It is outrageous that authorities create false hope. They create and announce this mechanism, yet damn near NONE of such requests are granted.
The fact is that this is bullshit job preservation. For every 1 person arrested, 29 people benefit financially. Many are prison guards and probation officers. They are not about to let large numbers of ex offenders get out of the system!
Excerpts from the Article:
Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Marie Neba feared dying in federal prison. The 56-year-old had stage 4 cancer — and three children waiting for her at home. “Right now, I can barely walk around because of generalized body pain and feet numbness,” she wrote, as she struggled through chemotherapy earlier this year. “The way things are going regarding my treatments here at Carswell can lead me to my grave.”
But last year when she tried to get a rare compassionate release from Carswell medical prison in North Texas, the warden denied her request. When Covid-19 hit, she tried again with a fresh request on March 30 — and this time the warden ignored her altogether.
In total, 349 women, about a quarter of the prison’s inmates, asked for compassionate release during the first three months of the pandemic. The warden denied or failed to respond to 346 of them, including Neba, who was in prison for Medicare fraud — even though federal guidelines allow compassionate release for terminally ill prisoners if they do not pose a danger to the community. In the months that followed, more than 500 women at Carswell fell ill with Covid-19 and six died. Neba was one of them.
Data recently obtained by The Marshall Project underscores what attorneys, advocates and experts have long suspected: As the pandemic ramped up, federal prison wardens denied or ignored more than 98 percent of compassionate release requests, including many from medically vulnerable prisoners like Neba. Wardens are the first line of review; ultimately, compassionate release petitions must be approved by a judge. Though the Bureau of Prisons has previously posted information about the number of people let out on compassionate release, it wasn’t clear until now just how many prisoners applied for it or how frequently wardens denied these requests despite widespread calls to reduce the prison population in the face of the pandemic.
Of the 10,940 federal prisoners who applied for compassionate release from March through May, wardens approved 156. Some wardens, including those at Seagoville in Texas and Oakdale in Louisiana, did not respond to any request in that time frame, according to the data, while others responded only to deny them all. Higher-ups in Washington, D.C., reviewed 84 of the warden approvals and overturned all but 11. Time and again, the only way prisoners were able to win compassionate release was to take the bureau to court to fight the wardens’ denials.
For dozens of people stuck behind bars, the virus has proved fatal; so far, 134 federal prisoners have died of Covid-19, and more than 15,800 have fallen ill. A statement from the Bureau of Prisons did not address specific questions, including why some wardens failed to respond to release requests. The wardens referred questions to the bureau.
There are currently two main ways to get out of federal prison early. One is known as home confinement, when prisoners are allowed to finish their sentences at home or in halfway houses. They’re still considered in custody, and the decision to let them go is entirely up to the Bureau of Prisons, with no legal recourse in the courts. At the start of the pandemic, a federal coronavirus relief bill expanded the eligibility criteria, and the bureau has since sent more than 7,700 prisoners to home confinement, the equivalent of 4.6 percent of the prison population at the start of the pandemic.
The other way to get out of prison early is compassionate release, in which a judge agrees to reduce a prisoner’s sentence to time served. But first, the prisoner must ask the warden for approval. After a warden denies the request or 30 days pass with no response, the prisoner can take the case to court and ask for a judge to approve it. So far, more than 1,600 people have been let out on compassionate release since the start of the pandemic — many of them despite the bureau’s best efforts to thwart them.
“Initially, they just opposed them all,” said Kevin Ring, president of the prisoner advocacy group FAMM. “They thought Covid-19 was no reason to let people out. They said prison was going to be safer.”
The Bureau of Prisons seems to have decided to rely on home confinement — where the bureau retains control over the person — rather than compassionate release, which reduces the sentence to zero, Ring said.
“They think their job is to keep people in prison, not to let people out,” he said. “Jailers gonna jail.”
Officials were slow to turn to home confinement, which didn’t ramp up until May, and were resistant to compassionate release even as the virus spread through the prison system and prisoners began filing lawsuits over the bureau’s refusal to send people home. At Elkton, an early hot spot in Ohio where nine prisoners died of Covid-19 and more than 900 got sick beginning in March, the warden denied 866 out of 867 requests for compassionate release between March 1 and May 31.
In California, the prison at Terminal Island became the site of a major outbreak, with 694 prisoners testing positive by the end of May. But the warden only approved five of the 256 compassionate release requests filed by that time.
At Butner, a four-prison complex in North Carolina where 25 prisoners and one correctional officer died in May and June, officials approved 29 of 524 requests by the end of May.
At some prisons, the low number of requests raised questions about the bureau’s recordkeeping. For example, at the Oakdale complex, an early hot spot in Louisiana where eight prisoners have died, officials reported just 95 compassionate release applications by the end of May out of a population of more than 1,700. The warden took action on none of them. At the same time, the prison racked up 191 positive cases.
Likewise at Forrest City, a two-prison complex in Arkansas where more than 700 men fell ill, officials reported only three applications by the end of May. All three were approved.
For more than a dozen institutions, including all 11 of the privately run federal prisons, the bureau listed no compassionate release requests at all.
“The numbers seem incorrect,” said Somil Trivedi, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, who has helped coordinate lawsuits against federal prisons. “I just don’t feel like they’re counting them all. This has to be an undercount because of the informal nature of the process.”
From the Carswell prison, Marie Neba wrote letters to U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen complaining about poor medical care and her worsening health as the pandemic continued. She worried about who would support her 21-year-old daughter in caring for her 9-year-old twin boys if she died in prison. Her husband, who was indicted in the same Medicare fraud case, fled the country for their native Cameroon to avoid trial.
Federal guidelines say that terminal illness, including metastatic cancer, is grounds for compassionate release. But after the Carswell warden ignored Neba’s request and she took her plea to court in April, federal prosecutors fought it aggressively, saying she didn’t deserve a 70-year reduction in her 75-year sentence. They argued, despite widespread reports to the contrary, that the Bureau of Prisons was doing its best to limit the spread of disease behind bars.
