​Ross Ulbricht Is Tutoring Inmates, Keeping a Pet Mouse in Prison

The 31-year-old convicted Silk Road mastermind is awaiting his appeal process in Manhattan.

Jul 13 2015, 8:00pm

Image: FreeRoss.org

More than a month after being sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, convicted Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht is trying to keep his head up and help other inmates out, his mother Lyn said.

"Ross is positive by nature, so is making the best of it and taking things day to day," she told Motherboard by email. "He's remaining strong and healthy, both mentally and physically. He is also doing what he can to contribute to fellow prisoners."

Ross was convicted of all seven charges stemming from the creation and operation of darknet market Silk Road in February, including narcotics trafficking, narcotics conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit computer hacking. He is now awaiting his appeal, which he filed in June, in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City, where he stayed throughout his trial.

Lyn said his request to stay there was granted following his sentencing so he could help his attorneys with the appeal process, as he does not have access to email and could not easily communicate with them otherwise.

According to a tweet from Lyn on Saturday, Ross is "has a pet mouse FiFi who lives in a cracker box in his cell" that he saved from an inmate who wanted to kill it. (Motherboard was unable to confirm the details of FiFi's accommodations.) Lyn said Ross looks forward to roof time, when he can get a bit of sun and air and play basketball. "Unfortunately he does not get this often enough," she said.

He has also taken over teaching the GED class to inmates who want to get their high school diplomas, spending a lot of time with each student, especially lately as their test approaches.

"As Ross says, 'It's crunch time,'" Lyn said. "He takes a personal interest in each student. Passing this test means a lot to them."

Ahead of Ross's sentencing, two inmates wrote to Judge Katherine Forrest to testify to Ross's behavior in prison, one of whom said Ross was tutoring him in physics.

"It has been challenging to absorb the material, but Ross helps fill in the gaps and patiently explains the concepts to me," fellow inmate Davit Mirzoyan wrote. "He is attentive and enthusiastic and makes it fun to learn. Every time we sit down for a lesson, I am eager to move forward and make productive use of my time in prison."

Lyn said Ross and his attorneys believe they have a strong case for appeal, but they are working to raise more money. Currently, his defense fund has raised $370,076 of its $650,000 goal. Ross is appealing both his conviction and his sentence.

"The appeal is not only important for Ross personally, but because of disturbing precedents that have been set through this case," Lyn said.