The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in 2017 the “Wild West” environment that defined USP Atlanta and its satellite Minimal Prison Camp. The camp was like an open complex in which the prisoners had a variety of banned substances and jailed Through a private (illegal) taxi service to go out of town. There were several cases of prisoners possessing cell phones and drugs in the prison, while the facility was so dilapidated that both inmates and staff felt their health was in danger. Now, a BOP internal memo from 2020 shows just how bad the facility was a year ago This year’s report of the organization Transfer of hundreds of prisoners from USP Atlanta.
In November, US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to replace BOP director Michael Carvajal after less than two years. Carvajal took charge of a crisis agency in January 2020, just as COVID-19 was about to rip through the United States. When President Donald Trump took office, he appointed retired Army Provost Marshal General Mark Inch as BOP director and he left just over a year During his tenure after clashes with the administration over prison reform. An interim BOP director stepped in until another agency crisis was triggered by the suicide of Jeffrey Epstein in a federal prison in New York and another leader,
USP was one of three atonement facilities built by Atlanta. 1891 Three Prisons Act, It opened in 1902 and went through several renovations in the 1980s and 1990s. Of those three original prisons, only the USP Atlanta and USP Leavenworth (Kansas) remain open. Atlanta once held the most violent inmates, but was then downgraded years ago to a medium security prison and is now set to be less security with fewer staff after a pending multi-million dollar upgrade. It still serves as a major transportation hub for hundreds of prisoners being transferred across the country.
AJC reported In August 2021 the USP Atlanta facility was mostly empty amid a corruption scandal involving employees. In 2019, a the prisoner was criminally charged For using a banned cell phone to livestream on Facebook from inside the prison. Just this month, a USP Atlanta employee and two inmates was accused under smuggling. However, an internal 2020 memo describes a facility that was dilapidated, lacking leadership and in a dangerous state.
According to a United States government memorandum dated August 31, 2020, J. [Jeffrey] A. Keller, Director BOP’s Southeast Region,”USP Atlanta presents significant safety concern for the Southeast region… [which] Immediate corrective action is required.The memo was the result of a safety assessment conducted on August 25–27, just months after USP Atlanta passed its program review with a “good” score. as per BOPProgram review examines the adequacy of controls, efficiency of operations, and effectiveness in achieving program results. Institutions that receive “good” grades not only enjoy positive ratings but also qualify for a three-year break before another such program review. Those reviews have been a matter of whether or not they have become too fickle as the members conducting those reviews include BOP management from peer institutions. This point was made by lawyer on criminal justice in 2018.
While there were rumors among employees that some sort of inspection might take place in mid-2020, most, especially the line staff correction officers, were surprised. ,Review team did tower inspection of seven, three towers The report states, “The officer assigned to tower three was not familiar with the use of force procedures … was unfamiliar with the unloading procedures for shotguns. M-16 [rifle] The appointee was not in a duty-to-carry position. The officer had a round chamber inside the weapon. The inspection team also noted that a guard in one of the towers did not verify the identity or even challenge the review team before allowing the inspection team to access their post.
A man who works at USP Atlanta, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, confirmed that in October 2021, a shotgun at a tower in Atlanta was accidentally discharged without hurting anyone. However, there has been considerable damage to the roof.
There was a lack of fencing around USP Atlanta. As the report states, “There were many areas where Constantine (razor wire) was either missing or damaged.“Damage to the perimeter fence has been a problem throughout the BOP. Federal Bureau of Prisons Perimeter Security Strategy AuditA comprehensive report prepared by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Justice Department concluded,We found that the BoP did not take adequate action to ensure that perimeter security deficiencies identified and addressed in one USP were not present in another, similarly located USP. We also found that the BOP lacks national policies that address various elements of its perimeter security strategy.The report cited concerns about fencing as a result of an inmate’s escape from a high-security facility, USP Atwater – California, in 2017. The prisoner extended the prison wall and perimeter fence to escape… 24 hours later the person was taken away. back in custody. In addition to security breaches, Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, whose district USP covers Atwater, said local officials were not alerted to the violation until hours after the prisoner went missing.
Earlier this year, bipartisan senators introduced legislation to update Federal Prison Security Camera System across the country. came after OIG released report On the much-needed upgrades and notable drawbacks to BOP’s camera system. The condition of the cameras in Atlanta was pathetic. According to the review,USP Atlanta has a total of 263 cameras … At the date of this review, 142 out of 263 cameras were either inactive or not working properly. In addition, the time stamp on all cameras is three hours off.,
There was another issue addressed in USP Atlanta’s 2020 review. ,Evidence collected by the Special Investigative Services is not being properly logged and stored… [sic] The floor labeled “destroyed”. There was no chain of custody.,
Staff discipline was also a noted issue. “USP Atlanta is investigating more than 170 employees who are criminals. From January 2020 to the date of this review [August 2020 … 7 1/2 months] 78 cases have been opened, out of which only 28 cases have been completed.,
The safety of prisoners was compromised as a result of several institutional failures, particularly those with mental illness who self-harm. According to a current employee of BOP staff at USP Atlanta, who did not wish to be identified, between 2012 and 2021, there were 13 inmate suicides, 5 of which occurred between October 2019 and June 2021. Reconstruction reports (called after-actions) of those incidents noted the need for adherence to BOP policy and required correctional staff to “More respect for human life.“The review team said in its memorandum that there were, “There are several instances where lieutenants failed to make rounds in each shift for prisoners who were on suicide watch. Further, fifteen (15) minutes of inquiry was not recorded as per policy.,
Running a disabled facility isn’t cheap. In addition to everyday costs, the review team noted in August 2020 that Atlanta “Have earned $5,833,777.91 in overtime expenses (by mid-August 2020).” For some employees in Atlanta, overtime isn’t just about the money. Staffing shortages require many BOP personnel to work additional shifts after their shift ends. According to a recent internal email by USP Atlanta Warden Sylvester L. Jenkins to his employees, there were 30 employees on Christmas Eve, 40 on Christmas Day and 38 again the day after Christmas. Warden Jenkins wrote that the employees The absence of the institution created problems in the writing of, “It did not give an opportunity to some employees to enjoy the holiday with family and friends. It has also created security concerns for the orderly functioning of the institute.” lack of staff It has been a challenge for the BOP over the years.
The review team agreed that “USP Atlanta does not have strong internal controls to ensure institutional security.Leadership within the BOP in Washington made an unprecedented decision to replace 44 BOP staff-level managers in Atlanta and send them to new assignments in other parts of the country. A letter received by one of those managers read,This is a notification that you are being reassigned. You are in a position as a supervisor/manager, so you are subject to dynamics depending on the needs of the agency.” It listed the single position and location of the new position. Those affected have until January 2, 2022, to comply and take up a new job. Many will be driven hundreds of miles from Atlanta and will have to uproot their families. According to someone close to the position of these employees, informal discussions with the prison’s senior management indicated that the managers who are being transferred have received inconsistent or unclear explanations of their reasons…