In April, government lawyers claimed Neba’s health wasn’t really deteriorating. As evidence of that, prosecutor Catherine Wagner produced a video showing Neba walking on a treadmill and using small weights in the medical center gym, pointing out that she was well enough to be “sweating and walking unassisted.” Neba’s lawyer said she was only following her doctor’s orders.
“He told her to exercise and eat right,” Zachary Newland said. Making sure she took care of herself, Newland hoped, would keep her alive and free of Covid-19 until she could come home.
Wagner and Department of Justice officials declined to comment.
The bureau took nearly three months to respond to The Marshall Project’s request for data on applications for compassionate release and how wardens responded, so the information that the bureau produced only goes through the end of May.
But more people won compassionate release in recent months than at the start of the pandemic. The Marshall Project’s tracking of publicly posted data shows that release numbers grew slowly in April, May and June before nearly doubling in August, when close to 500 people were freed. But those figures dropped in September, and attorneys and experts say that prison officials are still denying releases and that prosecutors are typically opposing the requests in court.
Another recent case in which both the bureau and prosecutors opposed release was that of Jordan Jucutan, a former Army Reserve recruiter sentenced to 28 months in prison for claiming bonuses for soldiers he didn’t really recruit. He was obese, asthmatic and needed two inhalers, but prosecutors claimed in court that he was “actually much safer” behind bars than he would be if he were released, because his home county — Thurston County in Washington — had more coronavirus cases than the prison did. A federal judge found that argument unpersuasive: “It makes little sense to compare a prison in Oregon with a whole county in another state,” Judge Ramona Manglona wrote, before approving Jucutan’s release from FCI Sheridan in September.
Even in the rare instances in which prison officials agree that someone deserves compassionate release, advocates say, they’re still not initiating the process; instead, it’s up to the prisoners to do that themselves. “We are not aware of a single BOP-initiated motion for compassionate release based on heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection,“ said Davina Chen, a senior federal defender in Los Angeles. Instead, the 1,600-plus prisoners granted compassionate release this year applied with the help of lawyers; a few filed requests in court on their own. Defense lawyers have a word to describe bureau-initiated compassionate release cases: “unicorns.”
After months of warning prison officials that she was high-risk, Neba tested positive for the coronavirus in July. By August, prison medical staff thought she had recovered. But then, she developed shortness of breath. She was sent to a hospital in Fort Worth, where she was shackled to her bed and told that she still had Covid-19. There, a nurse made a video call on FaceTime to show Neba to her 21-year-old daughter, Claudel Tilong, whom she hadn’t seen since March, when the federal prison system cut off visits due to the pandemic. As Tilong struggled to recognize her dying mother, now a frail woman with ashen skin and vacant eyes, a correctional officer in the room interrupted and ended the call. Tilong recalled the words: “It’s not allowed.”
With his client in worsening condition, Neba’s lawyer again begged federal prosecutors to stop opposing her release. “This is not about Neba anymore,” Newland wrote in an Aug. 17 email. “She’s dying and cannot speak to even make peace with her children if she wanted to do so.”
Still, they refused. So on Aug. 26, Newland begged the judge to end Neba’s sentence. Hours after filing that request, he learned it was too late.
Neba had died a day earlier. A nurse had called Tilong on FaceTime and, sitting in a parked car, Tilong and her 9-year-old twin brothers watched their comatose mother take her last breaths with ventilator tubes in her nose.
He was given an eleven year sentence, not a death sentence. NOBODY should die from such neglect. Authorities create this “emergency out” mechanism, but only a handful are granted! It’s BULLSHIT!
What they don’t tell you, but I know from my many contacts, is: As soon as they are out of camera range, MANY prison staff remove their masks! Yes, they are that stupid.
Excerpts from the Article:
Waylon Young Bird, a 52-year-old federal prisoner with severe kidney disease, did not give up after his request for a compassionate release because of COVID-19 risks was denied in June. He wrote a letter to his judge that same week pleading for mercy. Then another a day or two later.
“I’m writing again because this morning, around 10 a.m., an inmate next to me said, ‘It’s here, Chief,’” wrote Young Bird, a Native American from South Dakota.
“It’s official now, that the first case of coronavirus is here at Springfield, Mo., medical center.”
Young Bird had been incarcerated at the facility since September 2019 on an 11-year sentence for distributing methamphetamine. The institution houses roughly 840 inmates with severe medical problems.
As the summer dragged on and the coronavirus rampaged across middle America, Young Bird kept writing to U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange.
On June 14, he wrote that he feared the virus will soon start spreading, he didn’t want to die behind bars and he longed to see his disabled sister and his four kids “who need me.” On Aug. 7, he told the judge that he found out his “aunty mom,” Joann Young Bird, had died and how he wished to attend her funeral.
And finally, in a letter dated Oct. 28, he wrote that dozens of inmates in his unit had tested positive but he was, so far, one of the lucky ones.
“I’m afraid I may be infected by the time you read this letter,” he wrote. “Please as a compassionate judge, can you help me thru this situation.” Young Bird tested positive for the virus the next day. He died exactly a week later, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
“I find it very hard to comprehend,” said one of his daughters, Casina Brewer, 26. “I just feel like he was ignored.”
Three other inmates from the Springfield facility died on the same day as Young Bird. At least seven have succumbed to the virus this month alone, according to the Bureau of Prisons.
Such an outbreak at a federal institution housing seriously ill inmates represents a nightmare scenario, experts say. “We have very vulnerable people in one place, and my experience is prison medical centers do not operate with the same level of infection control that we find in community hospitals,” said Dr. Homer Venters, former chief medical officer of the New York City jail system. “There can be devastating consequences.”
