The fallen crypto billionaire's pleas for proper meals and medical care are an unlikely illustration of America's broken jail system.
'...to relish even an unlikeable person's relatively inconsequential suffering under that system is to miss the more important issue underneath'
Completely agree and having been meaning to subscribe for a while this was the one that simply made me crack on and do that subscription thing.
This is brilliant! Without making SBF into an inadvertent hero, you have used his story to raise awareness of a critical social justice issue, a task which is otherwise difficult to pull off. Bravo
Brilliant. This is why I am a subscriber.
Very well-said. I have no love for SBF or the "effective altruism" community, but I am also a vegan with major depressive disorder, and not having my dietary or medical needs met would cause severe distress. I also support prison abolition, and that means for everyone, even people who we might think "deserve" to be incarcerated.
Until our judicial system fully embraces and supports a restorative justice approach, needless suffering for millions will continue. A wise, discerning, and compassionate post. Thanks, Molly.
No human being should be treated the way our prison systems treat many of its inmates and contemplating abolition seems perfectly rational. I look forward to SBF’s post conviction/incarceration career as a criminal justice reformer.
All sarcasm aside, if I thought that transformation were in the realm of possibility, I’d be able to summon a smidgeon of sympathy for his situation. He’s seemingly gone through life insulated from consequences. He’s discovered that, sometimes, privilege doesn’t last forever.
I’ve long thought our prison system is inhumane. But it’s also maddening that we can’t have a conversation about that fact until some rich white dude is forced to suffer through it.
I’m vegan (well, with the exception of certain occasional commercial baked goods, which might have dairy and/or eggs in them, because I’m lazy), and I don’t cook (because I’m too tired and/or lazy), and I can’t afford regular prepared meals, so I, too, largely subsist on peanut butter toast.
So what I’m saying is that subsisting on bread and peanut butter is par for the course if you’re vegan, don’t cook, and can’t afford to have someone else cook for you. This is a problem with the American agricultural-industrial complex, not a problem with the American carceral-industrial complex, per se.
I’m also on ADHD medications, and for much of this year there has been a nationwide shortage of ADHD medications (pretty much any type of prescription stimulant), so I had to switch pharmacies because my main pharmacy’s supplier literally ran out. At a commercial pharmacy! So not being able to refill ADHD meds is a problem with the American pharmaceutical-industrial complex and also not a problem with the American carceral-industrial complex, per se. (I can’t speak to any issues with filling antidepressant prescriptions, though.)
People in American prisons and pre-trial detention are among the only Americans with a right to food, shelter, and healthcare. Some people who are released from prison commit low-level crimes in order to be re-incarcerated, just to be able to access free food, shelter, and healthcare.
So this is really all to say that Sam Bankman-Fried is complaining about not being able to use his ill-gotten wealth for the purpose of not having to deal with the depravity of American Capitalism. All of the problems he’s identifying are real, but what he’s complaining about is ultimately just having to live like like the rest of us.
In America’s carceral system, the cruelty is the point. Other people contemplating committing stupid financial crimes will be deterred by SBF’s suffering, or at least that’s the idea. You can draw your own conclusions about the morality and effectiveness of this philosophy.
Thank you. Insightful and useful. I wonder if Sam's attorneys will show him the story, in EuroNews I think it is, about the crypto crook in Turkey sentenced to 11,000 years.
Sensible, balanced, compassionate and informed article that will no doubt send the right wing “hang ‘em high” trolls apoplectic.
For profit prisons should be illegal. Regardless of what he's pulled, he's still considered innocent and deserves access to full legal protection and defence like anyone else. And if they do this to the rich, the poor prisoners only suffer far far more.
Nuance is lost on some many people, a welcome exception!