While I was incarcerated, covid-19 came into existence. Inmates and convicts’ mistrust of Bop employees is nothing new. It is equivalent to the real world and has the same reasons. For example, trusting that if a police officer searches your vehicle once you have consented and finds narcotics, they will let you off so long as you told them the truth. This is completely untrue. Law enforcement is legally allowed to lie to you to obtain information. As such, they are not viewed as trustworthy by many of the people who are in institutions. Someone who will “hold whatever you say against you” typically is not someone who you should trust to begin with. This does not only start once you are arrested, but rather once your interaction with law enforcement starts.

The main goal of the BOP is not to assist you or any type of Rehabilitation but rather to warehouse you for financial compensation. When a correctional officer does 20 years in a certain facility, he gets to a point where every day it’s just punching a clock, just like everyone else. People become human resources. Things that allowed for that correctional officer to have a salary and support his family.

This is one of the reasons that we are seeing people incarcerated refusing the vaccine at a much higher rate. No one in their right mind trusts a known liar. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. So by definition, if you were to trust someone who lies to you repeatedly and believe that this time they were telling the truth, you would be insane.

My Facility

When we were offered the vaccine for covid-19 at my facility, we’re in the middle of a medical lockdown. This lockdown was initiated because a BOP team member came to work, and he did not tell anyone that he had symptoms of covid-19. He came to work and clocked in for a shift that went from 3 p.m. to midnight. He ended up feeling sick enough to be able to say something at around 9 pm. Upon saying something, he left. Another correctional officer replaced him. Most likely, the BOP gave him 2-3 weeks paid leave. We did not fare as well.

The next day when we went to call our families and say good morning to them and see how they were doing, we realized that the phones had been shut off, as well as the email. There was no warning of this. Essentially they shut off all contact with the outside world. This includes phone and emails, as visits had already been non-existent for almost a year. Anyone with a brain would say that it would make sense to keep people as far apart as possible, a task that many Federal Courts have ruled is impossible. (See: US v. Perez, 451 F. Supp. 3d 288 (S.D.N.Y. 2020); United States v. Rodriguez, 476 F. Supp. 3d 1071 (S.D. Cal. 2020); Swain v. Junior, 961 F.3d 1276 (11th Cir. 2020); Ahlman v. Barnes, 445 F. Supp. 3d 671 (C.D. Cal. 2020); Mays v. Dart, 456 F. Supp. 3d 966 (N.D. Ill. 2020); Ferreyra v. Decker, 456 F. Supp. 3d 538 (S.D.N.Y. 2020).

This would include allowing them to go outside for recreation and the TV room where all chairs are already separated by 6 ft. Instead of doing that, they had everyone stay in the dormitory. This meant that everyone was constantly exposed to one another with nowhere to go inside of a cramped dorm.

These kinds of moronic policies have led to the death of 11 inmates at the facility that I was at. The last time I looked up the statistics on that facility, they were ranked as number three in terms of death in all of the BOP’s 127 institutions.

During this lockdown, they called what’s known as a “town hall meeting”. A town hall meeting is when everyone in your unit goes to a central location, and the Administration staff comes in to discuss something. We were all crammed into the TV room for the administration to give us a speech about covid. According to most of the Federal courts, the BOP had implemented, including social distancing, which is not even achievable inside a correctional institution, who understand how Federal institutions are built.

Again any thinking person would not cram 80 people into a TV room to talk about how people need to be socially distant and clean things better, which violated the very policy that they had implemented originally, especially when the cause of the medical lockdown is a correctional officer’s neglect of his duty which is, care and custody.

I said before and will continue to say that the BOP does not stand for the Bureau of Prisons to inmates. Rather it stands for “backward on purpose” because that’s the thought mentality of the people who work there possess. Here was a group of Administrators who ran the facility, all of whom make 6 figures a year, in a facility that had the third most deaths in the country calling us out there in one tiny room to announce that 1) COVID was present in the facility, and that we 2. Had to abide by the policies set forth by the BOP in conjunction with the CDC. This was all while they violated these policies in front of us. We were told that a lack of compliance with these regulations that literally could not be enforced would lead to a “shot” or a disciplinary infraction. Which, in turn, most of the time meant going to SHU or solitary confinement. SHU was being used for warehousing sick inmates who had COVID, it had a shared ventilation system, so if you got sent to SHU, you were almost guaranteed to get COVID.

