The federal prison at Forrest City was recently ordered to pay more than $800,000 to a former inmate, for lengthy delays in treating a broken bone suffered by an inmate. The federal judge denounced the prison’s treatment, or lack of same, as nothing less than “gross negligence.” Such gross negligence, even willful neglect, is routine at this prison, and costs taxpayers millions of dollars annually.

This post addresses the socialistic nature of health care at this facility, particularly as applied to the epidemic of drug resistant staph infections among inmates. This post also proposes a means of dramatically reducing this human and economic waste. The savings accrued thereby would principally be returned to the US Treasury, but part would be retained to pay for the cost of such supplies as plain soap, paper towels, education and motivation with respect to hygeine, etc. Part would be used for the implementation of other measures to reduce costs and improve the correctional outcomes at this prison, resulting in even larger cash flows back to the US Treasury…

11-14-2010

Congressman John Boozman, Senator Elect
213 West Monroe, Suite K
Lowell, AR 72745

Re: A public letter concerning the waste of taxpayer dollars at FCI Forrest City Low

Dear Mr. Boozman:

Congratulations are in order on your recent landslide win over Blanche Lincoln, for the US Senate. Clearly the people of this country are inclined toward a change in the way that government is run, and the way their money is spent. They’re counting on you to deliver for them.

The Arkansans who placed their trust in you are staring at a deficit that in excess of 1/3 of total government spending. That’s shocking. That also suggests that spending should be cut by more than a third, across the board. I listened to your campaign advertising, and you, without expressly so stating, clearly implied that you would at least try to BALANCE the budget, not merely cut the deficit. That calls for reducing the size of the federal government by $1.3 trillion, and very soon.

Before you read any further, please understand that the only emphasis that I have on this prison email system is ALL CAPITALS, the literary equivalent of screaming. I have plain text only, with less capabilities than Notepad. I’d rather have a modern word processor that allows me to more accurately convey my thoughts. I beg pardon, but I am writing to you on the best writing tool currently available to me. The prison has computers with programs that make sense — but strictly forbids their use for legal or personal writing.

I request your assistance in preventing the waste of tax dollars related to an epidemic of drug resistant staph infections in this prison. Please consider the example of my friend and fellow inmate Charles Vinson.

Mr. Vinson got a staph infection on his lower leg, and went to medical for assistance. He was turned away without treatment the first three days he sought medical assistance. Medical personnel went so far as to turn their head, refusing to look when he attempted to show them the serious and rapidly deteriorating condition of his leg.

On the 4th day Mr. Vinson was in Medical Services by 8:00 AM, courtesy of assistance from the lieutenant’s office. Medical personnel dithered all day with one thing or another. At 4:00 PM, Mr. Vinson was sent to the hospital. The doctor immediately put him on an antibiotic IV, and kept him on the IV for 7 days. The doctor informed Mr. Vinson that he could have lost his leg or even his life due to the prison’s delays in treating the infection.

The prison kept 2 guards for Mr. Vinson, who was in fact shackled to his bed. There were three other inmates in the prison, apparently each with their own 24/7 two man guard team.

When Mr. Vinson got out of the hospital, he was IMMEDIATELY put back into his position working in Food Service, as a detailer on the serving line. He was prescribed an additional two weeks of antibiotics, and had an open, oozing wound of a dangerous and difficult to treat disease. His objections to this unsafe practice fell on deaf ears.

One might estimate the security cost as follows. It takes 8 full time positions per inmate, assuming an average 42 man hours per week, times 4 inmates. That’s the equivalent of 32 full time positions, which at an estimated annual cost of $50,000 equals $1.6 million. The medical expense is doubtless far more than that. The potential for tax savings is substantial.

The root cause is a socialistic mindset that pays no attention to the consequences of prison policies. Consider the following examples of policy at this prison.

EXAMPLE 1. The prison refuses to stock the inmate bathrooms with soap and paper towels. We have telltale screw holes where soap dispensers once were. Inmates routinely use the toilet, but don’t wash with soap.

I made an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) complaint, whereupon the prison grudgingly installed a soap dispenser in each of two Food Service bathrooms. I got the job of stocking those bathrooms. Antibiotic soap is used in those dispensers, which breeds ever more antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. I’ve asked for plain soap, but they say that they can’t get it.

As recently as November 3, 2010, I was promised that soap would be made available to me, for stocking in inmate bathrooms, by the following day. The promise was made by an official from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Regional Office in Texas, who refused to identify himself. He came for an “open house” for medical concerns, apparently due to the recent entry of an $813,000 judgment in favor of an inmate from this prison, for what the judge called “gross negligence” in delaying the provision of medical care. On Friday, November 5, 2010, Safety Manager Roy L. Smith repudiated this promise.

