Monthly Archives: September 2017

Sep 29

Medical Turns Away Inmates Seeking Help

Prison Life

Monday, July 2nd, 2012 |

A guy in our unit had a heart attack, or so we thought.  He was complaining to medical about chest pains for three or four days prior to going to an outside hospital on Sunday.

Medical told him each time he went for help that there was nothing wrong with him.  They told him they would file an incident report against him for being “out of bounds” if he came in again. The inmate wrote Medical up on a BP-8 on Saturday for refusing to treat him.  This was the day before he went to the hospital.

We haven’t heard how he is doing, but we are assuming he is still alive.  A guy late last year had the same experience. He complained about pain in the gut and was consistently told by medical to leave. It turned out to be very serious.  I can’t remember the problem, but I do remember that he nearly died.

Even yesterday, a new inmate went to medical for the third time to complain about a serious cold or infection that was causing him severe discomfort. He was also told to leave medical and that they were not going to do anything for him. This guy is legally blind so I help him with his typing. He is writing up Medical this morning.  Alan is also seeking help from a rabbi that specializes in helping Jewish prisoners.

These incidents involved the same nurse involved in the inmate death. She is dangerous! It shows you that you really must fight for decent medical care.

Sep 29

What are the Ethical Implications of the Equifax Data Breach?

Ethics

How a company and its leadership adheres to its core principles and responsibilities during a crisis speaks volumes about its ethics. The Equifax data breach that exposed the personal data of about 143 million U.S. consumers is a crisis of epic proportions.

Equifax, like its two rivals, is the gateway to consumers’ access to financial credit. Equifax’s customers also include the users of this data to make credit decisions. If you had to boil down the two most core ethical principles that were required of Equifax given these unique roles, it should be integrity and security.

Ironically, Equifax updated and reissued its corporate code of ethics in July, about the same time it discovered the breach. Equifax’s code touts the importance of honesty and fair dealing in maintaining appropriate business relations, protecting the privacy and confidential information of others, advising employees to watch out for company property that is not secured, and prohibition of insider trading. Former Chairman and CEO, Richard F. Smith has an introductory message to the code discussing his commitment to the code and compliance.

So, how well did Equifax’s executives live up to its own code of ethics? Several things strike me about the ethics of Equifax’s handling of the situation.

Equifax had an ethical duty to its customers to maintain personal data with utmost security.

Equifax used an open-source software tool known as Apache Struts that supported Equifax’s online dispute portal web application. The company believes that the hackers gained access to its data through a vulnerability in Apache Struts. This vulnerability was known to Equifax since March 2017. The hackers gained access to Equifax’s data from May 13 through July 30th, when Equifax took down this web portal.

Why didn’t Equifax take down the web portal as soon as it knew the software was vulnerable, and not brought the portal back up until the security flaw was patched?

Companies lacking in internal controls tend to be more exposed to ethical failings than companies with strong internal controls. We normally think of accounting processes when we discuss a company’s internal controls, but its internal controls over its computer systems are equally important, especially for a company whose product is digitally maintained.

Equifax had an ethical duty to inform its customers of the breach as soon as the breach was discovered.

Equifax has not said why they waited until September 7th before announcing the cyber incident. Could it be that the hacking was too embarrassing for a proud company to announce, or was there another reason?

This delay deprived its customers the opportunity to take early actions to mitigate the potential damage from the exposure of their personal data. Credit freezing and monitoring could have started months ago.

The creditors and financial institutions that rely on Equifax were considering credit applications and approving loans for this period.  They were totally unaware that the applications they were processing could be fraudulent and contain personal information stolen from Equifax. These companies were unable to consider whether they required other forms of identification and information to verify that they were not processing credit applications for fraudsters.

Was it fair to these customers that Equifax did not tell them of the breach? What losses will result from this lag in reporting the breach?

Equifax executives who knew about the data breach had an ethical duty to inform all “covered insiders” not to sell any stock until the pending material information about the breach was made public.

The CFO and two other executives sold a combined $1.8 million in Equifax stock in the days following the company’s discovery of the breach. Equifax stated that these three executives did not know about the breach. Really … Why not?

