SAdSeg: Federal Style

Here we are again, fighting our government to treat human beings like human beings.  I heard something funny the other day, this man said he gets anxious everytime he hears news stories about how inmates are getting better treatment.  Unfortunately,  I have learned not to be excited at this news as well.  It took me awhile to find out why, then it came to me how simple and elementary it really was.  It is because when they bring up how inmates are getting better treatment, out comes an extremely uninformed population of people who do not believe that anyone is treated bad, and if they are, they deserve it. Or that “they should of thought about that before they committed a crime.”  Alot of you, believe it or not, do little things each and every day you think is not a big deal. I will bet you that some of these things are definitely misdemeanors, if not felonies.  I can hear some of your screaming denials but when unfamiliar with the law it is ofter the truth.   I am not a blind liberal, to an extent I believe if you make your bed lie in it. But here what we are looking at is a don’t ask, don’t tell attitude about the abuse of our inmates, and they somehow have this coming to them.
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Above: The Jewel of the Federal Supermax. AdMax(ADX Florence, CO). This Federal Penitentiary is the home of Terrorists(Ramzi Yousef), Aryan Brotherhood Leaders (Tyler Bingham and Barry Mills), OKC bomber (Terry Nichols) and La EME(Mexican Mafia Leaders) and the DC Blacks.

Alot of our country’s Supermax facilities were not built by naivete, but pure retribution. If we look back we can see that “Control units” were a sort of experiment on how to deal with assaultive, hostile, and disruptive inmates. Below is an early history of the H-Unit at USP Marion in Marion, Ill. : an excerpt from Thomas Silverstein’s carefully managed webpage. If you are not familiar with his name it might be because he is the Federal System’s most Isolated Prisoner.

.The transformation began with the prison’s implementation in 1968 of a behavior modification program called Control and Rehabilitation Effort, or CARE. Prisoners in the program were put in solitary confinement and otherwise coerced into participating in group “therapy,” which consisted of intense psychological “attack sessions.” The purpose was to bring prisoners under the staff’s control as totally as possible and turn them against other prisoners (Mitford, 1973: 134-5). 1972 marked a turning point in the program. In July, prisoners began a work stoppage to protest a guard’s beating of a Mexican prisoner (Cancel Miranda, 1990). Officials confined all prisoners to their cells for six days, then put seven suspected strike leaders into segregation (solitary confinement). The strike abated briefly, then began again. Prisoners were then subjected to a mass reprisal to end the strike, with sixty men locked in segregation and enrolled in the CARE program, establishing the Control Unit. In 1973, H-Unit at Marion was officially designated the Long-Term Control Unit (Adams v. Carlson, 1973: 621-2; Anderson, 1975; Gruenberg, 1975).

The transformation began with the prison’s implementation in 1968 of a behavior modification program called Control and Rehabilitation Effort, or CARE. Prisoners in the program were put in solitary confinement and otherwise coerced into participating in group “therapy,” which consisted of intense psychological “attack sessions.” The purpose was to bring prisoners under the staff’s control as totally as possible and turn them against other prisoners (Mitford, 1973: 134-5). 1972 marked a turning point in the program. In July, prisoners began a work stoppage to protest a guard’s beating of a Mexican prisoner (Cancel Miranda, 1990). Officials confined all prisoners to their cells for six days, then put seven suspected strike leaders into segregation (solitary confinement). The strike abated briefly, then began again. Prisoners were then subjected to a mass reprisal to end the strike, with sixty men locked in segregation and enrolled in the CARE program, establishing the Control Unit. In 1973, H-Unit at Marion was officially designated the Long-Term Control Unit (Adams v. Carlson, 1973: 621-2; Anderson, 1975; Gruenberg, 1975).

The Control Unit was used to expand the CARE program to include prisoners from throughout the federal prison system “whose behavior seriously disrupted the orderly operation of an institution,” according to official federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policy (Breed and Ward, 1984: 10). This marked a return to a feature of BOP practice missing since Alcatraz’s closing – the concentration in a single prison of those the BOP targeted for special punishment. Like some of the prisoners in Marion’s traditional solitary confinement unit, the Disciplinary Segregation Unit (I-Unit), prisoners in the Control Unit were under “administrative” rather than disciplinary segregation. Officially, administrative segregation differed from disciplinary segregation in that it was not considered punishment, but rather an administrative response to the prison’s purported inability to manage the prisoner by normal means (Adams v. Carlson, 1973: 606).
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A more telling excerpt is from Justin Peters Blog about how a 1983 Murder in Marion’s Control Unit started America’s Love Affair with Long Term Isolation and the “SUPERMAX.:”

In 1983 Marion was the toughest penitentiary in the federal prison system. The maximum-security complex housed some of the country’s most violent inmates, and the worst of those were put in Marion’s “control unit.” Getting placed in the control unit was akin to being buried alive. Inmates were confined to their small cells for almost 23 hours a day. When they left their cells, they were shackled, guarded, and under constant surveillance. The conditions there echoed the commandant’s line in The Great Escape: “We have, in effect, put all our rotten eggs in one basket. And we intend to watch that basket very carefully.

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Then in 1989, the states followed suit and wanted to emulate the SUPERMAX. And it seems the one state to blame, it there is a state, or  professional who is the best at it, it is California.  With the rest of nation looking west at what they did with the most gang-infested state, and how to house the worst of the worst, California has done it.  Afterall, they have over 1000 problem pisoneers in one stand alone Range on the grounds of Pelican Bay State Prison.  And thus, the Security Housing Unit was born.  The SHU, as most people in the know call it.  It has leaders from the AB, Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia, and other STG’s I don’t really touch on.  These have all thrived in the federal system as well.

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Above: A California state prison inmate being escorted by a minimum of 2 guards, waist, hand, and leg chains for either transfer, court, medical, visit, or library. (Security Housing Unit (SHU): Pelican Bay State Prison)

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