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December 2, 2006

Where Skilling will be chilling

In the Houston Chronicle, this article describes the federal lockup facing Jeff Skilling.  Here are some notable passages from the article:

Jeff Skilling is about to get a new identity: federal inmate No. 29296-179.... His new home, as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, will be ... at a former college campus-turned-prison in Waseca, a small southern Minnesota town of 10,000.  His pending arrival has generated some coffee-shop talk. "There's some buzz about him coming, sure," said Waseca Mayor Roy Srp. "His story is quite prevalent and he is infamous, so he's the most infamous person we have out there that the citizens will know about. "We welcome anybody that comes to our community, including Mr. Skilling," Srp said....

[Skilling] faces a regimented existence.  He'll be told what to wear and when to sleep, eat and shower.  He'll share a cubicle or a room with one to three other men in one of five dormitory-style units.  He can shop one day a week at the commissary.  Phone calls are limited to 15 minutes.  If he needs medication, he has to stand in line....

The bureau of prisons requires all inmates to work if medically able, so Skilling will work. Most earn 12 cents to 40 cents an hour doing such jobs as preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms or keeping grounds. But some facilities, including the Waseca lockup, also have Federal Prison Industries factories, known as UNICOR.  Those jobs pay 23 cents to $1.15 per hour to inmates who make office furniture, electrical components, license plates, signs and police and military uniforms. About 200 of Waseca's 1,000 inmates work in the facility's textile factory making uniforms, curtains, mattresses and bedding.

Perhaps Skilling can work on making a vowel for Waseca Mayor Srp.

December 2, 2006 at 10:02 PM | Permalink


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Was he granted bail pending appeal?

Posted by: Ronald Richards | Dec 3, 2006 11:34:22 AM

Your tongue-in-cheek approach to humor with Jeff Skilling's so-called "chillin'" at his prison, is possibly a snapshot of how you REALLY feel about incarceration. It's easy to poke fun when you're not aware of the reality. Sometimes, I think this over-inflated, over-bloviating blog, especially about "SCOTUS" is an exercise in elitist palaver--just like reading Posner's boring prose. You never make judgments. You wish to continue to be invited, gratis no doubt, to all the federal sentencing conferences.

I have been attempting, individually and through various organizations, to gather information about the monitoring of federal prison camps. I know that the blog focuses on sentencing, but some emphasis should be placed upon the goings-on at the camps.

The Pekin Women's Federal Prison Camp is one such place that requires oversight, because for too long the problems have been permitted to grow, unchecked.

The staff is taken, largely, from the rural areas of Pekin and Peoria. They're poorly educated, many are substance abusers, and their manner towards the inmates is unreliable, arbitrary and unprofessional. They don't stop with the inmates, but harass visitors on the weekends. If someone from a reputable organization would come in during a visiting day, perhaps they could see the manner in which staff conducts itself -- rules are imposed as the guard-in-charge sees fit. Routinely, they turn visitors away for improper dress. You have to see the way these guards dress on informal days, to see how laughable is this arbitrary enforcement. The visitors are directed to the WalMart. Is there an informal quid pro quo? How appropriate is this?

The staff, taken as a whole, could not be hired elsewhere for a lack of skills and learning. Thanks to Ray LaHood, families are working at the federal prison, bringing up their children on the backs of women who are separated from theirs.

There are no organizations that are given free access to oversee federal prison camps. There are protesting nuns and priests incarcerated at the camps--for trespassing at federal facilities. The County Jail in Chicago is kept in check, as are the state facilities in the state of Illinois. Not so the federal prisons.

The disparity between inmate treatment at male camps vs. this particular woman's camp is also untenable.
At Pekin, BP8s are ignored, for fear of retribution, which is consistently that of sending women to the county jail, and leaving them there for months. Does no one assess the costs of this sort of punishment? Why is it necessary at all, since there are empty offices where an inmate can be segregated "pending investigation"; the same little offices are used to keep infected inmates in isolation. Case in point, held now for almost a year at the county jail: one Ty'keisha Jones, an underweight, non-violent , mild-mannered offender, with some residual mental problems, who persistently riled the staff with accusations.

Searches are conducted without resort to rules. One inmate was given a "shot" on the basis of what the guard Locke, and a behemoth Pekin "secretary" (name unknown) gathered, without having segregated , the seized items (generally, makeup, extra clothing, leftovers--"contraband"). Locke has since been transferred for harassment of some sort, throwing a chair across the visiting room, and other unstable conduct.The woman's shot was dismissed because she made an effort to deliver her typed responses to all possible staff members. They refused to accept delivery, but she had mailed a copy to "Region" (which is the purported overseeing department that makes a useless once-a-year inspection).