Equifax’s ethics code requires that Human Resources, the Corporate Ethics Officer, or the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors be notified of any suspected fraud or theft of company assets. Given the size of the breach, were these people notified? Whether the answer is yes or no, why didn’t the CFO know?

We know that the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Security Officer knew about the breach.  All three have since left the company in the wake of the fallout. Certainly, other employees working in the offices of the three since-resigned executives had to know.  Did they follow Equifax’s ethics code reporting requirements, even if their bosses did not?

An SEC investigation into the stock sale is pending. These three executives will be incurring major legal bills, whether they are guilty of insider trading or not. They may be subject to criminal penalties, including incarceration. How fair and honest was it on the part of the executives in the know not to inform the other executives to hold off on any stock transactions?

Summary

Ethical conduct of companies and executives is a hot-button topic in corporate America precisely because ethical failures are commonplace. Equifax is one example of many. An ethics policy or code is only as good as the leadership implementing it. People are fallible and do things that others will simply say, “What were they thinking?”, when unethical conduct is exposed, as it almost always is.

Equifax’s problems could have been prevented if certain executives had followed the company’s code of ethics, their individual personal values and common sense. But, this is a prime example how a lapse in ethics can have a significant adverse impact on 143 million consumers and countless institutions that rely of quality credit information to conduct their business.

 

Sep 27

New Warden at the Low

Prison Life

Sunday, July 1st, 2012 |

I’m hearing good feedback about the new warden at the Low. The Low required inmates to get passes to go to the library, chapel, etc. These were a hassle because if you couldn’t get a pass you were not allowed to go to that area. For example, if you don’t get a library pass early in the morning then you may not be able to go all day.  The new warden did away with the passes.

Also, the Low inmates are now able to wear athletic clothes to the dining room in the evening.

I hear that the new warden is trying to do away with the 10-minute hourly moves. These were the biggest hassle you can imagine and what I hated most about the Low. You have 10 minutes once an hour to move from one part of the compound to the other. It often happened to me that I would need to make a quick trip and return but get stuck for the hour.

Our new warden is supposed to be starting on Monday. I’m sure he will make changes. I just don’t know what those changes will be.

Sep 26

Dog Days of Summer

Prison Life

Saturday, June 30th, 2012 |

It is brutally hot here at 106 degrees. It is so hot, in fact, that the camp closed the rec yard for safety purposes during these dog days of summer. I have been inside since 9:15 except for lunch.

TVs Back On

The camp turned the TVs back on yesterday. I guessing there was backlash about punishing 300 guys for cell phones that didn’t belong to them. The AW backtracked and said that the TVs were turned off because the units were not sanitary. This clearly was not true. But anyway, the camp administrator did inspections on Thursday and Friday and declared everything as ok.

It came just in time because of this heat. It is better for the guys to be watching TV than just hanging around doing absolutely nothing (though watching TV is my idea of doing absolutely nothing).

Campers in the Hole

The AW told some guys that there were 40 campers in the hole. Something like 30 of those were for cell phones. Two of those have already pleaded guilty of the additional charge.  They will get an extra year added to their sentence and loss of all privileges (except immediate family visits) for 18 months. The rest of the 30 are in some form of investigation or charges pending.  The phones have been shipped to the FBI to identify its owner for prosecution.

I know some of the remaining 10 guys will be coming back to the camp. We already had one return earlier this week. We were also told that at least one of the guys is going to get re-designated to a medium facility and the rest will be designated to a Low elsewhere. The guys being shipped out are being sent about as far away from home as possible.

I’m hoping the crackdown is over with.

Cells Opened

Our counselor moved most of the guys on the beach into cells. As you can imagine we had a lot of cells open with the crackdown.

One of the guys that did not get moved is trying to get his FRP (financial responsibility payment) reduced. He came from the cadre at FMC which paid a lot more than his job at the camp. He can’t afford to make the same payment so he is trying to get it reduced.  On FRP refusal status, he is assigned to the least desirable housing.

