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Sex crimes trial puts spotlight on Maxwell's prison

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When Ghislaine Maxwell leaves Manhattan federal court at the end of each day of her upcoming sex abuse trial, the British socialite will return to a Brooklyn jail cell she says is plagued by vermin and the scent of raw sewage.

Since her July 2020 arrest on charges of grooming underage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse, Maxwell has been held in isolation at the Metropolitan Detention Center, or MDC - a jail where, according to several defense attorneys, conditions are substandard.

Maxwell has said raw sewage seeped into her cell, that she was given moldy food and deprived of water, and that guards shine flashlights at her at night, court filings show.

Her attorney Bobbi Sternheim compared her cell to Hannibal Lecter's, a far cry from Maxwell's pre-arrest life of luxury.

In April, Sternheim released this photo of Maxwell appearing to have a black eye. The attorney said Maxwell did not know how she got the bruise.

The close watch guards keep on Maxwell comes after Epstein died by suicide at age 66 in 2019 in his cell at Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Prosecutors have said surveillance of Maxwell is appropriate due to security concerns, that she is "physically healthy," and that she gets more time than other inmates to review evidence.

Maxwell is not the only inmate to complain of conditions at MDC.

In early 2019, an electrical fire at MDC led to a weeklong power outage. Many inmates were without heat during a cold winter week – sparking protests outside the prison.

A spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on Maxwell's conditions, but said it was committed to inmates' safety and takes staff misconduct allegations seriously.

Jury selection for Maxwell's trial is underway, with opening statements scheduled for Nov. 29th.

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