SOURCE: A Just Cause

A Just Cause

October 07, 2015 10:12 ET

A Just Cause Digs Deeper in Unexplained Death of Inmate at Florence Prison as Mother Explains That Prison Officials Paid for Cremation of Son's Body

These Actions Point to a Federal Cover Up of Foul Play in Inmate Michael Andersen's Death

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - October 07, 2015) - A Just Cause (AJC) is requesting an immediate investigation into the circumstances of Michael Andersen's death on September 7, 2015, of an alleged suicide which has been stated by prison officials as the cause of death, while in solitary confinement in FCI at Florence, Colorado. Mr. Andersen was placed in solitary confinement apparently without cause. The family received an incomplete letter of notification of his death. Required information was missing from the letter. The cause of death was not listed. The Federal Prison in Florence has still not formally announced or released any public details concerning Mr. Andersen's death. "The reason for the information not being provided brings into question why prison officials are not being honest in regards to what happened. This points to foul play since the information has not been released as it should have been. Is there something the Federal Prison in Florence is trying to cover up?" ponders Lamont Banks, Executive Director, A Just Cause.

In a previous press release on 9/30/2015, AJC reported what Mrs. Andersen speaks to the apparent injuries she observed after her son's death. "When I saw my son, his face was bruised black and blue. It looked like he had been assaulted. I know my son was not suicidal. I know he did not take his life. I will not stop until I find out what happened to him," declares Mrs. Andersen. (http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/another-unexplained-suicide-solitary-confinement-raises-serious-questions-about-impact-2059839.htm)

There is a contradiction between the general account and the written letter to the family. Why does the statement from prison official contradict what was written in the letter stating that they could not provide the cause of death? "We really don’t understand why the Florence prison officials would offer cremation services free of charge," states Lamont Banks, A Just Cause. "It points to one thing -- a cover up. They attempt to avoid criminal prosecution for the murder of Michael Andersen as well as holding Florence prison officials accountable for his death. The body of Michael Andersen had very clear, questionable bruises that appeared to be the result of an assault. The cremation was not an act of compassion, but an act of manipulation by Florence prison officials to cover up the murder of Michael Andersen. All of these steps that were taken by prison officials point to foul play in the death of Michael Andersen," adds Banks.

BOP Inmate Custody and Management Policy 553.07 clearly states in the Death Notification Procedures: Immediately, upon an inmate's death, the Warden (or designee) must assemble the following information concerning the deceased inmate: Name, register number, date of birth; Offense and sentence; Date, time, and location of death; Apparent cause of death; Investigative steps being taken, if necessary; Name and address of survivor or designee; Notifications made; Status of autopsy request; and, Brief medical history related to death (https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5553_007.pdf).

Notification of Next-of-Kin and Other Requested Individuals Telephonic Notification: The Warden (or designee) must telephone the person named in the Acknowledgment of Inmate (Continuation Sheet) form (BP-408) immediately to communicate the circumstances surrounding the death. The BP-408 is found in the Inmate Central File.

When the inmate has not named a next-of-kin on the BP-408, the employee must attempt to locate and notify the next-of-kin, since only the next-of-kin may determine the disposition of the deceased's remains and property. Normally, the Case Management Coordinator will coordinate the disposition/shipping of the inmate's remains with the Supervisory Contract Specialist (https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5553_007.pdf).

Letters of Condolence: As soon as practical, the Warden must mail a letter of condolence to the next-of-kin and advise that person of the circumstances of the death. If the death was by natural causes, a summary of the cause of death is to be given. If the death was accidental, and not by foul play a reference to the nature of the accident, and the cause of death is appropriate. If the death occurred under suspicious circumstances or by foul play, the cause of death may be given but with a statement that the matter is under investigation and that, for that reason, details of the case may not be provided (https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5553_007.pdf).

Death Certificate: When the Death Certificate is received, the Warden must send a copy to the person who received the deceased's remains (https://www.bop.gov/policy/progstat/5553_007.pdf).

"A letter of condolence was sent but was incomplete. The letter sent to Michael Andersen's wife, Samantha Andersen, told her that federal prison officials could not tell her a cause of death. According to BOP protocol they must give a summary of the cause of death. By not doing so, they raise the question of foul play. Since the day of the incident, the family has not gotten any closer to receiving answers about the circumstances surrounding the death of their loved one. Samantha Andersen was there to visit her husband on the day of his death, and after four hours of standing in line, she was pulled into a room and was told, without hesitation, that her husband had taken his life that morning. She was shocked because she believed that there was no way he would take his life. The family has not received a Death Certificate even though the prison cremated the body. It has been a month since Michael Andersen's death. There is no reason why this information has not been provided to the family other than the prison officials is trying to continue to cover up the murder of Mr. Anderson," explained Banks.

The Andersen family gave an exclusive interview recounting the events leading up to Michael's death on AJC Radio on October 6, 2015. Billie Andersen saw her son the day before he died. "At the time I saw him he had no bruises or cuts on his face. He said that the guards threatened him saying they were going to have him killed on the yard by shanking [an act of stabbing causing serious bodily harm or death], and he feared for his life based on the horrific conduct and statements made by federal prison guards. They made these statements in order to harass my son. They laughed at him and said he would be in the hole for 6 months or more. But I know he would not kill himself. He would not do that. If he feared for his life, why would he take his life?" exclaimed Mrs. Andersen.

Banks went on to say, "According to Mr. Terry Andersen, Michael Andersen's father, his son was counting the days until he got out. He was excited that his family had moved nearby so he could see them regularly and he was looking forward to seeing his daughter. He only had two years remaining on his sentence. Experts have spelled out the signs of suicide. Mr. Andersen showed none of these signs. Excitement does not equal suicide."

After his son's death, Terry Anderson asked the prison to tell him the location of his son's body, but they refused to tell him where his son's body was located. They advised him to find that information out on his own. Without any assistance from prison officials, Terry Andersen had to make multiple phone calls until he found his son's body. Against their own regulations, the prison refused to immediately release the body to the family. Through an act of manipulation they offered free cremation to dispose of the body. It is highly unusual for any penitentiary, state or federal, to offer these services.

To this date, the family of Michael Andersen has not received a death certificate from the warden, neither have they received a cause of death from Florence federal prison officials.

A special program aired on AJC Radio on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 8 pm EST dealing with Suicide of the Incarcerated (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ajcradio2/2015/10/07/a-just-cause--suicides-in-us-prisons).

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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