Botched Inmate Releases

What to do if a racist case manager changes your release date?

Saturday, July 7th, 2012 |

Bob got a shot because his released cellie left their cell a mess when he was departing to go home. It turns out that Bob was working when the cellie left and was unaware that the inconsiderate cellie left the cell in bad shape.  This happened on a day of an inspection – a stroke of bad luck.  This will result in one of many botched inmate releases that I have seen.

Bob was punished by having some privileges taken away from him, but the counselor said they would not take any halfway house time away from him.  Now, the case manager took three months of halfway house time away from him for “excessive shots”. He, in fact, had two shots, hardly excessive.

Bob got real aggressive to fight this decision. He has already written her up on a BP-8 and has contacted his attorney. In addition, he had friends and family bombard the regional office with phone calls, emails and letters. Bob said that you don’t need to take the grievance case all the way to DC. There is another route that may be faster and more effective.

Ethics Filing Against a Racist Case Manager

His attorney is filing an ethics complaint against the case manager.  The case manager can make a unilateral decision to take this halfway house time away. This is the same case manager that took another friend’s halfway house time away. Bob said that she (black) made some racially insensitive remarks against him (white) that will be part of the ethics charge.

We have noticed that this case manager has treated white inmates differently from black.  This is especially true to white, white-collar inmates. Bob’s attorney has also requested a meeting with the new warden. It would have been much easier on everyone for the camp administrator, or case manager, to just give the guy what he was due. The ethics complaint will be part of her permanent personnel file. She could be disciplined including being given unpaid leave.

So, in a nutshell, he has been having family complain to region, wrote her up on a BP-8, filed an ethics complaint, and is having the attorney meet with the new warden. All this for three months of halfway house!

Halfway House Time Changed When Transferred to the Camp

I can think of many more instances where the camp has taken good time or halfway house time away on a whim. For just one example, a guy came to the camp from the Low to spend some time with his brother before being released.  The Low had approved his going home in six months. He gets to the camp, and the camp said that they are changing it to 12 months.  The reason given is that six months was “too short”. The camp is always screwing around with guys’ halfway house time.

A Botched Inmate Transfer Results in Solitary!

Did the feds put pressure on the BOP to transfer an inmate?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 |

I have an older friend from Chicago who was put in the hole today after a botched inmate transfer.  Victor said that he was involved in a Chicago bribery case involving BP Petroleum and a local politician.  He also said that he is good friends with the former Illinois governor Blago and Rahm Emanuel.  Victor claims he was a bag man in paying bribes to other Illinois politicians.  Victor claims that the feds have been pressuring him to give them information, but he has refused to do so.  His story is so bizarre that I can’t believe a word he says.

He had been in two previous camps before coming to Butner.  Victor was told by his case manager earlier this year that he was being transferred to a Low because his care level was reduced to a 2 from a 3. He got the camp doctor to order more tests which stopped the transfer.  His care level was subsequently raised up to a 3 again. That should have solved his designation right there.

How to avoid an inmate transfer

Victor was called to the front yesterday afternoon around 1 pm and was told to pack his stuff. There was a plane waiting for him to depart at 3 pm. The case manager wouldn’t tell him where was going.  The camp cut off Victor’s phone and email so he couldn’t call this family, which is SOP at the BOP on an inmate transfer.

The previous camp doctor told Victor to have the case manager call him if the issue of transfer came up again. So, Victor went to medical trying to get them to call this doctor who is now at the FMC. The nurse refused to make the call, and said that there was nothing she could do. He got into the nurse’s face so she called for emergency help. This is the same nurse that was involved in the inmate death.

The COs rushed the building and handcuffed him. We know that they took him to the hole. We are not sure why they were going to transfer him. Victor recently refused to talk to the feds so we think that they may be trying to pressure him to talk. One of the COs said that he would be in the hole for about a week.  The COs did not pack him out.

Bus Transport for Transfers

What can happen when transferred by bus?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012 |

John, a new white-collar guy, just got transferred by bus to Butner from Philadelphia after a short stay in Petersburg.  Busing the most common form of inmate transport.  This is known as “diesel therapy” in the BOP.  These trips are notorious for being slow and uncomfortable.  The buses make numerous stops at county jails and federal detention centers picking up and dropping off inmates.

John has been waiting for three weeks for his personal property. BOP doesn’t put your property on the bus. They ship it to your final destination via UPS. It should not have taken long for his property to get here. He was finally able to get his counselor call R&D in Philly.

