Sometime in the next day or two, we’ll have another “inside update” on Keith Alan Raniere’s status at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, NY.
But even before that information arrives, we pretty much know that the report is not going to be a good one – at least not from the perspective of Raniere and his followers.
During the 15 months that he’s been incarcerated at MDC, things have not gone well for Keith.
He hasn’t got along with his fellow prisoners in the Sex Offenders Unit because of his non-stop bragging and bullshit.
He got beat up several times when he was temporarily placed in General Population because of an insect infestation in the Sex Offenders Unit – the last couple of times by Hispanic guys who were apparently upset because of what he did to the Mexican women who were part of DOS.
The staff at MDC’s Medical Unit consider him to be a hypochondriac and a whiner.
Most of the guards don’t seem to like him – and some have gone out of their way to make his life more miserable.
And all this happened while Raniere was being housed with other Pre-Trial prisoners at MDC.
Like many federal prisons, MDC’s prison population has gone down in recent years,
As of February 2019, the total number of prisoners being housed there was about 1,600.
Of that 1,600 figure, about 100 are so-called “Cadre” prisoners – which includes some who will serve their entire term there and others who are nearing the end of long-term sentences (These are the prisoners who generally do maintenance work, cook meals, teach GED classes, etc.).
Of the remaining 1,500 prisoners, about 1,400 are awaiting trial – and the other 100 or so are awaiting sentencing.
The prisoners who are awaiting sentencing are generally considered to be the most volatile and the most dangerous – which is why they’re housed separately from the pre-trial prisoners and why they often have more guards watching them.
This is especially true if they’re likely going to be receiving a long sentence or life.
Which is exactly the situation that Keith Raniere is facing.
Based on the crimes of which he’s been convicted, Raniere will receive at least a 15-year sentence.
And most court observers and criminal defense attorneys who have followed the case think that Raniere’s sentence will much more likely be somewhere between 25 years and life.
Unfortunately for Keith, things are not going to get better any time soon.
Even after he’s finally sentenced at 11:00 AM on September 25, 2019, he’ll still be held for a period of time at MDC.
Because he is already facing four additional felony charges in the Northern District of New York (NDNY), it’s quite possible that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will simply leave him at MDC until he is tried on those charges.
And if, as expected, the Feds also bring new charges against Keith – and several of his co-conspirators – for crimes that took place in the NDNY, he could be housed at MDC for quite some time (It took more than a year to bring Raniere to trial in the EDNY after he was captured hiding out in Mexico).
When it comes time for Keith to go to trial in the NDNY, he’ll likely be housed in the Albany County Correctional Facility. Most prisoners who have been at both places describes the Albany County jail as being worse than MDC.
But at some point, all the trials will be over – and Raniere will be assigned to a federal prison to serve out his term or terms (It’s quite possible he’ll get consecutive sentences rather than concurrent ones).
This is when things will get really problematic for the man who used to insist on being called Vanguard, Master or Grandmaster.
That’s because federal prison is an especially dangerous place for inmates who have been convicted of sex offenses.
All jails and prisons have their own levels of stratification.
The first level of prison stratification is based on race – with black prisoners, brown prisoners, and white prisoners being the three major groups. Others like Asian prisoners, Indian prisoners, and Native American prisoners tend to associate more with white prisoners.
The next level of prison stratification generally has to do with a prisoner’s offense or conviction.
Prisoners that are serving terms for manslaughter, bank robbery, and other classic crimes tend to be ranked higher than those who are in for property crimes or white-collar crimes.
At the bottom of the offense/conviction stratification are snitches, former law enforcement officials, and sex offenders.
Many sex offenders try to pass themselves off as something else: e.g., drug dealers, insider traders, tax evaders, etc.
But most sex offenders are quickly identified as such.
That’s because prisoners – often aided by guards – are able to thoroughly research a new inmate’s background within 24-48 hours of his arrival.
It’s quite common for new inmates to be asked to produce all the available paperwork concerning their case so that other inmates can verify if what they’re saying is true.
Prisoners who lie about their crimes go to the very bottom level of the prison stratification system – and rarely recover fully from that mistake.
There are even stratifications within the sex offender prisoners.
Those who simply got caught possessing child pornography are generally ranked higher than those who produced it.
And those who collected pornographic pictures of 15-year-olds are generally ranked higher than those who collect pictures of 5-year-olds.
Similarly, younger sex offenders are usually ranked higher than older sex offenders because they are closer in age to the victim(s) of their crimes.
How bad the situation becomes often depends on where the sex offender is assigned to serve out his term.
Some prisons are specifically set up to house such prisoners – which means that the sex offenders who are assigned there are generally safer than the ones who are assigned to a regular prison.
Most recently, the Bureau of Prisons has been using the U.S. Penitentiary (USP) in Tucson, AZ for its dumping ground for prisoners who have designated as “Sex Offender Public Safety Factor”, an internal label that is used to describe those sex offenders who will likely not survive in General Population.
Given Raniere’s convictions – and his total inability to defend himself against other prisoners – he may well get assigned to USP Tucson.
Another possibility is the Federal Correctional Center (FCC) in Petersburg, VA. That’s because this facility operates an on-site Sex Offender Management Program.
The Frank Report will continue to follow Raniere wherever he ends up serving his sentence.
And we will report on a regular basis how he is faring in prison, whether he is being treated fairly, etc.
The criminal justice system in the United States dwarfs similar systems in other countries.
Although the U.S. makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, it accounts for almost 25% of the world’s prisoners.
Each year, approximately 700,000 individuals are released from federal and state prisons – and an additional 9,000,000 are released from county and local jails.
In 2010, it was estimated that 19 million Americans had a felony record. Today, that number is estimated to be 28 million. Another 40+ million Americans have misdemeanor convictions.
The NXIVM case clearly underscored the problems that occur when law enforcement officials do not do their sworn duty – and, instead, allow criminals like Raniere and his cohorts to pretty much do whatever they want.
There are other cases – and one particular one I am thinking of – where law enforcement officials abuse their discretionary powers and pursue criminal charges against people they know are innocent.
Both types of outcomes undercut the American concepts of fairness and justice.
And both must be exposed whenever and wherever they occur.
What happens to Keith Raniere – and the other members of his criminal enterprise – will be a good measure of how our criminal justice system is working…