Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Wow, Do I Feel Silly

Believe it or not... and I still can't believe it... Jim Black is in Lewisburg. He left Friday (yesterday) morning and according to the BOP website, he is now in Lewisburg. 450 miles in one day. In a prison van. How did they do it?

Maybe BOP was reading my website and just wanted to prove me wrong so they drove him straight there (it's STILL a long way to go in a prison van) before transporting anyone else anywhere.

I still think everything I said was true because I know of other case stories but I was hoping that I could use Jim Black as an object lesson (not that I really wished the experience on him). I guess BOP wouldn't let me do that.


Coincidentally, my PO stopped by this morning (on a Saturday) and I was telling him about Jim Black getting to Lewisburg so fast. He said it is possible that he flew. I had forgotten about that possibility because normally the Justice Prisoner & Alien Transportation System (JPATS) -- also known as Con-Air -- flies through their central hub in Oklahoma City. Just like Fed-Ex flies all packages into Memphis and then redistributes them back out, so BOP send all prisoners to Oklahoma City where they have a special airport that is the holdover facility. In other words, the airport is itself a prison but exists solely to handle inmates temporarily who are in transit from one facility to another. I have heard that it is actually not that bad of a place. The flights on the other hand I have heard are not so pleasant.

For a first-hand account of the Con-Air experience click here.

You can also read Michael Santos' description on his website (scroll down to Prison Transit section).

Trivia: Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, when the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all civilian air service, Con-Air was the only non-military air service allowed to continue flying in U.S. airspace.

I don't think Jim Black flew Con-Air but since, technically, he never was in custody of BOP (just the US Marshals), he possibly could have flown commercial at his own expense with an accompanying marshal -- I vaguely recall an inmate tell me that a private flight is an option he tried to utilize once when he needed to travel from Pensacola to New York City for a resentencing hearing. It costs some ridiculous amount like $10K, which he was prepared to pay, but he was turned down. Instead, his roundtrip diesel therapy experience lasted 3 months, including scenic stops in Atlanta and Oklahoma City.

As for Jim Black, this solution actually would make a lot of sense for all involved and explain how he could have gotten to Lewisburg so fast and still been processed that afternoon and have it already listed on the BOP website. Even under the best case scenario, I don't think all this could have been accomplished by van.

I'm surprised I didn't think of this earlier. They reported that he entered a van but the van could have taken him to the airport. Hopefully I can verify some of this in the next couple days.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Bill
Please note that he is somewhat of a celebrity or person of importance (public figure-official), so they might have not grouped him with the rest of the federal inmates for transport and probably made a special trip for an old man, maybe even conair. But then again that would defeat the BOP's objective that they are independent and will treat everyone the same....hmmmm

I know that they will screw with you if they can and haul you like a bunch of cattle.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it looks like the FPC you attended made the 2006 FORBES list of best Federal Prisons. So you picked the right place. If your sentence would have been the worst case scenario 16 months or more what location would you have requested and why?

Anonymous said...

I just read your post on FORBES best Prisons, here is another link for white collar prisons.

I read an interesting article I cant find the link but it was about Ex-Enron CEO Skilling who is in WASECA someplace in cold MN maybe a camp or low. He is participating in DAP to reduce his sentence by maybe half. I am not sure how he qualified but probably made up a story about being an alcholic or something. The DAP program requires 4 hrs a day and then some exams and once you pass the inmate I believe can shave off 50%? of their time. This is a good program for any inmate with time between 2-6 years.

Bill, please correct me if I am wrong with the above statements as you may know more about DAP and how it can shave time off your sentence. I know that you get 15% automatic good time if 12 months and over, but participating in DAP can help a lot to get home faster.

Bill Bailey said...

I was aware of the article in Forbes. My request of Pensacola, however, was based on the fact that it was the closest camp to my parents... the fact that it was rated highly was a bonus. My dad is from Pensacola and he now lives one hour from there. I have visited Pensacola virtually every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember.

As for Skilling, due to the length of his sentence -- 24 years, 4 months -- he cannot be in a camp. Waseca is a low. You have to be within 10 years of release to qualify for a camp.

As for the DAP program, I wrote about this in my Jim Black and the RDAP program post, where I provide additional links for documentation.

My understanding is that you can only be considered for the DAP program when you are within 36 months of your release and you can't begin the program until you are within 27 months. Currently, most people are getting in with 22-24 months left.

The program is 9 months of class work (4 hours either in the morning or afternoon 5 days a week) followed by 6 months in a halfway house. Thus, if you get in with 27 months left on your sentence (including your halfway house time), then you can effectively get your sentence reduced by one year.

That's it.

One year reduction if you have a 2-6 year sentence is a big deal. One year reduction from a 24 years sentence isn't quite as exciting.

I know of no way that Skilling can get 50% off his sentence.

My calculation is as follows:

His sentence is 292 months. The so-called 15% good time credit is a fallacy. It actually works out to 12.8% (47 days instead of 54 days per year -- I really need to write a separate article on the subject because something that should be very simple is actually very complicated -- see this explanation)

My count is he will do 21 years, 2 months. 6 months of that will be halfway house. He can get an additional year knocked off for DAP program. Thus his best case (barring a pardon of course) is that he will serve just under 20 years in prison followed by 6 months in a halfway house.

Bill Bailey said...

The Waseca Federal Correctional Institution link was wrong in the previous comment. Try this.

Anonymous said...

good points everyone...also medical and dental is important prior to SS. Read this

Anonymous said...


Missed the blog the last few days. I hope you are well. Any luck verifying the Jim Black transporation story? Thanks!