The other guy that didn’t get moved has only been here for a few days. I’m expecting a lot of new guys in the next two weeks to take these spots.

Sep 26

Supervised Release Violation Sends a Released Inmate Back to Prison

Criminal Justice , Life after Prison

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 |

An older white-collar guy arrived in our unit from California today for a supervised release violation. Alan’s probation officer told him at their first meeting that he hated white-collar defendants.  The PO said he would do everything he could to violate him. What a shock to find out your PO is such an ass!

Alan was three days late with a mandatory monthly report. That was enough to violate him.

Alan was picked up and spent 10 months in a medical unit at a Federal Detention Center in San Bernardino, CA.  The judge yanked his supervised release and ordered him back to prison to serve his supervised release time.  BOP sent him to Butner because he has a lot of health issues. Alan previously did his time at the camp in Jessup, GA.  He has another 10 months or so to complete before being finally released.

All this becomes an issue because all federal inmates serve 85% of their sentence.  At sentencing, judges assess defendants with an additional period of supervision by a probation officer.  Probation officers are officers of the court and supervise released inmates during the remainder of their sentence after release from prison and during their supervised release period.  These officers follow the BOP terms of release until the sentence is completed, and then the court-mandated terms of the supervised release.  These guys have a lot of power over released inmates.

Interestingly, Alan said that there were Jessup campers with long supervised release times that would violate on purpose.  Subsequently, they filed a motion with the court for immediate release. The theory being that the additional time served would do away with all the remaining supervised release.

Probation Officer Violates Inmate for Personal Gain

This is not the only time I have heard of a probation officer intentionally violating an inmate and inventing a reason to legally do so. One of Christine’s friend’s husband was on supervised release. The family owned a farm that the probation officer wanted to own. The inmate’s wife saw the PO put bullets on the fridge during a home visit.  Being in possession of bullets is a clear violation of any inmate’s supervised release. When she confronted the PO, he said, “who are THEY going to believe … you or me?”

Result: the inmate went back to prison and lost the farm that had been in his family for generations! Guess who owns it now?

Sep 21

Food Strike Aftermath

Prison Life

Sunday, June 24th, 2012 |

The first thing we noticed on Saturday morning was a heavy police presence and this would continue all weekend. But the camp is pretty much back to normal after the food strike on Friday.

Our unit and another were shaken down on Saturday afternoon. Our unit was shaken down once again on Sunday.  My cell was not even touched during these shakedowns and we were locked out briefly. This tells me that they were looking in certain cells. In fact, they took a few more guys off the compound because of cell phones.

The only real silly thing was that they didn’t serve any fruit on Sunday because they found five bananas in someone’s locker on Saturday. Everything seems normal but with more cops around.

Friends that had visitation on Saturday and Sunday reported light turnout since loved ones couldn’t confirm visitation plans because the phones are shut down. I was also told that there was a noticeable higher number of COs watching the visitors than normal. That could also be the case since the staff were being forced to be at the camp, and the visitation room is the most comfortable place to be.

Problems Prompting Food Strike

As I reflect on the last several days, I realize that the problems in the camp started many months ago, but particularly started when the washers and dryers were removed. That was the first thing that got the camp riled. It snowballed through punitive inspections, shakedowns, hassles from our “Super-Co” and the wrongness of the inmate death. The walk-off of an inmate was the first drastic measure taken by an individual who couldn’t take it anymore.

I realize the importance of keeping cell phones off the compound and they should. The question is whether the entire community should be punished or just the guys with the cell phones.  The administration decided to punish the community for the actions of a few bad apples, thus the community came together to make a simple statement by refusing to eat in the dining hall for one day.

Assistant Warden was a Major Contributing Factor to the Food Strike

The AW blew everything out of proportion and threw gasoline on the flames. She would have been better if she simply said, “I hear you, now let’s work together to resolve the cell phones.” By punishing the community, she started an act by the community. All of this was totally unprofessional on her part and disruptive to camp security and control, not to mention the staff.

