, knitting, and crocheting; sports like table tennis, basketball and volleyball; and access to training “for non-traditional jobs such as auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers, forklift operators, propane tank fillers and painters.”

A sentence of more than 10 years could place her in a nearby low-security facility that allows prisoners to spend time on sun terraces and similar activities at the minimum-security camp, according to the prisoners’ handbook. In Victorville, recreational programs include pilates, spinning, and wall painting.

“Complete shock”

Still, “this is going to be a complete shock to her system,” said prison consultant Holli Coulman, who served 13 months in Victorville after pleading guilty in 2014 to wire fraud while working at Hewlett Packard Inc.

When Coulman was incarcerated, she said yoga class materials were only available on outdated videotapes and buildings were “freezing wherever you go.” Inmates will “yell” at Holmes, and staff members who might resent his former status and wealth will “bark orders”, she said.

Another complication could be the recent rise in Covid-19 cases, which has forced US prisons to reduce family visits and community activities, including bagged food instead of hot meals served in mess halls.

“They get peanut butter, jelly, and baloon sandwiches every day — over and over and over again,” Coulman said.

Shorter sentence

For Holmes, who had a baby in July with partner Billy Evans, the son of wealthy California hoteliers, jail time could be far shorter than the maximum sentence allowed, said Stanford Law professor of criminal justice Robert Weisberg. School.

Because Holmes has no criminal record, it would be a surprise if she was older than three, Weisberg said. And part of his sentence could be converted to probation or house arrest, leaving him just two years in federal prison, he said. Wire fraud convictions average about two years, he said.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila, who oversaw the Theranos founder’s three-month trial, has plenty of flexibility in sentencing. He can consider Holmes to be a new mother and how remorseful she is for the crime, Weisberg said.

In prison, housing for the former billionaire will be simple and collective. Coulman said she was housed in one of several cabins formed from tall cinder blocks along long rows of concrete walls. Each cabin has a bunk bed for two inmates, who are each given a chair and locker, Coulman said.

Holmes is no stranger to a disciplined life, according to documents presented at her trial. His handwritten notes from 2005 to 2009 described a daily routine of waking up at 4 a.m., meditating, then eating whey and a banana for breakfast.

“Second Act”

That suggests she’ll likely be a model prisoner and “probably start to figure out what her second or third act might be quite early on,” Weisberg said. “She will experience incarceration methodically, as she experiences everything.”

Once released, Holmes was barred from serving as a public company official for a decade as part of her 2018 settlement of a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused her of misleading investors.

But other convicted executives managed to rebuild their lives after prison.

Martha Stewart, the household entrepreneur, has resumed marketing her branded goods after serving five months in prison for a 2004 conviction for lying to authorities investigating her stock sales. Former junk bond king Michael Milken, who pleaded guilty to securities and tax offenses in 1990, has become a philanthropist and runs his own think tank, the Milken Institute. Former Enron Corp. CEO Jeff Skilling, who was convicted in 2006 of securities fraud and insider trading, was reportedly back in the energy world this year pushing an energy company .

(Updates with Holmes likely to appeal his conviction.)