Federal Prisoners Caught In The Whirlwind

Hurricane Ivan caught the Bureau of Prisons off-guard and federal prisoners evacuated to unfinished prisons.

(PRWEB) October 25, 2004 -- On Monday, September 13, 2004, over 1,200 men were evacuated from Federal Prison Camps at Eglin AFB and Pensacola Florida to prisons in Mississippi and South Carolina which are not yet equipped or ready for inmate population. The site in Yazoo still has construction workers on site.

These inmates (all nonviolent offenders from prison camps) have been unable to contact anyone outside prison walls since that time. They have not even been allowed to place telephone calls to check on immediate family members residing in the areas affected by Ivan.

From all appearances, the Bureau of Prisons was caught off-guard and unprepared to handle an emergency situation of this magnitude. There are families of these prisoners who have not been informed of the location of the inmates as the Bureau of Prisons website is not set up to post “general messages” per a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Yet, the website is equipped to place an announcement regarding employee’s children receiving scholarships. The following announcement is boldly placed on the “Public Info” section of the website:

Hunter Scholarships Awarded. The Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) announced the first Susan M. Hunter Scholarships. Two recipients are sons of Federal Bureau of Prisons staff.

Because of the current prison conditions of these evacuated prisoners, i.e., an unfinished facility, the Bureau of Prisons is refusing to let inmates know information on victims of hurricane by refusing any contact whatsoever from the inmates. These inmates are not allowed to receive mail, make telephone calls, or have any visitation from family members. These inmates have basically been refused total contact with outside the world by BOP. They are merely locked down in an uncompleted prison not equipped or ready for inmate population.

They are however allowed to send mail out. The problem with that theory is they do not have commissary privileges, are not allowed to receive funds and therefore cannot purchase stamps. Since they cannot receive mail, families cannot send them stamps not to mention that under normal circumstances they are not allowed to receive stamps (contraband) from the outside. They can only obtain stamps, paper and pens by purchasing them through the prison commissary which is unavailable.

Further, these men are sleeping on the floor and being fed cold sandwiches as meals.

Contact with personnel at the Bureau of Prisons regarding this matter was met merely with a canned response. “an inmate locator is on our website to assist anyone looking for a particular inmate. If friends and families have questions regarding a particular institution they can contact the institution directly. The institution phone numbers are also listed on the website”. However, upon contacting the Yazoo facility, the Bureau of Prisons employee stated he was too busy to respond to any questions.

At the present time, Bureau of Prisons personnel at the Yazoo facility state there are no “tentative” dates of return for these prisoners and they have no idea how long they will be kept in these conditions with no contact with their families. It is also important to note that the Yazoo facility was constructed as a medium security institution and the inmates are being held at medium security level when in fact they are all classified as “low” security.

The Bureau of Prisons has returned a portion of the prisoners to FPC Eglin for clean up purposes but will not release the names of those inmates until “all inmates are returned” per a Bureau of Prisons employee at FPC Eglin.

Pursuant to the National Weather Service and NOAA, Florida and other states are in for a series of hurricanes, where Francis and Ivan are just the beginning. The question is, how long with the Federal Bureau of Prisons continue to sever thousands of loving and supporting families from the inmates that are now victims of the most recent hurricanes?

# # #

Source :  http://www.prweb.com/releases/2004/9/prweb161256.htm