The AW also compounded the problem further by taunting the guys. She told staff all last week that the campers were soft, had no guts, “they won’t do anything”, among many other comments. These comments were also made directly to campers minding their own business. Today she was going up to guys in the dining hall and saying, “you have something to say to me?”

These comments are enough to incite another food strike. The AW also said that if we acted like penitentiary prisoners we didn’t belong in the camp. She had already turned off the TVs a week ago and it was very evident that she was looking for an excuse to take away the privileges of the weight pile. All her statements were creating problems where problems didn’t exist. Most guys just want to do their time and that’s it.

Finally, she said she had intercepted letters and BP-10s intended for BOP Regional and Washington complaining of her actions. I don’t know how she can cover everything up. She really made herself look bad!

Impact of Food Strike on Other Staff

In addition, the AW clearly usurped the authority of the camp administrator and imposed burdens on other staff. We rarely saw the camp administrator all weekend. We got a lot of feedback from other staff. They resented having to spend overtime and effort in 90+ degree heat. We also heard that news of the food strike on the camp spread through the rest of the complex. Everyone, staff and other inmates, were surprised at what the campers did and the ensuing reaction.

 

Sep 20

Food Strike!

Prison Life

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 |

The guys started a food strike this morning to protest the punitive inspections, shakedowns and the recent disconnection of the TVs. The guys recognize an unfair punishment when they see it. The camp administration has been punishing 340 guys for the actions of a handful.  I only saw four guys eating in the dining room this morning so the guys were hanging together on this one. The food strike was not organized by anyone.  The word spread organically about the food strike. This morning, guys with food were sharing with guys who don’t have any.

I already told you the inmates who met with the camp administrator had no positive outcome. The food strike had nothing to do with that meeting but I think it had an impact on how the AW reacted to the food strike. Unfortunately, the camp administrator had refused to sign an agreement stating that there would be no retaliation for raising these issues. They came down hard on the inmate committee guys today.  I saw that happening.

I finished writing the above just as they were shutting down the compound at 10 am. The assistant warden decided to use a show of force after the food strike this morning.

Lockdown Following Food Strike

I’ll start this narrative with the lockdown. Everyone was recalled to their units, even Unicor and guys that work off compound, which is unusual. After the lockdown, we saw a lot of staff and CO’s outside talking and waiting. The guy (James) who had previously met with the camp administrator was called to talk to the AW.

One of the guys saw a big bus pull into the perimeter drive. So, we started putting everything together that they were going to take action against us. We waited anxiously for about an hour until they announced a count. They must have had six staff people taking the count, and they counted twice. I’m not sure how it would have changed two minutes after the first count.

The staff left us for about an hour alone.  I got hungry so I prepared a PBJ sandwich.  Just as I was getting ready to eat it, the AW came into the unit making a venomous speech about how dare we act as a group, our action amounted to an insurrection, etc. All we did was not eat one meal, for God’s sake. This was blowing into something huge. I didn’t know how bad it was about to get.

Forcing us to the Cafeteria

The AW told us that we MUST go the dining hall, or we would go to the hole. I know they locked up James when he refused to go eat.  COs rushed into the unit to make sure that all inmates left the unit for the cafeteria.  Some inmates refused so the COs cuffed those guys and escorted them out.

The cafeteria was serving fried fish sandwiches, which I won’t eat, so I took the PBJ sandwich to the dining hall. I sat without a tray but with my sandwich on a paper towel. I would have gotten in line but the line was very long. There must have been 30 or 40 COs and staff around the dining hall and the courtyard.  They even had cameras in the food line recording the inmates as they were getting their food.

A bunch of guys were taking their tray with food, and then immediately taking the tray to the tray return/dish room window to throw it all away. Upon seeing all the food going into the trash, the AW announced that anyone not eating their food would go to the hole.

I Get Called Out

So, I was sitting there without a tray and all these COs were staring at me. I decided to get in line to see if I could at least eat some sides and a banana. The food CO told me to get out of line and refused to give me any food. I returned to my table, and now even more COs were staring at me. I went back to the serving line to ask the food CO why she wouldn’t give me a tray. She refused to talk to me and I went back to the table.