Venters, who now works as an expert consultant on health services in correctional settings, has inspected 18 state and federal prisons since the pandemic struck. The Springfield facility was not among them.
He said it’s critical for prison medical facilities to be able to isolate infected patients and still provide them with a high level of care. Yet he’s found that prisons often provide insufficient Covid-19 screening for inmates and staffers and fail to provide the proper training and personal protective equipment needed to ensure a safe environment.
“These are things that were on everyone’s radar in community hospitals by April, but my experience is prison hospitals even today are not functioning with the high level of infection control and PPE they need to protect high-risk patients,” added Venters, who is the president of Community Oriented Correctional Health Systems, a nonprofit that works to improve health care behind bars.
Since the start of the pandemic, the agency has released 17,530 inmates to home confinement.
Federal inmates can also get out of prison early through a compassionate release, which is authorized by a judge and amounts to a sentence reduction to time served. But prisoners must first file a request with the institution’s warden. After a warden denies the request or 30 days pass with no response, the inmate can then petition their sentencing judge.
According to data compiled by the Marshall Project, federal prison wardens denied or ignored more than 98 percent of compassionate release requests.
“Most of the people who are high risk in prison are still in prison,” Venters said. Young Bird wasn’t the only Springfield inmate to die from Covid-19 after being denied a request to be released from the virus-hit facility. At least two other inmates who were also suffering from kidney disease, Torrick Lyles and David Cross, also succumbed to the coronavirus after their bids were denied, according to court documents.
Young Bird was arrested in March 2018 when, during a traffic stop on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, officers found 10 grams of meth hidden in his sock in eight baggies. A federal jury convicted him on one count of conspiracy to distribute and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.
Young Bird was on dialysis for his kidney disease, his heart operated at half the normal rate and one of his toes was amputated due to diabetes, the documents say. The warden denied his request on the grounds that his condition was not terminal and his life expectancy was greater than 18 months.
As the Covid-19 crisis worsened, Young Bird petitioned the judge who had sentenced him. In his court motion, Young Bird’s attorney argued that his serious health conditions, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, amounted to an “extraordinary and compelling reason” to reduce his sentence to time served or impose a period of home confinement.
By then, Young Bird had written a letter to his hometown newspaper apologizing to those people in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe that “I hurt through my drug and alcohol use.”
“I was addicted to methamphetamine (crystal meth) and alcohol, a legal drug,” Young Bird wrote. “Both are very hard to get off, there in the free world. I have disappointed a lot of my people, and carry a lot of shame and regret.”
“I’m very saddened by his death,” the judge added. “It’s terrible how the virus has affected inmates both in federal and in state custody, and I just wish Mr. Young Bird’s family the very best.”
Young Bird wrote Lange a total of 17 letters starting in mid-March. The prolific letter writer never mentioned, however, what he did shortly before he was arrested. Following the death of his sister, Young Bird hosted a large dinner in the South Dakota town of Dupree to honor her memory. It ended with an extraordinary act of generosity, his family members said. “He bought blankets, sweaters, socks, dreamcatchers — anything you could think of,” said his aunt Jo Lynn Little Wounded. “He just passed them all out to the homeless people in the community. It was something I’ll never forget.”
After Young Bird died, Little Wounded wanted to do the same thing to honor him.
But the virus was spiking in North Dakota. There would be no big dinner. No giveaway.
About 100 family members gathered for a graveside service last Saturday, where three singers from a nearby Indian reservation sang a prayer song before Young Bird’s body was lowered into the ground.
Tell me something I don’t know!
May any tRumpster dumb enough to cause violence on behalf of our Douche Bag in Chief be swiftly arrested!
Excerpts from the Article:
Dr. Bandy X. Lee was interviewed by Patrick R. McElligott, who is a retired psychiatric social worker from upstate New York. He has decades of experience in grass roots social-political activism, including working on his late friend Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s case, serving as Onondaga Nation Chief Paul Waterman’s top assistant on burial protection and repatriation, and providing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency information on Super Fund sites for federal court cases. Dr. Lee agreed to an interview regarding current events in post-election America.
McElligott: In April, 2017, you organized the “Duty to Warn” Conference. Later, you were the editor and contributor to the book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. Has Donald Trump’s behaviors since losing the 2020 election reinforced your opinion on the dangers Trump poses to a civilized society?
Lee: Absolutely. We are seeing the last bout of just how much he is willing and able to destroy norms and to push the limits. It is clear he does not intend to leave without placing us in further danger, and without obstructing the president-elect’s agenda as much as possible. My regret is that, because of the “gag order” on all mental health experts, which the American Psychiatric Association forced through public campaigns since this administration, the people are still left vulnerable without having learned much. As we see from the 72 million who voted for him again, we are very likely to repeat our errors.
I again lament the American Psychiatric Association’s acting as an arm of the government, and not only itself failing to meet its societal responsibility but preventing other professionals from doing so, as outlined in its own ethics code. Education and awareness about psychological dynamics had the potential not only to prevent vast harm to the public’s collective mental health but to save a quarter million lives. Instead, by keeping the public in the dark and unable to protect itself, extreme dangers continue.
The formal study of “crowd behavior” began in 1908 (F.H. Giddings). In the late 1950’s, sociologists first used photographs and film to support their theories (R. Turner, l. Killian). In general, crowds can behave the existing social structures, such as laws, and can organize in a positive, meaningful manner. However, with the introduction of rumors, panic, and/or hysteria, crowds can easily be led to participate in behaviors that are well outside of the social structures, and include riots and arson. In our nation’s history, for example from the post Civil War era until the 1950’s, this included groups such as the Ku Klux Klan lynching black Americans, attacking Native American communities, and the too often forgotten “disappearing” of Chinese immigrants by the hundreds (likely thousands) in the “old west.” What factors beyond Trump are responsible for the current rise in these types of threats?