They told him that the property was shipped to his residence! There is a whole lot of problems with this. His wife is travelling for two weeks so the box has probably been sitting on his door stoop for most of this time. She can ship it here only if the packing tape is not disturbed. Otherwise, he has to replace everything at the commissary.

In any event, John has been without, and will be without, his personal property until he gets it all worked out. Our personal property typically includes our informal clothes such as sweats and shorts, unopened food, radios, OTC medicines, bowls, etc. bought at the commissary. They will also ship up to five books and personal papers.

John filed a BP-8 to complain about the BOP error but it won’t do any good. I think he is waiting on his wife to get home to make arrangements for her to ship it here. I really feel for the guy. He doesn’t know if he should be buying all this stuff or not.

Inmate Transport to Testify for the Department of Justice

What happens if an inmate is transported to testify?

Sunday, April 1st, 2012 |

Brandon, my former cellie, returned on Friday night after being away for 2 1/2 months to testify. Coincidentally, another guy from our unit was sent to Texas to testify at the exact same time as Brandon.  He also returned on Friday via the U.S Marshall Service inmate transport system.  Their stories are nearly identical. Both were put through a lot of aggravation and grief.  This is Brandon’s story of inmate transport to testify for the Department of Justice.

The government wanted Brandon to testify in Oakland against someone in a totally different case than his. He was supposed to leave the camp and get on “Con Air” for the air transit hub in Oklahoma. The plane got mechanical problems in Atlanta so it didn’t make it to Raleigh.  The BOP put them in the hole until the plane could make it here.

Brandon was shackled for the entire trip and had to wear an orange jumpsuit. The Marshall Service did not allow the inmates to use the bathroom until they got to Oklahoma City. He spent a few weeks at the Oklahoma transit hub, and then was sent to Las Vegas. Brandon spent two weeks in Las Vegas before being transferred to the Oakland County jail. He stayed there while he was waiting to meet with the AUSA.

Brandon met with the AUSA and agreed to look at some documents.  He asked the AUSA for a Rule 35b (sentence reduction) for his trouble and cooperation. The AUSA refused so he said that he had nothing else to say. That ended that.

Essentially, he did the entire trip back in reverse to Butner. His beard is real long, and he has lost a lot of weight. He didn’t get much sun or time outside for the entire two months. Brandon said that the food was really bad; worse than Butner if that is possible. He is happy to get back. There is more to the story and his treatment, but this is the gist of it.

Friends Went Home

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 |

My two friends went home today as planned.  We had our pictures taken together over the weekend.

Kevin (middle) with friends

I heard that R&D was very lackadaisical and blatantly indifferent about processing their release.  The only reason that Bill made his flight is because the plane was delayed for mechanical difficulties.  I went through the same R&D two months earlier and I can easily see those CO’s taking their sweet time processing the release of my two friends.  Joe’s family was waiting outside to take him home so the CO’s had to know that they were waiting.  Routine releases happen every day so perhaps these guys were on the raw end of CO indifference.

They saw our case manager and counselor at R&D as well.  The report I got was that these two women were very rude to them.  There was no need for this.  These two women could have showed some class and wished them well, but that was not going to happen.  The Butner camp staff is known for its indifference to campers.  No one can expect them to change their attitude for the guys going home.

Drug Program Transfers

Monday, December 19th, 2011 |

There is a guy in our unit who is being transferred to a residential drug program at another prison. He was called up front yesterday, told to pack all his personal property and bring it to R&D (release and discharge). They will inventory it and box everything. I assume he will be shipping out on Monday. They normally tell you to “pack out” 24 – 48 hours before leaving.  Drug program transfers are very common.

They won’t tell him where he is going until he has left the facility as a security precaution to prevent escape. He will not be able to tell his family anything until he gets to the new facility. Though, campers would be incredibly stupid to escape given the benefits of camp life versus the harsh reality of being assessed additional time in a higher security prison (“behind the fences”).

The drug program is one year, and he will be subject to transfer again when he finishes the program. His participation in the program will get his release date pushed up by one year. Most of these drug programs are “behind the fences” and intense. I know a guy who was in the program at Butner (since discontinued), and he didn’t care for the program. However, the benefits far outweigh the hassles.

The guys leaving Butner are pretty much out by midday. I understand that the “cho-mo’s” don’t leave until after 4 pm for their own safety and to prevent press attention.

