A Prison Cover-up During Hurricane Rita

For days after the storm, inmates in Beaumont lived without A/C, electricity or hot meals. Press releases kept saying everything inside was fine. Guards and prisoners agree — that was nothing but B.S.

As Hurricane Rita thundered towards him, Garrett Deetz lay terrified and confused on his bunk, locked up inside a cell at the United States Penitentiary in Beaumont.

For the past two days, he and about 1,300 other maximum-security inmates had watched and listened to news coverage on television and radio as the residents of Jefferson County followed a mandatory evacuation order and fled their homes in anticipation of one of the fiercest storms in American history.

The images of destruction and suffering in New Orleans that played over and over on national TV in the wake of Hurricane Katrina less than a month earlier were still fresh in Deetz's mind. And now Rita, which weather experts were touting as even more intense, with winds blasting across the Gulf of Mexico at 175 miles-an-hour, was heading for him.

When inmates finally got to the shower, the water was full of debris.
Ilana Kohn
When inmates finally got to the shower, the water was full of debris.
Relatives were getting different stories from inmates than from prison officials.
Ilana Kohn
Relatives were getting different stories from inmates than from prison officials.

Inside his cage, Deetz and his cellmate couldn't understand why the warden had not moved them to safer ground.

"We kept hearing on the news that everybody needed to get out," says Deetz, "and I kept telling my cellie, 'Bro, they've got to get us out of here; they're saying everyone has to go. There's no way they can just leave us here.'"

But no one inside the pen was going ­anywhere.

It was around 4 a.m. on September 24, 2005, when Hurricane Rita plowed into the Beaumont area. By then, the storm had weakened some, dropping from a Category 5 to a Category 3 hurricane, but winds still roared at more than 110 miles per hour as sheets of rain fell from the predawn sky.

Suddenly, the lights inside Deetz's cell flickered and went completely dark as he heard the air-conditioning system grind to a halt. All power was gone. Deetz's cellmate had just taken a bowel movement, but the toilet would not flush. The plumbing was shot. A garbage bag held the only drinking water available. Guards had handed out the plastic bags before the storm, telling inmates to fill them with tap water in case the hurricane knocked out the sewer and water systems. There wasn't a scrap of food in Deetz's cell.

At the bottom corners of the only window in the third-floor cell, water was streaming in — not enough to cause flooding, but enough so that everything in the room including Deetz's mattress, sheets and clothes was getting soaked.

"The window was shaking hard and you could hear the wind," says Deetz. "Even the walls were shaking. It was terrifying. I thought the window was going to blow out and the water was going to come in and we were going to die in our cell."

After the storm, Deetz heard inmates crying out for help. But no one, he says, was there to answer. Deetz peered out his window, and saw nothing but the devastated landscape.

"It was like an Armageddon movie," he says. "I remember thinking, 'Beaumont is gone. There is no Beaumont. And we're stuck in this cell, with bars and a steel door. What do we do?' That was the thing that scared me the most. Nothing compares to that feeling of looking out and not seeing anyone anywhere."

Meanwhile, Deetz's mother, Judith, was frantically phoning the prison to find out if her son was okay. She says it took her several tries to get someone to answer, but finally an official taking calls told her the inmates had all been moved out before the hurricane hit. Judith felt relieved. And she was not alone. Around the same time, many wives, mothers and loved ones desperate for news were calling a Federal Bureau of Prisons information line. They say operators told them that though the inmates had not been evacuated, they were assured that everyone was safe and well cared for.

Newspapers reported the same story. Bureau of Prisons spokesman Mike Truman, for instance, told the Houston Chronicle four days after the storm that inmates had portable toilets and were getting two hot meals and one cold meal a day.

But now, following a Houston Press investigation, new details are emerging that suggest none of that was true at the maxium security prison. According to Deetz and other inmates, conditions in the days and weeks following Hurricane Rita were ­medieval.

As temperatures hovered around 100 degrees, Deetz and his cellmate were locked up for weeks without any ventilation or escape from the rising tide of urine and feces accumulating in their cell. For two days, they did not receive food, and when supplies finally began to trickle in, there was nothing but peanut butter sandwiches on moldy bread and stale potato chips. Deetz claims he did not get a hot meal for about a month. The small bottles of water handed out were simply not enough to combat the intense dehydration Deetz suffered as he sweat uncontrollably. The paint on the walls began to peel off, and prisoners begging for help and screaming out for someone to open their food slots so they could get some air had trouble breathing due to the humidity.

"We were helpless," says Deetz. "It was the worst thing I've ever been through my entire life."

Asked to respond to allegations in this story, Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley in Washington, D.C., and Deborah Denham, executive assistant at the South Central Regional Office in Dallas, declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

In all, scores of inmates including Deetz say they were deprived of nearly every basic human need for several weeks, including food, water, sleep, medicine, clean clothes, showers and flushing ­toilets.

Independently, the president of the local chapter in Beaumont of the American Federation of Government Employees, who represents the federal corrections officers, backs up most of the inmates' claims, telling the Houston Press that conditions inside the penitentiary after Rita were the worst he'd ever endured and that the Bureau of Prisons was to blame.

All the while, the outside world knew nothing of what was happening. Understandably, people believed what prison officials were reporting, that everyone was okay. No one knew that inmates were suffering and that not everyone was receiving proper medical care. Even after the status quo had been restored, still no one knew, as prison officials did all they could to keep the conditions quiet by allegedly threatening inmates and discouraging them from seeking justice.

But two years later, thanks to a class-action lawsuit filed by an Ohio civil rights attorney on behalf of more than 400 current and former inmates at USP Beaumont, all that is about to change.

Attorney Norman Sirak is a bowling ball of a man with wispy, Einstein-like gray hair. He works in Canton, Ohio, alongside his wife, who escaped from the Communist regime in Poland as a child, and his para­legal, who is an ex-con.

Sirak is a self-described liberal and hippie who went to law school at American University in Washington, D.C., where he protested against the Vietnam War.

For many years, Sirak made a healthy living working in the securities field, filing registrations for small companies. Then one day about seven years ago, a client of his who had gone to prison for securities fraud told Sirak about some problems he believed existed in the Ohio parole system. It was then that Sirak's legal career took a turn. He filed a class-action lawsuit against the state's parole board, a case which he is still fighting and is preparing to submit to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sirak has also launched separate class-action cases against the Pennsylvania parole board and the Texas parole board. In the Texas case, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas dismissed the case and Sirak is currently appealing that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

"Finally I am doing what I think I was always meant to do," he says.

