Donald V. Watkins
"Staycation" at the county Jail
Editor’s note: The following article comes from another US citizen whose rights were continuously violated while housed in the Federal Prison System otherwise known as the BOP. This unfortunately happens on a regular basis. There are decent employees who make up the BOP workforce and there are truly evil people as well. There are times when decent employees step up but many times these incidents are ignored. I will be sharing further content from citizens with first hand knowledge of the federal prison system in hopes that people will put themselves in the shoes of these folks and get involved in changing the system. Unlike our local police departments, there is little to no oversight over the Prison Industry. This needs to change.
FEDERAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
“Staycation” At The County Jail
Date: February 11, 2021 Author: inside-the-walls
As many of you know, I recently spent 15 days in the Pulaski County Regional Detention Facility in Little Rock, Arkansas. This “staycation” was provided to me courtesy of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and City of Faith Half-Way House (COF). Please see previous blog post regarding the BOP’s allegations that I had hired a mobile billboard to circle the prison camp at Bryan, Texas (https://insidethewallscom.wordpress.com/2021/01/11/is-sis-staff-at-fpc-bryan-attempting-to-retaliate-against-me-on-this-side-of-the-walls-for-my-continuing-to-speak-out-about-their-bop-policy-violations-and-mistreatment-of-inmates/).
This “staycation”, I believe, came about in retaliation to my continuing to speak out against the inhumane treatment the BOP subjects inmates, as well as the BOP’s allegations regarding the mobile billboard. This is not something new–if you have read my blog–then you know that I have been on the other side of BOP staff retaliation many times in the past. The BOP continues to punish me for my unwillingness to silence my voice and give up my constitutional rights to free speech. All in violation of my civil rights. On January 8, 2021, at 2:45 p.m., I received an email from Michael South, Facility Director at City of Faith (COF), that in part read, “Mr. Smith has specifically advised that you refrain from participating in the program while this is worked out”. The Mr. Smith referred to is “Residential Reentry Manager Sean Smith at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) offices in Grand Prairie, Texas”. And the program referenced is my radio show Inside The Walls and Beyond. When I pushed back quoting BOP policy (https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/1480_005.pdf), City of Faith’s Federal Resident Handbook (https://cityoffaith.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Resident-Handbook-2018.pdf) and the Michael Cohen case (https://globalfreedomofexpression.columbia.edu/cases/cohen-v-barr/), I believe Mr. Smith became angered at me and decided to retaliate. One thing I have repeatedly documented in this blog is that BOP staff do not like inmates who are well versed in BOP policy. And that BOP staff are not trained properly in regards to BOP policy, or just choose not to follow it. Regardless, inmates who know policy, speak out about the violations of said policies, or attempt to hold the BOP accountable, are retaliated against. This has been a pattern I have documented many times during the time I was incarcerated in federal prison.
On Monday, January 12, 2021, I was working at my church when I received a phone call from Mr. South of COF. Mr. South instructed me to report to COF immediately to be picked up by US Marshal Services to be transported back to prison. Mr. South informed me that “I had received an incident report and was being placed back in prison”. I immediately followed Mr. South’s instruction and had my husband drive me to the COF half-way house to self-surrender. Once there, I was served the attached incident report. After a lengthly wait, several US Marshals showed up to shackle, handcuff, and belly chain me, so I could be transported to the county jail. Once in the car with the Marshal, he wanted to know what I had done to get violated. I just handed him the incident report and let him read it for himself. The Marshal was shocked that he was “returning someone to prison for emails.” He said “he had never heard of such, and wanted to know what I really done?” When I explained to him about my blog, the BOP’s allegations regarding the billboard, and my radio show, he stated “I knew there had to be something more to this.” “You must have really hit a nerve with whatever you are reporting.” “I’ve never taken anyone back to prison unless they flunked multiple drug screens.” “And while I work for the government–I tell people all the time that it is crooked.” Then he asked me for “the name of my blog”–proceeded to write it down–and told me “I’m going to read it.” So Mr. US Marshal, if you are reading this blog post–thank you for your kindness that day, and for staying with me at the jail until I was taken to a cell. Also, I appreciate your willingness to see the incident report for the retaliation it is.
