Tag Archives for " email "

Sep 07

Assistant Warden Threatens to Cut-off Phone, Email, Recreation, Visitation & TV!

By J Kevin Foster | Prison Life

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 |

There was a mandatory town hall meeting today regarding cell phones where the Assistant Warden (AW) read the campers the riot act about cell phones. There a lot of stupid guys that have cell phones. They are stupid for having them in the first place, but doubly stupid for getting caught. The camp has been coming down hard on these cell phones.  To say the SHU is filled with campers, as has been reported, is perhaps an exaggeration, but probably not by much. However, this does tell me that they have not been shipping these guys out fast enough.

The AW threatened to cut-off all the TVs, cut-off access to the weight pile, eliminate visitation and cut-off all telephone service, if they find another cell phone. Everybody is PO’d. Can you imagine the blowback from families if visitation and phones are cut off from their loved ones! It is common to take away privileges as punishment but her threats are going way too far.

Essentially, she is willing to punish 340 guys for the action of one person. I doubt that BOP Regional would let her cut off visitation and phones, but you never know.

I got to tell you that nobody can make this stuff up. First and foremost, the staff doesn’t respect the inmates, so the inmates don’t respect them. This place is out of control, and it is not solely because of some bad inmates. We keep hearing that there is a management change coming but it cannot come fast enough!


Jul 26

Inmate Email

By J Kevin Foster | Criminal Justice , Prison Life

Sunday, April 15th, 2012 |

The BOP inmate email system is a closed system meaning that the inmates are not connected to the internet. The Corrlinks system is really nothing more than an electronic message board. We type an email and it gets posted to the BOP message board.  The inmates must buy Corrlinks credits to be able to send email.

An email recipient must accept the inmate’s invitation to communicate by email. The recipient can revoke that permission at any time. Furthermore, the BOP has the right to review and reject email coming and going.  The BOP has greater ability to monitor inmate communication than they do with U.S. mail.  The recipient logs on to the message board to send and receive inmate emails on their computers.

Access to email was denied to ALL white-collar inmates by FPC Butner when it was initially installed. The camp administrator made some lame excuse about the white-collar guys’ experience with computers. This is as if the drug dealers and gun runners didn’t know how to use the computer! There was enough inmate backlash and complaints that FPC Butner backed down.

Lately, they have denied email access on a case by case basis. I know one guy who was never allowed email access, and another that recently had his email access taken away. Both guys were involved in Ponzi schemes, and the camp administrator alleged that their email use in their crime was enough to deny them any email use in the camp. I believe that these denials were arbitrary and served no institutional purpose.

I reviewed the BOP policy regarding the use of inmate email. The policy assumes some right of the BOP to restrict certain inmates from access to email. These would include online child pornographers and those with specialized computer skills, for example. It doesn’t seem to allow for unlimited discretion of prison officials to allow or disallow email access.  I would take the position that the unreasonable and arbitrary restriction of email use is just another denial of 1st Amendment right to free speech.

Inmate Email as a First Amendment Right

There is a case called Procunier v. Martinez that was decided by the Supreme Court in 1974. Justice Powell wrote the opinion (I believe unanimous) for the court. In short, the case involved a state inmate that was writing his wife informative and sometimes derogatory information regarding his incarceration. The state prison officials were censoring his letters deleting arbitrarily all information that was derogatory in their opinion. He sued alleging violation of his 1st Amendment rights.

The lower courts were hesitant about interfering with prison administration so these courts generally sided with the prison. The case made it to the Supreme Court. Interesting, the Court approached the case from a different perspective. They held for the prisoner stating that the censoring was a violation of HIS WIFE’S 1st amendment right to free speech. The wife has a 1st Amendment right to know about her husband’s health and condition of incarceration without being censored. In fact, the Court stated that the information didn’t even need to be true.

Technology has changed a lot since the 1974 Martinez decision. Email is the U.S. mail of yesterday, but significantly faster.  The existence of email as an alternative means of exercising one’s constitutional rights should remain open to prisoners. Accordingly, email access is not a privilege at all but a right subject to reasonable restrictions with a valid and rational connection to the interest of maintaining penal security.

Feb 24

Orientation & Depression

By J Kevin Foster | Prison Life

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 |

I was depressed today due to a culmination of many things including being treated curtly by several guards for not having an empty trash can, having some things other than my bible on my locker, and a guard told me to take off my hat in the dining room.  This last item wouldn’t have bothered me except that another guy was standing near me wearing a Rastafarian rainbow hat.  Several other guys were wearing either wool hats or baseball caps. It just appeared that these guards were trying to get on my case.  Also, I’m really realizing that I am in prison. Sometimes it is very hard for me to keep my mouth shut. I’m trying to stay out of trouble but I must watch what I say.