It started out as just another day last August inside the cramped office where Sirak was working on his parole board cases when he opened up a letter from an inmate at Beaumont. The note was from Kelvin Andre Spotts, a prisoner inside the federal penitentiary, explaining how he had filed a pro se lawsuit on behalf of dozens of inmates concerning poor treatment and conditions during Hurricane Rita. A judge had denied class-action status to Spotts's case and now he was looking for an attorney to pick up the pieces. Two years earlier, Spotts had read an article in a legal magazine about Sirak's work for prisoners' rights, and he had held on to it ever since.

Time was of the essence, and Sirak immediately jumped on the case.

"We had a very hectic first five or six weeks," says Sirak, "trying to figure out what happened and to get as many people as we could to join. Because we had to beat a ­deadline."

Before inmates could join the lawsuit, says Sirak, they first had to exhaust their administrative remedy within the federal prison system. That meant they had to file a tort claim within two years of the incident in question. The problem, Sirak says, is that prison officials at Beaumont were trying to keep inmates from filing their claims, and the two-year statute of limitations was almost up.

"It was a real big push to get everyone to file their claim," says Sirak. "But somehow we got it done."

Sirak put an advertisement in the Beaumont Enterprise trying to acquire clients. In one day, he says, the ad drew in almost 70 plaintiffs. To date, Sirak is representing 426 inmates in the lawsuit.

Spotts, who is serving a life sentence at the penitentiary in Beaumont, is the lead plaintiff and Sirak's liaison to the majority of his clients. When the Press asked for an interview with Spotts, Warden John B. Fox denied the request, citing vague reasons of "safety and security considerations."

Sirak, too, has had his share of problems dealing with the prison in Beaumont. In one instance, while he was trying to arrange a meeting with Spotts, the warden's office would not answer his calls.

"When we'd call," says Sirak, "their caller ID identified us as the Sirak law firm. So finally we figured out how to stop displaying our ID, and only then would they answer the telephone. You know, we're experienced people at this. We've been going into prisons in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas; it's not like we're neophytes here. But this was like going to school all over again. They've thrown every rule and regulation they can at us."

Sirak spent months working on the initial complaint.

"I looked into Hurricane Rita and what makes up a hurricane," he says. "Then I did research on Hurricane Katrina, because Katrina should have been a message and a lesson, a look at what can happen."

In the wake of Katrina, the administrators at Templeman III jail in Orleans Parish faced national outrage over their handling of the crisis. According to Human Rights Watch, about 600 inmates were locked inside their cells for four days without food, water, electricity or flushing toilets while floodwater surged up to their chests. Unlike other jail officials at the time, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman risked the lives of his prisoners by not calling for help in evacuating the jail until it was almost too late.

Sirak also examined how the Texas Department of Criminal Justice dealt with Hurricane Rita. The state has several prisons in Beaumont very near the federal complex.

Two days before the storm hit, Jefferson County Judge Carl Griffith issued a mandatory evacuation order. Originally, forecasters were predicting Rita would strike to the south and west of Beaumont. Texas prison officials had already begun evacuating facilities south of Beaumont, but as the hurricane shifted, so did the state's evacuation plans.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highways full of fleeing residents prevented the state's buses from getting to the Beaumont prisons in time. So state prison officials called in the U.S. Marshals Service, which airlifted more than 1,000 inmates to other prisons across Texas. The remaining prisoners were sent to the Stiles unit, the sturdiest of the three state prisons in Beamont, to weather the storm. Days after Rita passed, many of the inmates at Stiles were then moved to other, better-equipped facilities.

"It was very helpful to see how Texas responded," says Sirak. "They evacuated people before and after the hurricane and showed they took the duty to protect the people they were responsible for seriously. TDCJ did the right thing, and this lawsuit is going to make a bunch of them smile."

The federal prison complex in Beaumont is comprised of four units: a prison camp, a low-security facility, a medium-security institution and the maximum-security penitentiary. In the lawsuit, Sirak states that both the camp and the prison for low-security offenders were evacuated before Hurricane Rita, and inmates from the medium facility were moved out shortly after the storm. It is the penitentiary, or maximum-security facility, that is the subject of the lawsuit.

The next step for Sirak was to determine exactly what happened.

"I had to figure out day by day and week by week what did the inmates endure," Sirak says. "And I did that by reading their letters, drafting questionnaires and then sending it all back to Kelvin Spotts and asking him if there's anything wrong and so forth. I would always get everything corroborated by several inmates before I put it in the ­complaint."

Sirak has constructed a timeline based on all of his information.

According to the lawsuit:

On the eve of the hurricane, guards moved inmates on the lowest floor to higher levels, causing some overcrowding in cells. Then they passed out garbage bags for prisoners to fill with water and locked everyone up. After the storm hit, the building was left without plumbing or electricity to run the lights or the air conditioning. For the first three days, inmates received no food and had to drink nonpotable water.

Starting on October 1, inmates began receiving one liter of fresh water and three peanut butter sandwiches a day. Some inmates began experiencing constipation from eating only peanut butter. They still were not allowed out of their cells, and the electricity and plumbing did not work. After two weeks, prisoners were allowed to shower, but the water was brown and filled with debris that stung. Subsequently, inmates experienced rashes and boils on their skin and were not given medicine to treat the problems. After showering, they had to put back on the same sweaty clothes they had been living in for weeks because no clean clothes were provided.

It was not until a month after the hurricane that the electricity was fully restored and the inmates were taken off lockdown and allowed out of their cells for more than a few minutes.

"This was totally senseless," says Sirak. "I think that this mentality is on par with the mentality of the people who ran Auschwitz and all those death camps in Poland. That's honestly how bad I think this is."

It's been more than two years since Hurricane Rita blew through Beaumont, but the corrections officers' union president, Isaac Ortiz, is still storming over what went down inside the prison.

He, along with several hundred other staff, was forced to stay inside the federal complex with his prisoners and ride out both the squall and the terrible conditions that followed.

Ortiz is not part of Sirak's lawsuit. In fact, the two have never spoken.

"When they decided not to evacuate," says Ortiz, "they risked everybody's life."

Ortiz has been working at the Beaumont facility for 12 years. He likes his job, always has, but the conditions after Rita were the worst he says he has ever worked through.

In the days before the storm, Ortiz says that then warden Tim Outlaw and Regional Director Gerardo Maldonado, stationed in Dallas, were aware Rita was coming in as a Category 5 with 100 mile-an-hour winds and surge waters expected to reach 20 feet, which would all but cover the complex's tallest housing unit. In preparation, Ortiz says, officials ordered that the tall perimeter lights be lowered to keep them from toppling and that all vehicles near the perimeter be moved to prevent the winds and water from lifting them up and smashing them against the fence line.