The food CO was substituting for the regular food CO, who I get along very well with.  This woman CO is a real bitch, and she and I have never got along.  I’m guessing that she thought I had already gone through the line once because she saw me with my sandwich.

I finally left the table to go back to the unit. The AW started calling, “Hey you, the jokester, come here!”, as well as other words that I won’t mention. I looked around because I didn’t know who she was talking to. She specifically identified me and a few COs surrounded me. I put my hands behind my back and say, “I’m cool, I’m not resisting!” The CO said, “no, put your hands on the wall”, and then he cuffed me against the glass cafeteria windows.  They had no clue why they were cuffing me.

My friends later told me that they thought it was funny to see my face held against the glass windows.  They were all thinking, “what did Foster do to deserve this?”  I thought for sure that I was going to the hole.

In Custody for Eating a PBJ

They took me to the front and made me sit for about 60 minutes in cuffs. The COs brought three other campers into the room in cuffs. On three separate occasions, COs came to me and started yelling, “this is your last chance, this is your last chance.”  I say, last chance for what?”  I didn’t know what they were getting at.  None of them knew why I was picked up.  They asked me what I had did wrong.  All I could say was that I ate a PBJ in the cafeteria.

Finally, I’m told to stand up and a CO took me to health services. Another CO that I had not seen previously came in and asked what I did. I told him that I thought it was because I ate a PBJ rather than a fish sandwich. He said that he heard something about me mouthing off.

It clicked that they must have thought that I was hassling the food CO. So, I knew immediately that I was going to the hole over a misunderstanding.  Thankfully, the CO comes back and releases me to the unit.

I later found out that one of the other guys was cuffed when he wanted to heat his own meal in the microwave. He was eventually released. The other two guys went to the hole, one of which was James.

Town Hall Meeting

After lunch, we were informed that all the phones and internet were shut down, and would remain so through the weekend. We were locked down all afternoon and had another count.  In addition, they told us to stay in our cells.  Again, this was very unusual to be confined to our cells.

The AW held a town hall meeting for each unit later in the afternoon. The room was packed with COs and staff. She spews venom, threatening all sorts of retribution both personal and on the group.  She even called me out again by saying, “I see you jokester!”

The AW told us that we must go straight to the dining hall tonight and that we needed to “act like campers”. She talked more about the cell phones and the earlier meeting between the camp administrator and the inmates.

Two guys with diabetes state that they need to get their insulin shots before dinner. The AW won’t hear of any of that. She states that if we don’t like it that they would take us away on the bus. One guy jumps up and says, “take me, that is one crazy bitch!” The guy totally lost it. He was handcuffed in a struggle and taken to the bus. Some guys brought up that they don’t eat the enchilada casserole. What then? She essentially says tough.

When we were released to our units, the diabetic guy who brought up the insulin question stands up and puts his hands behind his back and says, “take me too”. He is told by a CO to sit down but the AW says, “No, take him out of here”.

Afternoon Lockdown

We went back to the unit and were locked down again until 4 pm count. We were told once again that we had to go to the dining hall for dinner. The evening food CO announces on the PA that they are serving chicken wings and chicken patties. I’m sure they changed the menu to diffuse the situation. Chicken wings are a rarity and loved by the inmates.

There were some thunderstorms so we were locked down again after dinner until after the storms pass. They eventually opened the rec yard and we were finally able to talk to our friends from other units. I think our unit had the most guys locked up at nine. The other units had three or four each.

Compound Finally Opens

Visitation was normal in the evening after an apparent discussion between the camp administrators whether to have visitation at all. I’m sure they decided to proceed with the visitation because of the adverse impact and fallout if it was unexpectedly cancelled. One of the visitors must have contacted a local news channel because one of their vans was sighted in the front parking lot later in the evening.

The complex warden and her assistant walked through the units in the evening. I stopped her and introduced myself to explain the situation earlier in the day about being cuffed. I told her that I thought it was a misunderstanding and that I was expecting a shot. The warden told me she didn’t think anything would come of it but if something did that we would talk directly. She was reasonable and engaging.  How can such two different personalities work together? The remainder of the night settled in normally.

