(image by National Weather Service)
Background: Gary White was a county commissioner in Jefferson County, Alabama. Good friends with Les Siegelman, he introduced Les's brother, [former] Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to Richard Scrushy, a local Republican businessman. Because of this, White became inextricably intertwined with Siegelman, who was one of the biggest targets of the Rove-directed, heavily politicized Department of Justice [DOJ].
Scrushy and Siegelman were later indicted and convicted on charges stemming from that relationship. According to affidavits provided by Gary [and Judy, who was also in the room] White was asked to perjure himself before a Grand Jury in order to make the case against Siegelman and Scrushy. White refused and the very next day, the DOJ started delivering subpoenas to build a case against him. White is serving ten years and has been moved most recently to Federal Prison in Arkansas. [BOP is Bureau of Prisons.]
This is installment #29. [Links* to entire series at end of article.]
My guest today is frequent OpEdNews contributor, Judy White. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Judy. What's on your mind today?
Judy White: I visited Gary in prison Sunday. It was a harrowing experience. But I may have discovered the key to solving the problem of abusive prison employees: They don't see us as human beings.
JB: What do you mean? Aren't you exaggerating?
JW: I don't think so, but tell me what you think.
On Sunday, I again left home around 3:00 a.m. to drive over 300 miles to visit my wrongfully-imprisoned and abused-by-prison-employees husband. Prison families, not the postal service, actually live "neither rain nor hail nor sleet nor snow nor heat of day nor gloom of night".
With the skyscape of dark ominous clouds swirling above, the rain was beginning as I arrived shortly after 8:00 and found the unilluminated American flag flailing furiously atop the flag pole. I had brought my umbrella with me, but then had to leave it in a locker. As always and despite the "warden's" letter stating sweaters and light jackets are to be allowed, the prison employees would have no such thing, sending visitors away if they did not comply with rules that simply and provably do not exist at all, but are enacted at the whim of whatever the prison employees choose to do with no accountability whatsoever.
JB: Tell us exactly what happened, please.
JW: I was number 19 Sunday. As the visitors waited, heavier rain arrived and the sky became darker to the point it appeared to be night. The prison employees yelled names and "processed" visitors, then escorted them across the open area between the buildings to the visiting room. When I was called, I went to the desk, signed the book and waited for the visitor ahead of me. You see, he was limping and had a plastic - not metal - brace on his ankle. Even though the brace was not metal, the prison employees forced him to remove it then hobble without it through the metal detector, which he did without setting off the metal detector, after which he was further searched with a hand-held metal detector. After I passed through the metal detector, a prison employee called five names of visitors to be taken next*, as the rest of us continued to wait. A little later, a different prison employee then took the next group of five, including the limping man and me. (I also have mobility challenges which have been exacerbated by my recent automobile accident.)
*Between the time the prison employee called the names of the five visitors to be taken ahead of the group I was in and them actually being taken to the visiting room, everything came to a sudden stop as the prison employees yelled at us to stay where we were and then all the prison employees ran from the building where we had entered toward the prison. I learned later that there had been an announcement - ALL INMATE ON THE GROUND ALL INMATES ON THE GROUND - because some prison employee had mistakenly thought there was something wrong. Imagine being ordered to lie on the ground when it is raining and flooded. But apparently any prison employee can order prisoners to do so at any time for any or no reason.
Along with every other visitor yesterday, I was compelled to walk a long distance outside in the rain. Prison employees, however, were wearing heavy black hooded raincoats with "BOP" emblazoned in large white letters on the back.
We were wet by the time we entered the cold air-conditioned visiting room. And when Gary and the other prisoners were allowed to come in, they were wet, too. In a large room full of people - human beings - the only ones who were not wet were the ones who are least human: the prison employees.
This was repeated throughout the day, and in reverse upon leaving. Small children were soaked. Some were carried by their mothers, who tried unsuccessfully to shelter them. Handicapped and senior citizens, along with the young and healthy, were wet. Both visitors and prisoners shared the style of the day, with their clothes darker from the shoulders down to chest area or lower (depending on how quickly they were able to walk and how hard it was raining) and their hair, shoes and feet wet. Wet also means cold. Yet all the prison employees were warm and dry. I noticed one of them had on a light hooded jacket under the heavy hooded raincoat, and when he went out into the storm, he covered his head with both hoods. But they were all oblivious to the wrongness of what they were doing to the visitors and prisoners. It was like a bonus for them - they got the pleasure of enacting an additional penalty yesterday: If prisoners wanted to see their visitors, they would do it while wet and cold; and if visitors wanted to see our imprisoned loved ones - husbands, daddies, sons, brothers - we would have to do it while wet and cold.