Getting back to the incident report, per multiple COF staff members, stated to both me and my husband on January 12, 2021 at COF, and again on January 19, 2021, by COF staff that came to the jail to talk to me, “City of Faith did not want to write the attached incident report on me, as I had been a model resident for the almost 8 months I had been on home confinement under their supervision”. COF staff reported that “Mr. Smith is the BOP staff who forced COF staff to write the attached Incident Report”, and “move the 300 series incident report to a DHO hearing” (meaning the incident would be decided by BOP staff Disciplinary Hearing Officer (DHO)–not at the institution level (by COF staff), as is normally BOP policy for a 300 series incident report). See BOP Policy Statement on Inmate Discipline (https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5270_009.pdf). Regardless that I was served with the incident report, it does not meet BOP policy and would have failed on its face (meaning it would have had to be dismissed once it got to the DHO for review–if BOP policy was followed). There are several problems with the report which cause it to be invalid. 1. The report does not tell me (the inmate) how I have violated BOP policy 309 (violating a condition of a community program). Merely stating that I was emailing other inmates does not suffice. By BOP policy an incident report must state how exactly policy was violated by the inmate to be valid, 2. Please note under Date and Time of the incident report, the Date shows 3 December 2020 (which appears to refer to the one email that is actually quoted in the body of the incident report) and shows Date as 2:21 p (meaning 2:21 p.m.). However, in the body of the transcribed email, it clearly states that I emailed on December 3, 2020 at 9:21 p.m. This is a technicality due to the incident report not having a correct time of the violation–which would require the incident report to be dismissed by BOP policy, and 3. I do not believe by BOP policy that Mr. South is able to write the incident report (another technicality) for several reasons; first of all, Mr. South did not witness me emailing inmates, and except for the fact that I was honest when asked, could not prove that I was actually the one emailing (an inmate’s admission of guilt is not enough to be found guilty under policy), secondly, Mr. South does not have access to the BOP’s CorrLinks or Truview (as it is referred to in the incident report) email system (the monitored BOP email system used by inmates), therefore, Mr. South is not able to view the emails or information described in the body of the incident report. This means that by BOP policy, he is unable to issue the incident report–making it invalid.
And if you have any doubts that this was purely retaliation, let me point out that a 300 series incident report is a low level shot–certainly not serious enough to cause an inmate to be taken to jail–basically punished–before even being found guilty of the incident. Even if I were still being housed at the BOP, I would not have been shipped for investigation regarding a 300 series shot. This is unprecedented. However, in this case, I never made it before the DHO to make my case regarding the BOP’s faulty incident report, nor was I ever found guilty of said report, because the BOP once again failed to follow policy, and did not bring me before the DHO within the 14 days required by BOP Program Statement 5270.09 Inmate Discipline Program (see above link). Instead I was held at the county jail in violation of my civil rights for 15 days before Judge Kristine Baker ordered me released–see article from Forbes Magazine regarding what transpired (https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2021/02/06/inmate-on-home-confinement-spoke-out-on-bureau-of-prisons-policy-and-ended-up-back-in-prison/?sh=4c51481a55ba&fbclid=IwAR3i0cuqe8IaLZx_1VasXUiOxA9rfzfCc4Qd7tDsDjkWsCmpzi66TX7-nbU). Additionally, the fact that the BOP choose an email to quote in the body of its incident report that clearly had to do with my radio show, is another tell tell sign that this was purely retaliation for my continued speaking out against it.
It is also of note that the BOP had in December approved me to take the two classes I need to graduate in May with my master’s degree, that I was forced to put off when I had to self-surrender to prison for a crime I did not commit. Staff were also aware that I had registered, paid for, and was due to start the classes on January 13, 2021. I have no doubt that my placement in the county jail on January 12, 2021–the day before I was to start back to class–was chosen by design to derail my graduation and punish me further–especially since both BOP and COF staff had been aware of the emailing of inmates since at least late December–and I had been emailing with inmates for the over 7 months that I had been on home confinement–all through the BOP’s monitored email system. So much for the BOP or COF caring about reentry needs of inmates and helping inmates reintegrate back into society–what half-way houses are designed to do. Luckily, when I was released by Judge Baker on January 27, 2021, my graduate school advisor went to bat for me, and I was able to reregister two weeks late for those classes and should graduate in May. At least the BOP’s retaliation was a total fail in that regard. And now that I have been at a county jail–I have even more to report and speak out about! I will blog about my time there, and what I witnessed, at a later date. I have reached out to the BOP in Washington, D.C., specifically to Mr. Smith’s bosses–however, as expected, they have refused to take or return my calls to discuss this matter. Additionally, I have requested copies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) of everything I signed from COF–but they too are refusing to cooperate, stating “We are not allowed to give any resident a copy of anything but their sentence computation.” However, by law, I have a right to anything I have signed.
Lastly, I am currently considering filing a civil rights violation lawsuit against the BOP and all the staff involved in this incident under a Bivens action (https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/bivens_actions). If I do sue, I will certainly include in my lawsuit the additional torts caused by the BOP’s negligent actions against me while I was an inmate. Those torts include medical staff at FPC Bryan who refused to treat my pre-cancerous skin condition (even though they had medical records from my dermatologist stating I had to be seen every 6 months and treated for this condition)–allowing the pre-cancerous spots to become cancerous, the retaliation against me by FPC Bryan staff during my incarceration, as well as my being housed with men in adjacent cells in the men’s Solitary Housing Unit (SHU) in Oklahoma for quarantine–which has caused me to suffer from anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks. All in violation of my civil rights.
Until next time…..if you do not like what you are reading here–speak out–call your Congress men/women and Senators and demand that they reform our broken criminal “in”justice system. Be a voice. And continue to pray for all the women who are still inside the walls.
© 2021 Copyright – Lynn Espejo, All rights reserved. You cannot print or use any of the content without written consent.
You can read this article and others about Ms. Espejo's experience in the BOP at the following link: https://insidethewallscom.wordpress.com/ (And I highly encourage you to do so if you enjoy reading David vs. Goliath content!)
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