Sam Bankman-Fried's Parents Say They Fear for His Life in Prison

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Sam Bankman-Fried’s parents fear for their son’s life if he’s sentenced to a “typical prison environment.”

In a plea to the court ahead of his sentencing, Stanford Law professor Barbara Fried warned that he will be in “extreme danger” in prison due to his lack of ability to read social cues. 

She wrote:

I genuinely fear for Sam’s life in the typical prison environment. It may be that some of the inmates will come to appreciate Sam once they get to know him. But miscommunication in that environment is dangerous, and Sam’s traits greatly increase the likelihood of its occurring.

Barbara added that her son “can seem odd and off-putting to people that don’t know him” and “has a number of mannerisms that are associated with high-functioning people with [Austism Spectrum Disorder]”. 

She continued:

He is bad at responding to social cues in ‘normal’ ways, uncomfortable looking people in the eye, uncomfortable with outward shows of emotion.

The broader public was charmed by many of his eccentricities — or at least pretended to be — while he was on top of the world. The moment he fell, the same public became merciless, ridiculing his awkward traits and verbal style, taking them as a sign of duplicity or worse, and portraying him as a freak with evil intentions.

The media’s weapon of choice is words. The same cannot be said for prisons.

His father, Joseph Bankman, who is also a Stanford professor, wrote in his own letter that his son would be in “significant physical danger” if handed a lengthy sentence.

“Nothing he has done can justify putting him at that risk,” Bankman wrote. 

Earlier this month, a photo released of Bankman-Fried behind bars showed an extremely sorry looking figure who apparently was not showing regularly.

The disgraced crypto king has been held at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center since August. He had initially been placed under house arrest, although was later remanded to custody over allegations that he was engaged in witness tampering. 

On the plus side, the woman who obtained the photo spoke with another prisoner who described him as eccentric but a “good guy” who was popular among his fellow inmates. 

Following the downfall of FTX, Bankman-Fried was convicted last November on various charges related to his management of the failed crypto exchange.

The allegations levied against him spanned from misappropriating customer funds to support his hedge fund to engaging in unlawful political contributions and funding an extravagant lifestyle.

“Sam Bankman-Fried thought that he was above the law,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the time of conviction. “This case should send a clear message to anyone who tries to hide their crimes behind a shiny new thing they claim no one else is smart enough to understand: the Justice Department will hold you accountable.”

His parents’ pleas come ahead of his sentencing later this month. Despite facing up to 110 years in prison, his lawyers are seeking a far more lenient sentence, arguing that decades in prison would be a “grotesque” and “barbaric” punishment that is disproportionate to the severity of the crimes committed by his client. 

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