Released for Christmas

Saturday, December 17th, 2011 |

I have two friends that are leaving on Tuesday so they will be released for Christmas. I am very excited for Bill and Joe.  Both guys will have to go through the “merry-go-round” on Monday. The merry-go-round is obtaining each of the department heads signature to clear them for release. I think this is just a formality since it is not required if you are given “immediate release”.

I’ve previously written that there have been a lot of guys in the past six weeks that have received their immediate release because of the new law equalizing drug sentencing. The BOP really humps it to get the immediate release guys out the front door as soon as possible.  This is generally before midnight, no matter when they receive the court order on that day. What a pleasant surprise that would be to be told suddenly that you are going home!  However, this is not true for those going through the normal release procedures.

Bill

Bill kept a lot of books and other personal stuff. He is going home via plane so he can’t take everything with him. A town driver (an inmate trusted with doing errands around the area) will drop him off at the airport. I think he will be going home with only a satchel. Accordingly, Bill has been shipping everything home. He had about 10 or 13 boxes shipped earlier this week.  Bill is retired, handicapped and a Care Level 3, so he is going directly to home confinement.

His probation officer visited his wife’s home to check it out. They want to make sure that it is a stable and permanent home environment. I hope that he settles quickly with his wife, grown children and grandchildren. He’s been through a lot lately and deserves a break.

Joe

Joe lives in Burlington, NC so his wife and daughters will pick him up. He told me that he can leave any time after 8:30 am. His wife and daughters will be at R&D at 8 am to get him out of Butner as soon as he can walk out of the front door. Joe will be able to box all his stuff and take it with him. He will be going to a halfway house.

BOP typically sends everyone home by bus, and they will pay for the ticket. An inmate will have to pay for his own train or plane fare if he goes that route. The BOP doesn’t want released inmates doing side trips on their way home.  If an inmate drives to a halfway house with their family, the BOP calculates the time they think it takes to get home.  The inmate must report to the halfway house at that time. Joe will probably have enough time to drive and have lunch with his family before reporting to the halfway house.

Joe is scheduled for six months at the halfway house but most guys can get that time reduced. He will be required to work while at the halfway house. Joe is a white-collar guy so I don’t know what kind of work they will expect from him. He will be required to give 25% of everything he makes to the halfway house as rent.

First FMC Visit

Saturday, October 1st, 2011 |

On Thursday night, I noted that I had a call-out to go to the medical center (FMC) yesterday for an ultrasound for my first FMC visit.  I quickly found out that I had to be at the bus at 8 am, even though my appointment was at 9:30 am.  I missed the bus since I had to pick up my uniforms at 7:30. The camper who coordinates the transfers to the medical center found me.  The bus had already left.  To my delightful surprise, they have campers who are drivers for the Camp.  I had one of these drivers take me to FMC.

Campers as Drivers

A side note – They have “complex” drivers and “town” drivers at the Camp.  Few of the campers have a valid driver’s license, so they sometimes have difficulty finding drivers.  These guys are very busy.  One driver told me that he is driving about 200 miles a day.  These trips include running errands (e.g.; Home Depot) and driving guys to the airport and bus depot.  One of the guys told me that he took someone as far away as Charlotte.  I put in for a driver’s job yesterday but they won’t consider me until I get four months under my belt here.  I just would like to get out and see the real world.

Federal Medical Center (FMC)

BOP stock photo of the Butner FMC

The FMC building has the look and feel of any other hospital, but with tighter security.  This is the only hospital for the nearly 5,000 men at Butner so it is very active every day.  There are wings for cancer care, regular hospital ward beds, mental health ward, and a residential dorm like the other prison facilities.  I can’t tell you exactly the layout for these because I didn’t see them.

BOP sends inmates to outside hospitals (including Duke) for operations and treatment that FMC can’t handle.  The doctors and staff seemed to be a combination of permanent employees and contract workers.  Everyone seemed professional.  The equipment I observed all seemed state of the art.

Going to the FMC

The complex driver took me to the Medium since it is the inmate control center for the Camp.  I walked in to the Medium’s front door to check-in with the guards there. This just comprised me showing the control guard my ID so he can record that I am no longer on the Camp compound.  It was no big deal.

At the FMC

Inmates wait in the FMC reception area for a CO to escort them to the FMC’s R&D.  In R&D, all inmates are given temporary clothing and a full strip search.  A CO then escorts the inmates to their appointment waiting room and then back to the R&D area at the end of the visit.  I was not placed in cuffs at this facility.

