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.
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…