Continuing Chapter 8: Meanwhile, in Houston, the trial of Skilling and Lay…
Once again it was the task force’s show with prosecutors Kathryn Ruemmler and Sean Berkowitz. The defense request for Brady material was met with a FBI form 302—a report of an interview, that had been edited repeatedly, and the original destroyed. The judge adopted the procedure of having the task force give him the handwritten notes (notebooks full), which he said he would look at during trial, and if any Brady material presented itself, he would provide it to the defense. This was a complete win-win for the task force and a complete “screw you” for the defense. The defense wouldn’t be able to ask about something they didn’t know about. They could do nothing meaningful in cross-examination.
It appeared that the Fifth Circuit was waiting to make its decision on the verdict of the Lay-Skilling trial. The verdict came on May 25, 2006, finding Lay guilty of all six counts against him, and Skilling guilty of nineteen out of twenty-eight counts. On June 7, the Fifth Circuit ordered the release of Bayly and Furst, but denied Jim Brown’s motion. Personally and professionally, Ms. Powell was crushed, losing respect for a court she had previously admired. How could they become so grudging in protecting individual freedom against blatant abuses and overreaching by the government?
Meanwhile, Jim took on the job as prison plumber. He also volunteered to teach a class on basic financial skills and taught inmates how to read. Educational programs in prison were a farce. Ms. Powell communicated regularly with Jim. In the process she learned one critical thing—there is no attorney-client privilege enforced in prison. All conversations are monitored. She had to fight with the administration every time she talked with him.
The Fifth Circuit finally issued its opinion in Brown. They reversed twelve out of the fourteen counts, affirming only the perjury and obstruction charges against Jim. The other three defendants were acquitted. After all of the times that Jim and Nancy had believed that the Justice System would decide justly, this was a hard pill to swallow. And now Jim was even more in danger from the guards, because he should be released with the new decision on time-served. Nancy went to visit him, warned him to watch his back, and not do anything stupid. Jim was, as is usually the case with an inmate, feeling completely hopeless. “The court will come up with something or the prison will. I know I’m stuck. Someone’s got to take the fall for this. It’s me.”
Lucky for Jim, the government agreed to the resentencing. However, the prison blocked her attempts to communicate with him, and he was cut off from calling his wife. The US Attorney at the office near Fort Dix scheduled a hearing on August 11.
Page 158 needs to be read by every citizen in this country. It is a description of the standard treatment prisoners receive from guards because of the abuse of power the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP) demonstrates every day. Jim was bullied, room searched, handcuffed and shackled, and thrown into the cage of a prison van without any explanation. He had not been informed of his eminent release, or allowed to talk to his attorney or his wife.
When Ms. Powell saw Jim she was shocked. He was a shell of the man she knew a year earlier—head shaven, eyes sunken, 30 pounds lighter, and so pale he looked dead. He couldn’t believe he was being released. He was shell-shocked, unable to process being free, seeing the daylight, feeling the sunshine, and face a crowd of people. On the way home, he had to stand by the car while Nancy and Chris went in McDonald’s for a hamburger.
Four weeks later on September 12, 2006, the Department of Justice met at Constitution Hall in DC for the attorney general’s 54th annual awards ceremony. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales gave the highest award to the “outstanding members of the investigative and trial team of the Enron Task Force” for their “exceptional service to the American public in the investigation and successful prosecution of the individuals most responsible for the Enron fraud.”
A month later, Ruemmler appeared before Judge Lake and argued for life imprisonment of Jeffrey Skilling. All of the prosecutorial misconduct, defective indictment, witness intimidation, and failure to disclose Brady evidence was completely overlooked.
In 2007 Ruemmler and Berkowitz left the DOJ to join the prestigious Washington office of Latham & Watkins, where the defense attorney Maureen Mahoney worked. You see, they all work together. The “job” of all attorneys is to maintain a judicial system where everyone works—prosecution and defense. And the reward for prosecutorial misconduct is prestigious position, increased wealth, and government awards. Where is the concept of just prosecution and fair trial? Buried.
Discussion: FBOP doesn’t follow policies
This section of Chapter 8 brings out truths about prison. I will try to reinforce these truths without running at the mouth. Suffice it to say that everything Ms. Powell says negative about prison is true, and she is, in actuality, kind.
Jim makes a point of saying that he was going to go to prison with a positive attitude. I tried to do that as well. All I could think at the time of my sentencing was that God had a plan for me in prison. Maybe I could teach the inmates how to heal, possibly teach them about the REAL cause of drug abuse, so they could get back home and never return. Saving other people from destruction would be a good thing. Well…that thought lasted about 2 months. I found out that prison administrators don’t want the inmates taught the truth about drugs. Their use of a program called RDAP (residency drug abuse program) in which they get paid for the participants, is money in the bank. And since it doesn’t teach anything that will stop the abuse or addiction, the inmates return to prison after release, which means more money. The whole point of prison is to keep the beds full, not helping people succeed on the outside, but return.
Prisons, at least in my case, do not use the inmate resources at their disposal. Jim was able to teach a financial class. At Alderson the administration is so short on education themselves, they don’t want to be shown up by inmates. It’s a power thing. For example, my counselor, Mr. Chris Quesenberry, was so inept he had to type with two fingers. Anyway, they wouldn’t let people teach in the field they were trained. So my idea of using my knowledge to help others came to a screeching halt.
