Jun 21, 2022 • 11M

Chapter 3, Part 4: Delusions of redemption

When Martin Shkreli tried to redeem himself and get out of prison early by volunteering to research a coronavirus treatment, he was mocked by...well...everyone. But his science was right.

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Appears in this episode

Christie Smythe
My experiences uncovering the story of, and falling in love with, Martin Shkreli.
Episode details
Chemical structure of leprosy drug clofazimine.
Chemical structure of leprosy drug clofazimine.

When the U.S. government finally started to sound alarms over the coronavirus, a decision to lock down federal prisons came like an iron door suddenly slamming shut. I was getting ready to spend a weekend in Pennsylvania, to visit Martin Shkreli at FCI Allenwood Low. Aware of the rising unease over the virus, I had checked with a prison administrator earlier that week and was told visitation was proceeding as normal. 

Then on Friday, March 13, 2020, the day before I was scheduled to leave on my trip, everything changed. An ugly red notice appeared on the prison website declaring that visitation was indefinitely suspended. A flurry of news articles and a press release from the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed the worst of my suspicions — the system was put on emergency “modified operations,” supposedly temporarily, but with no obvious end in sight.

“Visiting has been suspended for thirty days,” a prison administrator wrote to me in an ema…

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