If anyone were to check the meds level of the staff, when they began a shift, I imagine there would be a large surprise. Besides the large number of staff members and their families, being paid by the taxpayer, their disability suits, too, should be a bone of contention. One of the staff members of the mail room is notorious for late delivery: 2 weeks is the time within which mail is delivered at Pekin, though the rules (again, unenforceable) specifically state "24 hours." She wears a bandage for her disability: "carpal tunnel" from "too much mail sorting." The mail staff dictates whether or not inmates may pay a cheap rate, parcel post, to send packages. (and note: though inmates are paid pennies an hour, for their "work", they must pay full price for postage, as well as all other necessities not provided by the BOP). The dictate regarding choice of postage is merely a verbal order, and nothing exists in writing to show an inmate that "parcel post is no longer available through the BOP".

There is another useless "secretary" whose duties seem to be gathering "cop-outs" in order to get shake downs, or send someone to county.

Anyone reviewing the complaints regarding the lack of medical treatment, and the conduct of the so-called nurses-- who act as BOP staff first, and health assistants secondarily--can also get an idea of how little medical care takes place, and of the girls who have died just on their way out of Pekin. An inmate cannot get emergency dental treatment, and the dental staff, IF they show up once a week, checks the teeth, or pulls teeth. Period. They eat on the premises. The secretaries visit the medical department assistants, and it's one big happy family, gossipping about the inmates; there does not seem to be anyone overseeing the work performance of staff.

One of the cruelest, most arbitrary individuals there is "counselor" Paul Sailer. Counselors and unit teams, at male facilities, are an organized arrangement. At Pekin, it is helter-skelter, with the same useless, arbitrary results.

Sailer's meds are for a knee injury, and sometimes on the intercom, he sounds over-medicated. How must this affect his performance? He will fire an inmate on the basis of someone's verbal complaint. Being fired at Pekin is traumatic, as Sailer's punishments are manifold. Women wreak havoc with anonymous cop-outs, but they know there will be positive results against someone they're hostile towards. Sailer routinely re-assigns women to the garage, which is a large warehouse, where dozens of women are sent daily, inconceivably, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. , to "work". There is no such "work" for all these women in this warehouse, and so they line the cold floors. The benches have been removed or made uncomfortable, so that they cannot sit. No reading or other crafts are permitted. These rules and prohibitions have been made by the male staff.The male staff in the garage and other warehouses is a composition of your typical Pekin/Peoria tavern-festing, vulgar bubbas. Some of the young women, having had no positive male influence in the home, are put into situations with male staff. These often become sexually provocative. Who suffers?

Another staff member deserving of comment is the Kitchen supervisor, Armando. He may once have been an illegal in this country, but his job has given him an outlet for conducting himself the way they do in a banana republic. The girls must wear their greens every day. This, too, isn't done in the male facilities. And, they must wear big black boots. Who has the contract for these unnecessary boots? They are all, whether fat or thin) further obliged to wear their shirts tucked in. Armando expects them to wear their sweatshirts tucked in too, so they cannot camouflage their stomachs or butts. He publicly humiliates the fat women.

He serves minuscule portions, and watches whether anyone gets too much from the lineservers. That's possibly why seized "contraband" is the palatable leftover food. Armando reheats baked goods. He serves "desert storm" food, i.e., actual remnants from the Desert Storm War, as the packages and cans display. He substitutes ketchup into sauces. He bars anyone from reading in the kitchen: "this is not a hotel" (in heavily accented English). Unlike the men, women are only allowed milk during breakfast hours of 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. (they say 6:45 a.m. but it's not). The Camp Administrator will state that they can drink as much milk as they want at that hour. Why the disparity, especially since women need milk and calcium more than do the men.

Staff is gone by Thurs. afternoon. Sometimes, one or two may be available on a Friday. On Sundays, there is only one guard. Thus, the women conduct themselves alone, peaceably, without the staff, from Fri. afternoon until Monday morning, when the cycle begins again.

I doubt that the men would tolerate this kind of conduct, but because these are women, first time, non-violent offenders, and many white collar housewives, they bow to the authorities.

Posted by: Fluffy Rosinia | Dec 6, 2006 4:02:05 PM

Is the prison in Waseca, Minnesota where Jeffrey Skilling will be imprisoned like other prisons? if not, how is it different?

Do people think Kenneth Lay is really dead?

How much money did they steal?

Posted by: Anonymous | Dec 12, 2006 10:40:52 PM

I just wanted to say you are 100% right.It is unreal just how much the camp at Pekin has been over looked.I spent almost 3 years there and seen how visters as well as inmates where traeted it is a same why these mothers can not be home with there childern.They are not a threat or they would be behind a fence.I beleave these ladies should be given a 2nd chance.I am not saying we are inocent but alot of these ladies should not be doing 5-10-15-20-23 years.

Posted by: teresa arnold | Feb 13, 2008 4:55:54 PM

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