Intrusive Searches & Elimination of Visiting Days Hurts Innocent Families of Inmates
Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/07/2018 -- On July 1, 2018, the federal prison camp in Florence, Colorado hurt families by eliminating three-hour Friday evening visits which has been in existence for decades and has cited no reason for doing so. Now, prison management, who claims they are financially and operationally constrained by staffing shortages, are taking more time from visiting families and children by subjecting them to intrusive and intimidating search procedures.
About 25 correctional officers along with local police stationed outside the Florence prison complex, mobilized outside the federal prison camp visiting room equipped with a mobile command center and drug-sniffing dogs to conduct intensive searches of vehicles, wallets, and purses of visiting families. The dogs are even permitted to walk on the seats inside of the vehicles and it has been reported the dogs have left scratches on or in vehicles. Correctional officers remove visitors from their cars, telling them to leave their purses, wallets, and cell phones inside the car while they rummage through their personal belongings that include money, jewelry and other valuables that could potentially be stolen by BOP staff. The elderly and disabled are forced to stand outside, sometimes in oppressive heat, while indifferent correctional officers violate them and their Fourth Amendment rights.
"These types of searches at both federal and local prisons are unprecedented and to the best of my knowledge have never occurred, especially at a minimum security, out-custody federal prison camp housing non-violent offenders," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "It's disgraceful of Florence Warden's Matevousian, Stancil, and Goetz to abuse visiting families and their children by treating them like common criminals," add Banks.
A Just Cause would like to understand the Florence Wardens' decision to suddenly eliminate Friday evening visits when BOP visiting regulation policy (Program Statement 5267.09, section 540.40) says it "encourages visiting by family, friends, and community groups to maintain the morale of the inmate and develop closer relationships between the inmate and family members and others in the community."
"Eliminating Friday evening visits shows a lack of humanity and compassion by the Wardens towards the many innocent wives and children who have to make great financial sacrifices and travel great distances just to see their husbands and fathers for a single weekend," says Banks. "The Florence Wardens certainly can't say that staffing shortages or financial issues are the reasons they canceled Friday visits when they're spending thousands of dollars to pay overtime to 20 plus correctional officers and administrative staff to shakedown and conduct intrusive searched of visiting families. Unfortunately, the BOP has a colorful history of abusing both inmates and their families," contends Banks.
In the summer of 2015 a non-violent inmate at the Florence federal prison camp named Anthony Anderson was thrown into solitary confinement and allegedly killed by Florence correctional officers after being accused of receiving tobacco in the visiting room, which was never found. Florence officials claimed that Mr. Anderson committed suicide and soon cremated his body after the coroner examination. But according to Anderson's mother who recently appeared on A Just Cause's Blog Talk radio program, the coroner told her to hire an attorney because her son did not take his own life.
In the early 2000s a three-year government investigation found that there was a vast conspiracy by correctional officers and management to abuse inmates and falsify records to cover up that abuse at the Florence federal prison complex. More than a dozen Florence correctional officers and their supervisors (infamously known as "the Cowboys") were indicted and convicted for conspiring to physically assault inmates as a form of vigilante discipline. "The arbitrary canceling of Friday visits and bullying of visiting families is symptomatic of an ingrained abusive culture that has existed for many years at the Florence federal prison," says Banks. I have addressed these concerns with Warden Goetz and Matevousian but, not surprisingly, they don't appear concerned at all about these abuses. The matter has been escalated to the BOP Director's office and we are in the process of notifying members of Congress in hopes of putting a stop to these abuses," concludes Banks.
In recent weeks on its internet radio show that reaches an audience of up to 30 million people, A Just Cause launched a new series called "Behind the Wall" that is dedicated to discussing the horrible abuses of inmates and visitors at American prisons and invites everyone to listen in and join the discussion every Tuesday and Thursday at 8PM EST http://www.AJCRadio.com.
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