Oscar is being housed at FCI Forrest City Low

That translates to the Low Security section of the Federal Correctional Institute at Forrest City, Arkansas  You can see a map of it here General visitation information can be found here, and information on inmate money can be found here

I’m sure Oscar would be glad to correspond by e-mail with any of you reading this blog.

Below is an account of his Admission and Orientation.

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I did a training session for Admission and Orientation (A & O) on Thursday, June 24, 2010.  I never cease to be amazed at the way things are done around here.

For starters, it was cold in the room, all of course at great cost to the taxpayers.  Did we turn the thermostat up to save money?  Of course not!  This is the BOP.  The official in charge opened two doors to the outside, allowing cold air out and warm air in.  An HVAC expert friend of mine opines that this facility uses about twice the electricity that would be necessary if a reasonably sensible heating and cooling regime were followed.

Check the BOP website for the dress code for visitors.  You can’t wear sandals, for whatever reason.  Also, visitors have to fill out a form and get approval before they come.  You are not approved to visit just because I can call or email or write you.  According to the presenter people have made international trips only to be turned away because they haven’t been approved for visitation.

You have to have pre-authorization to send me any package over a pound.  If you don’t have it the package will be returned.  I don’t know what other rules apply, check the website.  Hardbacks apparently have to come from the publisher.  Don’t take my word for anything, check www.bop.gov I can’t.  Even when I tell you something, trust but verify!

I cannot use the internet as such.  The email that I am sending this out over is monitored and highly restricted.  I cannot copy and paste anything within the email, nor can I italicize, underline, or bold anything.

It took a long time to get email.  I was required to sign a form that said that I voluntarily agreed to all their rules.  I signed the form but included a short note saying that I reserved objection based upon what I considered a failure to respect my due process rights, and my right of access to the courts.  After several days I was told that I had to sign another copy and leave that language off.  I protested verbally (with great restraint and respect) but signed the form without any commentary, in order to get email access.

I recently made a blog post asking that we get soap and paper towels for the bathrooms.  I complained that the bathroom in the cafeteria had a sign saying that employees should wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds, and that they should use a fingernail brush, when no soap, paper towels, or fingernail brushes are available.

Here are some interesting figures.  They say that they have 400 food service workers to assist in feeding about 2000 prisoners, which I calculate to be accurate, in keeping with my deduction that this facility is about 30% overcrowded.  The cafeteria has a sign saying that it seats 468 people.  There is one bathroom with one toilet and one sink that never has soap and almost always seems dirty.

Here are the rules as explained by the presenters.  You cannot take anything into or out of the cafeteria.  You come in, eat there, and leave, nothing more.  Therefore, it is impossible to follow their directive to wash your hands with soap without breaking their rules.

Plus, food service workers are essentially conscripted from new incoming inmates, and paid 12 cents an hour.  Many are indigent.  How they would buy their own soap, even if they weren’t prohibited by the rules from bringing it to work with them, is not explained.  Figure 2-3 times Wal*Mart prices for soap from commissary.  A bar of Dove is over $2, and Palmolive dish soap is about $10 a quart.

It gets better.  The presenters emphasized that they have had outbreaks of staph infection, and plaintively pleaded with us to wash our hands after using the toilet.  I didn’t say anything, preferring to talk to someone who cares, like taxpayers, members of the US Congress, and the US General Accountability Office that just did an inspection of this facility.  I just sat there, utterly amazed and fascinated that these people have let an outbreak of contagious disease rage unabated, rather than taking the very basic step of providing soap and other sanitary supplies in the bathrooms.

Next time you hear about an unexplained food borne illness, with people trying to figure out whether the lettuce or spinach growers need an expensive spanking, think BOP.  Tell your friends.  Tell someone who cares.  Tell someone with the power and incentive to prevent and punish any retaliation against Oscar Stilley’s penchant for running his mouth about matters of public concern.

One of the presenters openly admitted to “ghost jobs” by that term, but said real jobs paid more.  To me this simply provides an explanation of why the BOP is death on any electronic device that records or has the potential to be adapted to recording.  There is often a vast chasm between what the inmates are told and what the public is told.

There were some other significant things gleaned from the A & O, but for the time being I want to explain what you can expect from me.  I will communicate with respect to my condition not less than twice a week.  If I lose email I will send out a letter as soon as I can and maintain communication via US mail, with routine, prompt postings to my blog.

Some of you have asked me what you can do for me.  Please sign up for an RSS feed from my blog, and ask your friends to do the same.  I don’t want any harm to myself, physical or otherwise.  The OSHA bulletin in the cafeteria says I am entitled to be free from retaliation for reporting violations of OSHA rules.  If nobody ever retaliated against such reporting, there would be no need for such statements of rights against retaliation.

Thanks for listening, and thanks for sharing.

Oscar Stilley

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