Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager who is currently in federal prison, is expected to be sent to New York City’s Rikers Island in coming days to await trial on state fraud charges.
It’s been widely reported that, as a high-profile inmate, he’ll likely be held in protective custody, though it’s unclear exactly what that means. New York House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes the Rikers Island jail complex, condemned his expected jail conditions as “solitary confinement” in a Wednesday morning tweet.
Paul Manafort is being sent to solitary confinement in my district – Rikers Island.
A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations. That’s what solitary confinement is.
Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary. https://t.co/9rERLDSzrD
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 5, 2019
Solitary confinement is widely regarded as terrible for mental health, and former Rikers Island clinical social worker Mary Buser wrote for the Daily Beast that Manafort “will likely face 23 hours a day in a cell the size of a parking space, furnished with a cot, a footlocker, a tiny metal sink and toilet.”
The New York Times, citing an anonymous “law enforcement official familiar with the jail’s practices,” said he might be held under less restrictive conditions: “under heavy guard” with other inmates in protective custody but still given access to a “day room” with a TV rather than locked in a cell all day.
In an email to Fast Company, the New York City Department of Correction, which runs Rikers Island, said it can’t confirm that Manafort will be in its custody, since that’s ultimately up to a judge, and that solitary confinement is only used for people who violate its rules. The department didn’t respond to questions about Manafort’s expected conditions should he arrive at the jail.
Whatever his exact conditions at Rikers turn out to be, they’ll likely be very different from his initial confinement situation: When he was first awaiting trial in a Virginia jail, Manafort reportedly had a private suite, complete with bathroom and workspace, and wasn’t required to wear a prison uniform.