- By Madeline Halpert
- BBC News
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes may soon swap California for a minimum-security women’s prison facility, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from her hometown in Texas.
The disgraced former CEO was ordered to jail at the end of the month, and a judge recommended he serve a sentence of more than 11 years at the federal prison camp in Bryan, Texas (known as FPC Bryan).
This week, a judge denied Holmes’ latest bid to remain at liberty while appealing her conviction.
She was convicted of defrauding investors in her blood-testing startup last year.
Holmes was reportedly spending her final free weeks in a rented home in San Diego, California with her partner, hotel heir William Evans, and their two young children, including a three-month-old.
Soon, she may be wearing khaki pants and a khaki shirt and taking a wake-up call at 06:00 every day with other female prisoners at FPC Bryan, according to a handbook for the prison.
The BBC has reached out to the prison for comment.
The facility, which sits on 37 acres, is home to more than 500 inmates – most of whom are serving time for nonviolent and white-collar crime.
Holmes, who was raised in part in Houston, Texas, wouldn’t be the first celebrity to do time in an internment camp. Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jin Shah is serving a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for wire fraud.
A famous businessman may have roommates in prison. Inmates are typically housed in dormitory-style bunk beds, four to eight cubicles, according to Pink Lady Prison Consultants, a prison advisory group led by formerly incarcerated people.
The prison handbook says that life at the federal facility revolves around work and extracurricular programs.
All inmates are expected to work, earning between 12 cents and $1.15 (£0.90) an hour for their jobs. Many are involved in food service and factory work.
Outside of their work, female prisoners can take business skills and foreign language classes, watch television, play sports, and go to religious services, according to the handbook.
Holmes’ hour will be assigned to each meal at the facility, which serves a standard Federal Bureau of Prisons menu, consisting of foods such as chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, and pasta.
According to the prison handbook, she can talk to her family via video calls. The prisoners are also allowed visitors during weekends and holidays, but like other prisoners, Holmes is allowed limited physical contact with her partner and young children.
The rules at the women-only facility are also strict, the handbook says, adding that inmates are “treated in a mature and responsible manner” and “are expected to act accordingly.”
Inmates can face disciplinary action for a number of actions, including not keeping their cell or room clean, going to bed after a set early wake-up hour, sharing their phone account with other inmates, and leaving the area during an official inmate call, which happens five times in today.
Holmes’ time behind bars will stand in stark contrast to her past life. The startup founder was once hailed as the “next Steve Jobs,” said to be the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, and made the cover of Forbes and other notable magazines.
She started Theranos shortly after dropping out of Stanford University. As leader of the company, she raised millions of dollars from high-profile investors, including media mogul Rupert Murdoch and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
But the startup collapsed in 2018 after it was revealed that Holmes and other executives had lied about the company’s technology. The blood test device is claimed to be able to perform several tests from just a few drops of blood.
In addition to serving time in prison, Holmes was ordered to pay the fraud victims $452 million. She will split the amount with her former romantic and business partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, who began serving a 13-year sentence in April.
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