Saturday, June 16, 2018

Because Mathew Charles is Black, and because Jeff Sessions is racist: this man got sent back to 'finish' a life sentence.

Matthew Charles and girlfriend Naomi Tharpe as seen in a Facebook video published by The Root.
If the purpose of prison really were rehabilitation, we’d be taking lessons from Matthew Charles, not reincarcerating him. Charles had offended before—he’d even committed violent crimes—but the convictions that resulted in a 35-year prison sentence were for possession of a firearm and possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute. 
Charles was convicted and sentenced in the era of 100:1, when the penalties for 1 gram of crack cocaine and 100 grams of powder cocaine were the same. For example, as the New York Times Editorial Board put it, possessing a candy bar’s worth of crack would get you the same sentence as someone carrying a briefcase full of powder cocaine.
The sentencing regime had a disparate impact on black men, including Charles.
[B]ecause the majority of people arrested for crack offenses are African American, the 100:1 ratio resulted in vast racial disparities in the average length of sentences for comparable offenses. On average, under the 100:1 regime, African Americans served virtually as much time in prison for non-violent drug offenses as whites did for violent offenses.
Over the first five years of his sentence, Charles took 30 Bible correspondence classes. He got his GED, took college courses, and became a law clerk. He helped some prisoners by reading for them—and keeping the secret of their illiteracy—and others by providing legal help. 
After the Obama administration reduced minimum sentences for crack cocaine offenses, Charles asked a court to review his sentence. The federal district court judge decided that Charles qualified for a reduction; in 2016, he was released.
Charles spent the last two years building a life: He sought out family, got a job, bought a car, found a church, volunteered regularly and began a serious romantic relationship. Meanwhile, the government appealed. Federal prosecutors argued that the sentence was based on Charles being a “career criminal,” a designation they determined applies because of earlier offenses. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, agreed. The Supreme Court declined to intervene.
Hands tied by the mandate to restore Charles’s full sentence, Judge Aleta Trauger asked prosecutors to review the case one more time. That’s an extraordinary measure that told prosecutors the judge believed they should have dropped their technicality-driven persecution. They refused. After acknowledging the injustice, Judge Trauger gave Charles 45 days to prepare to serve the rest of his sentence.
From the district court judge and Charles’s probation office to the National Review and the Federalist, no one thinks sending Charles back to prison makes sense. His community banded together to celebrate him before he had to return to prison.
Charles’s case is a reminder not only of systemic injustice in sentencing but of the power of prosecutorial discretion. Federal appointees make calls about who to prosecute, what to charge them with, when to settle (and for how much), when to re-try a case, and, as in this case, when to appeal. We need to take back our benches, but don’t stop there: It’s critical to consider carefully who sits where at the Department of Justice and in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Trump calls them "Animals" but the SPCA treats animals better than Homeland Security and ICE treats these little brown asylum-seekers.

   ACLU:  brown children have human rights (especially if their parents are Asylum Seekers fleeing from gang violence in a South American country) 
Child standing in front of CBP agent next to barbed wire fence