A spectrum of theories exist about group behavior, from irrationality as the predominant observation, as by Gustave Le Bon, to the unrealistic “rational choice theory,” which dominates a lot of economic and political science models. I find the multi-layered understanding of psychoanalysis to be more consistent with the complexity of the human mind, including in groups. We think of laws and social norms as objects that are “out there,” but they are rational constructs that require mental health to operate and have meaning in the collective mind. And just as individuals cannot function at a higher level if the mind breaks down, neither can groups. Unconscious, “primitive” processes take over in situations of regression, but we can guard against this through awareness, education, and engagement in collective decision-making. Many advanced democracies have developed into harmonious, higher-functioning societies, which improve a society’s health across many domains. Donald Trump is a product as well as a cause of breakdown of democratic organization.
Yesterday, a news report from Utah showed that a hospital had problems with a group of five conspiracy theorists seeking to enter and film its Intensive Care Unit. They were convinced that it was not filled with COVID 19 patients. Such behaviors cause unnecessary strain on the medical professionals. What factors have turned so many seemingly “normal” people into being aggressively anti-science?
They are not just anti-science but tragically anti-reality now. Taking their cues from a president whose fantasy is that he be a “winner” and that a deadly pandemic be a “hoax”, they know well what is required of them. I have defined authoritarianism as “the handing over of all institutional, professional, and personal authority, including over their own survival, so as to appease a single person.” The more his followers’ minds are controlled, and the more horrific his oppression and massacre of the people, the less they will be able to face the truth. Therefore, a subconscious collusion happens between perpetrator and victims. We can see how powerful this emotional force is if we recall that the pandemic was not always politicized, and the right mindset in the beginning would have changed people’s behavior to be life-saving instead of death-spreading.
When the media announced that Joe Biden had won the election, and is indeed the president-elect, public celebrations across the country rivaled those at the end of WW2. By no coincidence, similar celebrations took place across Europe, and in many other places around the globe. However, it appears the January 20 presidential inauguration ceremony will come at a time when the virus will hold an increased risk of spreading. There also seems to be a risk of white nationalist Trump supporters planning to disrupt the events in Washington, DC, on that day. Do you have any thoughts about how those celebrating the long national nightmare coming to an end honor the day?
The public celebrations were phenomenal, indeed. You can see the level of oppression, fear, and sense of seizure people have been living under, the world over. However, I am worried not only about the inauguration but the persistent lack of awareness of psychological factors. Politicians, networks, and social media are still giving him a platform, without realizing how destructive this can be, capable even of disrupting an election through psychological manipulation. After a recent rally in Washington energized him, he responded by “tweet”: “ANTIFA SCUM ran for the hills today when they tried attacking the people at the Trump Rally, because those people aggressively fought back. Antifa waited until tonight, when 99% were gone, to attack innocent #MAGA People. DC Police, get going—do your job and don’t hold back!!!” He shows that he would not hesitate to cause violence and mayhem to stay in power, in which case there may not even be an inauguration day if we are not vigilant.
I think there are several distinct, though overlapping, levels within the millions that voted for Trump in 2020. Some were motivated primarily by financial issues, others by long term party loyalty, many by an external locus of control looking for a hero, and still others by fear and anger. I remember years ago, when Rubin “Hurricane” called me from the other side of the world, when he was working with Nelson Mandela on an attempt to get peace in the Middle East, based on South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Do you think something similar to that is possible in this country, or are we more likely to experience something similar to “the Troubles” in Ireland?
I believe it is useful to keep in mind that followers of Trump are diverse and complex, but we should not miss important overarching patterns. First, there is the psychological injury that relative, not absolute, poverty produces—whether it is relative to previous generations or those currently at the top—and this makes people vulnerable to false authority figures. Sociopathic individuals who exploit such psychological vulnerabilities to claim they will take care of them, when their intention is to plunder, become a gift for the billionaires. There is nothing like mental pathology to distract and detach people from the reality of their unfair power arrangement. So, as a psychiatrist, I consider the time when our society consults with mental health experts, whether for the 25th Amendment or some other intervention, to be the moment when it is ready for truth and reconciliation; for now, we are worsening the troubles just to avoid facing the issue. In my new book, Profile of a Nation: Trump’s Mind, America’s Soul, I recommend three steps: (1) removal of offending agent (the influential person with severe symptoms); (2) dismantling cultic programming and propaganda, which have vastly increased in recent years; and (3) fixing the socioeconomic conditions that give rise to poor collective mental health in the first place.
Kathy again is doing the right thing!
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings on Friday called on U.S. Attorney General William Barr to reverse his change to a 40-year-old U.S. Department of Justice policy that until this week had kept the department from interfering with election results, according to a news release.
In a letter to AG Barr, AG Jennings and 22 other attorneys general strongly objected to Monday’s directive allowing U.S. attorneys to pursue allegations of voter fraud, which flouts long-established policies intended to prevent law enforcement agencies from influencing the outcome of an election, the news release said.
“The people have spoken, and the election was secure and fair,” she said.
“Fearmongering will not change the result. The Elections Clause of the United States Constitution directs and empowers the states to regulate elections. Election officials from both political parties have made it abundantly clear that there is no evidence that widespread voter fraud affected the outcome of the presidential election.
“AG Barr’s senseless and unprecedented decision attacks the core values of our democracy and risks the baseless erosion of public trust in our elections.”
The AGs’ letter concluded with: “We write, therefore, to express our strong objection to your directive that U.S. attorneys may now pursue allegations of voter fraud without adhering to these long-established and important guardrails. This reversal of departmental policy will erode the public’s confidence in the election. While we are confident any such investigations will not succeed in overturning the election’s outcome, we believe that using the Department of Justice to stoke these efforts will come at the terrible cost of undermining trust in the democratic institutions on which this country depends.
