SOURCE: A Just Cause

A Just Cause

October 05, 2015 05:00 ET

Bureau of Prisons Director, Charles Samuels, Is Part of Abuse to IRP6 Families and Friends, Who Visit Florence Prison Camp (FPC) in Colorado, as Cries for Help Go Ignored Says Advocacy Group, A Just Cause

A Just Cause (AJC) Requests Investigation Into America's Worst Prison in Florence, Colorado Where Inmate and Visitor Harassment Run Rampant

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - October 05, 2015) - Over the past three years, A Just Cause (AJC) has made the BOP aware of issues at the prison camp in Florence, Colorado regarding a group of men known as the IRP6. The prison in Florence is number 1 on a list of top 10 worst prisons in the United States (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/10-worst-prisons-america-part-1-adx). AJC has repeatedly asked Director Samuels and his staff, in the form of letters, calls and visits to his D.C. office, for remedies to the increasingly hostile visiting room environment. "Rule changes are unpredictable and not universally enforced. The staff continuously singles out IRP6 inmates and their guests and AJC is requesting an investigation and immediate corrective action," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director, A Just Cause.

The latest rule is that no one is allowed on the patio due to unnamed 'safety and security concerns' cited by Warden Stancil. All visitors are now confined to the flimsy chairs led to one elderly visitor falling and an ambulance being called for her care on Saturday, September 26th (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/-2059114.htm). Upon her return, on Saturday, October 3rd, she was in a wheel chair due to her injuries and was assigned a place in front of the men's room, where she had to endure the smells emanating from that room. After several complaints, she was reluctantly moved to a different area.

"It makes no sense that all visitors must now sit in the chairs that caused the fall and have proven unstable," exclaims Banks. "The plastic chairs in the visiting room are a hazard. I was sitting in one when the front legs bowed and the chair almost collapsed. When I pointed it out to the visiting room officer, she immediately came and got the chair; but, all the chairs in the visiting room are the same. It doesn't solve the issue to remove one. It just doesn't make sense," explains Lynette Campbell, a frequent visitor of the IRP6.

"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 Banks. "AJC has written to Director Samuels regarding incidents involving the IRP6 children where there was inappropriate touching, harassment, and threats. All correspondence and calls have been without response or remediation from Director Samuels. This leads us to believe that Director Samuels endorses this antagonist behavior," Banks adds.

Another IRP6 visitor was sent back to her vehicle three times for items that the officer saw in her clear purse. The first trip was to remove gum and mints, the second trip was to remove a makeup compact, and the last to remove a notepad and ink pen. After all that, she was told she was not permitted to chew gum and to spit it out. "I tried to understand why I had to make three different trips to the car when the clear purse allowed the officer to see all items in my purse the first time. It's extremely frustrating because these are items that have never been a concern for the last three years. There is always some new rule or conditions required for visits. I just wish they would be consistent from week to week," says Janette Williams, visitor of the IRP6.

Also on Saturday, October 3, 2015, a 70 year old visitor and another mother of one of the IRP6, with sciatic nerve problems and extreme pain in her legs, was not permitted to bring in a pillow that she used to relieve pain when sitting for long stretches. She had used this pillow for the last several months with no issues from the prison staff. However, on this day, it was an issue and she was not permitted to bring in the pillow. After requesting to talk with the Lieutenant, she was told that even if she had a doctor's note, with a medically valid reason, the warden still has the final say. The warden would not have to comply, even if it was deemed medically necessary by her doctor.

Previously visitors were confirmed in the computer system and could be validated in the hard copy book when there was any issues with the computer system. An inmate overheard guards in a hallway being told to not to reference the hard copy books for IRP6 visitors that evening, especially for Banks. Ironically 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. Kyle has been visiting the prison camp for the past three years without issues. He is prone to seizures and stood outside for over an hour waiting to visit (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/bop-chief-director-samuels-ignores-reports-threats-harassment-assault-minors-bop-guards-2031029.htm).

