SOURCE: A Just Cause

A Just Cause

June 18, 2015 09:08 ET

BOP Chief, Director Samuels, Ignores Reports of Threats, Harassment and Assault of Minors by BOP Guards in Florence, Colorado, Says Advocacy Group, A Just Cause

Advocacy Group, A Just Cause Says BOP Has Failed to Take Action at Federal Prison Camp in Florence, Colorado After Repeated Reports of BOP Program Policy Violations

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - June 18, 2015) - Advocacy group, A Just Cause, today says it has filed complaints with the Department of Justice Inspector General and the Office of Internal Affairs for the Federal Bureau of Prisons regarding ongoing violations by Corrections Officers at the Federal Prison Camp in Florence, Colorado. Charges by A Just Cause include violations of rules listed in BOP Program Statement 1210.24 (Office of Internal Affairs) and BOP Program Statement 3420.11 (Standards of Employee Conduct).

“Over the past three years A Just Cause (AJC) has made the BOP aware of issues at the prison camp in Florence regarding a group of men known as the IRP6, and AJC has asked Director Samuels and his staff for remedies where violations of BOP policy have occurred,” says Sam Thurman, A Just Cause.

The IRP6 case concerns a Colorado-based company (IRP Solutions Corporation) that developed the Case Investigative Life Cycle (CILC) criminal investigations software for federal, state, and local law enforcement. The IRP6 (Kendrick Barnes, Gary L Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, Clinton A Stewart, David A Zirpolo and David A Banks) were convicted in 2011 after being accused of mail and wire fraud. (D. Ct. No. 1:09-CR-00266-CMA).

“Several situations have come up over the past few years but the most egregious and alarming are violations where the minor children of the IRP6 have been targeted,” says Lamont Banks, Executive Director, A Just Cause. “As recent as the past few days AJC has written to Director Samuels regarding incidents involving the IRP6 children where there was inappropriate touching, harassment, and threats,” Banks added. “Just last week on June 13th, Kyle Walker, the son of one of the IRP6 was harassed and told that he 'was not in the system' and that he would not be allowed to visit,” says Banks. “Walker has been visiting the prison camp for the past three years,” says Banks.

“AJC’s June 15th letter of complaint to the BOP and the DOJ Inspector General states that Kyle Walker was denied entry to the federal prison camp at Florence Colorado, and that he was harassed by Corrections Officer Maki in the process,” says Banks. “Walker, and his uncle Cliff Stewart, who was also there to visit, received conflicting direction from prison staff as to actions being taken to clarify Walker’s visit status,” says Banks. “My uncle and I were told by Case Manager Kleine to wait in the hallway until she could get clarification, but Officer Maki came along a few minutes later and told us to go outside, and that ‘he was in charge of the visitor center,'” says Kyle Walker. “When we stated that we were waiting on Ms. Kleine per her instructions, Officer Maki made the comment to my uncle, ‘If you don’t do what I tell you, I will take it out on your family who is an inmate in here,'” Walker concluded.

Records show that in March 2015 AJC filed another complaint for a similar situation regarding Kyle Walker. Also in March, the AJC complaint charged that Tiffany Stewart (the daughter of one of the inmates) was harassed and questioned about her clothing.

In May 2015, A Just Cause filed another complaint with Warden Stancil at Florence regarding the minor daughter of Mr. Demetrius Harper (one of the IRP6). “The incident involving Mr. Harper and his daughter is very personal, but it is an incident that drives home the extent to which the harassment and mistreatment goes,” says Banks. The AJC complaint filed on behalf of Harper charges that Harper’s daughter was harassed by Officer Maki during a visit on Friday, May 15, 2015. Visit records confirm that the daughter was visiting Harper long with her little brother and her grandfather. The complaint shows that Harper’s daughter informed him that her monthly cycle had started (unexpectedly early) and that she needed feminine hygiene products. The prison visitor center was no longer stocking the products in the women’s rest room, so Mr. Harper informed his daughter to ask the Visit Room Officer (Officer Lopez) if she could go to her grandfather’s vehicle to retrieve her feminine hygiene products. Officer Lopez approved her to go to the vehicle, but upon returning to the building Harper’s daughter was met outside the Visit Room by Officer Maki. The complaint shows that Officer Maki spoke to Harper’s daughter in a threatening manner, told her that she should not have gone to the vehicle and that her visit was in jeopardy of being terminated. The complaint shows that Harper’s daughter explained that another officer, Officer Lopez, had granted permission, but Officer Maki replied that he didn’t care what Officer Lopez had approved. “Officer Maki should not harass a child under any circumstances, but to do so outside the presence of her father or grandfather warrants an immediate investigation and disciplinary action,” argues Banks.