“The people of the United States have spoken. The U.S. Department of Justice should not interfere with their choice, nor should it undermine confidence in the electoral process. We ask that you respect the will of the people and reverse your decision promptly.”
Joining AG Jennings are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
THE MURDER OF PVT. NICOLE BURNHAM – WHEN DRIVEN TO SUICIDE, IT’S MURDER – FAILURE TO ACT PRUDENTLY MAKES THE UNITED STATES ARMY AN ACCESSORY TO HER MURDER – With Letter to the Editor – kra
Everyone should be OUTRAGED by the way the Army treated this soldier! OUTRAGED. Demand change by calling the number below.
Several news organizations are now disclosing the shameful neglect by the Military – the Pentagon – of sexual abuse of those who serve, committed by their colleagues.
Excerpts from the Article:
Another excellent example of Army leadership. The United States Army should be absolutely ashamed of how they handled the sexual assaults of Pvt. Nicole Burnham and the relentless cyber bullying she was subjected to that lead to her death. Cyber bullying is not just a problem that plagues children in the civilian world, it occurs to people of all ages, including our seniors. In this case, it was a 21-year-old Army private who had reached out to her command for help and got little or no help in response. In fact, they made it worse.
We receive lots of stories about abuses that occur in our military, but this story makes us angry and sad. The outrageous failure of the United States Army to act prudently contributed to the death of Pvt. Burnham. Her death is viewed by us as murder because she was driven to suicide. Furthermore, the failure to act properly and judiciously makes the United States Army an accessory to the murder of Nicole Burnham.
She sought help from her chain of command and effectively received little or none. In fact, the Army made the situation worse. Feeling she had nowhere else to turn she allegedly committed suicide. We say allegedly because usually when we hear of suicides in the military, traditionally there are a percentage that were murders staged to look like a suicide.
Channel Five Eyewitness News of St. Paul, Minnesota did an excellent job reporting this horrible tragedy and we pass it along as evidence that sometimes our military couldn’t care less about well-being of their sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines. The question we have is simple; are they really going to hold people accountable for this senseless and tragic loss of life? is the Army going to hold the perpetrator(s) accountable and those in the chain of command who looked the other way.
More than one person in her chain of command gave Pvt. Burnham nothing but indifference. And, when they ignored the situation, they were protecting the perpetrators to continue a campaign of despicable bullying that pushed her to the brink? Who knew or should have known this was going on and failed to due their duty to protect Pvt. Burnham? Was it a corporal, sergeant, master sergeant, a second lieutenant, first lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel. How many people in her chain of command looked the other way and allowed the bullies devour a member of their command?
A Minnesota soldier died by suicide earlier this year after she was sexually assaulted and harassed on a U.S. Army base in South Korea, according to investigative reports obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
Pvt. Nicole Burnham’s death in January prompted an Army investigation that revealed a series of failures by her commanding officers. The report also shows Nicole was kept on the base for nearly three months after requesting to be transferred back to the United States.
During that time, the 21-year-old from Andover, Minn. was housed in the same barracks as her attacker and was the victim of repeated harassment and cyber-bullying, according to military records. On social media, she was called a “slut, deserving of rape,” records show.
Nicole’s ranking officers, who were responsible for her safety, are accused of ignoring the harassment. The investigative report also shows they failed to report Nicole’s suicidal ideations to commanders on the base.
A former military prosecutor said in an interview that the investigation shows command staff repeatedly violated policies after Nicole reported being sexually assaulted. Stacey Burnham, Nicole’s mother, said the Army failed to protect her daughter.
“How does this happen?” Burnham said. “How does somebody fall through every single crack?” Nicole died on Jan. 26, 2018. She hung herself in a closet in her room weeks after arriving at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“It’s just like you see in the movies,” Stacey said about the day she learned of Nicole’s death. “They knock on the door and give you the ‘I regret to inform you’ speech.”
What’s left of her youngest child is an urn on the fireplace hearth and a Gold Star in the window, signifying that the family has lost a member while in the armed services. Photos that show Nicole in high school and in the service are framed and hung around the living room.
“I can put every single photo I have of her into a photo album because the last one is the last,” Stacey said. “There will never be another photo of her.” Nicole enlisted in the Army in 2015, shortly after graduating from Anoka High School. Her first assignment was at Camp Casey in South Korea.
“She enjoyed Korea… She said she had a beautiful view of the mountains,” Stacey said. “There was no fear, there was no hesitation.” Fellow soldiers described Nicole to Army investigators as “cheerful, down to earth,” when she arrived at Camp Casey in Tongduchon, Republic of Korea.
Months later, her peers and her family members described a shift in Nicole’s personality. ‘It’s Inconceivable that They Let her Languish in Korea’ Army documents show Nicole reported she was sexually assaulted on Sept. 15, 2017.
“I never, never thought another soldier that she served with would hurt her,” Stacey said. The soldier who attacked Nicole was eventually court-martialed. Burnham said the family agreed to a plea deal that resulted in the soldier receiving a less than honorable discharge.
While the Army investigated the attack, Nicole requested an Expedited Victim Transfer which allows victims of sexual assault to be transferred to another base following a credible allegation. “I have a fear of running into the offender or people creating rumors of the incident, regardless of where I may go in Korea,” Nicole wrote on her request for transfer.
Documents show a commander approved the request on September 22, but Nicole did not leave Camp Casey until Dec. 12, 2017 – 82 days later. “The whole idea behind an Expedited Victim Transfer is just that, to expedite the process, to get them out,” Stacey said.
Nicole told at least one other soldier that the transfer was “taking too long,” according to investigative records. “It’s inconceivable that they let her languish in Korea,” said Don Christensen, president of Protect our Defenders, a Washington D.C. based non-profit dedicated to ending sexual assault and harassment in the military.
