I’m glad that Ankush Khardori decided to do some research on what life in prison will be like for Donald Trump. He’s predicting that Trump will wind up at a minimum security federal prison in Pensacola, Florida. Khardori has determined that the Secret Service prefers this kind of arrangement because it would be the easiest setting for keeping the disgraced president safe, and it’s generally preferable to house prisoners at least somewhat near where they will eventually be released. In that sense, a Florida prison would work.
If it does turn out to be Pensacola, Trump will be able to sunbath, play volleyball and basketball, and otherwise enjoy the sunshine offered by the Sunshine State. He’ll also get to watch a ton of television, possibly including Fox News. But he’ll have no internet access and only rudimentary access to email. He’ll also have to find some kind of employment which will pay him less than a dollar an hour. And he won’t necessarily get released at all, since the recommended sentence on just his January 6 conviction is likely to be 20 years of incarceration or more. Trump could easily die in this Pensacola prison.
Now, everything Khardori discusses makes sense and is backed up with sources. And he’s not so sure Trump will not wind up in some kind of house arrest situation, including possibly at Mar-a-Lago. The Secret Service would dig that arrangement, supposedly, since they’re already providing this service to the orange shitgibbon. And some folks think it would avoid needlessly antagonizing Trump’s tens of millions of fervent and potentially violent supporters.
And that gets me to part of my problem with this thought piece. Prisons are not just for keeping people in, but also for keeping people out. We may not worry about Trump escaping, a la Pablo Escobar, but who’s to say some of his nuttier fans might not have other ideas? And why are people so confident that opponents of Trump won’t seek access to the prison in order to cause him harm?
One reason to put Trump in a SuperMax prison with Timothy McVeigh, Zacarias Moussaoui and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is because we don’t want the problem of nut job supporters trying to spring him or victims’ families trying to exact revenge.
Now, imagine Trump serving his time in the Florence, Colorado SuperMax prison. CNN described the place in a 2015 article:
Many of the more than 400 inmates spend as much as 23 hours a day alone in 7-by-12-foot concrete cells. Meals are slid through small holes in the doors. Bed is a concrete slab dressed with a thin mattress and blankets.
A single window about 42 inches high and 4 inches wide allows some natural light but is made so prisoners cannot see beyond the building. Cells have unmovable stools and desks made of concrete. Solid walls prevent prisoners from seeing other cells or having direct contact with other inmates.
“The architecture of the building is the control,” Hood said.“You’re designing it so the inmates can’t see the sky. Intentionally. You’re putting up wires so helicopters can’t land.”
This is where the Unabomber spent his last decades, and he wasn’t half the prick that Donald Trump is, but more to the point it doesn’t require some Secret Service magic to keep a prisoner safe when he never sees the other prisoners for more than an hour a day.
Now, Khardori wrote his piece at least in part to prepare people like me to be disappointed. He’s saying that I should not expect to see Trump go to a SuperMax prison. And I think he’s probably right about that.
It’s just that he’s wrong to rationalize it. Trump is the most dangerous criminal our country has faced since the 1860’s. He should be treated that way.