The decision not to evacuate came from management at the South Central Regional office in Dallas and the Central Office in Washington, D.C., says Ortiz.

"The reason they gave us was that they thought the facilities would hold up," he says. "And therefore, they felt like they did not have to evacuate."

Jeffrey Schwartz runs a nonprofit ­training and research criminal justice consulting group in California called LETRA. Following the 2005 hurricane season, the Louisiana Department of Corrections and the National Institute of Corrections, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, commissioned him to write the after-action incident report for how Louisiana's departments of safety and corrections responded to Katrina and Rita.

"Every major prison has evacuation plans," says Schwartz. "No one is perfectly prepared for everything, and while you can't judge just on the outcome, the real question is, 'Did you reasonably well prepare for predictable emergencies?' If the answer is no, well, there just isn't any good excuse."

The Beaumont federal penitentiary was never evacuated, and in not doing so, says Ortiz, the Federal Bureau of Prisons violated its own emergency preparedness guidelines.

"It's in their policy that when an emergency like this comes, they're supposed to evacuate," he says. "They have evacuation plans in their own contingency plan, and they violated that. You have to hold the entire Bureau of Prisons accountable. They had the means and they had the budget for emergencies...(but) they made the decision and they put us in harm's way when they didn't have to."

In light of the decision not to vacate, it would make sense to stock up on emergency and survival supplies. But according to Ortiz, hardly a finger was lifted.

"They did not anticipate buildings or the fences holding up," says Ortiz, "yet we were still going to be there. And they did not have supplies, food, water or generators. They didn't have any of that. They anticipated that they had enough food in their warehouse that they could manage for a couple of days, but when you lose power, you can't cook anything."

Ortiz says prison officials did not request additional generators or food for inmates or the staff. In fact, if Ortiz and his colleagues had not brought supplies to the facility from home the night before the hurricane, he says the officers would have had nothing.

"What (the BOP) did do ahead of time," he says, "was they had people with buses standing by in Bastrop just before the hurricane came to come in and get the inmates. If they lost the (prison) structure in the hurricane, they were going to drive in and pick up what inmates were left surviving and then take them wherever."

Schwartz says inmates are sometimes prone to exaggerate the truth, but union leaders like Ortiz are as solid as they come.

"What the union is unlikely to do," says Schwartz, "is invent facts that most of their own staff know are not true because their own membership would be very put off."

When Hurricane Rita struck the prison, Ortiz said he felt the walls shake as the rain pounded the building.

"We thought we were going to die," he says. "It was very traumatic for all the staff and the inmates. It was insane."

However, it was after the hurricane that things began to get even more bungled. According to the January/February 2006 American Federation of Government Employees union newsletter, The Government Standard, "Miscommunication and miscues marked the agency's response in the days following the storm. BoP officials turned away emergency generators. Other supplies offered by the National Guard were also turned away initially by management, only to be redirected back to Beaumont."

Ortiz remembers the first days after Rita with disgust.

"I don't understand why they did that," he says. "In those initial couple of days, there wasn't any food or water at all."

Ortiz corroborates most of the claims made by inmates and alleged in Sirak's lawsuit, although his timeline is somewhat shorter.

The power went out for about a week, he says, and many of the generators that were later brought in did not start at first and didn't work properly. Inmates were locked in their cells for about three weeks before the facility was once again deemed secure.

"The facilities are built to have air conditioning," says Ortiz, "but the priority was energy was for the lights in the unit and power for the alarms, so the air was very rare. There's no windows we can use to ventilate the buildings, and because of the humidity, the floors were sweating and the walls were wet. You can't really sleep in heat like that. They went for three or four days without any sleep. It was very stressful for the people at the penitentiary."

Only bag lunches were served to inmates, says Ortiz, and there was a serious shortage of water.

"That's why we couldn't use the toilets for two or three weeks," he says.

Instead, corrections officers collected the plastic bags that inmates had been given to hold feces and urine.

"It's not healthy," Ortiz says. "It's disgusting. And with the heat, oh, the smell."

As an added insult, the Bureau of Prisons refused to pay officers stranded at the prison any overtime, despite the fact they were working 24-hour shifts for more than a week before reinforcements arrived. Ortiz filed a grievance on the union's behalf just after the hurricane, but says he has not yet heard back or seen a nickel in overtime pay.

Ortiz also says that the prison is no better prepared than it was in 2005.

"We had another hurricane that came by this year," he says, "and they dropped the ball on that one. They didn't do any emergency procedures. They're no better prepared today. They've already said that if another hurricane comes, they will not evacuate."

As for what happened with Rita, Ortiz says the Bureau of Prisons "did jeopardize [inmates'] safety. We did put them in harm's way."

Rosalind Burbank Joseph was worried sick. For try as she might from her home in Albany, New York, she had trouble finding out in the days before Hurricane Rita struck what was happening with her husband, an inmate at Beaumont's federal penitentiary.

This was posted on the Bureau of Prisons Web site two days before the storm:

"Hurricane Rita is being closely monitored, and all necessary precautions are being taken to ensure the safety and well-being of staff and the Bureau's inmate population. Emergency preparations and plans are in place, but we do not release the status of possible actions related to those plans before they occur."

Frustrated, Joseph began trying to contact the prison itself.

"I called several times before the hurricane," she says. "The person at the prison would not give me very much information. He did say that they were not going to evacuate. I asked to speak to the warden, but that didn't work."

Then the hurricane hit, and for days all Joseph could do was wait and worry.

The Bureau of Prisons had set up an information line through the South Central Regional Office in Dallas for people to call to get information about inmates affected by the storm. Joseph called in within 36 hours after Rita passed.

"They kept reassuring me that everyone was perfectly fine and they were being treated even better than the people out in the free world," Joseph says.

But Joseph says she soon learned this was a lie.

"One thing the prison did get running quickly were the telephones," she says, "and my husband was able to call me three days after the hurricane. He told me that there was no water, it was extremely hot, it smelled terrible and it was just horrible inside. And during the day, I had been calling the number the BOP was providing for information and they were telling me the opposite, that they were getting hot meals, showers and that the conditions were good."

Likewise, newspapers quoting Bureau spokesmen in the days following the hurricane reported that generators were working and that inmates were getting hot meals and plenty of bottled water and ice.

Union president Isaac Ortiz says it was all a cover-up.

"It was B.S.," he says. "Total B.S. But see, the public relations person, they get a speech or whatever information they can give to the public, and it's already been screened before they tell anybody. And they're not going to say, 'We failed,' or 'We failed to respond.' They're not going to say they failed at anything. They're going to say everything is fine...I mean, this is Federal Bureau of Prisons, they don't tell on themselves."

According to Sirak, this was just one of several cover-ups.