Christensen, a retired Air Force Col. who spent 20 years prosecuting sexual assault in the military, reviewed the investigative records obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “The military can get forces to a country in a time of conflict in a matter of hours,” he said. “They should be able to get a single soldier…out of an installation within hours.”
While she waited to be transferred, Nicole “remained in the same barracks…” as did her attacker. Army investigators concluded there was no evidence that commanding officers considered separating the two until October, when Nicole’s attacker “allegedly jumped out to scare and intimidate her.”
“Again, it was just a falling through yet another crack,” Stacey said in response to the investigative findings from the Army. Nicole was moved to new barracks at Camp Casey but in the weeks that followed, she was subjected to harassment from within the ranks including from her attacker, fellow soldiers and their wives.
Army investigators concluded that Nicole “didn’t report the harassment to her chain of command…” However, in a sworn statement, a fellow soldier said “most of the [officers] were aware of the derogatory statements, harassment and intimidation… yet they turned a blind eye.”
Not only did superior officers know about the harassment, they knew Nicole may have been suicidal, according to the report. In October 2017, while waiting to be transferred, Nicole made a “specific suicidal ideation,” stating that “she couldn’t take it anymore,” records show.
Investigators found a commander violated Army policy by not reporting those comments up the chain of command, thus “preventing more accurate assessments” of Nicole’s emotional state. Investigators learned that Nicole told another soldier numerous times that “she didn’t want to be here, didn’t want to be alive.” But Army investigators concluded the climate in the unit did not allow for “open reporting” of the harassment she faced.
Stacey said she could tell her daughter was suffering when she spoke to her on the phone but did not know about the suicidal comments, or the military’s failure to address them, until months later when the Army finished its investigation.
“There were times when [Nicole] would admit that, ‘I just didn’t want to talk to anybody, I’m depressed, I really don’t leave my room,’” Stacey said. “She never talked about being suicidal. It was more just like, ‘I can’t wait to get out of here.’”
When Nicole was finally transferred off the base last December, Army investigators found her commanders failed again. The report shows they did not alert staff at Fort Carson that she was a victim of sexual assault. “The people who were supposed to be there helping her just did not seem to care,” Burnham said.
Timeline of Events
Note: This timeline is based on the Army’s investigation into Nicole’s death and the events that led up to her suicide. It includes events that happened at both Camp Casey in Korea and at Fort Carson in Colorado.
Sept. 15, 2017 – Nicole reported the sexual assault
Sept. 19, 2017 – Nicole requested an Expedited Victim Transfer
Sept. 22, 2017 – Nicole’s commander approved the transfer
Dec. 12, 2017 – Nicole departed Korea and returned to Andover, Minn.
Dec. 29, 2017 – Nicole reported to her new base at Fort Carson, Colorado.
Jan. 25, 2018 – Nicole is informed that there is a chance she’d have to testify telephonically in a court-martial hearing for the soldier who attacked her. A fellow soldier who Nicole had served with in Korea receives messages from her, stating “you won’t hear from me tonight,” and “you won’t hear from me tomorrow.” The unidentified soldier sends Stacey Burnham a message, relaying his concerns about Nicole’s well-being.
Jan. 26, 2018 – Stacey Burnham reaches military police at Fort Carson and requests a welfare check on Nicole. Nicole is pronounced dead just after 7:30 a.m., after police found her hung from her closet in her room.
Letter to the Editor – Stop the Sexual Abuse of our Military by their Colleagues! – 11/20/20
Several news organizations are now disclosing the shameful neglect by the Military – the Pentagon – of sexual abuse toward those who serve, committed by their colleagues. Everyone should be outraged by what we are learning!
These women and men risk their lives, and when they have a problem involving the branch of the service in which the work, they expect and deserve serious help. Instead, they are being ignored, and often, the response they get to their complaints makes matters worse. Just google the topic, or the specific case of what happened to a soldier named Nicole Burnham. You will be appalled.
Every reader should CALL your Congressmen and Congresswomen at 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 and demand that the Military solve this widespread problem, by holding abusers accountable!
Ken Abraham, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, former Deputy Attorney General, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
God Bless those DACA kids. Soon, Biden will allow them to become citizens, joining millions of other immigrants, who truly made America GREAT!
Excerpts from the Article:
Chad Wolf was not legally serving as acting Homeland Security secretary when he signed rules limiting applications and renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and those rules are now invalid, a federal judge ruled Saturday.
Wolf in July issued a memo saying that new applications for DACA, the Obama-era program that shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, would not be accepted and renewals would be limited to one year instead of two amid an ongoing review. The ruling is another defeat for the Trump administration, which is now unlikely to be able to address DACA and the fate of Dreamers. The administration tried ending the program in 2017, but the US Supreme Court blocked their attempt in June. The memo invalidated on Saturday had sought to buy time while the administration decided its next steps. The President has been successful in achieving many immigration limits, but has not been able to significantly dismantle DACA, the now eight-year-old program.
Saturday’s ruling would be subject to appeal if the US government chooses to do so.
Over the course of Donald Trump’s presidency, DHS — the third-largest federal department — has had five secretaries, only two of whom have been confirmed by the Senate, and has run into a flurry of questions over the legitimacy and authority of those leading in acting capacities.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report in August saying Wolf’s appointment was part of an invalid order of succession.
A federal judge in Maryland also ruled that Wolf was likely serving unlawfully.
Without confirmation, Wolf’s appointment — and policies rolled out during his tenure — will continue to face questions.
McConnell spokesman Doug Andres told CNN on Thursday that there are no scheduling updates or guidance “at the moment” in regards to his confirmation.
All studies show that the best and most efficient way to reduce crime is to EDUCATE inmates.
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware announced a new partnership aimed at providing college-level instruction to inmates Thursday.
