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Life Arts    H1'ed 2/17/13

Revenge of the BoP: OpEdNews Censored in Two Federal Prisons

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BoP=Bureau of Prisons
Background: For first-time readers, 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.
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.

Editor's note: Joan has written extensively on Gary White's story. Links to previous articles and interviews are at the end of this article. 

Today I have with me frequent* OpEdNews guest,  Judy White. Welcome back, Judy. What's new?
Gary honored by Hoover High School band
Gary honored by Hoover High School band
(Image by photo provided by Judy White)
  Details   DMCA
Gary is second from left.

Thank you, Joan.  As of the Wednesday after Super Sunday, Gary had been illegally locked in solitary confinement for twenty-eight days and nights, as every right and protection guaranteed under the US Constitution and federal law has been violated, along with so many criminal acts committed by prison employees.  I have not seen my husband since January 5th, and I have not heard his voice since January 14th.  The prison employees won't allow it, as it would provide evidence of the extreme harm they are doing to him.  It really is unbearable, knowing Gary is being tortured and suffering so incredibly, when he has done absolutely nothing wrong.  The BOPers will stop at nothing to silence Gary and, by extension, me.  Our only means of communication is mail, and the prison employees, one named Davie Carpenter in particular, have threatened to terminate that.  We have proof that they have illegally interfered with and delayed both Gary's mail to me and my mail to Gary.  The regional director Eichenlaub and prison attorney Mellady are fully aware of all that is being done to Gary, and they condone it, including the illegal opening and reading of attorney-client privileged and confidential legal mail.  Mellady sent an e-mail to an attorney who is trying to help us, falsely claiming Gary had two legal calls that he never had.  You may ask how I know he didn't.  Mellady claimed the calls were with the attorney he e-mailed, the attorney I work for, and they simply never happened.  I wonder if they have told others - falsely - that Gary has had contact he has not had, as Mellady had told me weeks ago that Gary had his medication and heat, when Gary had neither.  Our senator sent out a letter saying Gary was in Edgefield, another false statement originating and being perpetuated by the BOP, as their official inmate locator frequently showed that was where Gary was, while at other times, it showed Memphis.  Gary's mail was postmarked in Memphis and mentioned prison employees who are in Memphis (I can't say "work", as they don't do so - they just collect big salaries courtesy of the US Taxpayers).

My heart is just broken.  In a recent letter I received from Gary, he wrote:  "Oliver Twist - Fagin says, "What a fine thing capital punishment is!  Dead men never repent and dead men never bring awkward stories to light.  Ah, it is a fine thing for the trade!"  Gary dated that letter January 29th, his 20th day of being illegally locked in solitary confinement.

The BOP seems to be trying to kill Gary.

And you wouldn't believe the conditions there.  Keep in mind this is in an American federal prison.  Gary is a "minimum security - camp" prisoner.  Taken and locked in a solitary confinement cell that is five steps diagonally with no heat and an abundance of black mold, mildew, and "rain" inside, Gary shared with me that water and condensation constantly dripped from the ceiling and ran down the walls.  All his clothes and personal belongings were taken from him.  Day after day and night after night, as outside temperatures hovered in the low- to mid-20s, Gary and the other prisoners were purposely subjected to brutal conditions, provided no heat and no coats.  With cold air blowing on him constantly, Gary was given only thin clothing to wear, including underwear previously worn by other prisoners, with no laundry and no clean clothes, even underwear, as days turned into weeks and Gary became sick and developed an infection, likely from the human waste in the cell.  You see, Joan, they have a special plumbing version of "Pay It Forward" in solitary confinement - when the toilet in the adjacent cell was flushed, it would back up and overflow in Gary's cell, creating feces-and-urine soup throughout the tiny cell with no way to avoid it.  Gary had to live in these conditions, breathing toxic mold and mildew and human waste, 24 hours a day from January 10th until February 6th, when he was moved again.  He described constant teeth chattering and, when he tried to sleep, waking up shivering violently.

