Former Trump campaign manager and convicted criminal Paul Manafort was supposed to be held in the Rikers Island jail in New York this month—a notorious hellhole that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to close—while he faced new state charges. Now, it seems Manafort has been narrowly saved from that fate.
A letter from Jeffrey A. Rosen, the top deputy to Attorney General William Barr may have saved the day for Manafort, according to the New York Times. The letter was sent last month to Manhattan prosecutors involved in the case, and noted that Rosen was monitoring where Manafort would be held.
On Monday, federal prison officials told the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Manafort wouldn’t be going to Rikers after all. What a coincidence!
Instead, Manafort will either be held in a federal prison in Manhattan or his regular abode in Pennsylvania, where he’s currently serving a seven year sentence for bank fraud and other crimes, sources told the Times.
From the Times:
A senior Justice Department official said that the department believed Mr. Manafort’s treatment was appropriate, but several former and current prosecutors said the decision was highly unusual. Most federal inmates facing state charges are held on Rikers Island.
It’s no surprise that Manafort would want to avoid Rikers at all costs. Conditions inside the state prison are abhorrent. It’s known for the brutal violence enacted on prisoners by guards, horrendous overcrowding, and terrible treatment of mentally ill inmates.
The most famous injustice at Rikers is the case of Kaleif Browder, who was arrested for allegedly stealing a backpack in 2010 at the age of 16. Browder spent three years in Rikers, much of it in solitary confinement. He was eventually released without being convicted and later hanged himself, apparently due to the psychological trauma he sustained while he was imprisoned. Browder’s family eventually received a settlement of $3.3 million from New York City.
Wherever he ends up, Manafort will be in New York to face 16 new felony counts handed down by Manhattan DA Cy Vance, including mortgage fraud and falsifying records. Manafort’s lawyers have protested the charges, saying they are a repeat of those he was convicted of in federal court. Vance has said he is charging Manafort so he will still face prison time even if he is pardoned by President Trump.