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Life Arts    H1'ed 6/6/14

BOP: Not Only Cruel and Unusual - Insensitive, Vindictive AND Just Plain Ridiculous

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The Happy Couple - Before
The Happy Couple - Before
(Image by photo collection of Judy White)
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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 #30. [Links to entire series at end of article*.]

My guest today is frequent OpEdNews contributor, Judy White.

Joan Brunwasser: Welcome back to OpEdNews, Judy. What's on your mind today?

Judy White: Prison employees, a unique breed of purely abusive beings. As we have discussed before, Forrest City employees are especially unprofessional in endless ways. Only at Forrest City have prison employees been allowed to come to "work" less professionally dressed than employees at Walmart or Waffle House or any fast-food restaurant. While taxpayers provide uniforms for federal prison employees, that's just wasted money at Forrest City, where the prison employees are allowed to wear t-shirts and jeans, fishing hats and ball caps.

And while visitors are constantly and summarily - and illegally - denied visitation with their imprisoned loved ones at the whim of prison employees, those prison employees are allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights through statements on shirts that are abusive and demeaning to the prisoners for whom they are supposed to be setting positive examples. The BOP claims they do not allow the abuse of prisoners, assuring the public and the powers-that-be in Washington that they "respect" prisoners. What a lie.

JB: What do you mean? Are you talking about something specific?

JW: Last month, for instance, a federal prison employee in Forrest City had the poor judgment to wear a shirt proclaiming "IF YOU BUILD IT" - depiction of prison complete with razor wire - "THEY WILL COME", meaning prisoners, of course. The sentiment demonstrated by the shirt and its wearer is a perfect illustration of what prison employees are interested in: more prisons, more jobs and money for more and more prison employees/union members.

Is that statement representative of our federal government, particularly at a time when the need for "justice" reform is moving to the front burner, in no small part because of the unaffordability of imprisoning more people than any other nation in the world? The shirt demonstrates not only disrespect and a demeaning attitude towards the prisoners and the public, but a narcissistic perspective that it's all about jobs for prison employees. In fact, the federal prison's only legitimate claim to success is at providing jobs for sociopaths and individuals who would be otherwise unemployable. With a dismal record of rehabilitating anyone and a high rate of recidivism that translates into "We'll leave the light on for you" (as one prison employee told a man who had paid his debt to society and was being released), it is clear that prison employees understand that more and more prisoners are needed to provide more and more jobs for the "prison industrial complex."

Anyone who has the attitude expressed by the shirt should not work for the government in any capacity, and no one should be able to wear that shirt to any government job, least of all a job where they come into contact with prisoners. While there may be no help available for idiots, prisoners and the public would benefit from providing sensitivity training for prison employees. We would all benefit if prison employees actually fulfilled their responsibilities and did the jobs they are charged with doing, rather than working to ensure the constant flow of people into the prison system.

JB: That's a rather macabre T-shirt and I agree, quite inappropriate as well as disrespectful. What else is going on?

JW: There is so much! But let's start with the constant issue of medical abuse and a strange new issue: paper plates. I can't wait to share paper plates with you, but let's start with medical, because of a recent development far from Forrest City. In New York City, a prison employee has been charged in the death of a prisoner after the guard failed to obtain medical care for that prisoner. [See this link.]

JB: That's awful. On the other hand, I'm glad that medical abuse is at least finally getting some media attention.

JW: Since Gary's self-surrender on September 29, 2010, he has never been provided proper or reasonable medical care. His medications have been repeatedly withheld for days, weeks or months at a time, placing his life and health in danger, and he has not been allowed to see or be seen by a doctor. The BOPers have noted in Gary's official prison records that they believe he has cancer, but Gary has not been seen by a doctor in over a year and a half.

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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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