And the warden, an utterly evil female named Delores Stephens, knows all about it.  Gary had been there about a week when she did a "walk through."  As prisoners screamed and begged for heat, she looked directly at Gary, said they were "all over it" then, as Gary told her heat was a R-I-G-H-T, "she turned and walked away."  That was on January 16th.  Her 2011 salary was $144,550, or $2,780 a week to abuse human beings.

But she is far from alone in corruption.  Along with heat and medication, all Gary's personal belongings were illegally withheld, including even his Bible and prescription eyeglasses.  But " if Gary had wanted, he could have had cigarettes from his first night in solitary confinement.  Cigarettes, as you know, are contraband in prison, and the only ones with access to the solitary confinement areas are prison employees.

How does Gary remain steadfast in his insistence on getting the story out when he suffers so terribly for that decision? I don't know that I would be able to do it; in fact, I'm pretty sure I would fold in short order.

I don't believe you would, Joan, not if you were there and experienced first-hand what is at stake.  Remember that Gary and I have been fighting for his life - literally - since September 29, 2010, when Gary self-surrendered and the BOP's medical abuse began.  (It has escalated to include so many other types of abuse since then.)  The withholding of Gary's prescription medications is criminal and endangers Gary's life.  We have both been afraid they would kill him, and with good reason, as they have killed and permanently injured so many other prisoners.  Shutting up won't help us, as neither Mr. Walker nor the other two prisoners who died from medical abuse in Edgefield in the month of December, 2011 alone had anyone speaking up for them.  No one was speaking up for Mr. Waters, who lost his toes, part of his foot, and almost died from sepsis due to the BOPers' refusal to treat a toenail infection in a known diabetic for over two years.  I could go on, but you understand that there are so many victims, and I believe the BOPers knowingly engage in medical experimentation and abuse likely to lead to deaths and permanent injuries.

Gary is the kindest man you could ever know.  He has a huge heart and he loves other people, not just his family and friends.  So many prisoners have told me that Gary has been a blessing to them, commenting on his kindness to others.  He is strengthened and encouraged by his faith, knowing that he is in prison, but not guilty, like so many of the prisoners who are innocent.  We have at times discussed similarities and identified with Queen Esther and her dilemma, particularly the part of the story where she understood that if she remained silent, she and her family would perish, while speaking up placed her at risk of death.  We loved her willingness and her spirit, when she said she would go and speak to the king, and "if I perish, I perish." [Judy's referring to the Purim story here.]

The tragic part is that anyone is needed to speak out to try to help all the suffering and abused prisoners.  Everyone knows "the right thing" to do - yet the BOPers seem to enjoy abusing their fellow human beings, most of whom are far superior in every way to those employed by the prison system.  The reality is that none of the prison employees will likely ever do anything in their lives or careers that is positive and significant, nothing that helps anyone other than themselves and their personal finances.  Gary was in public service for over 30 years; he was known to work hard, to always be respectful and keep his word, and to find solutions, overcoming political, racial and other divisions.  (In fairness, we survived some rather nasty political campaigns that wouldn't qualify as "respectful" - sometimes there is just no way to tell the truth and expose another person's errors and lies with respect!  "Excuse me, but you, sir, are lying.")  Gary accomplished a lot for others through serving the public, but he never let his position go to his head, and he never forgot or failed to help the less fortunate.  Now, his life and health are endangered, having been locked in solitary confinement and being badly abused.  There are plenty of "Esther" opportunities and obligations to speak and act.

To add insult to injury, Gary went missing for a time and you had no idea where he was. That must have been terrifying. Can you tell us about that and how it resolved itself, Judy?

It has been and still is terrifying, Joan.  Since our communications have been terminated to punish us for exposing BOP corruption, and Gary was locked in solitary confinement on January 10th, I haven't known where he was or even if he was alive, a very reasonable concern, knowing Gary's medications were being withheld, he was being tortured and had been threatened.  There have only been letters, sometimes written a week or so before they arrive then illegally delayed by prison employees, so I knew that, at least on the day he wrote the letter, he was alive and in Memphis.  I have checked Inmate Locator throughout the days and nights, but as I mentioned, sometimes it said Edgefield and sometimes it said Memphis.  Until Thursday, February 7th, that is, when I got home from work and it showed Forrest City, Arkansas.  Just as we had been threatened, Gary had been moved to a higher security prison further from home.  And even though the official BOP website was often unreliable and showed false information about where Gary was, I called the Forrest City prison and they confirmed Gary was there.