He alleges that the prison suddenly began charging inmates $3 for medical attention whereas before the storm the same care had been free. Sirak claims the reason was to keep inmates from seeking medical help and to conceal injuries inflicted during and after the hurricane, in order to bury any proof that inmates were being treated poorly.

"Ajivin," who says he cannot use his real name because of the rules of the halfway house where he lives in Connecticut, claims he saw firsthand the lack of ­medical care after Hurricane Rita.

"Everyone was mad and kicking the doors," he says, "and people had medical problems and medical would come like once a day, maybe. And [the staff] didn't have the right medicines."

Ajivin says his cellmate had diabetes and was used to getting insulin shots and having his blood sugar checked twice a day.

"He got his insulin a day after (Rita hit), but he didn't get it every day," says Ajivin. "I was giving him the little bit of food that I did get, trying to keep his pressure up. Because it kept dropping. I didn't even eat, I fasted about three and a half days, giving him my peanut butter to keep his pressure up. The storm was nothing; it was the aftermath that was horrible. I knew his pressure was dropping because he kept getting the shakes and I kept telling him, 'Hold on, hold on.'"

After about two weeks, says Ajivin, inmates emerged from their cells for the first time and were allowed to shower.

"Everybody looked crazy," he says. "Everybody grew hair all over, their eyes were wide open, looked like they were starving, stinking, people had skin rashes from the feces. I was like, 'Man, I can't believe this.'"

The shower water, he says, "stung and was brown and smelly. But we had no real choice; either take it or don't take a shower at all. And then we had to put on the same clothes again."

He and other inmates say the only medicine they received was a couple of aspirin.

In the lawsuit, Sirak claims that medical staff refused to perform any diagnosis on inmates with complaints, only offering over-the-counter drugs to treat symptoms and ignoring the underlying causes.

"I think that the medical staff was ordered from above to do this," says Sirak, "to show that everybody is happy and there's no problems here. Their thinking is that if they can't point to any diagnostics, then there's no evidence of any harm happening. They were trying to kill the evidence at the source."

It was about a year and a half after Hurricane Rita that Garrett Deetz decided to try to seek justice. So, he went to the prison's law library, downloaded the proper administrative tort claim to file against the Bureau and filled it out.

The way it works, according to Deetz, is that inmates file the form with the regional office, whose lawyers investigate the claim and then make a decision.

As per the prison's rules, Deetz gave the form to a corrections officer, whose job is to look over all legal mail, who then was supposed to put it in the outgoing mail. Time went by, but Deetz never received an answer.

"A lot of the times they weren't putting them in the mail," says Deetz. "They said they lost my first tort claim, so I had to file another one."

Sirak says Deetz's story is quite common, another example of the Bureau of Prisons trying to silence inmates and cover-up what happened after Hurricane Rita.

According to the lawsuit, prison officials tried to keep inmates from accessing the legal library to obtain the proper tort forms. Then, when and if a prisoner did get the paperwork, staff held the form and refused to send it out.

Enrico Diaz Hawkins is an inmate at the federal facility in Pollock, Louisiana. He was moved there from Beaumont after the hurricane. In a letter he mailed to Sirak, Hawkins detailed the hurdles he encountered.

"Immediately after the hurricane," Hawkins writes, "many of us inmates questioned the legality of our safety, sanitation, and environmental conditions. We were told that all of the administrations actions were legal and discouraged from pursuing the issue any further with the threat of 'Diesel Therapy'...and the implied threat of bodily harm."

"Diesel therapy," an inmate term, according to Sirak, is when an inmate is shipped to one facility after another, with his personal property never catching up to him. It is considered a severe ­punishment.

"I personally tried to file an administrative remedy form about a month after Hurricane Rita," writes Hawkins, "and was told by my counselor...and my unit manager...that they lost the form and that it was in my best interest not to pursue the matter any further...I was already stressed out from the inhumane conditions that I was forced to suffer through during the hurricane and its aftermath and I was put under further duress by the implied threat from those in authority over me so out of fear and prudence I decided to leave the issue alone until I was far away from USP Beaumont."

Sirak alleges in the lawsuit that prison officials punished inmates by taking them off a good prison job or transferring them to a cell with an inmate with an anger management problem to make their lives more difficult. Sirak also states that prison staff invaded cells and took inmates' legal papers as well as instituted lockdown during which time inmates could not mail letters.

"All of this was done under the radar screen," says Sirak. "For example, no one can argue the BOP has the right to take a person from one cell to another. On its face it's neutral. And all the record shows is the transfer, not that the person's new cellmate is an animal from hell. And that's what's so insidious. They're very adept at doing these things that leave no trace of prejudice."

When Deetz finally was able to submit his tort claim 21 months after the hurricane, he listed the Bureau's failure to evacuate, the dehydration, the accumulation of feces in his cell, the inability to bathe for weeks, the unbearable heat and the fear that he had been left, locked up in his cell, to die.

Three months later, he received a letter from Jason Sicler, Regional Counsel for the Bureau in Dallas. In his letter, Sicler denied all of Deetz's contentions.

"An investigation into your allegations could not substantiate your claim," Sicler wrote. "The review of this matter revealed FCC Beaumont (USP) staff took appropriate measures to alleviate the conditions caused by the natural disaster. All available supplies were issued to both staff and inmates as they became available...Therefore, there is no evidence you sustained any personal injury or property loss caused by the neglect or wrongful act or omission of any Bureau of Prison employee...."

Deetz couldn't believe it.

"I was like, 'That's crazy,'" says Deetz. "They denied everything. It makes you think, 'They screwed us and they're going to get away with it.' It makes you think, 'They're the federal government and you can't beat them.'"

"Thank God for Norman's lawsuit."

chris.vogel@houstonpress.com

Show Pages
 
My Voice Nation Help
38 comments
Merceded68532
Merceded68532

This sounds like the lewisburg penitentiary and Rita Buchanan in sunbury

shane
shane

Stay out of prison!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HMMMM
HMMMM

I hate to hear that he has MAC disease...but since the water at USP Beaumont came from a CLEAN water tower (the incoming water to the tower was turned off before the hurricane even hit to prevent contamination) there is NO way the water there caused anything.

