Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff is being held in a super-max wing of a federal lockup called 10 South, described by the New York Daily News as “a unit so tough it drives hardened criminals mad.” Located on the 10th floor of the Metropolitian Correctional Center, the high-security wing has housed the city’s toughest mobsters and most bloodthirsty terrorists. The lights burn 24 hours a day, and an inmate’s every move is caught on video. Madoff, 70, gets just 60 minutes a day outside his 8-by-8-foot cell – in wrist shackles. Windows are blacked out so disoriented inmates can’t catch even a glimpse of the world outside.
Food is slipped through a narrow slit in a stainless steel door that fronts a spartan cell – cold in winter, scorching hot in summer. No interaction is permitted between inmates or guards. Only a ranking officer is allowed to remove a prisoner from his tiny cell. Lawyer visits are few and far between. Reading material is almost nonexistent. “He might even be sharing a cell with somebody, because he’s a nonviolent prisoner,” said onetime guard Louis Pepe, who was stabbed by a 10 South inmate in 2000. The Daily News says the squalid conditions are enough to make blood-stained tough guys cry – never mind a pampered ex-billionaire. Bonnano crime family capo Vincent Basciano was moved off 10 South in 2005 after his lawyer complained of “subhuman” conditions. “I had a guy in there who went bonkers,” said one veteran defense lawyer. “They had to take him out of there and give him sedatives.”