Separating children from their parents. Harassing and arresting passengers on Greyhound buses. Detaining asylum seekers for no reason. These are just some of the horrific abuses unleashed by the Trump administration’s anti-immigration deportation machine.
Now, we’ve uncovered tens of thousands of pages of evidence documenting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials physically, sexually, and verbally abusing children. The majority of these children are asylum seekers fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America. Some are teenage mothers. Some are escaping gang violence. Some are in need of medical attention. All of them have risked their lives to find safety – and tragically, CBP has shattered that dream for so many.
CBP’s abuses are not only unconscionably inhumane, but they also violate United States law and international human rights law, which give protections to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers – no matter their country of origin.
The uncovered documents show CBP officials – including Border Patrol agents – committing the following abuses:
  • Threatening children with rape and death
  • Depriving children of food and water and holding them in freezing and unsanitary detention cells
  • Shooting children with Tasers and stun guns
  • Punching a child in the head repeatedly
  • Running over two 17-year-olds with patrol vehicles
  • Subjecting a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they forcefully spread her legs and touched her genitals
The violations are numerous. By law, CBP can’t hold unaccompanied children for longer than 72 hours. Children in CBP custody are entitled to safe facilities, adequate food and water, and proper medical care. And as federal officials, CBP officers are legally required to report all allegations of child abuse to law enforcement, child protective services, or the FBI.
All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their immigration status – and children, in particular, deserve special protection. The misconduct demonstrated in these records is breathtaking, as is the government’s complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power accountable.
What’s even more alarming is that these abuses occurred before President Trump came into office. The officials who oversaw these abuses are still in power today. What’s more, Trump’s hateful anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric are bound to worsen the treatment of immigrant children.
We have to do everything we can to stop CBP’s abuse of children. Add your name to hold the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection accountable and demand an end to the brutal abuse of children in his agency’s custody.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Women's Issues? Sexism and white supremacy go hand-in-hand, especially in the age of the so-called "alt-right." White America readily labels (brown)l suicide bombers as 'terrorists' but refuses to acknowledge that (white) teens who shoot up churches and schools are terrorists (called 'lone wolves' these shooters are mostly male, mostly white, furious over their perceived socioeconomic displacement at the hands of women/African Americans/Jews/Muslims) They are more than happy to share their rage on the digital commons of 4chan and Reddit under the guise of irony and "lulz." and they have a president happy to stoke their rage for his own political and financial gain.

James Otto, a 2011 graduate of Santa Fe High School, leaves flowers at a memorial in front of the school on May 21st, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas.
James Otto, a 2011 graduate of Santa Fe High School, leaves flowers at a memorial in front of the school on May 21st, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas.
The details of the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in El Paso, Texas, that left 10 dead are unnerving in their familiarity.
Alleged shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, reportedly posted photographs of guns and extremist paraphernalia on social media, behavior that "betrayed a growing darkness" that had enveloped the "churchgoing ex-football player and honor student" in recent months, as the Washington Post put it. Among the victims: Pagourtzis' ex-girlfriend and a female classmate who had allegedly "spurned his advances," (although that report remains somewhat suspectas of this writing).
