by Steve Clemens, FPC Duluth. May 30,2006
At supper I got to hear part of "Doc's" story. Doc is a 76-year-old critical care physician who was sentenced by a Federal Judge to be confined in a halfway house for 6 months and 6 months of home confinement with an ankle bracelet. His conviction was on a failure to pay income taxes on a capital gains income.
Doc developed an adversarial relationship with some of the staff of that halfway house in the first month, over what seem to be fairly petty issues. Finally, as the result of returning 18 minutes late from a two hour approved
trip to a "worship service" (an excuse Doc gave to get in some running exercise), he was reported to have violated the conditions of his sentence and told he was to be shipped to a federal prison for the completion of his sentence.
Thus began his 'tour' and the BOP activity known as "diesel therapy." Although his halfway house in Sioux Falls, SD is less than 8 hours from his destination of FPC Duluth, it took Doc 97 days to arrive here. In the
process he lost about 20 pounds of his starting weight of 145. Diesel therapy began with U.S. Marshals handcuffing this elderly nonviolent offender, adding a waist chain and leg irons to it. He was placed in the
local county jail, awaiting transport into the federal system. [Note—he could have been placed less than one hour away at the Yankton, SD Federal Prison Camp, a minimum security facility like the Duluth Camp is.] As is typical in diesel therapy, he was not told where his final destination was, nor was he permitted to make any phone calls while "in transit."
After being placed on a BOP bus, he was moved from prison to prison and always placed in "the hole," the SHU (Special Housing Unit), or "solitary confinement" for his stay at each stop. Often, he was placed in "the hole" in county or city jails during this process. One might think that the best way to ship someone from Sioux Falls to Duluth would be via Minneapolis, but Doc's route included stops in Oklahoma, Terre Haute, Indiana and Oxford, Wisconsin.
If this is the way the BOP treats white, elderly, nonviolent offenders with professional backgrounds, is it any wonder that it seems to continue to fail to "rehabilitate" us year after year?