"Whistleblower" Asks Congress for New Protective Legislation
Updated: Feb 19
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on February 17, 2021
This single sheet of paper -- a May 12, 2020 "Chain of Custody Log" in Incident Report #3397708 -- will lead Congressional investigators to the heart of a multiyear, employee-driven, criminal racketeering enterprise at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Talladega prison facility, and beyond. What is more, the BOP spent billions of dollars on national procurement contracts during the last 4 years that flooded each of its 122 prison facilities with poor quality, high-price, foreign-made products from countries that undermine American manufacturing industries and our national economic growth, while enriching a small cabal of politically connected "middlemen."
On February 15, 2021, I formally asked Congress to enact new "whistleblower" protection legislation to protect inmate "whistleblowers" from BOP punishment and/or bodily harm for reporting suspected criminal activity and "fraud, waste, and abuse" to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General (OIG). Nebraska native and California-based ethics advocate Lisa Swoboda has joined Mr. Watkins in this request. Ms. Swoboda, a professionally trained executive insurance underwriter and due diligence investigator, also serves as the managing editor for www.donaldwatkins.com.
The text of our joint request to the Chairpersons and members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees is reprinted below:
Senator Dick Durbin
Chairperson, Senate Judiciary Committee
711 Hart Senate Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Representative Jerrold Nadler
Chairperson, House Judiciary Committee
2132 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Re: New Protective Legislation for U.S. Department of Justice/Office of Inspector General “Whistleblowers” Reporting Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Contraband Trafficking at U.S. Bureau of Prisons Correctional Institutions
Dear Senator Durbin, Representative Nadler and other members of the Judiciary Committees,
My name is Lisa R. Swoboda. I am a California-based political activist and freelance professional journalist. I am also a 1997 graduate of the University of Nebraska with an extensive background as an executive underwriter for several major U.S. insurance companies. Additionally, I am the managing editor for www.donaldwatkins.com, an online media platform owned by Mr. Donald V. Watkins that delivers news of political interest to independent voters nationwide.
Mr. Watkins' bio appears here: https://www.donaldwatkins.com/ He is also profiled in “The HistoryMakers" series at https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/donald-v-watkins and is featured in a May 2020 NetFlix documentary series titled, "Trial by Media"; Episode 4, "King Richard". https://www.netflix.com/title/80198329
As citizens and longtime advocates for ethics and accountability in government, Mr. Watkins and I are requesting the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to draft, endorse, and sponsor new narrowly-tailored whistleblower protection legislation for persons/inmates making "fraud, waste, and abuse" complaints to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Inspector General (OIG), based upon the facts and abuses set forth below:
II. Relevant Facts
On January 27, 2020, U.S. Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) Donald V. Watkins (Reg. No. 36223-001) filed a confidential “whistleblower” complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) in which he reported widespread fraud, waste, abuse, and contraband trafficking at FCI Talladega. A copy of the complaint can be viewed at hyperlink, Exhibit A. To the extent they are relevant, the facts and circumstances of Mr. Watkins' underlying criminal case are presented in an article titled, "Two Faces of the Department of Justice."
Between April 27 and May 6, 2020, Talladega prison officials who were implicated in the complaint learned of its existence. Their retaliation against Watkins was immediate, harsh and unrelenting.
A summary of the fraud, waste, and abuse at FCI Talladega and retaliation against Mr. Watkins is presented in a November 7, 2020 article published by him titled, “OIG Complaint Reports Widespread Corruption at the Talladega Federal Prison”. A copy of this article, Exhibit B, can be viewed here.
In an article published on December 27, 2020 and titled “Contraband Trafficking Ring Operated from Warden’s Office, SIS Unit at FCI Talladega” (Exhibit C), Mr. Watkins summarized an ongoing contraband trafficking ring that meets the definition of a racketeering enterprise, as codified in 18 USC § 1961 (4), and a racketeering conspiracy within the meaning of 18 USC § 1962 (c). The racketeering enterprise involved: (a) the trafficking of contraband cellular phone devices, in violation of BOP regulations; (b) the trafficking of tobacco, in violation of BOP regulations; (c) drug trafficking, in violation of 21 USC § 841 and 846; (d) interstate travel in aid of racketeering, in violation of 18 USC § 1952; (e) witness tampering, in violation of 18 USC § 1512; and (f) retaliating against a DOJ/OIG whistleblower, in violation of 18 USC § 1513, among other offenses.