“In November 2014 A Just Cause filed a complaint with the BOP regarding an incident of inappropriate physical contact by a Corrections Officer toward the young daughter of Mr. Clinton Stewart (one of the IRP6),” explains Thurman. The AJC complaint charges that Florence Colorado federal prison camp visitor center Corrections Officer Bennett, on two occasions, put his hands on the daughter of Stewart. According to a sworn affidavit forwarded to BOP, Stewart’s daughter recalled that Officer Bennett approached her and “poked” her on the shoulder several times and told her that she needed to move her seat because he “needed to see her hands.” The Stewarts changed seats, and rather than sitting next to each other, they sat across from each other. The complaint continues that, during this same visit, Officer Bennett again approached Stewart’s daughter from behind and “poked” her on the shoulder and told her that she wasn’t supposed to have any money larger than a 5-dollar bill (he actually reached over other inmates/visitors). Stewart’s daughter immediately corrected that situation. The complaint states that in addition to these two incidents, other visitors noted that Bennett had on occasion followed Stewart’s daughter around the visit center. “Stewart’s daughter is a 20-year-old young lady who should not be 'man-handled' by a guard, or anyone else as far as that matters,” states Thurman. “It was totally inappropriate for Officer Bennett to touch a young lady in any manner, regardless of the purpose. A Just Cause reported the incident to BOP as an assault, and on behalf of Ms. Stewart A Just Cause asked that immediate corrective action be taken to ensure that this behavior cease. A Just Cause did not receive a response to the complaint,” Thurman stated.

“A Just Cause is very disappointed at the lack of response and action on the part of the BOP,” says Banks. “On Wednesday, June 17, I was accompanied by Cliff and Lisa Stewart to BOP in Washington DC to convey concerns of harassment toward children and families of the IRP6 while visit the prison camp in Florence Colorado. We contacted the BOP to announce that we would be there on this date, but what transpired is an utter shock to A Just Cause,” Banks added.

“A Just Cause is appending the complaint to the Office of Internal Affairs charging that on June 17th, 2015, representatives of AJC were falsely accused of threatening members of the executive staff of BOP, treated with malicious intent by BOP Physical Security Specialist Kim Pierce, and escorted from the BOP building by Federal Protective Services officers,” says Banks.

“The actions by Specialist Kim Pierce were not only inappropriate and appalling, but totally surprising as well,” states Cliff Stewart, A Just Cause. “With the interactions between the BOP Chaplaincy Services as well as the Public Relations Division, there has been useful dialog and information on enhancing the BOP'S interactions with the public as well as its relations with advocacy groups. Today's ambush of AJC officials by BOP Physical Security staff erodes the foundation of this relationship that has taken nearly three years to cultivate. On today’s visit we had signed in and were cleared into the building to visit with Sue Allison, and all of a sudden things changed. And we were totally shocked that others with whom we have built relationships with like Heidi Kugler and Judi Garrett didn’t correct the situation,” Stewart concluded.

“The appended compliant charges that law enforcement officials communicated to the AJC representatives that BOP reported that AJC had sent threatening emails and that the AJC representatives were to be removed from the premises,” says Banks. “The complaint states that AJC representatives shared the ‘two-way’ communication that had transpired with BOP, and that law enforcement officials noted that there was no present or imminent situation that could remotely be interpreted as a threat to anyone. In fact, the purpose of the visit was quite to the contrary of what your office conveyed to law enforcement. The fact is, the purpose of the visit was to share information about threats made by Corrections Officers at the federal prison camp in Florence Colorado directed at inmates and family members of those inmates,” says Banks.

“Representatives of A Just Cause have visited BOP, Washington DC before, and they always left encouraged that, namely you and others, were people who truly cared about improving the conditions of inmates,” says Thurman. “When AJC representatives were told that there was an opened-door policy and that AJC was welcomed to share concerns at any time, the AJC representatives felt confident that those were genuine words and expressions of true concern. Today's experience painted a different picture; one of lack of caring and lack of desire to hold BOP employees accountable for their actions (i.e., threats by a guard against family members and inmates). Accountability of BOP employees (i.e., Corrections Officers) and their management (Wardens and Camp Administrators) is a significant matter within the prison system, especially when it relates to violations of BOP policy when it comes to making threats against anyone (inmate, co-worker, contractor, or visitor). Not holding BOP employees and management accountable, amounts to an endorsement of their actions,” says Thurman.

“One would think that when children are threatened by correctional officers and inappropriate touching of a minor by BOP officers at federal prison occurs, BOP executives would be concerned,” says Banks. “Such misconduct and criminal acts being done and sanctioned by Director Samuels and the BOP staff is truly alarming and the nation should be outraged,” Banks added.

“It’s sad that situations like those filed by A Just Cause occur and those in position of power take a nonchalant attitude,” says Thurman. “BOP Director Samuels published a 'Suicide Prevention' memo in 2012 ‘encouraging’ inmates to keep hope and not commit suicide. He went on to say in his memo that he had their best interest in mind. When an advocacy group sees an agency the size of BOP being nonresponsive and becoming combative for no reason, one questions the 2012 memo or any memo like it,” ponders Thurman. “It is so clear that when family members of the IRP6 visit the federal prison camp in Florence, there is one set of rules for the IRP6, and another set of rules for everyone else. Inconsistency in application of rules is a major contributor to the issues, but the bottom line is that harassment at any level is not appropriate and BOP should address it,” Thurman concludes.

For more information about the story of the IRP6 or for copies of the legal filings go to http://www.freetheirp6.org.

Related press releases: http://www.a-justcause.com/#!press-releases/c21pq

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    A Just Cause
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