The venture capitalist and “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to seven years in jail for defrauding investors. He is not, as old-timey cops used to say, “built for prison.” Heck, if a 98-pound civilian ran into him on the street, they’d probably take a swing.
After all, this is the guy who raised the price of an AIDS drug 5,000 percent, was unapologetic about it in interviews, smirked and demurred his way through a congressional hearing, harassed a reporter on Twitter, offered a bounty to anyone who could get a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair, and — in the final straw for most of the populace — bought the new Wu-Tang album for $2.5 million and kept it to himself. Not for nothing was Martin Shkreli dubbed “the most hated man in America,” so reviled that his attorneys had trouble finding an impartial jury.
Add in Shkreli’s wealth and celebrity, and it’s certain that a wide and varied fanbase awaits him inside the crowbar hotel. (Right now, he’s in federal custody but hopes to land at a minimum-security facility in Pennsylvania.) Vice News asked current inmates in federal prisons how Shkreli can expect to be treated when he hits the hoosegow. The author, Seth Ferranti, served 21 years for drug crimes. He warned that “what Shkreli needs to watch out for is how his price-gouging of life-saving drugs might shape his status in an institution where there is a moral code—a hierarchy—albeit not one most Americans are familiar with.”
So what do inmates predict for Martin Shkreli?
Robert Rosso, who’s serving a life sentence for drug offenses, says that Martin Shkreli’s notoriety and wealth makes him a prime target for extortion. “Given Shkreli’s inexperience as an inmate, the fact that it’s public knowledge that he still has a lot of money, and his overall spoiled-brat, rich-boy attitude, he’ll make a nice target for the press game.” Meaning that inmates could force him to pay for protection or basic needs: food, blankets, toiletries.
Walter “King Tut” Johnson, a New Yorker who’s doing life in a medium-security upstate prison, says Shkreli should skate through, if he can manage to keep his trolling in check. “I think that Martin Shkreli will slip between the cracks in prison, because he will more than likely go to a camp where there is no violence,” said Johnson. “He will hate being locked up period, though, and probably do a little protesting. If he cries in prison like he did at sentencing, it better be genuine, because tears in prison are taken seriously.”