Admissions & Orientation (A&O)

I went to my Admissions & Orientation (A&O) today and was given a A&O Handbook.  A&O is mandatory for all new inmates and is given every Tuesday. They had representatives from each department talk a little about their programs and do’s and don’ts.  Some things that came out of the session:


Anything weighing more than 16 oz. must have printed on the package “Authorized by BOP Policies” and state the contents (e.g. magazines, books, etc.). A magazine is technically not media mail and has to go at a higher postage rate.


They have new continuing education classes posted all the time but the inmate must pay the tuition if there is one. Inmates teach some of the classes, and they set up their own curriculum. I’ll check to see if there is anything interesting. I’m going to try to get setup to use the legal library.


They also said that there is a minimum wait of 60 minutes for email coming and going, and the system does break down occasionally. They know there is a problem and they are trying to fix it. I am paying $.05/min for the email system. I bought 600 minutes when I came in and I now have about 200 left. It’s not a problem buying more time if I have money in my account.


The maximum phone numbers I can call are 20. Also, I would need to get approval for collect calls (which really doesn’t pertain to us).


It is mandatory that all inmates work for at least 90 days in the kitchen, which is about the worst job on-site, unless they have another job that facilitates the entire prison. I have been working hard trying to find a job. So far, I applied to library, education, laundry, psychology, and to Unicor for a clerical position.

Unicor is the textile factory run by the prison making Air Force shirts and jackets and food service pants. I would not be able to work in the factory per se because I can’t sew, but I applied for a clerical position. The problem is – all tell me that they aren’t hiring right now. The regular jobs pay something like 5 to 10 cents an hour. The Unicor jobs pay between $.23 to $1.15/hr. Preference is given to guys that have restitution, fines or child support to pay. I have none of that so I may not get the job.

Psychology Services has an inmate to inmate mentoring program. I would be perfect as a mentor because of my Stephen Ministry training. I’m meeting with that department head this afternoon.

Family Calling to the Facility

One CO said the prison is very adamant that the family should not call unless it is a true emergency. The prison will check and verify the reason for the call (i.e.; call the hospital, funeral home, etc.). They can shutoff contact with the family member if that person is caught lying.


The Compound Officer talked about visitation. They are very strict on visitation. Everyone is either watched or videotaped, and the tapes are viewed later. They also said not to get there too early. Typically, 30 minutes in advance of the visiting time is good.

Feb 20

Unfailing Love Comes From Many Places….

By J Kevin Foster | Family Impact

Thursday, August 18th, 2011 |

Woke up at 7 am and dragging like a stuck pig!  Just after enjoying my breakfast, I got Kevin’s first call. I could tell he was miserable about his situation being stuck in Low Security for an undetermined period.  He had already run through the first $300 with his first commissary order and needed more money for phone and Trulinks email credits.

Hangin’ in there

How my life has changed in two short days: Thinking of Kevin all the time! Phone is now attached ALL the time, waiting to hear his wonderful voice!  Praying that he can hang in there, “For God’s sake, I know you hate this change, but don’t CHANGE… love you the way you are! So proud of you and so damn sorry that this is our life right now. Keep praying for miracles! Don’t give up….” I was very discouraged after that first call imagining how tough the adjustment was.


So, I went to see what Rick Warren had in his Daily Hope today: “The thought of my pain and my homelessness is bitter poison. I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed. Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:19-26 TEV)

“When your world is falling apart, it’s so easy to focus on the pain, the problems, the pressure and the difficulties. It’s the natural response… If you want to change your life, you have to change your thoughts…  “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I put my hope.” … You don’t know God is all you need until God is all you’ve got. But that’s all you need, because God will take care of you… So when you feel like you’ve lost everything, stop focusing on what’s lost and start focusing on what’s left: God and his love for you.”


I had so many mixed emotions: sadness and pain for Kevin, inability to do anything to help, lack of control and tears and finally a migraine!  I rushed off to a real estate inspection and called Ioana, one of my staunch spiritual supports as she coached me through this abyss. She verbalized what I had read.  Hearing her say that we don’t know what God has planned for us, but it will be great, was the hope that I needed to get me through the next few hours.

More Money Out and Email Delay

Got another Western Union money transfer to Kevin done around dinner time and then wrote four detailed emails to him.  When Kevin called again to ask if I had gotten his emails, I told him I hadn’t. He emailed them around noon…another glitch in their system. Obviously, someone is reading them or delaying their transfer out. He was devastated at the thought that all his time and efforts in emails may have been lost.