Pagourtzis looks like just the latest in a string of sad, lonely men behind America's mass shootings. Some 40 percent of mass shootings that occurred between 2009 and 2012 were initiated by a shooter who targeted a partner or former partner; that number swelled to 54 percent by 2016. And the perpetrators are uniformly male: Of the 95 mass shootings between 1982 and 2017, only three cases—that's just over 2 percent—included female perpetrators.
Despite the overwhelming focus on gun control that follows each schoolyard massacre, it's hard to ignore the veneer of grievance-driven misogyny underlying these tragedies. Indeed, America's shooters (see: "incels") share far too many characteristics with the white nationalists who have seen a resurgence in recent years: mostly male, mostly white, furious over their perceived socioeconomic displacement at the hands of women/African Americans/Jews/Muslims, and more than happy to share that rage on the digital commons of 4chan and Reddit under the guise of irony and "lulz." Sexism and white supremacy go hand-in-hand, especially in the age of the so-called "alt-right."
At what point do we stop classifying these men as "lone wolves," and start referring to them as terrorists? "These incidents are connected and require an organized response from our politicians, law enforcement, and media," Pacific Standard's David Perry observed in March. "When hundreds of "lone wolves" are reading the same websites, talking to each other, consuming the same stories, picking up easily accessible weapons, and killing the same targets, they have become a pack."
This is no mere linguistic issue, but one of legal consequence. More importantly, it's not an issue of distinguishing between, say, "ISIS-inspired" and "ISIS-directed," which is the legal standard for pushing something into the legal realm of "terrorism." Instead, it's a reminder that the whole idea of "lone wolf" is absolute fiction in the first place.
In a story on white-nationalist institutions published the day of the shooting, Elizabeth King and Aaron Cynic offer an important reminder that the term "lone wolf" is a product of American white nationalism. The idea was introduced by Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations leader Louis Beam in a manifesto on "leaderless resistance" in the 1980s, which argued that "very small or even one-man cells of resistance ... could combat the most powerful government on Earth." The term was then more-formally coined by outspoken white nationalists Alex Curtis and Tom Metzger and pushed by groups like the White Aryan Resistance in the mid-1990s. Their  reasoning was simple: After several high-profile crimes committed by organized white supremacist groups during the '70s and '80s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had started getting tough on "coordinated forms of militancy," as neo-fascism researcher Mike Isaacson told King and Cynic. Decentralized "lone wolves" allowed white supremacists to thwart conspiracy statutes. And it worked.
ISIS didn't pioneer the modern lone wolf attack through social media-enabled propaganda; they got it from America. Here's King and Cynic on how white nationalist groups evolved into ideological honeytraps designed to lure and convert young minds:
Richard Spencer's National Policy Institute serve to help legitimize white supremacist and nationalist ideologies and make it easier for white nationalists to share their messages with a broader audience. By dressing up right-wing extremism and bigotry in the trappings of traditional academic disciplines, dangerous ideas such as eugenics can gain footholds closer to the mainstream. ...
"Bear in mind that when you talk about American Renaissance and you talk about even the [white supremacist] Council of Conservative Citizens ... these were mainstream organizations at one point," says Daryle Lamont Jenkins, executive director of One People's Project, an organization that researches and monitors the far right. "You used to see them on C-SPAN all the time, the [American Renaissance] conference was broadcast on C-SPAN," he recalled.
We can see this phenomenon working again in the so-called "incel" communities. The last few years have yielded an uptick in masculine rage, and the culture has modeled a world of misogynistic abuse without real consequence. A single man with a shotgun may be acting alone in the crime, but the ideas that twisted him into something so antithetical to modern society came from somewhere else.


