Welcome to the USDB. Now Strip, Lift & Spread

The Ford Explorer that the two Military Policemen rented from the Kansas City Airport was clean and still had that new car smell. I sat in the back seat next to the officer my brigade had assigned to escort me to prison, Major Black. Major Black was required to sit through my entire court martial and he was as unconvinced of my guilt as the other seventeen people in the courtroom who weren’t actively participating in the trial. He handed me his cell phone and allowed me to make a few calls as we made our way from the airport to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

When we arrived at Leavenworth, the first order of business was to determine why my confinement orders assigned me to the JRCF (Joint Regional Correctional Facility). The JRCF is for people with sentences of less than five years; mine was for six. This caused some confusion. The gate guard at the JRCF called his supervisor who told him I would not be confined there. A phone call to the USDB revealed I would be confined there and they were expecting my arrival.

The Old USDB facility, a.k.a. The Castle

The USDB is the summit of the US Military prison system. It houses military prisoners with sentences from five years to life and all military death row inmates. Its previous facility was known as “The Castle” of mild cinematic fame. Upon arrival, guards ushered me through the West Gate and into a search area. Two obese Military Police Privates came with me into the initial search room.

The search room had a single exit and a prominent red panic button mounted on the wall. The privates stood there breathing heavily. I wasn’t sure if they had asthma or if they were trying to intimidate me. One of them informed me “any sudden movement will be taken as an act of aggression and you will be put on the ground.” I had to smile at the thought of these two fat kids trying to wrangle me to the floor. I was equally sure that a) I stood no chance of survival if they managed to get me to the ground and put their weight on top of me, and b) that they had no chance of putting me on the ground until my handcuffs went back on.

The New USDB Facility, opened in 2002

I slowly removed my Army Service Uniform (ASU) jacket and handed it to one of the guards. I began unlacing my spit-shined jump boots while one of the guards removed my medals, rank insignia, parachutists badge, and awards from my jacket. It bothered me to watch my ten years of service being striped from my uniform by a kid who’d never set foot in a combat zone.

Someone accidentally hit the panic button and two more portly guards bounded to the rescue. When the false alarm was cleared, I finished undressing.

Once I was completely naked and the guards were reasonably confident I wasn’t smuggling contraband under my scrotum or between my ass cheeks, I was allowed to put my pants, collared shirt, and boots back on. They placed me in a body cuff which is like a weight lifting belt that connects to your handcuffs. They put ankle shackles over my boots that restricted my stride to a shuffle and moved me to a waiting room where I was told to look at a wall.

I stood there inspecting the wall for some time while someone processed my paperwork.Then the guards walked me a few hundred meters through an outdoor covered walkway and into a new building. Even though I couldn’t move faster than a slow shuffle, the exertion required to move me to the new building seemed to severely agitate my guards’ asthma. They kept wheezing at me to stare at the ground, which made me want to look around even more. I kept my head down, but was able to see a few general population inmates in my peripheral vision.

When we arrived at the Special Housing Unit (SHU – pronounced “shoe”) reception office, an NCO (non-commissioned officer) issued me a hygiene kit, shorts, socks, shower shoes and a t-shirt. I was taken to another changing room where I took off the remnants of my ASUs and donned prison-orange shorts and white t-shirt. When I was dressed, the reception NCO issued me a copy of the all-encompassing regulation for the USDB: The Manual for the Guidance of Inmates, Vol. I and II. He then asked me some basic demographic questions and warned me not to tell the other inmates anything about my charges.

After I completed initial processing, the guards escorted me to an interview room where a man dressed in civilian clothes greeted me and explained that he was a Military Police Investigator (MPI). He inquired about my gang affiliations and tattoos and asked if I knew anyone in the USDB. Once he discovered I’d been an officer, he asked if any of my Soldiers had been sent to this prison. He also told me that the inmates may try to “tax” me because I used to make officer pay. I believe the real purpose of the interview was to recruit me as a snitch. He asked some more leading questions and I remained non-committal.

After the interview/sales-pitch, the guards escorted me to the Reception Tier and into my new cell. While I was making my bunk on the top rack, my new roommate walked in and introduced himself.

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7 thoughts on “Welcome to the USDB. Now Strip, Lift & Spread

  1. Some readers might find the details of your case interesting. Are you prevented from describing how, why you ended up in prison? From the little I’ve heard about the case, it appears to be a gross travesty of justice. If an interested 3d party were to submit a FOIA request, would the military be obliged to hand over your case file? Do you think bringing in a big-time reporter/news source and giving them the details of your case would expedite your release?

