Atlanta Federal Prison Camp On Lockdown

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Federal Prison Camp

This morning I awoke to news from a friend of mine that the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp is on Lockdown and has been since January 29th.  My understanding is no phone calls, no visitation, no commissary, and all inmates must stay in their dorms unless they are sent to eat (I’m sure some of them are allowed to go to work; UNICOR would never let them go this long without working).

I found this news article that gives a little insight into why it is on lockdown.

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/20764225/apd-officer-breaks-up-smuggling-attempt-into-federal-prison

I had to chuckle a little when I heard the news report.  Not because they are on lockdown, but because it seems everyone is acting surprised that contraband was being smuggled into the Federal Prison Camp.  Every Officer in that camp knows that items are smuggled in on a regular basis.  Even while I was there items were smuggled in at least 3-4 times a week.  Even the Atlanta Police Department knows that items are brought in on regular basis.  I never saw any of the transactions, nor was I awake when any of the transactions occurred, but I heard a lot of stories while I was in the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp.  The only reason they are being hard on this is because there were weapons found in the car when it was dumped.

During my three months at Atlanta Federal Prison I never saw weapons at the camp.  That is not to say they are not there, but I never saw them.  I did witness large amounts of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, pornographic reading material, cell phones, and other items that are considered contraband throughout the dorms.  Like I said earlier, the inmates regularly had someone “going over the fence” to get items.  And the CO’s occasionally found the people who were doing it. Sometimes it was the CO’s that brought items in or they turned a blind-eye to what was going on.

According to BOP Program Statement 5267.08:

The Warden has the authority to restrict or suspend an inmate’s regular visiting privileges temporarily when there is reasonable suspicion that the inmate has acted in a way that would indicate a threat to the good order or security of the institution. Ordinarily, the duration of the restriction or suspension should be limited to the time required to investigate and initiate the discipline process.

This goes for commissary, phone calls, and email. Not all inmates care, but things like visitation, commissary, phone calls, and email are all privileges. They are not guaranteed to any inmate at any time. I’m sure the only reason they have done this to the entire population is to allow them to investigate everything. Which means it could be another week or so before they are given privileges back.

Before I went to Atlanta in August there was a big bust at the camp of alcohol and drugs. From what I was told there was enough liquor to open their own store and marijuana to be a medical dispenser. My understanding is they brought in a bus and took many people out of the camp for transfer to other facilities.

Will it stop? NO!! Items were still brought in; illegal drugs, cash, alcohol, cell phones, and other contraband. This is how these inmates make money and keep things comfortable while they are behind the fence.

I can’t speak for any other prison or the system as a whole, but I know that at least at the Atlanta Camp they are understaffed. There are typically only 2 CO’s on site overnight (that doesn’t count the outside patrols and those at the USP building. Those two officers never leave the OIC (Officer in Charge) Station unless it is time for them to do count (every inmate knows when that is). There is little to no patrol of the outer fence surrounding the camp (and there are housing projects and residential neighborhoods directly across the street.

As of January, 2013 there was a new warden put in place.  Hopefully she will be able to get things under control.  Her Assistant Warden seemed to be very gung-ho on making sure things like this don’t happen.  But as much as I hate to say it, nothing will change unless they change the staff that is working down there.   Hopefully things will change.

Until then, I only hope they resolve this quickly.

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