Anna Sorokin Says Prison Is a 'Huge Waste of Time' and She's Right

Illustration for article titled Anna Sorokin Says Prison Is a 'Huge Waste of Time' and She's Right
Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP (Getty Images)

Fresh off of being released from a four-year prison sentence for good behavior, Anna Sorokin says she has learned nothing, has no regrets, and believes prison is a “huge waste of time.” And you know what? All of this makes perfect sense to me.

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In case you need a refresher: Sorokin—better known as Soho grifter Anna Delvey—was arrested in 2017 on charges of grand larceny for scamming friends, hotels, and banks out of roughly $275,000. She spent 19 months at Rikers Island while awaiting trial, and then spent another 21 months in prison at Albion Correctional Facility after she was convicted in 2019.

In an interview with Insider, Sorokin said that she didn’t gain much from the experience, which was ostensibly intended to make her feel remorse for what she did and ensure she didn’t do it again. But prison isn’t actually designed to do any of those things, she said:

I took this “Phase Three” program to teach people how to transition back out of prison. They show you these videos. They still have VHS tapes. They’re basically telling you how to get a job, and telling you to look at classified ads, which is so crazy because this is not what the world is right now. It’s just pointless. It’s a huge waste of time. ...

... I feel like it’s insane. To take people, to lock them up, take everything away from them, and just to expect them to reform. What is that supposed to do for you? You’re just deprived of everything. The same solution for everyone, no matter what you’ve done? When you’re a criminal, it’s such a different mindset, whether you kill someone, or if you sell drugs. The place where you’re coming from is not comparable. They have this universal solution for everyone, and that should not be the case.

Sorokin has a point, of course. Prisons don’t exist to teach people lessons or deter them from crime; it is a proven fact that incarceration isn’t successful at doing either of those things. Instead, the prison system perpetuates racial and economic oppression while generating huge profits for private corporations as well as state and federal governments.

Sorokin said she’s working on a memoir about her experience with the criminal justice system, which will generally reflect these opinions. I would argue that this message is probably best communicated by a person of color (and indeed it has been many, many times). 

But before you dismiss Sorokin’s comments as flippant or remorseless, it’s worth consider that she may be right. Even if you don’t condone her behavior and believe that she really should learn a lesson somehow, it was never prison that was going to teach it to her.

Night blogger at Jezebel with writing at The Baffler, The Nation, The New Republic, Vice, and more.

DISCUSSION

If we’ve learned anything from the past 5 years it is that rich sociopaths should never have to face any consequences, because they’re just plain better people than the rest of us.

(But seriously....what would actually be effective punishment for a Trump or a Sorokin?)