SOURCE: A Just Cause

A Just Cause

September 29, 2015 06:00 ET

Elderly Visitor at Florence Federal Correctional Institute's (FCI) Satellite Camp Falls and Sustains Injury During Visiting Hours Despite A Just Cause's Attempts to Alert the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) of the Risks

During a June 2015 DC Trip, A Just Cause Executives Were Removed From BOP Offices; BOP May Face Suit From Injured Visitor at Florence Satellite Camp After Sustaining Injuries From a Fall

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - September 29, 2015) - During visiting hours on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at Florence Federal Correctional Institute's Satellite Camp, Sarah Harper, a visitor to the camp, fell out of a plastic chair after the legs buckled and gave way. Harper, a 68 year old woman, felt excruciating pain in her lower back after her chair suddenly gave way. Prison officials called an ambulance.

Initially, prison officials asked Harper if she would prefer to be seen in Pueblo or Colorado Springs; she opted for Colorado Springs since she lives there; however, when the ambulance arrived, prison officials told Harper there would be no choice. She was required to be seen in Cañon City, Colorado at the facility of their choosing. Harper became immediately suspicious after this sudden change and friends took her to a Colorado Springs hospital for evaluation and treatment. Soon thereafter, prison officials ended visits early; with no specified reason, everyone was sent home early.

"I wondered why I suddenly had to go so far away from home for treatment after I was initially given a choice and told the guard I wanted to go to Colorado Springs," pondered Harper. "Everyone from the guard to the ambulance drivers seemed in on the plan to get me to go to Cañon City," states Harper. "I found out the Cañon City facility is used by the prison for the care of inmates. I didn't want to risk a less than comprehensive evaluation or limited treatment if I was forced to go to the facility of the prison's choice," says Harper.

"Florence's Satellite Camp recently switched to flimsy plastic chairs, assigned seating, and a multitude of other new rules in the visiting room," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "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 while visiting the prison camp in Florence, Colorado. We contacted the BOP to announce that we would be there on that date, but we were escorted out of the BOP by Federal Protective Services," notes Banks. "We were attempting to warn them about the hazards of the chairs, among other inequities that were occurring during visiting hours. This incident with Ms. Harper could have been avoided," laments Banks.

A June 18, 2015 Press Release details the unfair treatment of A Just Cause executives and how Bureau of Prisons officials in DC failed to meet with them despite the concerns raised with respect to the Florence Federal Prison Camp visiting situation. "A Just Cause remains very disappointed at the lack of response and action on the part of the BOP," states Banks. "Multiple phone calls and emails from our organization have gone unanswered," Banks added.

"When you think about the behemoth organization that is the Federal Bureau of Prisons, with a FY2015 budget of $8.5 billion, there's no reason why visitors are sitting in flimsy plastic chairs," notes Cliff Stewart of A Just Cause. "Ms. Harper is not the first to fall out of the chairs; an elderly gentleman fell in the visiting room a few weeks ago and heavier inmates tend to stack them before sitting in them to reinforce the legs while watching television in the units," says Stewart. "These chairs are clearly a hazard and need to be immediately removed before further injuries occur," warns Stewart.

Visitors, particularly those from out of town, were surprised and very disappointed by visits being cut short. Many are rarely able to visit due to the cost of travel and accommodations, so they want to maximize the time with their family members. The abrupt end was never explained.

"A Just Cause vows to continue to follow this case and attempt to reach out to Director Samuels and other BOP officials about the situation in the Florence Federal Prison Camp's visiting room," affirms Banks.

For more information about advocacy group, A Just Cause, go to: www.a-justcause.com.

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/#!2015-press-releases/cl69

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