My first prison was FPC Alderson, a Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia. In camps, everyone has to work. But the work is ridiculous. At Alderson, for example, everyone starts out for 60 days working in the dining room. You report at 9:30 AM for your “lunch”, since you’ll be working during the regular lunch hour. The job is to serve the food, and then clean the cafeteria after the meal. You work maybe 3 hours, covering lunch and supper. But you have to be in the cafeteria from 9:30AM to 6:30 PM. For the time you aren’t working, you have to sit at a table with nothing to do. That’s part of the abuse of power with humiliating punishment they like to enforce. You can’t read, do crafts, or even write letters. You just sit there hour after hour. After your stint at the dining room, you can apply for jobs elsewhere. I became a teacher in the education department, teaching ESL and pre-GED.
But that job ended after 1 month. I suffered from a bad viral episode (not flu) in January 2014, and my mind was taking a vacation. I missed a call out to pick up some legal mail and got a shot. [A shot is a disciplinary report where you receive punishment way over and above the crime]. I made the mistake of saying I liked my job in education, and being busy with my student in spite of my illness, I forgot the callout. When my housing director decided on my punishment, it was, among other things, to take my job away. That was the end of my “positive attitude”. I knew her decision was simply to drive home her omnipotence and my lower-than-the-dirt status. At that point I decided I would do the least for the camp as I possibly could. I landed a job at the Rec, where I just had to pick up trash for 10 minutes. At least there I was able to do crafts during the 6 hours I had nothing to do, and eventually I taught the class on nutrition.
As. Ms. Powell states, classes in prison are a farce. If you go on a website of a prison, they have tons of classes listed. But more times than not, those classes aren’t available anymore. Maybe they were at one point, but when they don’t have an instructor, the class ends but they don’t take it off the list. People are supposed to be able to do apprenticeships in vocational areas so that they can find work when they get released. Those apprenticeships are a farce as well. More times than not, they aren’t available. And when they are, they are ridiculous in not teaching anything.
Another problem she mentions is the lack of client-attorney privilege in prison, which is a constitutional right, but prisons obviously don’t have to observe the constitution. That needs to be changed. In prison ALL conversations are supervised. The inmate talks to his/her client in the counselor’s office with the counselor present. Even when the attorney visits the prison, the conference is in the presence of an officer. Now since prisons are based on people being in them, it seems to me to be a conflict of interest to have a government employee listening to your defense strategy. According to the written FBOP policy, attorneys are to be allowed to meet with their client confidentially. This is just one of a multitude of cases where the FBOP doesn’t follow their own policy. And, they don’t have to. The failure to meet policy is supported up the ladder. I was the queen of complaints through protocol. Over 28 months in prison, I submitted about 20 complaints, only one of which was ever treated appropriately, and that one wasn’t the most important.
Discussion on Page 158—abuse of prisoners by guards
The abuse of power is notorious in prison. In male facilities, it becomes physical, as described here. In female prisons, it is mental. We might not get beat up as much, but we are still abused. And there was one case at Alderson where a guard did physically lift an inmate that had fallen on the ice by her shirt collar when she didn’t respond to his yelling at her, causing her to bang her head on the sidewalk and have a whiplash injury. And one problem is that it does no good to complain.
Since the government can lie without repercussions, it is the usual practice for guards to lie on discipline reports. This was especially bad at Alderson, where they do everything they can to take away your good days (the 15% of your sentence that you can be released early). I think they actually have a contest to who can come up with the most fabricated story. And, as my unit director said, “Rule Number One—the guard is always right and rule Number Two—the inmate is always wrong.” So it does no good to complain about the lies and rule-breaking that goes on by the guards, because the administration will cover it up. One guard at Alderson had a restaurant on the outside. He was seen by an inmate loading up his truck with meat, chicken, and vegetables, stealing from the dining hall. He stole to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. What did the administration do when it was reported? They made the dining hall area off limits for walking by the residents after supper. What we didn’t see, we couldn’t report. Did anything happen to the guard? Nope.
The treatment Jim Brown received when he was released—not being informed of his release, treated badly, and being hauled off without any word of what was going on is too common a practice. Again, it’s a case of abuse of power. In my case, it was failure to report to me my husband’s heart attack. I had been transferred to SFF Hazelton Dec 17, 2014 because of a lying b____ guard who wrote up a discipline report on me after she treated my handicapped husband like s____ in the visitor’s room. I now know that they set the scenario up to move me because of my complaints against her and my counselor, Mr. Quesenberry, who treated everybody like s___. At Alderson, instead of disciplining the staff, they simply transfer the inmate. Anyway, because they moved me without due process, I was at SFF Hazelton for 6 weeks in Segregation (locked in a one-man cell all day without even exercise). They did not tell my husband when he tried to reach me at Alderson what had happened. The stress on him was too much. He had a heart attack. He called Hazelton and asked them to tell me. They didn’t. Two days later I finally found out about it because he got our Congressional House Representative involved who communicated with the prison and got the call through.
I could go on and on about how prisons are designed to keep people prisoners, not help them rehabilitate to good citizens, but it would be a long read. I think you get the idea. Prisons, like the Department of Justice itself, are designed to make money for the people employed there. They therefore keep people from fitting back into society, so the recidivism rate is 65%.
There really isn’t a need to convict innocent people. As. Ms. Powell said earlier, there are enough real criminals out there to keep the attorneys busy. So why are they now spending so many of our tax dollars attacking innocent physicians? I think we see that in the promotions and fantastic jobs at prestigious firms that the lawyers in this book received. Even though it became clear that these men were innocent and their lives ruined from overzealous, illegal prosecution, the legal profession just shrugged their shoulders, said “What a fantastic job you (the prosecutors) did,” and here’s your reward.