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Life Arts    H1'ed 2/24/19

Federal Bureau of Prisons' 50 Shades of ... Brown?

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I stated my intention of filing suit. The duty officer told me they don't care, identified himself as "Lt. Harris," and left.

JB: And then?

JW: Before the duty officer had arrived (and possibly even before he had been called), the bus had left. The prison employee escorting the bus had told me that the bus would not be back until 11:00 and if I wanted to leave and change clothes, I had to get on the bus to leave then. I told her I was waiting for the duty officer I had asked to see before 8:30 that Dawson-Perkins had not called, and that I should not be forced to choose between two unlawful actions by prison employees. Knowing with absolute certainty that I was in violation of absolutely no existing or legally enforceable rule, I declined to get on the bus without seeing the duty officer. With the duty officer's final decision, I asked if I could leave and return to my car and was told no, that I had to wait for the bus, the bus that would not be there until 11:00 (it actually arrived at 11:10), subjecting me to unlawful denial of visitation and unlawful imprisonment from approximately 8:30 until 11:10, during which I was required to sit and wait rather than spending time I was entitled to spend with my husband.

Stay with me - this is about to get really bizarre.

At 9:15, I asked prison employee Keller (Dawson-Perkins had microwaved a bowl of food and was eating) if I could remove my dark chocolate brown turtleneck and put it in a locker, which I would have to get for my inhaler anyway. Keller stated I would not get a locker for my inhaler, that I was to keep it with me. I asked him to repeat that, and he did. Last weekend, prison employee Graves was making visitors leave their inhalers in lockers. And there is also the email I received from the prison administration stating I - visitors in general - could not keep my inhaler with me, despite my having done so at every visit I have taken it. Exasperated, I told Keller that rules could not depend on who was at the desk, that Graves could not have separate rules from what they have. But the question was whether I could remove my turtleneck and leave it in a locker. He asked what I had on under my jacket, which was a zip up jacket. I told him it shouldn't matter as the jacket was entirely appropriate and no rule said I could not wear a top with a zipper. Keller called the duty officer and asked whether I could remove my turtleneck and was told it was up to him. That brought on a whole new crisis: Keller had power! And a decision to be made.

JB: Don't keep us in suspense. What did he rule?

JW: After staring into space for several minutes, Keller said no, going on to say, "Anything could happen. An inmate could demand your jacket, put it on and run off," and I wouldn't have on a shirt. I believe my mouth dropped open as I was shocked at the "logic" behind Keller's refusal. After a moment, I recovered enough to ask whether that had ever happened, a rhetorical question as I knew nothing even remotely close would be possible, much less have actually occurred. Keller replied, "There's a first time for everything." Such as brain activity, I suppose?

I pointed out that if a prisoner was going to demand a stranger's clothes to run off, it could happen to anyone, not just me and not limited to a jacket or a particular color, and I assured him that no prisoner would take my clothes to run off. He still refused. So I was stuck there, making notes on the back of the cardstock form, forced to sit and suffer needlessly and unlawfully.

For those who are unfamiliar with FPC Montgomery, no prisoner has ever "run off" or escaped or attempted to escape while in visitation. Factually, prisoners who are in visitation cannot "run off" or escape. The visiting room is one of the most secure areas of FPC Montgomery. In order to get into the visiting room, visitors and prisoners have to be admitted through locked doors which are locked behind them. The outside area is surrounded by a tall concrete wall - a wall! - that has one gate that is locked.

But let's entertain the possibility that a prisoner could somehow "run off" from the visiting room. Where would he find himself? Still on the grounds of the prison! A prisoner could not "run off" from the visiting room and suddenly find himself in the "free world" as he would still be "on the compound" of the prison. He would still be in prison, surrounded by a fence. If he was running really fast and if no prison employees noticed and stopped him, he might scale the surrounding fence, which, factually, prisoners could do anytime, wearing sweat pants or shorts and t-shirts that are in their possession every single day, athletic wear that would allow an escaping prisoner to blend in rather than the identifiable green uniform with a small stolen woman's jacket ... but he would still be on a secure Air Force Base.

Prisoners who are in visitation are required to wear their green "uniforms." To think that a prisoner would plan to escape by arranging to have family or friends visit him, which is the only way they get into the visitation room, put on his uniform and go to the visiting room, where he would then successfully demand a random woman visitor remove her jacket - but not pants? - and give it to him for him to put on and then "run off," leaving his visitors and everyone else in the visiting room, including the guards who are present and monitoring visitation requires a special level of warped thinking or stupidity. No prisoner is that stupid.

JB: I'm sorry for laughing. But, this is funny, albeit in a very sad, very sick kind of way.

JW: The thought that such a set of actions could occur without being stopped is warped and stupid. I would certainly not remove and hand over my clothes upon demand by anyone, as no visitor would, but if my clothes were attempting to be forcibly taken, I would successfully defend myself, and I am certain other visitors and prisoners would defend anyone who was being assaulted in the visiting room. Keller's refusal to allow me to remove my non-prohibited turtleneck and visit my husband was particularly egregious under the circumstances, and likely was the result of pressure from his fellow union members as he previously failed to backup Dawson-Perkins' unlawfully and abusively telling me I could not wear my prescription eyeglasses to visit my husband. When Dawson-Perkins told me I could not wear my prescription eyeglasses on January 22nd, Keller was the prison employee in charge of visitation, and he declined to make me leave, an act that undoubtedly violated the prison employees' code of lie and deny, and always back each other up, even when they are breaking laws and rules. Keller fully participated and fell in line with the violations on Presidents' Day.

At 11:10, the bus arrived, dropped off one group of visitors, and I got on. The bus stayed in the parking lot until 11:25. It was 11:33 when it arrived at the parking lot where I went to my car, took selfies to document my clothing, removed my perfectly acceptable dark chocolate brown turtleneck, put on a different top, and got back on the bus. When I returned to the visiting room, I again pointed out my inhaler to Dawson-Perkins, and both my inhaler and I were admitted to visit my husband, but not until all those violations by FPC Montgomery prison employees Dawson-Perkins, Harris and Keller.

JB: How exasperating. So, where does that leave you?

JW: I have now filed internal affairs complaints against the prison employees Dawson-Perkins, Harris and Keller, as well as their supervisors and administration of FPC Montgomery for failure to train, failure to supervise, complicity in all violations committed against me, and other causes, and have served them with notice to preserve records.

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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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