Inmates from the higher security facilities are segregated from the Campers and go through much higher security procedures.  They get different color temporary clothing from the campers.  But, the biggest hassle is that they are required to be transported from their facilities in cuffs and shackles.

The appointment waiting room is locked by the guard so movement is controlled.  We were given our lunch in the waiting room.  This is an all-day affair with a lot of waiting – at R&D, in the waiting room waiting to be called for the appointment, and more waiting for the return to R&D.

Return to the Camp

I caught a van from the FMC to the Camp with the one stop at Medium to be checked back into the compound.  I probably got back to the camp around 2 pm.  We must check-in with medical upon our return.  I told them that the ultrasound tech said that I would be notified if the test showed any problems for follow-up.

 

Camp Facilities

Friday, September 30th, 2011 |

The camp facilities are very different from Low in so many ways, and you recognize the differences as soon as you drive into the complex.  As I stated yesterday, the parking lot is immediately in front of the main building entrance.  The lobby of this entrance serves as the visitation center.  The back door of this main building opens to the campus, which is tight compared to Low.  All the services at the Camp are very conveniently located.  I had a chance to explore the Camp last night, and these are my initial observations:

Camp Facilities

The main building consists of a cafeteria, health services, commissary, some administrative offices, laundry services and barber shop.  There are no fences here so the feel of the Camp is more of a campus than what you would expect from a prison.  You can obviously tell that there is more freedom of movement and trust in the campers.

Behind the dorm buildings are another set of buildings comprising the chapel, library/education and inside recreation room.  The rec yard has about four handball courts (which are rarely used), weight training area with free weights (which are always being used), basketball court, horseshoes, bocce ball, volleyball and a gravel walking track.  There are several picnic tables and park benches.  A softball diamond/athletic field is located within the middle area of the track.  A small stream forms the border of the rec yard, and the other side is bounded by the Medium property that has the double fencing, razor wire, etc.

Housing Units

The dorms consist of two 1-story buildings of two wings each with about 42 bunks in each wing.  The units are named Catawba East and West and Hatteras East and West.  The cell setup is like the Low, but the cells are slightly smaller in size.  There is a just one 2-man bunk bed, one chair, and two lockers mounted to the wall in each cell.

Unfortunately, all new guys must go to the “beach” upon arrival.  The beach is at the far backend of the unit right at the entrance to the bathroom/laundry room.  The beach has two rows of three bunk beds.

I am in the lower bunk closest to the bathroom.  It is very noisy with guys going into and out of the bathroom and doing their laundry, which seems like 24 hrs./day.  The bathroom area is less than half the size of the Low bathroom areas.  It has two urinals, three full toilet stalls and about six shower stalls.

The microwaves are in the front of the unit in a utility room that includes an ice machine.  The ceiling of the dorm is very high.  There is ample lighting when the lights are on.  Our wing is nearly completely full with just one vacant bunk bed.

A TV room is located at the entrance to the building with four flat screen TV’s, a big improvement to the tube TV’s at Low.  Two computers are in the TV room at desks underneath the mounted TV sets.  There are only two phones in the unit.  One phone is just mounted on the wall and it can get very noisy, and the other is in an old-fashioned telephone booth.  I try to get the booth as much as possible because it is so much more private.  Even though there are only two phones and two computers, I really don’t have a problem getting on either except right after the evening count.

Campers

It was funny that last night and this morning, the guys from Catawba were scoping out the newly arrived campers – and not in a weird way.  The laundry is immediately across from the two entrances to the Catawba units.  A lot of guys hang out at the benches in front of the unit and in the courtyard.  The Camp is relatively small at 340 inmates so people get to know each other quickly.  You can’t help but notice new guys, and the laundry is typically the first place you notice them since all must get clothing upon arrival.

So far, the guys I’ve met have been very helpful and friendly.  There seems to be an eagerness to help newbies. I witnessed much the same at the Low on my arrival.  All inmates have been newbies at some point, so there is an understanding that new guys need to get a lay of the land, so to speak.

I’ll write much more as time goes on about my fellow campers so I won’t get into more detail now.

 

 

Out of the SHU!

Thursday, September 29th, 2011 |

I am out of the SHU and at the Camp exactly four weeks after going into solitary confinement!  The CO’s warned me late last night that I would have an early morning wake-up for my transfer to the Camp.  The property CO had taken all my property and left me with one magazine yesterday.  But, pardon me for thinking that they were lying to me again.

