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Ties that Bind - How the BOP Undermines Families, Part Two

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by the Judy White Collection

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].

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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.]. Judy and I spoke earlier this week.

Installment #23 [links to entire series at conclusion of article]

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My guest today is Judy White. Welcome back to the second installment of Ties That Bind: How the BOP Undermines Families. Judy, did you ever get to actually see Gary and was there any visitation left by the time they were done messing with you?

JW: I continued waiting to see Gary.  And there he was!  As he entered through the door into the visiting room, he walked straight to the desk and gave Crawford his prisoner ID card, without looking in my direction.  Then he saw me and smiled as he walked toward me.  We are allowed one kiss and hug at the beginning of each visit, but right when I was able to touch my husband for the first time since January 5 th , the voice of a BOPer yelled, "WHITE!"  And just that quickly, he was gone again, taken back into the strip-search room.  I sat and waited.

When Gary was allowed to rejoin me, he told me the BOPer -- a "lieutenant" (they give themselves military titles and ranks) -- had "warned" him and threatened him with termination of our visitation, saying I had been "mouthy"!  Never mind that I had never before seen nor interacted with her, and never mind that no one had spoken with me alleging "mouthiness" -- whatever that is -- and never mind that being "mouthy" is not among anything I have ever seen or read in my extensive studies of BOP-World as being prohibited.  I suppose they all enjoy just making up rules and violations as they go along, with absolutely no oversight or accountability to anyone " or so it may seem.

Sitting across from each other in hard plastic chairs, we held hands and talked.  I was filling Gary in on what had happened with the BOPers the day before and earlier that morning, when Ms. Isom returned and asked to speak with me again.  She told me that I had been approved to wear two open-toe shoes, that the approval had been noted the day before and was in the computer system, but that the other BOPers just didn't know where to look.  I was dumbfounded.  If I had been approved, why hadn't anyone notified me?  And absent notification of approval, there was denial -- both direct and constructive denial.  What was the point of "reconsideration" and "approval" with no intention of notifying me so that I actually could have worn the proper shoes?  Ms. Isom agreed that I should have been notified and apologized, saying at least I would be able to visit in the future without the same problem.  I also took the opportunity to tell her I did not believe it was fair for Gary to have been warned and threatened by the BOP lieutenant.

Back to Gary.  But not for long.

Ms. Isom and the lieutenant returned to speak with me again.  Ms. Isom told me that she had re-read the approval and that while I had been approved to wear two open-toe shoes, the approval was for that day only !  How much sense could that possible make?  My doctor had written the letter on Tuesday.  On Friday, after I had sent multiple e-mails earlier in the week, after our lawyer had to address the issue with them, and after I had to call the regional office and the regional office had to contact them, the BOPers had "reconsidered" and approved me to wear open-toe shoes, but only for Saturday , as if my foot problem would be magically resolved by the end of the day, and as if "psychic friends network" would let me know!  So unfortunately typical bureaucratic, and just plain ridiculous.  To their credit, neither Ms. Isom nor the lieutenant even pretended there was any logic or rationality, not that they used those specific words.

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I then shared with the lieutenant that I did not believe it was fair for her to have warned and threatened Gary without having addressed my alleged behavior with me, then explained what had actually occurred and asked her to remove the warning from Gary's record.  She apologized when she heard how I had been mistreated, and stated she was going to speak with the staff in the entrance area, the ones who had behaved inappropriately.  Ms. Isom said she would try to see if she could get approval for me to wear open-toe shoes when I visited on Sunday, the following day and would let me know.

I returned to our assigned RESERVED seats, sat down across from my husband and we joined hands again, as we talked.  But within about fifteen minutes, Bradshaw stormed into the visiting room and yelled at Gary to come with him and another BOPer.  Strip-search room again.

When Gary returned, he had been warned and threatened yet again, this time because we were holding hands, something their own rules stated was permissible , but that was before Bradshaw apparently decided to retaliate for my reporting his and his co-BOPers' abusiveness toward me.  Holding hands was over for us.  Gary did tell Bradshaw and his sidekick that he had been given the rules the day before, and the rules allowed us to hold hands.  "The rules changed," Bradshaw decreed.  Magically, overnight, with no notice, and another warning for Gary.

( See at page 11, C-1:  "A kiss and embrace at the beginning and at the end of a visit, is authorized. Hand holding is the only other form of physical contact allowed during a visit.")

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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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