 So, the order was “comply with our demands,” which were impossible to comply with, even Federal Courts agreed with that much, “or we will send you to SHU”, where you are almost guaranteed to get COVID. For someone who is a high risk, you might as well say, “do what we say, or we will try and kill you”. Aside from that, the fact that the people were making these demands were breaking those same policies as they were announcing themselves was just a testament to how the bureau prison staff operates and thinks regularly. It also shows the brutal hypocrisy of the federal prison system.

 

 Every day these types of moronic incidents occur, where lives are jeopardized arbitrarily. The same announcement could have been accomplished by simply sending out an electronic bulletin on the email system. Or posting a notice outside of the chow hall. As opposed to cutting off all familial ties with no warning and putting everyone’s lives in danger, including the lives of Staff members and inmates alike.

 

This is their modus operandi daily of BOP employees. This backward thinking is normal to them. A good way to equate how this idiocy has become normalized in the mentality of the correctional officers at the Bureau of Prisons would be to think about how double-think is viewed in George Orwell’s book 1984. It’s seen as normal, and anyone who doesn’t have these delusions is considered normal.

  The offering of the vaccine

During the medical lockdown and the town hall that subsequently took place after the warden and associate warden’s told us that we would be offered the vaccine and everyone qualified for it. Shortly after that, we were given a form to fill out. We were told that we either accept the vaccine or we refuse it. We were given until 8 a.m. the next day to make a choice. No one was allowed to request more time to decide or contact anyone to discuss it.

Unlike free people, we had no access to the internet. We didn’t even possess the ability to call family and ask them about anything or email them. Sending a letter would have taken three to four days at best to reach them. This kind of snap decision-making with no ability to do any research whatsoever nor talk to family members who could do research is the type of thing that someone facing federal prison time has to expect going forward. The lack of care for human life is another real factor inside federal facilities, not just when discussing inmate-to-inmate relations but also the broader view of staff-to-inmate relations.

This is not something unique just to the prison that I was at. There are many prisons where the prison population has outright refused the COVID-19 vaccination on paper. In It is everyone’s right two have formed against the end for anything medical-related.

I am not taking a position on vaccines here in this blog post. Rather, I am Illuminating the fact that if you face federal prison time, these are the kind of obstacles you will have in the future.

Compassionate release application

At the same time, I was applying for compassionate release in the United States District Court. Make no mistake, the bureau of prisons and your United States attorney who prosecuted you will work together to ensure that the courts squash any motion you put forth in regards to early release. In a limited few cases, I have seen United States Attorneys not oppose things like a compassionate release for certain individuals, but that is rare.

In my case, the United States attorney was supposed to respond in 14 days from when I filed my motion. Instead, he waited 44 days to respond. To my knowledge, there were no repercussions for this action whatsoever. He had waited so long because he had been told by BOP staff that the vaccine was on its way. Knowing this, he figured that if he had waited and I had gotten the vaccine that he could have used that to say that I was safe now and, as such, I should not be released. The opposite is true if I had not gotten the vaccine and could have said that I’d been allowed to get the vaccine and refused and therefore should remain in prison. Either way, at the end of the day, he contended that I remain in prison no matter what.

This is precisely what happened. I had written a 200-page motion for compassionate release—the initial first motion and then three subsequent supplemental motions. I wrote the supplemental motions because of the development at the federal facility that I was at. I wanted to keep the court informed about the changes and the constant lack of supervision and delinquency of the staff.

In my response to the United States’ response to my motion and supplementals, I stated that they had waited a prolonged time. Essentially, I had cited so many cases, statistics, and general facts, that the United States Attorney did not even bother with a legal argument. Their response was composed of 17 pages that are mostly “Background” information Background in a legal motion is simply a recap of what has happened or what someone has done so far. The United States had said that I had written a motion that was over “one hundred pages” When I responded to this, I said that yes I had written a motion I was over a hundred pages, and that was the amount of legal precedent that supported my position for compassionate release.

Outcome

Essentially I ended up crushing the United States Attorney, and the Honorable Chief Judge Crawford agreed with me. I should be given compassionate release because of the factors I brought up, including 3553(a) factors (essentially, these factors are the reason cited for the judgment and sentence), compared to the amount of BOP negligence and lack of oversight that had occurred. As such, my compassionate release motion was granted. Shortly after I left, that facility had its fourth “medical lockdown” because an inmate tested positive. The BOP cannot keep COVID-19 out of their facilities. They do not follow CDC guidelines but are good at making it seem like they do inspections.