Processed Out of the SHU

I woke up early in anticipation of my transfer.  At about 8:30 am, a CO took me in cuffs and shackles to a holding cell in the R&D area of the Low.  This is adjacent to the SHU.  The CO’s got another dozen inmates out of their cells for transfer processing.  They removed our cuffs and shackles once in the holding cell.  We waited for nearly two hours while the CO’s finished all their paperwork and gathered everyone’s property duffel bags.  There was a lot of chatter between some of the inmates, so they obviously knew each other or were trying to catch up on gossip.

Some of the inmates were going to facilities other than Butner, but a few of us were going to other facilities within Butner.  I knew I was going to the FCI I – Medium for processing before going to the Camp.  The Camp is a satellite facility to the Medium, so the Camp does not have its own R&D.  Therefore, all campers are processed through the Medium’s R&D.

Transfer to the Medium

The CO’s called out the six guys going to the Medium, and then put the shackles and cuffs back on again.  This time the cuffs were locked to a chain around our waists.  I hate walking with the shackles because I can only take baby steps, and those shackles hurt the ankles.  We were walked about 200 yards to the front building to board a prison van.  Three CO’s escorted us and another followed behind us with a shotgun.  All the guys were happy to get out of the holding cells, but, at this point, we were not allowed to talk.  We were driven in a prison van the couple hundreds of yards to the Medium from the Low.

Driving up to the Medium is very intimidating.  It is a one-story building, all gray and with very strong perimeter fencing, like the Low, that is overwhelming.  The transport CO’s got us all out of the van and marched us into the R&D at the Medium.

Processed at the Medium

We were, once again, placed in holding cells after the cuffs and shackles were removed.  They eventually brought in two other guys from the Federal Medical Center (FMC) that were also going to the Camp.

The CO’s gave us a lunch bag with a baloney sandwich and an apple.  In addition, we took off the temporary clothing from the Low and were given different temporary clothing.  While the CO’s did whatever they had to do to process us, the eight of us talked in the cell.  There were six guys going to the Camp, and the other two inmates were staying at the Medium.  These two guys had long sentences for drug trafficking.

This is how I looked after 4 weeks in the SHU. I call this my “Ax Murderer” picture.

We were interviewed by a nurse and asked numerous questions by the CO’s.  They took our fingerprints and new mug shots for our new prison ID.  This was the first time I got a chance to see how long my beard and hair had gotten.  I’ve started cutting my hair extremely close years ago, once I gave up the possibility that I would ever be able to grow a full head of hair again.  Bald suits me and I am ok with it.  My wife would never tolerate me with a beard so I never tried.

A CO informed the campers that a counselor from the Camp would be coming to get us.  The Camp is immediately next to the Medium.  Again, we would have to wait to be moved.  The steel benches in these holding cells were getting to me.

Finally, to the Camp

There was talk that they needed to get us to the Camp by the 4 pm. count.  A male counselor ultimately came to R&D to escort us to the Camp.  They handcuffed and shackled us again for the move to the Camp, marched us to another van and drove us to the Camp at about 2:30 pm.     We still had our temporary clothing that was issued when we arrived at the Medium.  The counselor warned us that we should not succumb to the temptation to get a cellphone and to stay away from cigarettes.  I thought these were weird warnings at the time, but soon learned that both cellphones and cigarettes were prevalent at the Camp.

After being processed at both the Medium and the Low, the transfer to the Camp was a whole different experience.  The cuffs and shackles were removed in the parking lot at the Camp.  We walked straight in the front door from the parking lot – no fences, no secured doors – wow!

Getting Settled at the Camp

The counselor escorted us to the offices where I waited for my counselor to see me.  Our introduction was very brief and I was told that she would be calling me later after count.  In the meantime, I was given a bunk assignment at the “beach” (there’s a beach in prison? cool!) in the Hatteras East unit, told to go there and wait.  Another camper volunteered to take me there.

After count and during dinner, the newly-arrived campers were called to the laundry.  We were given an unhemmed uniform and measured for our clothes.  The laundry CO and inmates gave us bedlinens, towels, underwear, a wool hat and cotton gloves.  We were told to come back to laundry at 7:30 the next morning for our permanent uniforms, which included 4 pairs of pants and shirts, and a coat.

I quickly got settled into my bunk and then explored the camp’s grounds, which I will talk about later.  Most importantly, I went to the barber for a haircut and shave.  I feel human again!