The collaboration between the Department of Correction, the Department of Education and Delaware Technical Community College takes advantage of the Second Chance Pell Experiment, a federal initiative that lets incarcerated individuals with need-based federal Pell Grants enroll in postsecondary programs through local colleges and universities or distance-learning programs.
DelTech will offer grants and courses through a pilot program to incarcerated students in two state correctional facilities. The pilot will begin in the spring with a series of human services classes at Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution and then expand to the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, both in New Castle County.
The grants can help cover the costs of tuition, fees and course materials.
Established by the U.S. Department of Education in 2015, the Second Chance Pell Experiment waives federal regulations that prohibit inmates from receiving federal grants. It aims to expand educational opportunities, thus driving reentry success and reducing recidivism.
“The Department of Correction is committed to driving reentry opportunities through innovative educational, treatment and training programs as we embrace our dual mission of public safety and second chances,” Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis said in a statement. “In addition to expanding access to vocational and skills training for incarcerated individuals, a college education can be their pathway to earning a livable wage and set their foundation for success in life.”
The human services courses will allow inmates to gain skills and training for social services, an area to which many ex-offenders are drawn, Ms. DeMatteis said.
Classes offered by DelTech through the Second Chance Pell Grant pilot initially will be delivered primarily in a virtual format through live video sessions between instructors and students. Information sessions will be held over the coming weeks to make inmates aware of these new educational offerings and help them initiate the application process.
The Vera Institute of Justice is providing technical support to help balance security and program success.
“The value of an education is more evident now with dramatic changes in Delaware’s job market,” state Education Secretary Susan Bunting said in a statement. “More education equates to more job opportunities and better paying jobs. Those exiting prison encounter additional barriers due to a criminal history even after serving their time. This pilot project will provide many prisoners with their first opportunity to ever attend postsecondary education.
“A RAND Corporation study found that inmates who participated in correctional education programs had 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than those who did not receive services. Consequently, this project is good business for the state, the job market, communities and offenders,” she added.
Prison education programs in Delaware are offered by Department of Education teachers and staff who are embedded in state correctional facilities. Prison education has more than 2,900 enrollments annually in academic, life skills and vocational training services across Delaware’s four prison facilities.
While adapting to COVID-19 restrictions during the current school year, prison education has already distributed 1,700 correspondence packets and conducted over 125 videoconferencing sessions with more than 600 incarcerated students.
Make no mistake about it: these laws prohibiting ex offenders from voting are racist. Most ex offenders are colored, and the powers that be do not want them to vote, plain and simple. I say again: voting rights should have nothing to do with one’s criminal record. There is NO logical, non racist connection.
Excerpt from the Article:
Florida’s legal battle to defend a 2019 law that requires felons to pay all “legal financial obligations” (LFOs) to be eligible to vote has cost taxpayers over $1.7 million, according to state records as of August 2020. [See PLN, July 2020, p.54.]
In November 2018, Florida voters overwhelming approved Amendment 4, which restored voting rights to felons, except those convicted of murder and sex offenses, “after they complete all terms of their sentences including parole and probation.” Florida’s Republican Legislature responded to that public mandate by passing SB 7066. That law required felons to pay all court ordered fines, fees, costs and restitution associated with their convictions to be eligible to vote.
Legislators “knew going into the  legislative session that they were going to be sued for it,” said Leah Aden of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Gov. Ron DeSantis authorized $2.34 million in contracts with private law firms to represent the State in defending against that litigation, which resulted in a September 11, 2020, en banc decision from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that reversed the district court’s judgment that found SB 7066 was an unconstitutional poll tax. 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 28851. [See PLN, October 2020, p. 46.] A week before DeSantis signed SB 7066 into law, the Florida Department of State (DOS) entered into an $800,000 contract with the Hopping Green & Sams law firm “to provide litigation services in matters concerning the implementation of Amendment 4 and SB 7066.”
Less than a month later, DOS signed a $1.275 million contract with Holland & Knight “to provide litigation services and assistance with expedited discovery” in the voting rights litigation.
As of August 2020, Hopping Green & Sams was paid $572,135.65. Florida’s Department of Financial Services website also showed Holland & Knight was paid $1.1 million by August. The amount of costs incurred by taxpayers for executive branch staff-related costs and fees is unknown.
With the Eleventh Circuit’s September ruling, the only litigation possibility that remained was to seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I do think the governor will spend whatever it takes to prevent people from voting,” said Howard Simon, former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “But if he’s going to prevent people from voting because they owe money, boy it would be nice if he spent a little bit of money creating some system telling people how much they have to pay.”
Jail video shows detention deputy repeatedly punching female inmate, BSO review finds ‘no misconduct’
This is the sort of BULLSHIT cover up which is so infuriating. There is NO excuse for what this guard did to the inmate.
The other side of the story is:
Excerpts from the article:
Video of an inmate taking repeated blows to the head inside a Broward County jail cell. The incident happened nearly a year ago, but it has not been exposed until now. 7’s Karen Hensel has this exclusive investigation: Beaten Behind Bars.
It was Dec. 22, 2019 inside the North Broward Bureau Jail in Pompano Beach. In surveillance video obtained exclusively by 7 Investigates, Broward Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy Wayne Mayberry is seen entering the screen with a female inmate.
Chet Epperson, former police chief: “Look, the video is very concerning.” The deputy and inmate appear to be grabbing each other’s clothes as she’s pushed into her cell.
This is what the video captures next. Deputy Mayberry swings at the inmate. He then punches her 13 times in rapid succession, using both his right and left fists before throwing her on the floor.
The video ends outside the cell after another deputy closes the door and Mayberry bends over one hand over his eye.
Chet Epperson: “We have a rather large correctional officer, who is striking the head of a very small woman.” A woman who is just 4 feet, 11 inches tall.
We showed the video and incident report to Chet Epperson, a former police chief. Chet Epperson: “Even prior to going into the cell, and so I’m looking at the back of the deputy, you can see his right arm up, so it looks like he’s going to strike someone.”
