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‘This place is heaven’: Judge recommends Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes be sent to favourable Texas prison camp

Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes arrives at federal court on 18 November in San Jose, California.  (Getty Images)
Former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes arrives at federal court on 18 November in San Jose, California. (Getty Images)

Convicted former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ lawyers appear to be doing their best to make her more than a decade prison sentence as comfortable for her as possible.

US District Court Judge Edward Davila has made a recommendation for Holmes to be sent to a federal prison camp in Bryan, Texas — about an hour and a half outside Houston — according to Bloomberg.

Earlier this month, Holmes was sentenced to 11 1/4 years in prison for defrauding investors who backed her blood testing company, Theranos. The judge has ordered Holmes to turn herself into custody by 27 April.

At first glance the recommendation might seem strange, considering Holmes lived and ran her company out of northern California. However, Bloomberg spoke with a criminal defense lawyer who said Holmes’ attorneys likely requested the facility.

According to Alan Ellis, the defense attorney, the facility is a standalone women’s facility that doesn’t share staff or service providers with a prison for men. He said when men’s and women’s prisons share staff, the women’s prisons tend to take on the "prison mentality" present in the men’s prisons. If the request is granted, Holmes could be spared from that.

Further, he said the facility’s staff were likely more "open-minded."

The Bureau of Prisons describes the facility as having a low staff-to-inmate ratio, dormitory-style living rather than cells, and inmates spend their time working and engaging in programs.

"No one wants to get kicked out [of the facility] because compared to other places in the prison system, this place is heaven," Mr Ellis said. "If you have to go, it’s a good place to go."

According to prison consulting company Pink Lady, the prison in Bryan houses around 900 white-collar, non-violent female inmates. Most of the inmates were sentenced for embezzlement and committing various frauds.

Whether or not Ms Holmes ends up in the Bryan facility remains to be seen. While she did grow up in the Houston area, her immediate family lives in northern California, and her parents live in a condo in Washington DC.

Some legal experts have predicted that she will ultimately end up serving time at a prison facility near Dublin, California, about 35 miles east of San Francisco. That facility currently houses actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, who were convicted and sentenced in a much-publicised college-admissions scandal.

The prison also held newspaper heiress Patty Hearst after her bank robbery conviction.

"Her time will be punctuated by boredom, loud inmates and staff, and just monotony," Christopher Zoukis, a prison consultant, told Time.