"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 (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/bop-chief-director-samuels-ignores-reports-threats-harassment-assault-minors-bop-guards-2031029.htm).

The brother of David Banks has been continually denied the right to visit despite submitting all court documents proving he was wrongly convicted. He has called the prison multiple times, sent in required documentation, but is still not allowed to visit his brother, who he has not seen in over fifteen years. "I continuously get the run around when I call the prison. My record has been cleared and I have given Florence officials everything they've asked for. They still won't allow me to visit my brother," laments Banks.

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 she was visiting Harper, her father, along 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. At that time, the dispenser in the women's rest room was empty, 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 visiting room by Officer Maki. The complaint shows that Officer Maki spoke to Harper's daughter in a threatening manner, telling her that she should not have gone to the vehicle and that her visit was in jeopardy of being terminated. She explained that Officer Lopez had granted her 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 (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/bop-chief-director-samuels-ignores-reports-threats-harassment-assault-minors-bop-guards-2031029.htm).

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. The complaint charges that 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. 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. 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. "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," Banks stated (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/bop-chief-director-samuels-ignores-reports-threats-harassment-assault-minors-bop-guards-2031029.htm).

On one occasion, the previous Camp Warden Griggs, entered the visiting room and yelled at the IRP6 and their visitors to 'sit down because it was not social hour.' "If visiting is not a time for socializing, I'm not sure when it is appropriate," muses Banks. "The bad behavior on the part of the staff at the Florence Prison Camp has been continuously problematic. It starts with Director Samuels at the top and goes all the way down to the rank and file corrections staff in Florence, Colorado. A Just Cause is very disappointed at the lack of response and action on the part of the BOP, specifically Director Samuels, who has been contacted on multiple occasions by multiple means, but has failed to respond. The fact that he is not responding or taking any action indicates that he is a part of the problem," says Banks (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/bop-chief-director-samuels-ignores-reports-threats-harassment-assault-minors-bop-guards-2031029.htm).

"One would think that when children are threatened by correctional officers and inappropriate touching by BOP officers at federal prison occurs during visits, BOP executives would be concerned," says Banks. "Such misconduct and criminal acts seem sanctioned by Director Samuels and the BOP staff, which is truly alarming and the nation should be outraged," Banks added. Director Samuels recently told a Congressional Subcommittee that the BOP does not have solitary confinement, but a 44 year old inmate, Michael Andersen, recently died in a cell alone in what was described by prison officials as a very questionable alleged suicide; the accounts are contradicted by Andersen's mother who noted that bruises on his body that pointed to foul play. "The integrity of Director Samuels with respect to comments on solitary confinement as well as his lack of responsiveness to complaints about the visiting room in Florence, Colorado requires examination," exclaims Banks (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/another-unexplained-suicide-solitary-confinement-raises-serious-questions-about-impact-2059839.htm).

After visits on Saturday, October 3, 2015, an inmate who cleans the visiting room stated that the officers were talking about 'making the lives of the IRP6 hell' at the Florence facility. "The targeting of the IRP6 and their guests has reached a boiling point. This must be stopped and A Just Cause implores Congress and the Department of Justice to take immediate action since Director Samuels refuses to act," says Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause.

"AJC has sent letters, called, attempted to visit the BOP in person to report the harassment and how the abuse of the visitors of the model inmates needs to stop," declares Banks. Sadly, there have been multiple acts of retaliation against the IRP6. Most recently, a guard strip searched David Banks, one of the IRP6 PRIOR to the visit. This is a practice that usually occurs AFTER visits to ensure no contraband enters the facility. The officer stated, "So, are you gonna go to Washington about this?" He then forced David Banks to strip prior to visit, yet no one else was strip searched at that time. "The BOP has strict regulations against retaliation and this was a blatant violation of those regulations," declares Stewart.

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

Related press releases: http://www.a-justcause.com/#!2015-press-releases/cl69

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