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Life Arts

Ties that Bind - How the BOP Undermines Families

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An older woman that may have been her mother finally told her to go cut the wire out of her bra and come back.  She left, and the BOPers began their game with me.  "Take off your earrings."  "Take off all your jewelry."  I finally made it through without the alarm going off, put my watch, earrings and bracelet back on, then my shoes.  My right hand was stamped and I joined the other family waiting.  Next up was a family including an older woman, a grandmother.  She had no underwire in her bra, but the alarm went off.  "Maybe it's the hooks on your bra."  "Cover the hooks with your hand and try."  BEEP!  "Reach under your shirt and hold the strap."  BEEP!  "Try it making a fist."  BEEP!  

She told them she had a rod in her back, but they rejected that and continued playing, as the poor elderly woman desperately tried to get through the metal detector, even exposing most of her back in the process as she did as she was told, reaching under her clothes to hold her bra strap.  When she again said it could be the rod in her back, they asked if she had a medical card.  She said she didn't.  They told her to step aside and, "We'll see how the rest of your group does."  (?)  The BOPers were still abusing that family as I was moved to the next area.  (I saw her later in the visiting room, along with numerous visitors with their keys on key rings, several with other keys and with medallions similar to the one I was forced to remove.  I wondered if the BOPers were bitter Crimson Tide haters, or if it was just ME they wanted to harass.)

My troubles were far from over, however.  Once I was in the visiting room, my hand was scanned and the female BOPer who had been at the desk told me to step aside, that she was going to inspect my bandage.  I asked why, pointing out that I had been through the metal detector.  The prison employee at the desk told me where to sit, and she interrupted, telling him I could not sit, that she was not finished inspecting me.  He was clearly confused and said, "What?"  This was in the visiting room, in the presence of all the other visitors, a place where I was not allowed to be without having passed all their "inspections."  

"She is harassing me," I said.  He again asked her what she was doing.  She ignored him and ordered me to step aside for her to inspect my bandage, saying that I was to remove my bandage for her inspection, then asked me WHY I HAD A BANDAGE ON MY FOOT.  I told her she needed to check her records, that they had a letter from my surgeon about my foot and they were obviously aware of why I had a bandage.  She said again that she was going to inspect and require me to remove my bandage.  I again said, "Check your records."

  She got on her walkie-talkie and contacted the desk, asked if there was anything up there about my foot, and was told YES, there was.  She then allowed the desk BOPer to tell me where to sit.  He told me to sit in the RESERVED FOR SPECIAL HOUSING UNIT designated seats directly in front of the desk.  Punitive.  I asked the female BOPer her name because I could not see it.  She rolled her eyes and said, "Hutchings."  Then the second threat:  "She's going to have her visit terminated today."  "No, I'm not," I responded.

I sat down to wait for Gary, but then another BOPer appeared and asked to speak with me.  I got up from my seat and followed her.  She asked if there was a problem.  I was there to visit my husband and telling her all the problems would take longer than the life expectancy of either of us, but I did share the low-lights of what had occurred prior to and since my arrival.  She was... different.  Could she be the token human prison employee at our latest stop on the BOP World Tour?  At each location along our odyssey, there has been no more than a single human being employed there.  Time will tell.

Back to Saturday.  Ms. Isom was professional and seemed interested in resolving the problem rather than becoming yet another part of it.  She got right to the heart of the problem and said she would find out about my doctor's letter and their reconsideration.  She told me to return to my seat, then she began doing something on the computer.

JB: Yikes! What a story! Let's take a break here. When we return, Judy, you can tell us: Did you ever get to actually see Gary and was there any visitation left by the time the prison employees were done messing with you?

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*Judy White series in its entirety:

Judy White Fights For Incarcerated Husband's Access to His Prescriptions  October 13, 2010     

The Feds and the Prisoner's Wife - Do Unto Others... as You Please  October 27, 2010

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Come and Get It! Prisoners Served Expired Food, "Not for Human Consumption"   November 10, 2010

Judy White's Giving Thanks for Prison Visit: It's All Relative  November 29, 2010      

No Heat in the Cooler: More Tales from Edgefield Federal Prison  December 16, 2010

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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