By Christopher Zoukis
While an odd thought to present, ever since the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) implemented the TRULINCS computer system — and followed it with the MP3 player program — the FBOP has appeared to be on the right track in terms of communicating with the federal inmate population. This idea has presented itself through more frequent announcements to the prison population (via the TRULINCS Electronic Bulletin Board), inmate institutional perception/character surveys, and now the instant Inmate Perception of Care Survey. It’s the latter which will be presented publicly today.
In an effort to make federal incarceration more transparent, the Prison Law Blog has obtained a document entitled “Note to the Inmate Population: English and Spanish Informed Consent.” This document explains what the Inmate Perception of Care Survey is, how it can be participated in, and other components of this study. The English information contained therein is presented below for the Prison Law Blog readership’s perusal:
Notice to the Inmate Population
English and Spanish Informed Consent
The Annual Inmate Perception of Care Survey will be available by region and you will receive local notice when the survey will be turned on for your institution. Please read over the following disclosure statement and consider taking the survey when it becomes available.
NCR [North Central Region] and NER [North East Region] August 19-September 1, 2013
MXR [Mid-Atlantic Region] and SCR [South Central Region] September 2-15, 2013
SER [South East Region] and WXR [Western Region] September 16-29, 2013
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has decided to deny “compassionate release” to Lynne F. Stewart, a polarizing defense attorney who represented reviled clients like mafia hit man Salvatore Gravano and terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.*1 Ms. Stewart was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in 2010, after the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that her original term of 28 months was too lenient (Ms. Stewart had said in an interview that she could do the 28 months “standing on her head,” and the government then appealed). Her sentence was for smuggling secret messages to Sheik Rahman’s radical followers in Egypt. That was then, this is now.
Now, Ms. Stewart is a 73-year-old federal prisoner, incarcerated at Federal Medical Center Carswell, and dying of cancer. In July 2012, FMC Carswell medical staff located a mass in her left lung, which was eventually determined to be cancer, a recurrence of a successful battle against the disease in 2005.*2 Since then, the cancer has spread to her lungs, lymph system, and bones. The metastatic cancer is spreading and is undisputedly killing her, even if the Federal Bureau of Prisons disputes how quickly she will die.
According to the New York Times, “The release of a dying [federal] inmate must follow a request by the Bureau that seeks a compassionate release from a judge.” The judge must then grant the release. This authority is not granted to the U.S. District Court without a referral from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The New York Times continues, “In weighing the issue, the Bureau considers the inmate’s condition and whether the inmate could pose a threat outside prison[.]” New regulations now expand the guidelines for compassionate release to those with a “terminal, incurable disease [and an inmate] whose life expectancy is 18 months or less.” This is an expansion from the previous 12 month range. The Federal Bureau of Prisons must find “extraordinary and compelling” circumstances to grant the compassionate release request.
In April, Ms. Stewart filed her compassionate release request with the prison administration at FMC Carswell.*3 In May the compassionate release request was recommended for approval by the FMC Carswell warden, the first step in the compassionate release process. In June, the request was subsequently denied by the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Central Office, on the basis that her body was responding to the cancer treatments and the Bureau’s estimation that she would not die within 18 months.
This article seeks to clarify the process, and variables, associated with seeking a transfer to a different prison within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This information is being disseminated in the hopes that it will help to guide current and future federal inmates in seeking a transfer to the prison of their choosing. It aims to inform those in need of this information so that they have the tools they need to effectively advocate for themselves, and help to steer readers away from costly “prison transfer” services which are essentially scams of prisoners and their families.
Initial Designation at a Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility
Federal prisoners are not given a choice in which prison they are first designated to. This designation is made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) in Grand Prairie, Texas. Initial designation determinations are based upon a number of factors. These factors are scored using the BOP’s Custody and Classification Form, which takes into account length of sentence, charge, criminal history, and a number of other factors, such as release destination, history of escapes, and self-surrender status.
Differences Between Initial Designation and Transfer
The process of seeking a transfer post-initial designation is different. These determinations are primarily made by the federal inmate’s unit team at their local prison, not at the DSCC. However, the process, and qualifications, to seek a transfer are anything but simple. What follows are tips about the practice of seeking a transfer within the BOP.