The Continuing Saga of Gary and Judy White
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 now serving ten years. During that time, he has been shunted from one federal facility to another. The recent passage and signing of the First Step Act was supposed to result in the release of Gary and 4,000 other inmates. Siegelman has been out of prison since February, 2017. Gary was finally released recently to home confinement until his sentence is done on July 19th. This is installment #39 of our ongoing series*.
My guest today is Judy White, long-time contributor to OpEdNews. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Judy.
Joan Brunwasser: We haven't spoken in quite a while. Our last installment was on the 4th of July and Gary was this close to being released. I know a lot has happened since then. Can you get us started? You have so many fans and friends among our OpEdNews readers, who are interested in catching up with you two.
Judy White: Thank you, Joan. Gary has been doing much better, so shall we start with him?
JW: As you may remember, there have been so many never-should-have-happened incidents with the BOP and Keeton Corrections, operators of the halfway house which unlawfully imprisoned Gary. Those entities are the ultimate poster children for corruption and dishonesty. The deadline set by law for releasing Gary under the First Step Act was July 19th, and they tormented both of us beyond the last minutes they unlawfully controlled him. While requiring us to go to the halfway house two days earlier so they could watch Gary urinate in a cup, they compelled him to return for them to remove the ankle monitor they had attached. We had requested and they refused to combine the two appearances, despite all we had going on at the time and the hardship of making two trips to the halfway house, which was a two-hour long drive in each direction. So, still complying with their unlawful demands, on July 19th, we made another trip to the halfway house, where, after forcing Gary to sit inside and wait as I was forced to wait in the extreme heat outside, they did the bizarre: an employee of corrupt Keeton Corrections handed Gary a pair of scissors and told him to cut the ankle monitor off himself, flippantly telling him to be careful not to cut his leg in the process! Never mind that they had the key to the ankle monitor and could have simply unlocked and removed it or handed the key to Gary for him to do so. They required Gary to destroy the ankle monitor strap.
Because medical care and treatment had continued to be unlawfully withheld and refused while Gary was on home confinement as it had been during his imprisonment, we had scheduled him for appointments. In quick succession, he needed - and had - three serious surgeries along with other urgently-needed procedures, in addition to what we had succeeded in obtaining previously while Gary was the legal responsibility and under the control of Keeton through a contract with the BOP. The BOP cares only about numbers, primarily those beside dollar signs, so once Gary was able to access healthcare, the treatment he required and should have received while in prison cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And as bad as things have been, I am thankful every day that Gary survived, especially with what is being done to prisoners and their families right now during the pandemic.
JB: What a bad ending to an awful chapter in your lives. Lots to talk about here. I'm staggered by the fact that because the BOP did not give Gary the medical care he needed while he was their "guest", you have been saddled with numerous, very costly treatments. That's terrifying. Is that covered by Medicare? Your personal health insurance? Talk about adding insult to injury!
JW: Gary's medical care has been mostly covered by insurance, thankfully, but co-pays and deductibles and everything that has gone along with it, such as ambulance transport, add up to thousands of dollars. But that's not all.
Going back to Keeton Corrections, the halfway house that continued to control Gary even while he was on home confinement. We struggled and begged for them to allow Gary to finally receive urgently-needed medical care. Despite their assurance - "We're not the BOP; if you need healthcare, you get healthcare" - they also continued to withhold healthcare, even refusing to allow Gary to go to appointments we had scheduled. They did allow and schedule a few appointments but only with their chosen nurses and doctors, ones they controlled through contracts, and ones they were responsible for paying under contract with the BOP and NaphCare, as they dictated that Gary's medical care was controlled only by them, scheduled only by them, and paid for only by them. I have an email stating exactly that, along with paperwork given to Gary prior to those medical appointments stating they were responsible. Yet today, almost a year later, we continue to receive bills, collection notices and threats due to non-payment by the very ones who insisted in writing that they were in control and responsible.
JB: That's terrible.
JW: What should outrage the public and policy-makers is that Congress appropriates to the BOP a huge amount of tax dollars every year for the purpose of providing for the healthcare needs of prisoners. That money includes healthcare while in halfway houses and on home confinement as they are legally defined as "in custody of the BOP." What the BOP does, however, is NOT spend that money for the purpose it should be used for, leaving the expense of actually getting healthcare later to the prisoner, family, and the insured, uninsured or paid healthcare system when and if the prisoner survives prison. Everyone knows - because we are always advised - that preventive care is necessary in order to avoid much more costly crisis care later on. What everyone may not realize is that a large proportion of prisoners get out of prison as indigent people, having no insurance or income. Many of them are able to get Medicaid coverage, which is taxpayer-funded, while others simply have no insurance and go to clinics or hospital emergency rooms when needed. Taxpayers also fund a significant part of the expenses of community clinics and uninsured medical and emergency care. But no one seems to ask what happens to the millions of tax dollars the BOP is given to provide healthcare that is not provided, that ultimately has to be provided later at higher costs after prisoners are released, meaning taxpayers are getting double-billed.
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