A VIP Perk for Strauss-Kahn: Shackles on His Way to Court

High-profile status means some perks, but some drawbacks for Strauss-Kahn in Rikers

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the International Monetary Fund director accused of trying to rape a hotel maid, will travel to his Friday grand jury hearing alone and in handcuffs and shackles, not because he is particularly dangerous but because he is a VIP. In an ironic twist of correctional department procedure, inmates who are categorized by the New York courts as centrally monitored cases (CMCs), must adhere to certain special requirements, including wearing shackles and handcuffs and traveling in a so-called cage vehicle, essentially a cargo van fitted with a cage inside.

Traveling in shackles isn't the norm for inmates facing charges such as Strauss-Kahn's. The protocol is there for the inmate's safety and that of the officers, said Norm Seabrook, president of the union that represents guards at Rikers and other New York jails. "If we put him on a bus with 25 other inmates, we don't want to risk him being injured, hurt, extorted, anything else," Seabrook said. "We move through the city of New York with high-profile inmates all the time. It's just to prevent somebody with a gripe with this person from attacking the vehicle."

Inside Rikers, however, Strauss-Kahn actually has a few more luxuries than the other inmates. He sleeps with a court-ordered machine to help with his sleep apnea, which Seabrook said would never be allowed for a prisoner in the general population, even if he habitually used one at home, "because they can be used as a weapon against the correctional officers." In addition to the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, Strauss-Kahn has individual access to a television, phone, and exercise yard--amenities other prisoners must share. "He is totally totally isolated," Seabrook said.

That's how it goes when you're a CMC inmate. By court order, Strauss-Kahn must be kept isolated, under constant watch, and must be accompanied by a correctional officer when he moves around the jail. "If this was a regular inmate off the street he would be put in gen pop with everyone else," Seabrook said. But, "this is an international issue and correction officers will do their jobs per the order the judge has put in front of us."

Friday's grand jury hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence for DSK to stand trial.

Update (6:20 p.m.): Strauss-Kahn's lawyers reportedly filed for a new bail application late today, and could argue for his release from custody as early as Thursday morning in a bid to free him that same day. According to a New York Times report, "Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers indicated he would be willing to be confined to a location in Manhattan and wear an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor his movements, and was prepared to post $1 million cash bail."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.