When the kids were little, they enjoyed the "Where's Waldo" books, and it was fun to try to find Waldo in all the different places and picture.  And there was also a board game, "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"  "Where's Gary" is not only no fun, but it's very traumatic and unbearable.  I'm going to need professional help to deal with this.


( Image )

I bet! Were the prison authorities going to notify you about the move or just wait for you to discover it for yourself? And how far is it and how long will it take for you to visit Gary when visiting rights are reinstated?

You didn't believe the BOP's propaganda, did you, Joan?  I mean, they are so convincing in saying in writing that they "understand the importance of maintaining family and community ties."  No, they don't notify wives or families of anything.  To them, we are not human - neither the prisoners nor their families.  And since all of this was done intentionally to cause us distress, if they notified me, it would reduce the effect.  If what they want is to shut me up - and it is - they would want me to be distraught or worse, rather than having peace of mind about even whether Gary was alive and where he is.  I looked up Forrest City and it's over 300 miles away.  It also moves Gary into a different BOP region, the third region.  The BOP also lied to our Senator about that, telling him Gary was moved to the facility closest to our home, which is absolutely false, but that would have put Gary back in the region that first ousted him.  Gary - or could it be me? - is quite the "hot potato."  I don't know how long it will take or whether I will ever go there.  I expect it may take a court's action to undo all of this, and that includes them moving Gary to a higher security prison.  Maybe I will go there, though, now that I think this through.  I'll have to go to pick him up!

I understand that OpEdNews has played a supporting role in this saga. What can you tell us about that, Judy?

Well, Joan, OpEdNews has had much more than a supporting role.  After all, this site has allowed the exposure of so much of the corruption we have discovered during the past 29 months.  Prison employees seem to obsess about OpEdNews and what is coming next.  I mentioned Gary's withheld mail while he was in solitary confinement for 28 days.  Our last interview was published on January 27th.  The next morning, I mailed Gary a print-out.  With each letter from Gary, it was clear he hadn't received it.  As he let me know he received mail I had sent him after the 28th, I re-sent it.  He didn't receive that one either.  Once I knew he had been moved, I sent it to the new location, and he received it with no interference.  The two I had sent earlier?  They were in the box of Gary's withheld mail - all opened, all illegally withheld.  OpEdNews is the censored "star" in federal prison in Memphis and Millington, because not only were the prison employees reading print-outs, the prisoners did, too, and, understanding that exposure could bring investigations and accountability to the prison, they found HOPE, something the BOP must destroy at any cost.

Thanks so much for talking with me yet again, Judy. I know we'll talk again soon.

Thank you, Michael Collins, for the graphic illustration of Gary's imprisonment.

*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
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

The Devil's in the Details: More Tales from Edgefield Federal Prison , January 11, 2011

Hello Kitty Mysteriously Disappears from Prisoner's Mail at Edgefield , January 24, 2011

Edgefield Prison's Commitment to "Maintaining Family and Community Ties"?   March 6, 2011  

Winter in July? Trying to Stay Warm in Edgefield Prison   July 6, 2011

Neglect at Edgefield Federal Prison Causes Inmate to Lose Toes  September 27, 2011

Bureau of Prisons "Disappears" Federal Prisoner Just In Time for His Birthday December 29, 2011

Magic Behind Bars: The Case of the Disappearing 600 Pound Chicken February 22, 2012

Are Federal Prisons Finding it Hard to Let Go?  April 24, 2012

Happy Father's Day! and the Justice Department's War On Families June 16, 2012

Federal Prison's "Camp Cupcake" - Putting the Fun[ny] in Dysfunctional August 14, 2012

Gary White and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week , November 29, 2012
Scrooged! Millington Federal Prison Camp's Version of Christmas Spirit , December 24, 2012

The Bureau of Prisons, The Flood and Your Tax Dollars At Work , January 27, 2013
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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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