Monday, June 11, 2018

The label Sex Offender endangers human beings behind bars and causes collateral damage to families outside the walls

Surviving Prison as a Sex Offender

Surviving prison can be extra tough for a sex offender, especially if their offences include possessing, distributing, or producing child pornography, or soliciting minors for sexual activity. Sex offenders face being ostracized or targeted by other prisoners, and are subjected to enhanced monitoring to ensure they are not engaging in risk-relevant behaviors.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons created the Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) as a solution to sex offender management issues. It is an institutional designation which means that the prison has a more robust Psychology Department, a Sex Offender Treatment Program (either residential or non-residential), and a higher percentage of sexual offenders in the general population. In effect, this makes SOMP federal prisons easier for sex offenders, enabling them to stay at the prison without threat to their lives. By housing this specialized population in certain prisons, prison officials can also monitor them more effectively.
There are two types of treatment programs available at SOMP facilities: the 9 to 12 month Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR) and the 12 to 18 month Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R). While most SOMP facilities have the non-residential program, the residential version is available at a select number of facilities (e.g., FMC Devens).
Sex offenders deemed to be a low risk of recidivism are only permitted to take the non-residential program, while for those deemed to be a high risk, the residential program is the only program made available to them. Participation in treatment programs can lessen the risk of being civilly committed, but disclosures made during treatment can be used as evidence of the need for civil commitment.
Quote on the Danger to Sex Offenders in Prison
Sex offenders housed at SOMP facilities don’t have much to worry about as far as prison politics and their safety are concerned. But those housed at non-SOMP facilities, particularly at the medium and high security levels, do run the risk of being assaulted  or otherwise harmed. At the lower security levels, being at a non-SOMP facility is less of an issue, as most prisoners simply ostracize sex offenders as opposed to actively causing them harm.
Current SOMP facilities include the low security FCI Seagoville (TX), FCI Elkton (OH) and FCI Englewood (CO), the medium security FCI Petersburg (VA), FCI Marianna (FL), and USP Marion (IL), and the high security USP Tucson (AZ).
Here are some points to help you survive prison as a sex offender:
  • You may be worried about being assaulted by other prisoners. If you are at a low security federal prison or a SOMP facility, this will probably not occur. Those in low security tend to be preparing to go home and don’t want to risk their release when it comes time for halfway house decisions to be made. At SOMP facilities, there are so many sex offenders (often upwards of 40% of the total population) that the yards are easy and the stigma is significantly reduced.
  • If you are housed at a non-SOMP medium or high security federal prison, the risk of assault can be higher, largely due to prison politics. At some easier medium security federal prisons you might be able to walk the yard and only be ostracized and excluded, but it can be a risky gamble. It is at the high security federal prison level where you will have problems. It would be better to “check in” (ask to go into protective custody) and to await a transfer to an easier, ideally SOMP, yard. Tougher sorts might opt to fight it out, but this is a dangerous gamble.
  • Your chances of being civilly committed as a sex offender are slim to none. Only those with a hands-on offense (either instant or prior) are eligible for civil commitment. The government also has to prove that you have a mental defect that would make not reoffending problematic for you. Those who are caught with risk relevant materials, such as pictures of children, have to worry most about this. A good way to evaluate if you are at risk for civil commitment is to ask a Psychology Department representative if you qualify for the Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR). Only sex offenders deemed to be low risk are permitted to take the program. So, if you are eligible for the program, then you probably have nothing to worry about. Even if you only qualify for the residential program, you still probably have nothing to worry about.
  • If you are wondering if you should take the Sex Offender Treatment Program, you need to think about whether you feel you need help. It can be a great opportunity to receive that help. But risk can come along with participating in such programs. Most Psychology Department staff leading SOTP programs honestly want to help those in their groups. But the Federal Bureau of Prisons does have a dark history of abusing these groups by using them as a mechanism to collect the admissions necessary to civilly commitment offenders. This is well documented in the Butner Study and the research and articles that have been published about it. Today, more than a decade later, it appears as though the BOP has stopped using the SOTP programs for such nefarious purposes.
  • If you want to balance your own safety while still taking the SOTP program, feel free to participate in sex offender treatment. But do not admit new victims or discuss a mental inability to control yourself or to stop yourself from reoffending. It’s important to get help, but such admissions will put you at great risk. If you fall into this category, seriously consider the residential treatment program, but be careful what you disclose.
  • If you want the judge to recommend you for a SOMP facility, you must speak to your attorney about a judicial recommendation. He or she should know the procedure at your local U.S. District Court for judicial recommendations.
  • It isn’t easy surviving prison as a sex offender. Your history is what it is. There is no way to hide from it. If others confront you, you can try to be tough and respond, “What’s it to you?” or “You got some kind of problem?”, but lying and denying is often not the best way to go, because your paperwork can easily be run to determine what you are in prison for. All you can do is strive to be a better man (or woman) today and show those around you that you are not what your charges state, but someone who has grown and turned toward a better path.
Contact us for more information on surviving prison as a sex offender or other aspects of prison life.

Sex Offenders in Prison

Sex Offenders in Prison Facts
The topic of sex offenders in the Federal Bureau of Prisons is very taboo. As such, not many news outlets, prison consultants, or attorneys like to publicly touch upon it.
We at the Prison Law Blog are not like these entities. When we see a need, we strive to fulfill it.  Here you will find basic information on sex offenders and where they are placed throughout the U.S. prison system.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a total inmate population of 215,383; at present, 11,699 are incarcerated for federal sex offenses (most often possession, receipt, or production of child pornography).  This amounts to 6.1% of the Federal Bureau of Prisons entire inmate population.
There are 162 federal institutions (62 of which are true stand-alone prisons). For the vast majority, these are general character prisons, tasked with housing a broad swath of inmates convicted of any number of federal crimes. While these prisons are of many different security levels, they are regular prisons, housing all variety of offenders (including federal sex offenders).

Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) Prisons

Due to the special needs of incarcerated sex offenders (e.g., enhanced monitoring for offending behaviors, protection from other inmates, the sometimes more sophisticated criminality of this population, etc.), the Federal Bureau of Prisons has 10 prisons which specifically house sex offenders. These are called Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) institutions, which house inmates with a variety of instant offenses, but also a stronger psychology department, which takes a more active role in the monitoring of sex offender populations for deviant or “risk relevant” behaviors.
According to the BOP, “This higher concentration of sex offenders within a [SOMP] institution helps offenders feel more comfortable acknowledging their concerns and seeking treatment.” While this could be the case for some, it is more likely that incarcerated sex offenders are happy to merely be at a prison where they aren’t going to be assaulted, and, possibly killed for the nature of their instant offense, or for a prior conviction of similar character.
The sad fact is that the stories are true. Incarcerated sex offenders have a rough time in prison. At the higher security levels (e.g., high and medium security federal prisons), they tend to be harassed, attacked, and brutalized. This is part of an institutional culture if not supported by the prison administration, then accepted by it as inevitable. This creates real problems for incarcerated sex offenders who often must “check in” to the Special Housing Unit (i.e., solitary confinement) for their own protection. If not, they are known to be “beat off” a yard, where a group of fellow prisoners knock the sex offender to the ground (often in the chow hall or in front of the lieutenant’s office), and stomp them in sight of the prison guards. When this happens, the guards know it’s time for the sex offender to be placed in the hole for their own protection (called Protective Custody) and possibly transferred elsewhere.
In an effort to protect inmate sex offender populations, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has tasked a total of 10 prisons to specifically house sex offenders (either those who are in prison for a sexual offense or those who have one in their criminal history). These are the SOMP prisons. Due to the higher percentage of sex offenders at these prison (some suggest upwards of 40-60% of the inmate population at these prisons), they tend to be much easier prisons, where inmates incarcerated of less savory crimes can survive.

Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) Prisons in the Federal Bureau of Prison

Administrative Security Sex Offender Prisons

  • 1. FMC Carswell (Fort Worth, TX)
  • 2. FMC Devens (Ayers, MA)

Low Security Sex Offender Prisons

  • 3. FCI Elkton (Elkton, OH)
  • 4. FCI Englewood (Littleton, CO)
  • 5. FCI Seagoville (Seagoville, TX)

Medium Security Sex Offender Prisons

  • 6. FCI Marianna (Marianna, FL)
  • 7. USP Marion (Marion, IL)
  • 8. FCI Petersburg Medium (Petersburg, VA)
  • 9. FCI Tucson (Tucson, AZ)

High Security Sex Offender Prisons

  • 10. USP Tucson (Tucson, AZ)

Sex Offender Treatment Programs in Federal Prisons

At these institutions, the Federal Bureau of Prisons also offers their Sex Offender Treatment Programs (SOTP). The BOP offers both residential (SOTP-R) and non-residential sex offender (SOTP-NR) treatment programs. The difference is in the intensity of the programs, residential or non-residential treatment modality, and which inmates can enroll in this voluntary treatment. Federal prisoners can learn more about these treatment programs, and can enroll in them, by speaking with a member of their prison’s Psychology Department or by reading our blog post on the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ recently promulgated sex offender management program statement.

Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-NR)

The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Non-Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program is offered at all of the above mentioned federal prisons, with the exception of FMC Devens and USP Marion.  This program is restricted to “offenders evaluated to have low to moderate risk of reoffending.”  The program lasts 9 to 12 months and participants meet 2 to 3 times each week in their prison’s Psychology Department for the treatment sessions.  According to the BOP, program participants “learn basic skills and concepts to help them understand their past offenses and to reduce the risk of future offending,” through various levels of treatment.

Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP-R)

The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Residential Sex Offender Treatment Program is, at present, offered only at USP Marion and FMC Devens. Program participation is restricted to “offenders with an elevated risk of reoffending.” This program is 12 to 18 months in duration and participants engage in treatment 5 days each week. Due to the residential treatment modality, monitoring, supervision, and treatment is intensive. According to the BOP, “Participants benefit from a therapeutic community on a residential housing unit where they work to reduce their risk of future offending.” The residential housing units also have increased conduct regulations, i.e., restrictions on certain media and recreational activities, such as role playing games.