EXAMPLE 2. The prison routinely denies and delays preventive or precautionary medical treatment, even the most absurdly inexpensive, as a matter of policy. I’ve had a job in Food Service for some months, banging food out of trays in the dishroom. One Sunday I smashed my finger and caused it to bleed, and thus went to Medical to get first aid. I was given a band-aid. I asked for antibiotic ointment. The nurse brusquely told me that pursuant to prison policy they don’t give out anything sold on commissary.

Antibiotic ointment costs over $4 a tube, and most of us don’t have it. My “commissary day” was Thursday, which meant that the earliest that I could have bought it was 4 days after the injury.

I just happened to have some 1 gram foil packs of antibiotic ointment left over from a previous injury that required a trip to the hospital for stitches. I went to my housing unit, got antibiotic for my injury, rebandaged the wound, and then went back to work.

This is only two examples of the incompetence that permeates the administration of this prison. Space limitations as well as a decent respect for your time prevent me from supplying you anything close to a complete list, in this letter.

I request that you designate a specific person in your office to assist me in cutting this waste. For starters, I need access to all health, safety, and other public information maintained by or for this prison, on a continuing basis. I made a Freedom of Information Act request in July, but the prison hasn’t even acknowledged the receipt of same, despite multiple means of service including a fax transmission.

If inmates are to be part of the solution to government waste, we must know the costs of various supplies, and how the prison budget is spent otherwise. The prison previously had an OSHA worker’s rights notice posted upon the wall, saying that health and safety records are available to inmate workers upon request. This notice has been removed, apparently due to my OSHA complaint. My repeated requests for health and safety records hasn’t even been acknowledged.

I want to lead a sanitation, hygiene, and wellness program for inmates. I think that I can effectuate objectively verifiable savings of millions of tax dollars per year, in this prison. I propose that the savings be distributed on a quarterly basis as follows:

1) 75% by remittance to the US Treasury.
2) 20% to a trust fund, to be used for supplies, materials, services, incentives, and equipment necessary to improve the health, education, and welfare of inmates, and to further cut costs to the taxpayers.
3) 5% to be credited to the $776,000 restitution order against Oscar Stilley, in favor of the federal treasury, with the proviso that any amounts in excess of that required to satisfy the restitution amount upheld on appeal, if any, be returned to Oscar Stilley.

We’ll need some money to start. I request that the administration be directed to loan a reasonable amount to the trust fund, so that plain soap, sanitary supplies, and other urgent needs for controlling drug resistant staph infection can be purchased, stocked, and distributed until the first quarterly payment, from the savings, is made to the trust. I’ll use the money as frugally and effectively as I can. I’ll furthermore publish lists and summaries of expenditures, and other useful information, on my blog. The taxpaying public is entitled to know what they are getting for their money. I’ll provide your office the same information, either directly or via RSS subscription to my blog.

This is the lowest of the low hanging fruit of deficit reduction. The prison’s conduct with smacks of deliberate indifference to the health interests of inmates, as well as the economic interests of taxpayers, at the very least. If this waste cannot be promptly stopped, the taxpayers might fairly ask what sort of waste is in fact on the chopping block.

Since I’m in essence applying for work, you should know something of my qualifications. I have a bachelor’s degree in Administrative Management from the University of Arkansas, a law degree, and almost 20 years experience as an attorney. Much of this work was done representing the taxpayers as a whole, or representing specific taxpayers with criminal or civil matters. If you desire an explanation concerning the reason that I am an inmate, or other information of whatever kind, please let me know.

This letter is copied to the US Attorney Eric Holder, Harley Lappin, Director of the BOP, and Timothy C. Outlaw, Warden, same being the executive officers responsible for the administration of this prison. I do want to hear an official, complete, written response from the BOP. I am making this information available on my blog, and intend to likewise make their response available on my blog. If the BOP is unwilling to cooperate in cutting out wasteful spending, I want the public 1) to know about it, and 2) to know your reaction.

If my proposal is unacceptable, please explain the reasons, and allow me to be heard. If you want a trial period, I respectfully ask for 6 months, whereupon the success of the program can be evaluated.

The federal government currently spends about $850 billion on health care. That number is expected to rise at 6% annually, for the foreseeable future. Such a result is altogether inconsistent with your commitment to balancing the budget.

A 6% reduction in total federal health care spending, in the place of the 6% increase, would save taxpayers about $100 billion per year. I’d like to demonstrate cost effective ways to reduce health care spending, while simultaneously improving public health. If it works here, the program can be utilized on a larger scale.

Thank you very much for your kind consideration of this request. A reply by way of email to oscar@oscarstilley.com would be preferred, since this allows the text to be copied and pasted. There is no need to send hard copy to my prison address.

Kindest personal regards,

Oscar Stilley
os
c: Steve Womack, Representative Elect; Eric Holder, US Attorney; Harley Lappin, Director of the BOP; Timothy C. Outlaw, Warden

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