Bernie Madoff Pleads Guilty: Next Stop, the Big House?

Now that infamous financier Bernard Madoff has pleaded guilty on 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, perjury, and theft — carrying a maximum sentence of 150 years — it looks like he may have to trade in his business suits for a standard-issue prison jumpsuit.

What awaits him behind bars?

One person who would know is Jennifer Wilkov, a law-abiding professional who spent four months in the notoriously violent Rikers Island prison after being accused of real estate fraud, even though she tells Marie Claire in a riveting essay that she was not guilty.

"If you can survive this place, you can survive anything," one of the prison guards told her. She told us about her preparation for her sentence ("I sought advice from self-defense experts, and enlisted them to shout insults in my face so I could practice my response"), and her experience behind bars, dealing with fellow prisoners and managing her Crohn's disease on a diet of bread and fried chicken quarters that the prisoners dubbed "seagull meat."

Read about her experience, from the day of her arrest to the last day of her four-month prison sentence, and find out what really happens behind bars.

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