Peggy Cummins
Peggy Cummins

My son was in Beaumont prison during Hurricane Rita and left to rot in that filth. He was forced to drink tainted water and shower in it which resulted in his getting a disease and is now DYING in a prison in Minnesota. If the prison would have helped him when he said he was sick instead of letting him loose 90 pounds and become so weak he fell down and couldn't get up. Finally they took him to a hospital and he was diagnosed with a disease called MAC. He was neglected even after diagnosed and moved around to other prisons until he was at deaths door once again. He was flown to Rochester, MN. and a doctor from the Mayo Clinic said it was the worst case of a MAC infection he had ever seen due to neglect!!! If he had been properly treated with antibiotics this would have gone away in a year. It has been three years and it only has become worse to the point of now he is dying and is just a matter of time he is told...nothing they can do!! TYPICAL My son went into prison on a drug offense now he will pay the ultimate price with his life. During the 7 years he has been incarcerated he has NEVER gotten into any trouble, just wanted to do his time and come home....he won't ever be able to do that now.If anyone is interested in trying to help with a compassionate release for my son or a pardon from our president please contact me. I have sent letters to everyone even President Obama asking to have my son released so he can come home and not have to die at age 41 in prison, alone. The BOP did this to him when they didn't take care of him, they need to be held accountable for their actions.. This is heartbreaking for our family and his two children that will be left behind. Is there anyone else dying of MAC from Beaumont Prison & Hurricane Rita? Please contact me if you have had any help. Thank you....

Truth Teller
Truth Teller

This lawsuit is ignorant. Not only was everyone safe during Rita they were also safe during Ike too. Federal prisons in Beaumont will NOT be evacuating during any hurricanes. The inmates in this lawsuit are nothing more then liars who want a "payday" at the Goverment's expense. There were LARGE generators brought in within 3 hours of the end of the hurricane which powered everything with the exception of the air conditioning systems. Soon after separate generators were mounted on the roofs of the buildings and powered all of the a/c units. There was never a shortage of food, drinking water, medical care, or anything else. Ridiculous....They don't deserve a dime.

WILLIE BARNES
WILLIE BARNES

BRO AINT LYING I WAS THERE AND I KNOW WHAT IT WAS LIKE.IWAS AT BEAUMONT PENITENTIARY.I TOO WENT THROUGH THE SAME HELL.PEOPLE ACT LIKE WE ANIMALS AN THAT WE DESERVED WHAT WE WENT THROUGH.BUT IN GODS EYES WE STILL DESERVED TO BE TREATED LIKE HUMANS.YOU DONT REALISE UNTIL YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH IT OR THAT YOUR LOVED ONE IS PUT IN THAT TYPE OF SITUATION.IM GLAD THAT IM HOME.IM ALSO A PART OF THAT SUIT THAT WAS FILED.MY HEART GO OUT TO EVERYBODY THAT I KNEW FOR THE FOUR YRS. THAT I DID THERE.ILOVE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU CAUSE I KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE.KEEP YALL HEAD.WHAT GOD CAN FIX CANT NO MAN BREAK. I CAN BE REACHED AT 38 FLOCK AVE. PRICHARD,ALA.36610

Gilbert Soza
Gilbert Soza

I WAS A PRISONER AT THE BEAUMONT USP WHEN THIS TOOK PLACE. IM A FREE MAN NOW AND LET ME TELL YOU... THAT WAS NO RIDE IN THE PARK!!! BEFORE THE WHOLE LOCK DOWN TOOK PLACE WE WAS ORDERED BY OUR UNIT STAFF TO GET ALL THE WATER WE COULD AND THAT WE WAS NOT EVACUATING THE PRISON. WHEN THE UNIT WAS PUT ON LOCK DOWN WE ALL KNEW THAT WE WAS IN FOR A LONG RIDE... AND WE WERE. WITHIN THE FIRST HOURS OF THE STORM HITTING EVERYTHING HAD CUT OFF!! NO POWER NO RUNNING WATER NO AIR CIRCULATION NOTHING!!!! WHILE LISTENING TO MY RADIO "BATTERY OPERATED" ALL THE RADIO STATIONS WAS SAYING FOR EVERYBODY IN THE SOUND OF THERE VOICE SHOULD EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY!!! BAD LUCK FOR US BECAUSE WERE STUCK IN PRISON. FIRST 24 HOURS ALL WE GOT FROM THE STAFF WAS LIE AFTER LIE ABOUT FOOD WATER AND OUR POWER BEING CUT ON. IT TOOK HOURS FOR US TO GET OUR FIRST MEALS AND A SIP OF FRESH WATER TO DRINK. AND TO ADD TO THAT THOUGHT... THE FOOD THAT WAS GIVEN TO US WAS SPOILED...AND THATS WHAT SOME PEOPLE HAD TO EAT TO SURVIVE. DAY AFTER DAY THAT PASSED I WAS LOSING HOPE THAT WE WAS GOING TO GET OUT THAT HELLHOLE ALIVE. FOOD CAME ONCE EVERY 12 TO 16 HOURS A DAY... MAYBE EVEN LONGER. WATER ALWAYS DIDNT COME IN A LIQUID FORM. MOST OF THE TIME WE WAS GIVEN ICE FOR OUR THIRST AND I HAD TO BE VERY RATIONAL WITH MY ICE BECAUSE ID TRIED TO DRINK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE BUT ALSO PUT ICE ON AND AROUND MY BODY TO TRY AND KEEP COOL. WEEKS WENT BY WITH THIS SAME ABUSE "OR SOMETIMES WORSE" BUT THE DAY WE WAS FINALLY ALLOWED TO TAKE OUR FIRST SHOWERS AFTER BEING TORTURED IN OUR ROOMS WAS NASTY!!! WE WAS SHOWERED IN WATER THAT WAS THE COLOR OF RUSTY WATER. AFTER BEING LOCKED BACK IN OUR CELLS WE GOT A MEMORANDUM FROM THE UNIT OFFICER THAT SAID THE WATER WE HAD BATHE IN WAS NOT PURIFIED AND MAY CAUSE SICKNESS. AFTER THIS NOTICE ALL I CAN DO WAS PRAY TO GOD AND ASK HIM WHY WAS I BEING TREATED LIKE THIS!! I JUST WANTED TO GIVE UP BUT MY INNER STRENGTH WOULDNT LET ME GIVE UP. FINALLY WE WAS GIVEN A CHANCE TO CALL OUR FAMILIES AND BOY LET ME TELL YOU.... I GOT A SHOCK OF MY LIFE!!!!! THE OFFICIALS TALKING TO MY FAMILY TOLD THEM THAT I "ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE USP FACILITY" HAD BEEN EVACUATED TO A SAFE LOCATION OUT OF HARMS WAY. THAT WAS A BOLD FACE LIE. I WAS IN ROOM UNIT AB 419 TOP BUNK AND I TOLD MY FAMILY THAT TOO!!! THEY WAS SCARED FOR MY SAFETY BUT WHAT CAN I DO? THEY SEEN THE MASSACRE ON TV. AFTER ALL THAT IS SAID AND DONE I CAN NEVER FORGET THAT MOMENT OF MY LIFE. I HOPE MY STORY OPENS THE EYES OF PEOPLE THAT DIDNT THINK THIS REALLY HAPPENED. MY NAME IS GILBERT SOZA FEDERAL #57503180. LOOK AT MY DATES AND LOCATION OF MY INCARCERATION AND YOULL KNOW I WAS THERE.

jpb
jpb

Look, you can't just torture inmates. They were sentenced to prison terms, not time in a concentration camp. That they're probably all scum is perhaps true, but it doesn't matter. Being a thief is not an offense for which we torture or kill (at least, not yet), and it's the epitome of anti-Christianity (and, I would think, most other religions/ethical standards) to say otherwise.

