By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on February 9, 2022
On January 20, 2022, prison officials at the La Tuna Federal Prison Camp requested that I report to the lobby of the “Low” security Prison, which adjoins the Camp. I reported, as requested.
Once I arrived at the prison, I was immediately taken to the “Hole,” a small cell with metal bunk beds and a toilet. The one window is covered so that sunlight cannot come into the cell.
I have been locked in this cell 24 hours per day, seven days per week since January 20th. It is a maximum-security prison within the prison.
On my first day in the “Hole,” which is officially called the “Special Housing Unit,” I was given a copy of my “Administrative Detention Order,” which was signed by a SHU lieutenant. The Order stated that it was the “Correctional Supervisor’s decision based on all the circumstances that [my] continued presence in the general population poses a serious threat to life, property, self, staff, other inmates, or to the security or orderly running of the institution.”
I learned a week later that my detention has nothing to do with my conduct at the LaTuna Federal Prison Camp. In fact, I was being processed for a release to home confinement when all of this happened.
I have the lowest custody classification points of any inmate at the Camp. My scores for recidivism and violence are among the lowest in the Federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) entire inmate population. Yet, they say I am a danger to other inmates and staff.
The entire episode is out of character for the senior management officials at LaTuna. I knew immediately that something was wrong.
Not All “Political Prisoners” are Treated the Same
All signs point to the fact that my detention was ordered by BOP officials in Washington. It’s political and retaliatory in nature.
My first detention in the “Hole” occurred at FCI Talladega from April 27-30, 2020. It occurred after I signed a home confinement agreement with BOP officials to release me on April 30. No charges were ever pressed against me in connection with this detention.
On May 12, 2020, officer Russell Overton planted a cellphone charger in my locker during a security search of my dorm. In January 2020, I warned the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Justice that this event would occur if Talladega prison officials ever learned that I filed a “whistleblower” complaint that alleged drug and contraband trafficking by employees in the Warden’s and Special Investigations’ offices.
When Talladega officials learned of my January 2020 “whistleblower” complaint, they used every BOP rule and regulation available to keep me in the “Hole” at their “Medium” security prison from May 12 to November 23, 2020.
It was at Talladega that I learned by true status within the BOP – I am a “POW”. This is the description of me that was given by the SIS lieutenant to the SHU intake officer on April 27, 2020.
The Talladega experience was used by BOP officials as a pretext for denying me the home confinement that was afforded to white prisoners like Michael Cohen, who was Donald Trump’s former lawyer, and Paul Manafort, who was Trump’s former campaign manager.
My Detention Does Not Pass the Smell Test
Within days after my detention at LaTuna, I submitted a written “COP-OUT” request for a detention order that has the “supervisor 24-hour review of placement,” as evidenced by his/her signature and printed name. Prison officials did not respond.
I also asked for a copy of the “three-day review” of the detention that is required by BOP Program Statement 5270.11, Subsection 7. Again, there was no response.
I also invoked my right to attend the mandatory “seven-day review” of my detention, which is afforded to me in Program Statement 5270.11. Again, there was no response.
The reason why LaTuna officials have not responded to my written requests is simple – this entire ordeal is being orchestrated out of BOP headquarters in Washington. This is outgoing BOP Director Michael Carvajal’s parting shot at me for the articles I have published about his demonstrated incompetence and the public corruption that has allowed China, India, and dozens of foreign manufacturers to flood the 122 BOP institutions with low-quality, high price goods and products for inmates and staff. The BOP is single-handedly destroying American manufacturing so that one distributor – the Bob Barker Company – can maintain its monopoly on selling products to the BOP. This company is a major funder of Republican presidential and Congressional candidates.
The Pathway Forward
The “Hole” is a relic of slavery. The 13th Amendment authorizes slavery as a punishment for a crime. I am legally and technically a “slave.” America is the only country in the Western Hemisphere that authorizes slavery in its constitution.
Slaveholders have never treated slaves with respect. The BOP is no exception.
Because this is my third time in the “Hole,” I know how to survive this mistreatment. I have small projects to accomplish each day. I also have plenty of people in my life who show me love on a daily basis. I never lose hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
Meanwhile, I am continuing to build a nationwide base of new Independent voters for the 2024 presidential election. Based upon my four decades of activism in the political arena I firmly believe I will reach my goal of registering, educating, and turning out two million new Independent voters of interracial goodwill in six swing states in time for the 2024 presidential election.
Prison slavery will not end in America until Independent voters make it a priority issue in the presidential election. By 2024, we will have an organized block of new voters, a nationwide voter news network that is free of candidate “spin”, and a close political alliance with a well-funded Super-PAC controlled by Independent voters.
Over the years, I have raised and donated $1 million to Democratic, Republican, and Independent candidates for political office. I have never accepted money or anything else of value from any political candidate. Our Independent voter’s group will be multiracial and “unbought” and “unbossed”.
We will not have to seek audiences with presidential candidates. They will seek audiences with us. We will have the block of organized Independent votes and money to make sure our voices are heard in the White House.
My cell in the “Hole” is the same size as the one that held Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years in prison. Mandela, who was a lawyer, represented himself during his trial. The apartheid system in South Africa labeled Mandela as a “criminal.” The world now knows Mandela as South Africa’s beloved first black president.
My cell is smaller than the one that housed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama. The apartheid system in Birmingham viewed Dr. King as a “criminal,” too. King spent more time in jail cells than I have. Today, Dr. King is the only non-U.S. President with a memorial and statue on the National Mall in Washington. Dr. King is also the only former convicted “criminal” with a national holiday named after him.
Imprisonment by a rigged system and corrupt law enforcement officials is the price some of us have to pay to move this nation forward. In the end, we shall overcome all of the obstacles to achieving the democracy that Independent voters of interracial goodwill so desperately seek.
We will have our chance to impact society in a favorable way in 2024. I cannot vote, but two million new Independent voters can vote for me. When this day comes, American politics will never be the same