    • From Russ: I’ve decided not to chance writing about the particulars of my case until I’ve exhausted the appeals process – I don’t want to inadvertently give them any ammunition. Once appeals are complete and my case is final I will post more details of my “crime.” I obviously agree with you that this is the opposite of justice.
      My trial will become public record, and someone could request details through an FOIA or possibly even find it on the internet. However, this won’t be possible until the initial charges and sentence are actioned by the convening authority, i.e. a General signs off on it. The General can’t sign off until he receives my record of trial, or transcript, and allows me 30 days to submit a request for clemency. My best guess is that this will not happen until November or December at the earliest.
      I’ve considered submitting my story to a news source. However, I’ve spoken to other inmates and concluded that my case isn’t nearly the most tragic. If their cases didn’t pique the media’s interest, I’m afraid I don’t have much of a chance.

  2. My husband was just sent to USDB. He was convicted on hearsay testimony; the entire court room was stunned by the conviction and outraged at the ludicrous sentence handed out to “set an example”. I believe it is time for the country to know about military injustice. I’m going to find someone willing to write about it. While I hate that you are unfairly there, I am comforted to know my husband will be able to find individuals such as yourself to befriend. I am praying for all of you.

    • I understand an as a military spouse (I will call myself that till the day I die) who has a husband who was also just convicted on hearsay testimony (no physical evidence of any kind and only his “attackers ” who were offered money testified. I will also be willing to help you find someone to write to . Maybe with two of us we can get our voices hear more. Funny thing was their “witnesses: had two different three different stories they told to an osi agent and the court would not let us speak about it.

      • Same here. My husband was just convicted. Let me know if you ladies started something up.

  3. I can write about my story. It is listed as U.S. v. Juillerat (my birthname). After applying to and being accepted by the Air Force using my ‘preferred enlistment name’ (see DD Form 1966), I served 13 years as an intelligence officer with a Top Secret SCI clearance. I was the subject of an extensive investigation for cocaine trafficking because my wife is Colombian and because I am a male with a ‘preferred enlistment name’. The Equal Opportunity office determined that the investigation was illegal, so the Air Force sent to to a court-martial to supercede the EO decision. I wasn’t involved in any drug activity, so, to save face, they convicted me of using a false name because common law names are considered the person’s true name (see 10 USC 1551).

    They openly told me they would not investigate females for similar use (most names changed at marriage use the common law method and the marriage certificate does NOT indicate a name change, only that a marriage occurred–a few States now have an official name change and it is stated as such on the certificate). Their reason was that military law does not require fraud, only ‘intent to deceive’ defined as “to cause another to believe as true that which is false.” Sounds bad, but common law names are technically false only by arbitrary legal definition (they are linguistically true, since they identify the person). That makes using the traditional year of our Lord illegal under military law (Jesus was not born in a.d.1). Moreover it is even more false because it is false as a natural fact rather than an arbitrary definition. The charges were cleverly worded to state the use was “false or fraudulent” but only charging me with knowing it was false (fraud has a much stricter definition to include a material fact intended to cause another to act to their detriment). The military telling me I could use my name were therefore fraudulent while my use of it was only false.

    Since my name was legal under civilian law and on my Social Security account, other military law required that it be used, but such inconveniences do not deter the military justice system. I even found out that Judge Harvey Kornstein (of Lakeland Florida) and Julie Keck (one of the court-martial members, now at Hot Springs Village Arkansas, whose true name was Julie Louise Rosburg) were using common law names (Harvey used one to obtain spouse benefits, Julie used one for herself).

    To further their stated discrimination based on national origin, they held that a relationship prior to my civilian marriage had become a valid marriage under military law due to the length of time I had lived as married (I had attempted an earlier marriage that was not recorded as the law required resulting in the State declaring it invalid).

    Because I was prohibited from using my Social Security number, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals released me from military status before my appeals were heard, requiring the dismissal of the charges, but the Air Force refuses to abide by that and continues to report the conviction. They also refuse to issue me a valid DD214. The one sent to me has numerous errors, but the BCMR stated they are not “material errors.” Information doesn’t need to be material to be a felony, but must be material to get a true document. Military honor is as fraudulent a phrase as military justice.

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