I later learned that food strikes are considered riots by the BOP.  They are reported immediately to Washington, DC and are taken very seriously.  It is extremely rare to have a food strike at a camp.  I’m sure this day was very embarrassing to the Butner administration.  The AW made a total fool of herself in front of the inmates and the staff that was present.  It took the complex warden to step in and calm things down.

Sep 18

Camp Administrator Gives More Lip Service

Prison Life

Thursday, June 21st, 2012 |

The situation on the compound is getting intense.  Guys are fed up and the camp administrator keeps giving lip service.

The inmate who organized a committee to deal with “camp issues” met with the camp administrator. She gave him some information but I didn’t hear anything new. Furloughs can be requested but the request needs to comply with BOP policy, which also states that granting the furlough is subject to the approval of the warden. This was always the hang up. The warden never approved any furloughs.

The camp administrator also said that if the clothes aren’t dry or clean, then return them to laundry.  She has been saying this all along, but it doesn’t help.

Guys are also complaining about the mattresses.  There are two types of mattresses, the old cotton covered and newer plastic covered ones. Both are extremely uncomfortable and don’t hold up. I’m sure the cotton-covered ones are full of dust mites and microscopic organisms.

I was smart enough to get a plastic covered mattress as soon as I could. Unfortunately, the one I have is concave in the center so it provides very little support. It’s like sleeping in a hole every night.  The camp administrator said to request a new mattress if there is something wrong with yours.  This is easier said than done.  These requests are more routinely denied than granted.

Sep 13

Elvis is Caught

Prison Life

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 |

My cellie was listening to the radio news this morning and heard the story about Elvis’ escape.  Elvis was caught sitting on a porch of a vacant home in Durham County.  The report said that he was due to be released in 2020. His family apparently told the news reporter that he was having a difficult time talking to the camp administration (just like all of us).

He didn’t get very far so I assume he had no help. Elvis could catch another five years and will spend his time waiting for trial in the SHU.  He’s going to hate the hole.  Elvis will be behind the fence until he is released. What a hassle!

In other news, we had another lockdown immediately after lunch today. In addition, we had shakedowns in our unit, another unit and the inside rec room today. They had us locked out of the unit for more than two hours, and it was blistering hot today.

I think the Assistant Warden just wanted to make a big show. They had a lot of staff doing the searching. My locker, like most of them, was barely touched. I heard that they got another five or six cell phones today. This was more an inconvenience than anything else. I’ll be glad when we get the new Warden. Things are spinning out of control.

At least it is quiet in the TV room since they turned them off.  It doesn’t bother me since I don’t watch TV.

Sep 13

Elvis Escapes!

Prison Life

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 |

We were locked in our units after 4 pm count until after 6 pm. This is highly unusual since we go to dinner at around 5 pm. It turns out that a guy in another unit walked-off the compound (as in an escape).

The escapee’s nickname is Elvis because he has a tall afro-type haircut.  I’m not sure how this equates to Elvis, but the other inmates think the name suits him.

I know the guy and it really surprised me. Elvis kept to himself and was a weird with some mental health issues. He must have walked off the compound when they opened the doors in the morning.  Elvis normally rounds-up the guys going to FMC and gets them on the bus. The bus stop is just opposite the weight pile.  I normally see him but didn’t this morning.

There’s a lot of inmate speculation about Elvis’ motivation to escape that people know nothing about, and this qualifies. Elvis spent all his free time watching TV.  The AW shut down the TVs last night because of more contraband being found. My bet is that Elvis would have nothing to do without the TVs and that he was stressed with the frequent shakedowns.  It was probably too much for Elvis so he walked off. Once caught, he would be out of the camp and in a higher security prison.

Elvis has been “down” for more than 15 years.  These guys get very institutionalized and it’s tough on them when their routine changes.

There are guys here that have mental health issues.  The serious mental health issues are handled at the FMC. There is a staff psychologist at the camp who I think is very good.  In fact, I think she is the most helpful and professional staff person at the camp. The BOP assigns care levels for mental health in addition to physical health.

 

>