How Prepared – Really, is Your Client For Their First Day In The BOP?
The Sentencing Hearing. While this phase of your client’s defense has reached its apparent conclusion, practically speaking, some defendants may still be unprepared for their 1st day in the BOP. They naturally are nervous, terrified, and anxious, but some, after arrival find themselves faced with a series of events that could result in off-the-chart-anxiety, and even medical harm, most of which could have all been avoided.
Each client is different, and as such will handle prison life, and all of its nuances in their own way, some better than others. I emphasize the importance of minimizing some of the unnecessary stresses that can be avoided. With just a little bit of effort and time, your client and their family will be grateful for that bit of understanding regarding what they are about to encounter.
Being allowed to self-surrender can be a significant relief. For others, they are taken right into custody.
For those lucky enough to self-surrender, this is still a terrifying experience, but we all adjust over time. But if you’re surrendering to a satellite prison camp, these are adjacent to higher security facilities, and therefore you must first present yourself there, and not the satellite camp. And in case you ask – with higher security comes long guns and a “more secure and overall tense” atmosphere. I mention this because Federal Prison Camps (FPC), do not have adjacent higher secure facilities, as they are free-standing.
Once you present yourself, only to learn that your court’s orders have not yet arrived, you likely will find yourself placed in a single cell, asking why? If you were never claustrophobic – you could be now. Should this be your first time in any sort of prison or even being handcuffed – this can be terrifying. I know this to be so because unfortunately, it happened to me. I’m willing to share my experience – so give me a call, which includes my license being fully restored.
For your client’s well-being, verify that the required court intake paperwork has been received by the BOP facility – before your client’s arrival. While BOP Policy states that single secure cells used in these cases cannot be ‘isolation cells’ for > 23 hours/day, as a new person presenting to a camp, being surprised and isolated in a single secure cell for just ’30 minutes’, was horrifying enough, thank you! Then with staff shortages, don’t hold your breath regarding the frequency of staff stopping by.
Reasons, why a single secure cell could be used: 1) court intake orders were not received, 2) Medical (contagious, ie. COVID -2020) or Inmate Safety, 3) lack of bed space. Each of these issues may have been anticipated by legal before the defendants’ arrival and considered before the PSI. Rest assured, if they were given a heads-up that a single cell may be in their future, most clients would have seriously questioned, why.
Colette Peters, Director of The Federal BOP. There is great anticipation regarding Dir. Peters’s ability to make significant changes within the BOP, but only time will tell. The BOP is a very large conglomerate, and change does not happen overnight.
The federal system, while having more oversight, is held to a higher standard and is supposed to pay greater attention to healthcare and programming needs. While these may not be what we are used to on the outside, compared with some individual state prisons (which is pushing the bar Very Low), and county jails (also Much Lower) around the nation, the hope is that with Director Peters, the BOP will fare much better.
A program that excels: There are bright spots among state facilities though, among them is a program called: The Last Mile which prepares and educates inmates for release and helps get them to find good-paying jobs through their partners.
Opinion. I believe that the responsibility for a client’s Mental and Physical Health should be safeguarded to protect them from themselves and others, …while providing a safe environment for the duration of their incarceration. Ultimately this is the responsibility of the Court, Defense Team, and BOP.
If this was helpful, please share it with your colleagues. With more to follow, should you have any questions, are interested in engaging my services (getting your message on the record – is best done before the PSI, and also could support your BOP placement request), or have any suggestions for future topics, I am easy to reach, and thank you for your time.
Marc, Dr. Blatstein
- Voice: 240-888-7778
- For more information on the BOP: www.bop.gov
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