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Forrest City Federal Prison: Where Prisoners Don't Have a Prayer

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Judy on Christmas, 2012
Judy on Christmas, 2012
(Image by Judy White collection)
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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 #27. [Links* to entire series at end of article.]

My guest today is Judy White, whose husband is currently serving time in Forrest City FCI [Federal Correction Institution]. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Judy. 

JB: What's new with you and Gary?

JW: Thank you, Joan.

As I'm sure you understand, the past several weeks since our last update have been very difficult and sad, with Christmas, Gary's birthday and the new year having passed.  But the BOPers at Forrest City have been up to their usual meanness and dirty tricks and even managed to raise the bar for the season.

JB: Give us an example, please. 

JW: Mail, for instance.  Prisoners and their families have no "normal" life together - no normal sharing of family time or daily experiences, no prayers or mutual support during difficult times, no watching the news or a television show together, no running errands, no shopping for gifts for the kids, no taking care of the family pets, no daily "good mornings" or "good nights", no smiles, hugs, kisses or even holding hands, no waking up together on Christmas morning and no blowing out birthday candles together.  IF they decide to allow communications at all and if the prisoner's family has money to pay for the privilege, what "family" means to the BOP is less than 10 minutes a day of telephone time, a very limited and expensive version of "e-mail", and mail - the United States Postal Service.  (For what it's worth, in my opinion, the rest of the "free" country owes the continuing existence of the USPS to prisoners and their families, those of us who are compelled to use the USPS, given no other options to maintain family relationships.)  So, want to guess what the Forrest City prison employees gave the prisoners and their families during the holidays, and, in our case, Gary's birthday?  NO MAIL!

JB: Tell us more, Judy.

JW: Thinking back over the past year, I remember "the-sky-is-falling" cries from government employees because of sequestration and in relation to the government shutdown, with grave predictions of dire consequences, yet what I remember most clearly was the punishment of the American people, through government shutdowns of free monuments.  With federal prisons exempt and unaffected by the shutdown, and with all that long past before December, prison employees should have been on their jobs, actually DOING their jobs, but it doesn't work that way.  You see, it's about overtime.  Apparently, prison employees want and expect to be paid for just showing up, but for them to actually fulfill the responsibilities of their jobs, they want and expect overtime.  And when better to make overtime demands than to shut down mail to and from prisoners during Christmas, when the prison employees likely need extra cash for their own needs?

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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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