GDeetz
GDeetz

It is amazing to hear some of the comments that have been left on this issue. So because we were or are convicts they should just let us rot? Yes most of those in prison did something wrong and bad to get there, but in no way does that make it right to leave us during a hurricane to die. Anyone who comments and says because we were prisoners we deserve whatever we get is immoral and wrong. I am human and made some poor choices in my life but I nor any of us that went threw the hurricane deserve to go threw that. I will continue to fight this and make it so all inmates still get treated like a human even though they made poor choices in there life.

txbomer
txbomer

I don't feel sorry for you you did the crimes now do the times, if you think you got it bad you should try prison time in a japanese or phillipino prison. I was a guard of prisoners when I was stationed in Sasebo, Japan. I think there to soft on you and should make it harder on you. I would take away your televisons, computers, and don't talk about rehab, most prisoners come back anyway. I think the wardens should spend more time on making the prisoners get along with each other. by mixing the cells mates together,

eric
eric

Who cares, most of these people are scum anyway. They deserve that and more.

Lesley Jones
Lesley Jones

I must continue (25) After several trips to the airport, they were able to go home-onlythe next day to be called back to the Beaumont Area--where they were to evacuate inmates in prisons that were harmed during the storm. These evacuations continued upuntil October 07, 2005. Two times of the evecuations--my husband was forced to stay awake for four days without sleep. He began heart pains, which ended up with him having a heart attack and stroke-------- tried to apply for occupational disability andThe STate of Texas is denying any-any blame----and it has been a fight for the last year----I do know that it was ""so"" possible this happened--but it being federal-my husband has no knowledge of it--since his duty was to State inmates. Yes, the inmates are wrong-but be careful when judging-someone close to you could end up in prison-----------One never knows!!!

Lesley Jones
Lesley Jones

My husband was a correctional officer who transported for the TDCJ (Texas department ofCriminal Justice) and worked the hurricane Rita evacuation that almost killed him. The correctional officers usually suffer most things the inmates suffer. These prisons are not air conditioned and the buses certainly are not. He was called severaltimes at the last minute. After working a 15 hour day in the Beeville area, he was called the 23rd early Friday before Rita at midnight, giving him about 2 hours to sleep. Hedrove 5 hours to the area and everything was in disarray--They would start to evacuateone prison and then stop and it was very very disorganized. They were then sent home. The morning Rita hit the Beaumont area--his unit was called to pick up inmates at the Corpus Christi airport and distribute the inmates around the Beeville area. MORE

Lori McAllister
Lori McAllister

I am a mother of a prisoner (since inmate is such a nice term (?) )At Beaumont USP For all you people who think they should have been left there to die , I'm sure your opinion would change if it was you in there for tax evasion or any other number of federal crimes . I don't think our country gives the death penalty except in EXTREME cases . However our Goverment chose to risk the lives of all these men , who were NOT given death sentences . And if they felt so justified in doing so , why did they lie and cover it up . The state took the right attitude , as far as protecting the people in their custody . And I don't think you people would have been to happy if the walls were breached and the inmates were free in your neighborhood . Moving them to safety would have been the right choice for ALL , not just the prisoners . I have tried to get people aware of what happened there since the Hurricane , THANK GOD for Mr Siriak who has the balls to bring this to light so it doesn't EVER happen again . For public safety as well as the prisoners .

Kevin
Kevin

I find it interesting that the crimes committed by the interviewed inmates were not disclosed. Since the facility in the story is a maximum security prison, I'm assuming there weren't too many offenders in there for outstanding traffic tickets. Would mentioning the crimes have possibly slanted the article in a direction the author did not wish to travel? Makes me wonder...

KORY BURTON
KORY BURTON

I AM A HONESTY WITNESS TO ALL CLAIMS OF THE LAWSUIT FILED. I WAS A INMATE AT THE TIME OF THE STORM SO I FELT EVERYTHING FIRST HAND. AND PERSONALLY I FEEL THAT THERES NOTHING A MAN CAN DO TO MAKE HIM SUFFER THE WAY WE DID. AND TRUE ENOUGH YOU CANT BEAT THE GOVERNMENT BUT JUSTICE IS JUSTICE AND I SEE NO RIGHTFUL ACTION TAKEN IN THIS CASE. MAY GOD BE WITH EVERYONE WHO WENT THROUGH THIS WITH ME.

prison worker
prison worker

I have read the article and the comments..very interesting. Editor, it is articles and thinking like this, that has offenders not taking responsibility for there actions. It is always somebody else's fault what happens to them. Come on! Poor shower conditions and parents not being able to call into prison. "Maam, if you took that much interest in your child then they probably would not be there in the first place. Enabling behavior from parents; we are raising a dependent society. And let me guess your son or daughter was wrongly convicted. Yea, right! It takes a track record of messing up to land in prison. 3 strike rule, so your child is not in there for J walking. I am not for the harsh treatment of offenders, but don't baby these grown men! My family was displaced during Rita, they had no shower and no food. And a phone call to the unit, at least you knew where they were. My 85 year old grandfather went missing for three days and had my 40 year old deaf-mute cousin with him. So stop your belly aching. These guys are well taken care of. Prison is not even prison anymore...Too many rights for individuals who have violated the rights of others. If you inmates or former inmates think prison is hard.. try prison in Mexico, Iraq, China or Africa.You boys are soft and not doing hard time now a days. I walk down the halls and you see 9 of 10 inmates smiling in the commissary line spending there families money they did not earn. Its a grown man daycare. Weight lifting and basketball while normal citizens are at work. And what about the law following people who were there with you, in the same conditions? The nurses, therapist, doctors and officers. You guys were not the only ones going through it, so stop crying like you were falsely imprisoned. Do the crime, do the time. Do your time and get out. Don't go back. Most of you dummies have been in a couple of times. Stop snitching and do your time. And Stop trying to get a lawsuit or disability. It all boils down to the same thing.. You bums don't want to work for a living. Trying to make a fast buck.. Hey Stupid The Lawyers end up with your money in the end. Never a happy ending in crime stories. American Gangster. Get a job, and support your family, you bums. Single parent household at an all-time high. Thanks but you guys are the victims. I forgot. Keep taking my taxes dollars, you deserve it. Free medical, dental and board. People in the free world dying of Aids and Hep C, you guys are getting free treatment. Thousands of taxes dollars on one offenders treatment. You guys are treated soo unfairly. Quit your cryin. Dependants. If I am going to pay for your prison term, then please stop your belly aching.