Deputy Mayberry’s report offers a glimpse into what, he said, happened prior to what we see on video. After a verbal exchange about a washcloth, he said the inmate “became belligerent.” When she didn’t comply with orders “to go back to her room,” the deputy stated he “took hold of her right shoulder sleeve.”
That’s when Mayberry wrote she “forcefully struck me in the face and throat, causing my eyeglasses to be knocked off my face” and yelled “I’m going to kill you!”
And two other inmates gave witness statements saying she went after the deputy, one writing she “hit him in the face multiple times.” Chet Epperson: “If I’m escorting the person into the cell, the simple thing to do is just to push that inmate into the cell and close the door. You try to avoid force at all costs.” Instead, at the cell door, Mayberry wrote she “spit in my face, eyes and mouth” … “gouged something into my right eye” and said he was “in fear of my life.”
The deputy said he “started hitting her with a closed hammer fist as fast as I could not knowing what I was hitting.”
Chet Epperson: “At a minimum, at a minimum, there needed — if there has not been — an investigation, an internal investigation, that should have taken place.”
BSO tells 7News they conducted a thorough review of the incident, including the surveillance video, and in a statement said: “Multiple reviews of the incident, including a preliminary review by BSO’s division of internal affairs, identified no misconduct by Deputy Mayberry…”
BSO provided us these pictures and said “Deputy Mayberry suffered serious injuries and required medical treatment at a hospital.”
The 22-year-old woman is accused of hurting another corrections officer in March at the same jail, a facility primarily for mentally ill and special needs inmates. That case is being handled in Broward mental health court.
But the inmate was not charged in the incident with Deputy Mayberry. BSO says whether to charge is at the discretion of the deputy, and it’s not uncommon for deputies assaulted by inmates to decline to file criminal charges because of mental health concerns at this jail.
Full BSO statement (7News has redacted the inmate’s name since she was not charged in the incident):
“On Dec. 22, 2019, Broward Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy Wayne Mayberry was attacked by a female inmate, [redacted], while he was performing his duties at the North Broward Bureau. The inmate repeatedly scratched and hit Deputy Mayberry in the face and throat, spit in his face and gouged something into one of his eyes. Deputy Mayberry suffered serious injuries and required medical treatment at a hospital.
After this incident occurred, BSO’s Department of Detention conducted a thorough review of the matter, as is policy in all use of force. Supervisors reviewed surveillance camera footage, conducted interviews and took photographs of Deputy Mayberry and inmate [redacted]. Inmate [redacted] refused to speak with a BSO lieutenant about the incident. Multiple reviews of the incident, including a preliminary review by BSO’s Division of Internal Affairs, identified no misconduct by Deputy Mayberry as the level of force used by him was an objectively reasonable response to the sudden attack he defended himself from and therefore no Internal Affairs investigation was warranted.
Generally speaking, in these types of incidents and based on the totality of the circumstances, it is at the discretion of the deputy whether to file an additional charge against an inmate. It is not uncommon for deputies assaulted by inmates housed in the North Broward Bureau due to mental health concerns to decline criminal charges.”
Watch the Video and The Whole Story:
The Trump administration’s argument about preventing the spread of the pandemic was clearly false BUUSLLSHIT to try to uphold their racist border policies.
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to stop expelling immigrant children who cross the southern border alone, halting a policy that has resulted in thousands of rapid deportations of minors during the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a preliminary injunction sought by legal groups suing on behalf of children whom the government sought to expel before they could request asylum or other protections under federal law.
The Trump administration has expelled at least 8,800 unaccompanied children since March, when it issued an emergency declaration citing the coronavirus as grounds for barring most people crossing the border from remaining in the United States.
Border agents have forced many people to return to Mexico right away, while detaining others in holding facilities or hotels, sometimes for days or weeks. Meanwhile, government-funded facilities meant to hold children while they are placed with sponsors have thousands of unused beds.
Sullivan’s order bars only the expulsion of children who cross the border unaccompanied by a parent. The government has expelled nearly 200,000 people since March, including adults, and parents and children traveling together.
“This policy was sending thousands of young children back to danger without any hearing,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Like so many other Trump administration policies, it was gratuitously cruel and unlawful.”
The Justice Department did not immediately say whether it would appeal. It has appealed another federal judge’s order barring the use of hotels to detain children.
The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden has not directly said whether it will keep trying to expel immigrants under public-health authority. Biden is expected to roll back several Trump administration policies restricting asylum as part of a broader shift on immigration.
The Trump administration has argued in court that it must expel children who have recently crossed the border — whether they had authorization or not — to prevent the infection of border agents and others in immigration custody. The emergency declaration was made by Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Justice Department on Oct. 2 cited the judgment of “the nation’s top public health official” in urging Sullivan not to stop the expulsion of children.
The Associated Press reported on Oct. 3 that top CDC officials resisted issuing the declaration because it lacked a public health basis, but that Vice President Mike Pence ordered Redfield to move forward anyway.
Opponents of the policy accuse the administration of using the pandemic as a pretext to restrict immigration and say agents can safely screen minors for COVID-19 without denying protections under federal anti-trafficking law and a court settlement that governs the treatment of children.
U.S. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey recommended on Sept. 25 that Sullivan grant an injunction barring expulsions of children, saying the government was claiming power that was “breathtakingly broad.”
Children and parents who have been expelled have reported believing they would be allowed to reunite with family in the U.S., only to instead be deported to their countries of origin.
One mother of 12- and 9-year-olds found out her children had been expelled when she received a call from an official in Honduras asking her to send a relative to collect them.
The father of a 1-year-old girl alleged that agents told him and his wife to feed the girl ice in case their temperatures were checked before boarding a flight. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has denied using ice as an artificial cooling measure.