Talladega Prison Officials Continue Their Retaliation
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on November
On November 8, 2020, I published an article titled, “OIG Complaint Reports Widespread Corruption at the Talladega Federal Prison”. In the article, I demonstrated via prison documents how Talladega prison officials trumped up a phony cellphone charger infraction against me after they discovered a confidential January 27, 2020 complaint I filed with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General that documented fraud, waste, theft of government property and abuse at the prison.
I appealed disciplinary sanctions that were imposed upon me for this phony charge by a hand-picked Bureau of Prisons disciplinary hearing officer. On September 18, 2020 the Bureau’s Regional Office agreed with the hearing officer and upheld the sanctions. A prison executive, who is implicated in the OIG complaint promised me the appeal would be denied a day before I filed it on May 28, 2020.
I had 30 days from September 18th to appeal the Regional Office’s adverse decision to the Bureau’s Washington office. I did not know about this adverse decision because the Regional Office’s denial letter ( which was delivered to the Warden’s office on October 15, 2020) was not delivered to me until October 25th, 2020 – 5 days after the time for an appeal had expired. No reason was given by the Warden for this delay.
I filed an appeal to the Washington office anyway and mailed it off on October 23, 1010. On October 29th, I made a written request to Warden Cheron Nash for (a) a copy of the hearing officer’s 2-page report, (b) a copy of the three evidence photos, and (c) the 1-page “Chain of Custody Log”. [Click here to see my October 29, 2020 Request for Documents] I informed the Warden that I needed immediate action on this request because the documents were needed to support my legal position on appeal. Warden Nash is one of the executives implicated in the OIG complaint.
Hearing nothing from Warden Nash, I made a second request for the same six pages of documents on November 5, 2020. I pointed out that “I should not have to beg for Bureau of Prison documents I need for my appeal…If I am not entitled to these documents for any reason, please let me know ASAP.” [Click to see November 5, 2020 Request for Documents]
On November 10, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. a prison counselor brought me the Warden’s written response, unsigned and undated. It simply said, “Mr. Watkins, you will need to request these documents through a FOIA request. The DHO Report can be requested through your Unit Team.”
A FOIA request takes 4-6 months to fulfill. My appeal in Washington will be decided by then. Furthermore, the Warden is over my Unit Team, which still has not provided me with a copy of the DHO report.
Today’s article, along with the November 8th article on widespread corruption at the Talladega prison, provides an inside look at why this corruption flourishes. Not a single investigator or prosecutor has asked me a question about the detailed and documented fraud, waste, theft and abuse presented in the OIG complaint.
On September 2, 2020, Warden Nash wrote that my “Conduct Disrupts” the operations of the prison with the “Greatest Severity”. In the span of 7 months, I have gone from the inmate with the lowest Risk Assessment Level in the prison population to the greatest threat to prison operations, all because a cellphone charger was “planted” in my locker by a prison guard after executives discovered my January 27th OIG complaint.
Regardless, if I see fraud, waste, theft, and abuse in a federal prison, I will report it. This is my affirmative duty as an officer of the court. The people with the sworn duty to stop this public corruption will not do so because of the individuals involved. Stay tuned!
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