Tex
Tex

"comprised of" is not proper English

Julie Young
Julie Young

The March 6 story "Prison Cover-Up" was an eye opener. I hope that officials are held accountable, and that changes are made.

But people need to know that that sort of intentional neglect and abuse goes on every day in our local detention facilities. Let's just focus on the Houston City Jail, where you may have "hardened criminals," but also people who simply failed to pay a traffic ticket, and where people are being held awaiting arraignment, and haven't even yet been charged with a crime, but are treated like criminals - or, rather, like animals.

My gripe is not about the lack of what most people would consider bare essentials, like toothpaste or showers. It's about downright dangerous or degrading conditions:

In a facility filled with people harboring infectious diseases like HIV, AIDS, TB, Hepatitis, etc., there is no soap.

There is no clean drinking water. People are expected to share the "fountain" which is a slow dribble of water running down the side of the metal combo toilet / sink / fountain contraption, which other people in the cell have already slopped their mouths on. Oh, did I mention infectious diseases?

Cells and bedding are not cleaned or disinfected after one person leaves and before the next person comes in. Oh, did I mention infectious diseases?

People often cannot have essential medications. The guards simply ignore the request, or put the person off by saying they'll "attend to it," but never do.

Woman in need are frequently denied sanitary napkins. Oh, those items may exist - locked away in a supply closet somewhere. It's up to the guards to hand out sanitary products when requested, and some of them simply won't. I've been told that women who are used to this treatment while being locked up simply stand with their legs apart and let nature take its course. Others soil their clothing and have to stand in court that way. Sorry for being graphic, but people need to know this goes on. Annise Parker and Ray Hill have both worked on this problem, but, as soon as their attention is focused on another matter, guards go back to denying prisoners' pleas.

I've talked to people who work in the jail, and to a former head of the jail. They assure me that sufficient supplies are on hand, and that guards are trained and instructed to take care of basic needs of prisoners. But training and written policies don't insure that correct procedures are followed down in the trenches.

In my opinion, jail and prison are not about reform or helping a person become a productive citizen. Jail and prison are about power, control, dominance, humiliation, and big egos with small brains being able to get away with whatever they want, simply because no one knows. And, concerning people who are locked up, often the public opinion is that "if they did something to land themselves in jail, they deserve what they get," or to simply turn their back and ignore what's going on.

"Criminal" or not, every human being deserves to be treated with respect, and to have basic needs and safety provided.

I hope that your article, my letter, and the outcries of many people, will finally put an end to this inhumane treatement of people in lockup.

Hmmm. Your website seems to have changed. I can't find the "letters" section with the button that offers the option of not having my name published. I hope that feature is still available, and that you will not publish my name if you print my letter.

Thanks.

This issue has been bugging me for a long time, and hopefully we can get things rectified.

Jim
Jim

I guess I am totally confused now. These folks are in prison, right? They get treated better then the military In Iraq. Solve the issue. Issue these folks an M-16 and a thousand rounds of ammo. Drop them off in Iraq and bring the military home. They can stay in Iraq, if they survive, so be it. They can eat MRE's once or twice a day. They can also roam around the cities of Iraq and not have to stay in a compound with guards. They can get their own rooms where they can find one and not have to stay in tents with 40 plus more folks or share a 10X10 room with 4 to 6 other folks while sharing two lockers for uniforms.I feel so sorry for the wrong doers, I do not mind giving my tax dollars for their wellbeing. HaHa. Suffer you folks. Cant do the time, dont do the crime. The way sociallty is today, I am pretty sure these are not first offenders.

sara
sara

Big deal. inmates suffered the same as the public. No electricity or ac for days? Who even gives a shit? I believe that prisoners have rights but do they deserve to be treated better than the people out here in the world that are working their asses off to pay for such things as hot food, electricity, air conditioning? I bet most of them have willingly gone without those things when they were out here smoking crack or whatever it was they did to get themselves locked up in the first place. Save the sympathy for the truly deserving.

R. Winkelman
R. Winkelman

Although some of the comments purpose that the prisoners have fewer rights than the general public I must disagree. It is maintained by federal law that inhumane treatment of inmates is not to be tolerated by our prison system, we voted to have this fact and not to tolerate divisions, violations, or cover-ups to dissuade it. The alleged cover-up by management seems to reflect a direct battlement to intimidate, deceive, and mirrors Gestapo tactics to silence any attempt to have the truth revealed! This should be appalling to everyone that reads this and should be put in a national spotlight! Government that cover-up a wrong is not what we are about and when we hear of it we should pay very close attention to what happens and prevent it from happening again otherwise it may become the norm.

Thats What Y'all Get
Thats What Y'all Get

Prisoners should lose all basic rights when charged with a crime. Period. End of story. Don't commit crimes and you won't find yourself in that situation. It is entirely avoidable. I'm glad they didn't evacuate, because if something happened, all of those prisoners would have run free first chance they got. They got what they deserved. If anything, my heart goes out to the guards who were forced to stay in the prison.

Mary
Mary

People, read the article. Do you not see the words "maximum security" used numerous times? What kind of people are sent to a MAXIMUM SECURITY prison? Murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. These people are not even human! There might be a very, very small percentage of innocent people there, but the vast, vast majority of the people who are in that facility are there because they deserve to be. Why should a monster who raped women or killed people sit in a dry, powered, air-conditioned building and get three hot meals a day on my tax dime while my power is out and I'm living on peanut butter sandwiches and water for three weeks?

Dennis
Dennis

They should of move them before Rita,like the lied about it.Thats it ,the rest of it is bullshit.You compare your families and yourselfs with the inmates.No way.Yall had a choice and stayed but they didnt.They are inmates,look up the meaning to it.The Feds are liable for them and their survival throu storms,wars....As far as the federal aid the whole world seen the katrina sorry act of federal aid.

Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis

What fine upright pompous blowhards some of you folks commenting are. So anyone in prison deserves to be there, is an animal and deserves whatever they get? In 2002, I pleaded guilty to mail fraud. A business associate actually was the one who had committed the fraud, but the money he paid me came from the fraud and they called it tainted fruit. I couldn't afford to fight it, so I took the plea. My probation officer did everything he could to obstruct my probation. I'd get a job after disclosing my felony mail fraud conviction, he'd put conditions on me so I couldn't fulfill the job requirements, I'd get fired and be in violation of my employment requirement of my probation.

