Days after her husband Jonathan died suddenly at the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City, Abbie Alvarado-Patterson says she still doesn’t know what happened to him and the facility hasn’t returned his body.
The Federal Transfer Center (FTC) is an administrative federal prison facility that is operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons; it houses both male and female inmates awaiting transfer to a permanent prison facility.
Alvarado-Patterson said her husband had only months left on a sentence for felony drug and firearm charges, and had been moved to the FTC on September 9th while waiting on a permanent placement at another prison.
By September 13th he was dead.
“[The prison chaplain called and said], ‘I regret to inform you that your husband, Jonathan Patterson, is deceased,’”she said tearfully.
“I just said, ‘What happened? Like, what’s going on? He said, We have no information. They’re investigating. There was an incident’,” she added.
An official statement released by the Federal Bureau of Prisons stated that 54-year-old Jonathan Patterson was found “unresponsive”, and that while responding staff “immediately secured the area and began life-saving measures”, the man was pronounced dead by EMS personnel.
“I said, when do I get his body back, he said, ‘you want his body back?’”, she added, also saying the chaplain couldn’t give a timeline, or any additional information about what happened.
“[Now] they’re telling me I’m not going to get my husband’s body back for 2 to 3 weeks,” she continued.
Abbie told KFOR while she’s not well versed in the prison system she knows something “isn’t right”.
“I know that there’s cameras everywhere in that facility,” Abbie told KFOR.
“I know that something happened or somebody turned a blind eye [and] the people that were holding him accountable need to be held accountable for what happened,” she added.
A separate audit of the facility conducted in 2021 noted that there was a “video monitoring system, electronic surveillance system, or other monitoring technology (e.g., cameras, etc.)”, but no new equipment had been installed within the previous twelve months.
While Abbie says she and Jonathan were planning on their next steps after his release, now, she says they’re planning for his funeral.
“They say that you take drugs and then they take you [but] my husband was an amazing person, and he had changed his life,” she said.
“He wanted to come to Denver’s Dream House and take Divinity studies,” she continued, saying Jonathan had recommitted to a life of faith while behind bars.
“His parents are literally in their late eighties and they’re literally waiting for their son to come home so they can pass,” she added.
There are approximately 1100 prisoners currently housed at the Federal Transport Center, but more than 150,000 being held across the funeral prison system in a system currently under fire for widespread problems.
The Associated Press reported extensively on widespread corruption and abuse in federal prisons in 2022, which resulted in the formation of a bipartisan working group of lawmakers to examine conditions inside the country’s 122 federal prisons.
Officials told Abbie they are investigating the incident, but she told KFOR they’ve been slow to respond.
She said her husband and the other inmates deserve more dignity.
“ They’re thinking that they’re dealing with somebody that didn’t want their loved one back, but this man was loved, and we need answers,” she said.
“[Inmates], they’re not perfect, but they’re not trash. They’re valuable.”