Welcome back to OpEdNews, Judy. We've been following your husband Gary's case and his incarceration, which began over a month ago. I am aware of the circumstances concerning Gary's arrest and conviction, and the indications of it being a corrupt political prosecution. Certainly, imprisonment is unjust for anyone who is innocent. Does it give you any peace of mind that he is in a federal prison camp, with others who have been convicted of "white collar" crimes? Is the Edgefield, SC facility like Club Fed, complete with tennis courts?
Gary, Judy, Stephanie and Jonathan, Christmas 2008 by Judy White
Yes and no, Joan. The prison itself is not, as I understand it, a traditional prison camp; it is a concrete block building surrounded by fencing topped with razor wire, and is adjacent to a medium security prison, where there are frequent problems that affect the prison camp. For example, because of serious violence at the medium security prison, they have been on lock-down for a couple of weeks. There are no tennis courts, only a walking track, where Gary walks every day.
We're all familiar with the saying, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." As I have had the opportunity to meet other families, hear their stories, and witness "man's inhumanity to man," particularly when it comes to the mistreatment and abuse of the imprisoned, I have come to believe the corruption permeates so thoroughly that my viewpoint has been changed, and I have been forced to recognize that there are good and innocent men with pure hearts who are in prison, just as there are evil and corrupt men who abuse the power of their positions while dehumanizing them.
That's awfully strong, Judy. Other than Gary's medical situation and the withholding of his medications, are you saying there are still more problems or abuses?
I'm afraid so, Joan, and at the most basic levels. Prisoners have very limited options when it comes to eating, for example. They either eat or they don't. Calling for pizza delivery is not something they can do. From the beginning of Gary's imprisonment, and even before he was allowed to call and speak with me and I heard stories from other families, the sustenance provided has been a serious concern. Now, of course, being a mother, I recognize that everyone has their own preferences, and I'm afraid I've heard, "Ewww, gross!" in response to perfectly healthy fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat.
After I contacted the administration and confronted them with the illegality of their practices, the individual packets disappeared, to be replaced with a "bulk" product, unlabeled and undated. We tried repeatedly to contact Ralston in St. Louis at the telephone number printed on the packet, with no success, to inquire how the expired products came to be fed to American prisoners in South Carolina. We also wanted to know what the product is and where it came from, as "ECUADOR" is shown on the label. As I mentioned, there is no answer at Ralston - they don't even answer the telephone number on the packets.
You've raised some interesting questions, Judy. Could it be that American prisoners are being given expired products from Ecuador? Are you sure the information wasn't just mis-read or misinterpreted?
It seems clear to me, Joan. But what do you think?
There must be some sort of law against that, no? What can be done?
It seems to me that the Bureau of Prisons may be exempt from laws, maybe self-exempt (including their own requirements, as detailed in Program Statements and Clinical Practice Guidelines). And as if the food wasn't bad enough, the manner of delivery is outright hazardous.
The prisoners' "food receptacles" are a type of plastic divided trays (utensils and drinking cups are of the same material) onto which food is placed directly. After being used, the trays, utensils and cups are run through a dishwasher, with the water temperature set at 140 degrees. NO detergent, de-greaser, sanitizer, rinse agent or other cleaning product whatsoever is used. Just 140 degree water. The wet trays are placed in position for re-use, without being dried, and with grease so thick you can write in it with your finger; utensils and cups are also placed for reuse without being dried. In Alabama, that would get them shut down.
Gary mentioned in a letter that I received over a week later, that the cafeteria had "run out" of paper napkins the previous Thursday, and still had none through Tuesday, and that there was no hand soap in the restrooms, which went on for almost two weeks until yesterday.
There seems to be the tendency to blame under-staffing, lack of resources, funding cuts, and whatever else is convenient, but maybe the problem is with the allocation of resources, when there is no hand soap or hot water, no cleaning products for food receptacles, lack of proper medical care to the point of abuse, but the private dining room and the chef are fully functional for the benefit of the prison employees.
I hear you. We'll take a break here. When we return, Judy will have much more to share about our penal system. Once again, thanks for talking with me, Judy.