I ended up going to prison for six months for that reason. The other inmates were amazed that I was there! For my part, I was amazed at what I saw in prison. Inmates who just wanted to do their time and get out, guards who took great delight in hassling the people they were put in charge of, and prison doctors who could not care less if you lived or died. I don't look at prison guards or inmates the same way now as I did before. I feel sorry for some of the people who have commented on this story who obviously feel that prisoners are subhuman. You'd all be right at home with Adolf Hitler.

joshua
joshua

Inmates, a nice name for prisoners, itself a nice name for convicted criminals, which is another name for those degenerates who don't deserve to live among us, well, they are cast out. They should be the least of our worries. Why write about them? Given that they've chosen to live in the sharks pen, they should swim with sharks, and sharks bite, right? Why write about the sharks? Is there no earthly justice where these inmates might endure an eye for an eye justice?

Bcooper
Bcooper

There is a simple solution to the inmates problems, and that is dont be a burden to society. Its bad enough that hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars are spent on these prisoners. If you dont want to be in a cell with 6 men then I suggest that follow the law. Minimum or maximum security is irrelevant, if you cant be trusted among society than you deserve the consequences. Thousands of people in that area were without running water or septic sytems. I still don't understand why criminals believe they deserve the same treatment as normal citizens. I guess that should be expected from a lower level of society!

Rufus MCDonald
Rufus MCDonald

These criminals should have avoided jail by not committing crimes against their fellow man.

Did these criminals have any compassion for their victims?Why would hey expect ANY compassion now?

I suggest we stop feeding and EXECUTE the SUMBITCHES!!!

Robert
Robert

Really? A 'no comment' from the BOP and that's it?

Couldn't find anything else to balance your story?

Did you try to find just one inmate or guard or relative that didn't think it was quite as bad?

If you did try, you should have included it.

Or how about this. Wait until discovery gets started in the lawsuit to publish your story. If you had wanted to present a more balanced account, that would have been an easy way to do it.

Briefs, filings and other documents from all involved parties would then be available on the Internet to any yahoo with a computer. If the hurricane was so long ago and you could wait until the original complaint was filed, why not wait until you get some adversarial perspective in the court flings?

For all I know conditions in the prison were as bad as your story portrays. But your story would be more compelling if you had handled the reporting better.

J.A.F.
J.A.F.

For those people who do not know.. The prison Camp is the minimal security prison in the Beaumont Federal Complex. Let it be known the article in the Houston Press is incorrect. It states that we were evacuated and the only people left behind were the USP (Maximum) inmates. Well get this.. They took us campers to the USP to suffer with them in an open wing they had. If the walls were to give out like they were expecting. ( read the article) we would have been mixed in which would have been disaster and murders taking place. You people saying there is nothing wrong with this? I had no sterile water to drink for days and we were piled in two man cells six deep practically on top of a toilet with shit in it! After the storm i was put on work detail at the medium security ( which was evacuated after the storm) picking up debris with no medical check or medication for my needs and handi cap arm, since i had only been on the grounds for a few days. I had no commisary for months and no higene. Here I am exausted from no sleep due to conditions and cant handle the detail they give me in extreme heat and threatened to be taken to the hole if I do not work!

J. A. F.
J. A. F.

Most of you people are idiots and deserve to be locked up more then most of the people in Beaumont. You stupid people commenting are the same snake in the grass people in society today! I was an inmate at the prison camp when this happened and it was inhumane. Ive paid my debt to society and Im working and doing well now. Not everybody in prison is a rapist or murderer and thats besides the point. There was a mandatory evacuation for this area and we were the only ones "forced" to be left behind in harm and terrors way! Sure there were other non inmates in the area that suffered but they were not caged up like animals and forced to stay. There dumb asses should have found a way out!

Bcooper
Bcooper

I am not sure exactly what the prison officials did wrong. I stayed through Rita and was here for the chaos in the following months. Why should murderers, drug dealers, rapists, and all other criminals recieve priority over lawful citizens? I actually find the premise of this article quite offensive. I had no power or running water for 18 days and some others went a full month.The men and women behind bars are there for a reason and deserve any treatment they get. Everyday those men are fighting, stabbing and raping each other, but to go a couple days with peanut butter and bread is inhumane?

In The Know
In The Know

Were conditions bad at USP Beaumont after Hurricane Rita? You bet.

However, the inmates housed at the United States Penitentiary were nothing more than a microcosm of hundreds of thousands of individuals in SE Texas whose lives were disrupted by this natural disaster. My immediate family was affected greatly by Rita. The difference is that nobody was rushing tractor trailer loads of generators, food, bottled water, and clean laundry to them. These things WERE provided to the inmates at Federal Correctional Complex. ANYONE who is going to go on the record and say otherwise either wasn't there, is out right being dishonest, or has another agenda to push.

Beverly
Beverly

If prisoners want to be treated well then they should treat their fellow man well. Live their life the way they should, obey the laws and not go to prison. The people they have wronged weren't treated fair either. I'm so tired of people breaking the law and then crying injustice when they think things don't go their way. There were many people that had it rough during Rita and many of those people didn't break the law, but they still suffered just the same. I think we all need to take a long hard look at ourselves and start doing a better job of the way we do things. The first is taking better care of how we live our lives. Don't break the law and help our neighbors.

NANCY LOPEZ
NANCY LOPEZ

As I read this today it takes me back to that awful day. My husband was there. He told me of the horrible conditions he endured as well as other inmates. I think justice needs to be served. The inmates might be criminals but they are human and were treated poorly and had no choice but to take what was given to them. All of their lives were put in jeopardy and mean while we were being told everything was fine, but it was not and it's a shame that no one wants to take the blame for it. My husband was one who joined the lawsuit and we are hoping everything turns out well for him and all the other inmates who have also joined the lawsuit. When I read this article it really even amazed me that this story would be on the cover. No one really talks about it and i'm glad that you guys are giving the inmates a voice and a chance to have their bad experienced told. The goverment is full of hush hush and someone needs to be the voice for this injustice! My husband will be pleased when he gets to read this article as much I was. Thanks Houston Press!

Rodney
Rodney

If there were ever an incentive to not get involve with prison industrial complex this is it. This particular incident shows that you have absolutely no control over your life, that those who govern you care nothing about you or your family members.

As the great Henry Kissinger once stated and I quote "these people are just useless eaters."

 
Houston Concert Tickets

Around The Web

Loading...