George Washington Dunn, Jr.: Standing Tall in the Trenches
Updated: Jun 18, 2021
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on June 17, 2021
On August 28, 2019, I entered the Talladega Federal Prison Camp on a voluntary surrender basis. I became Inmate 36223-001, the Camp's only "political prisoner."
Within minutes of entering the Camp's compound, I was greeted by Mr. George Dunn, Jr., the Head Orderly for T-Dorm. From August 28, 2019, to May 12, 2020, George Dunn and I were roommates.
Dunn, who was 61 at the time, was a godsend. Standing 6'5" tall, Dunn was big in stature and intellect. He was well versed in history and current affairs. Dunn read a wide array of books and periodicals. He commanded the respect of the entire inmate population. He was familiar with my case from news reports. He knew I had been railroaded, and why.
Dunn, who is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, had served nearly 11 years of a 15-year sentence on drug charges. Having served two thirds of his sentence, Dunn would have been eligible under the First Step Act of 2018 for a transfer to home confinement under the Act's Elderly Offender Program. Camp officials refused to give him home confinement because Dunn had been convicted in Atlanta Municipal Court in 1979 for a simple assault and battery charge. The charge grew out of a non-violent verbal altercation between 19-year-old Dunn and a white Atlanta police officer, who was a well-known racist. This officer repeatedly called Dunn a "nigger" while moving bystanders away from a downtown restaurant/club. Without access to a lawyer, Dunn paid a $50 fine to dispose of the case. Today, this 42-year-old misdemeanor charge bars Dunn's early release from prison.
In early 2020, Dunn requested Atlanta mayor Keisha Bottoms to issue a pardon for his 1979 conviction. She refused, claiming the mayor's office lacked the power to pardon municipal court misdemeanor convictions. She is obviously misinformed. Every mayor in America holds this power. Yet, very few of them have the courage to use it.
George Dunn and I became best friends at the Camp. On numerous occasions I watched Dunn speak up for inmates who were too weak or afraid to speak up for themselves when they were mistreated or disrespected by staff members. Dunn was routinely threatened and often rebuked by staff members in the presence of other inmates for advocating for better living conditions, improved healthcare, adequate cleaning supplies, and the respectful treatment of inmates. Dunn never backed down in the face of these threats.
Dunn's courage was tested in March in a situation involving fellow dormmate Mack Smith. This elderly white inmate from Atlanta had been suffering for six months with non-productive coughing, constant fevers, immobility, and lack of bowel control. Dunn begged Camp executives to get Mack Smith proper medical attention. By the time they did, it was too late. Mack Smith died in a Birmingham, Alabama hospital on April 24, 2020. Dunn led a small, quiet memorial service for Mack Smith in T-Dorm the next day.
After Mack Smith's death, George Dunn assisted me in preparing additional articles on Smith's illness and death. One of these articles reported that the U.S. government asked for and was granted permission to seal Mack Smith's medical records and autopsy report. Whether Mack Smith's death was preventable is an open question. The answer is now hidden behind a cloak of secrecy.
In any event, Camp officials decided to punish George Dunn and me for highlighting the tragic conditions that led to Mack Smith's suffering and death. They were tired of dealing with our efforts to improve the Camp's living conditions for inmates.
On the morning of May 12, 2020, security officials cleared out T-Dorm. During a search of the dorm, a white correctional officer "planted" a cell phone charger in the cell George Dunn and I occupied. The charger was "planted" while this officer was alone in our cell. He placed it in my locker. A charger is listed as an item of contraband by prison officials. We later learned that the officer who "planted" the charger was acting on direct orders from his superiors.
Dunn and I were promptly removed from the Camp and taken to the maximum-security Special Housing Unit (SHU) at the Talladega Medium Security Prison. We were separated and placed in dungeon-like cells where we were confined 24 hours per day. A non-lawyer disciplinary hearing officer selected by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons heard our separate cases in sham hearings on May 20, 2020 that lasted 8-10 minutes. Dunn insisted the charger did not belong to him or me. I proved that the charger was not mine. The officer who "planted" the charger was not present for questioning. The hearing officer ruled against us and sentenced both of us to 30 days detention in the SHU. We appealed our cases.
Our 30-day sentence expired on June 18, 2020, but we remained in the SHU for several months beyond this date as additional punishment. Dunn left the SHU and was returned to the Camp on October 8, 2020. I remained in the SHU until November 23, 2020, the date upon which I embarked upon a perilous 3 and 1/2-month transfer to FCI LaTuna with layovers in Atlanta and Oklahoma City during this journey.
Had George Dunn lied and said the phone charger was mine, he would have been promptly released from the SHU and returned to the Camp. He refused to tell a lie on me to save himself. Likewise, I refused to lie on him, or plead guilty to something I did not do.
Prison officials transferred me to the higher security LaTuna correctional facility even though I have "Camp" level custody classification points. The very Talladega prison officials who are the subject of my January 27, 2020 "fraud, waste, and abuse" whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General labeled me as the "greatest security" threat to FCI Talladega. These tainted prison officials used their management authority to (a) override the Bureau of Prisons objective custody classification point system and (b) transfer me to a prison 1,500 miles from my home. Their management override precludes me from returning to any federal prison Camp for two years from May 12, 2020. To this date, neither the Donald Trump nor Joe Biden Department of Justice has interviewed me about the widespread and well-documented public corruption and racketeering activities perpetrated by senior management level prison officials at FCI Talladega.
I do not know if or when I will see George Dunn, Jr. again. He is a testament to the goodness in humanity. He always stands up for the "least of these" regardless of their race or circumstances in life. George Dunn knew that he would pay a price for standing up for Mack Smith, but he did it anyway. It was the right thing to do. It cost him dearly.
To my friend George Dunn, Jr., I bid you a very public farewell. My God bless you! I will never forget your courage and compassion for humanity. Hopefully I will see you on the other side of midnight. We have bonded for life. You are a respected leader.
George Dunn, Jr. was eventually transferred to a prison Camp in Florida and is doing well. He never lied on me or otherwise sold me out.
On December 6, 2019, I published an article that announced a book I am writing titled "Manifest Injustice". This book profiles the cases of five inmates at the Talladega Prison camp who are truly innocent of the charges against them. George Washington Dunn, Jr.'s case is one of them. His case, along with the others, spotlights the gratuitous acts of judicial fluffery that too may federal magistrates, trial judges, and appellate judge perform on federal prosecutors during criminal proceedings. His case also documents the way prosecutors perpetrated "fraud on the court' in the name of law enforcement.
Managing Editor's Note: Mr. George Dunn is now incarcerated at FCI Coleman in Florida. He is still working to secure a release to home confinement. Despite tremendous pressure from Bureau of Prison (BOP) officials at FCI Talladega to tell a lie that Mr. Watkins possessed a cell phone charger on May 12, 2020, Dunn refused to do so and was severely punished for not participating in the effort to frame Mr. Watkins. Likewise, Dunn never surrendered his manhood or dignity to the corrupt BOP officials who abused him at FCI Talladega. Even though they were the targets of administrative abuse by corrupt, inept, and mean-spirited BOP officials, Dunn and Mr. Watkins were able to help and/or free many deserving inmates at Talladega. They are now friends for life.
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