To date, no DOJ, OIG, or BOP official has interviewed Mr. Watkins about the fraud, waste, abuse, and contraband trafficking at FCI Talladega. The BOP’s “see no evil, hear no evil” approach allowed public corruption and racketeering at FCI Talladega to flourish in 2019 and 2020.
As explained in a December 13, 2020 article titled, “Biden Must Quickly Fire COINTELPRO Prosecutors” (Exhibit D), the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Alabama was too compromised to address this corruption problem. Its “de facto” U.S. Attorney, FAUSA Lloyd Peeples, was busy in 2019 and 2020 resurrecting, implementing, and overseeing a modern-day version of COINTELPRO activities in the Northern District.
On January 27, 2021, Mr. Watkins published a public “Notice to Preserve Agency Records Relating to the Public Corruption and Racketeering Activities at FCI Talladega” (Exhibit E),The Notice which was directed to the heads of the OIG and BOP, identified the pertinent records that must be preserved for a Congressional inquiry into this matter.
III. Proposed New Legislation
On January 29, 2021, Mr. Watkins published an article titled, “Proposed Legislation to Protect DOJ/OIG Whistleblowers from BOP Retaliation” . The article describes the new protective measures that are proposed and needed for BOP “whistleblowers”. A copy of the article is linked hereto as Exhibit F. These measures include the following six whistleblower protections:
1. All BOP Series 100 and 200 Incident Reports must be signed by the reporting officer under penalties of perjury and pursuant to a declaration under 28 U.S. Code § 1746.
2. Disciplinary hearings for “whistleblowers” must be conducted by licensed attorneys within seven days of the date of the Incident Report. The disciplinary hearing officer shall be prohibited from conducting ex parte communications with institutional BOP officials once the Incident Report is issued.
3. The standard of proof in a disciplinary hearing conducted for a DOJ/OIG “whistleblower” shall be “clear and convincing”, rather than “some evidence”. Furthermore, the “whistleblower” shall be entitled to a minimum of one hour to present his/her defense to the charges.
4. Adverse rulings from a “whistleblower's” disciplinary hearing officer shall be appealed by the affected inmate directly to the BOP’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), which must decide the appeal on the merits within fourteen days from receipt of the “whistleblower’s” appeal. The “whistleblower” shall have fourteen days from receipt of the hearing officer’s adverse ruling to appeal to the OGC. No further “exhaustion of administrative remedies” is required before the “whistleblower” may proceed with civil litigation against the BOP and offending officials in a federal court of competent jurisdiction.
5. No “whistleblower” shall be detained in a BOP correctional institution’s Special Housing Unit for longer than 30 days for any reason. There is no “operational security” or “business exception” to this prohibition.
6. Any BOP official who retaliates against a DOJ/OIG “whistleblower” for any reason shall forfeit his/her immunity from damages in a civil lawsuit initiated by the “whistleblower”. If the “whistleblower” is the “prevailing party” in such litigation, he/she shall be entitled to recover a reasonable attorney’s fee and reimbursement of litigation cost.
When viewed as a whole, Exhibits A through F, demonstrate why existing “whistleblower” protections are wholly inadequate for federal inmates who file DOJ/OIG complaints against the BOP. Mr. Watkins’ case is a glaring example of how a career BOP executive can manipulate existing BOP regulations to punish and/or exterminate “whistleblowers” who report widespread public corruption and racketeering activities at BOP correctional institutions. The proposed legislation is narrowly tailored to prevent a DOJ/OIG “whistleblower” in a BOP facility from being unobtrusively placed in harm’s way for substantial risk of bodily harm and/or death at the hands of crooked prison executives who are implicated in his/her OIG complaint.
Finally, Mr. Watkins requests the Senate and House Judiciary Committees to draft and sponsor a proposed constitutional amendment that abolishes penal "slavery," which is expressly authorized in the Thirteenth Amendment. Presently, inmates incarcerated in state and federal correctional facilities have no "personal rights except those which the law in its humanity accords to .... a slave." Ruffin v. Commonwealth, 62 Va. 790, 796 (Virginia Sup. Ct., 1871). To our knowledge, America is the only civilized nation in the Western Hemisphere where this form of "slavery" is enshrined in our national constitution. For more detailed information on this subject please read “America’s Only Legal Institution of Slavery”.
A copy of this joint request was emailed to the OIG, the Director of the BOP, and a number of national reporters and advocacy groups.
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