Sequestration News

The effects of the sequestration have infiltrated the USDB!

For the past decade, despite rising costs and inflation, each inmate has been authorized to spend $35 on health and comfort items each month. To order, an inmate has to have a source of cash. Some are sent money from family & friends and others have jobs in the prison, such as the laundry detail. There are a lot of inmates who don’t have jobs and don’t receive money from outside – so they’ve never gotten health and comfort items. Perhaps for those poor souls, the recent cuts won’t make much of a difference.

People have already been able to buy fewer and fewer items as the years go by and costs rise. Now, the $35 allowance has been lowered to $25 and all food items have been stripped from the list. No more goodies.

I also hear that now all inmates must have over a 10 year sentence in order to come to the facility. In some ways, this is good news. It should staunch the flow of inmates that continue to overburden the facility’s capacity.

There’s still a rumor of an imminent Federal Exchange, but those should become less necessary if the rumors are true and fewer convicts will come here. I don’t know where those with lesser sentences will go…maybe straight to federal prison?



6 thoughts on “Sequestration News

  1. I’m a Naval officer potentially facing charges and reading this article made me sick to my stomach. The more I read about the US military justice system (and heck, the civilian justice system for that matter), the more I feel that our country has moved away from the principles that made us strong.

    • CMDR, USN – I’m not Russ, but I paid close attention to his court martial. It was the first one I experienced and I was blown away by how it all really works. I think Russ and I both were the type of people who thought: If I didn’t do anything wrong, justice will prevail and I’ll be acquitted. But that’s not how it works. It really comes down to how good your lawyer is and the political nature (if any) of your case.
      I talked to Russ this past weekend and he said now that the USDB is shipping a lot of inmates off to Federal Prisons (only those service members with sentences of greater than 10 years get sent to the USDB anymore according to Russ) about 80% of inmates were convicted of sexual crimes. And while sex crimes are surely an issue in the military, I doubt they comprise 80% of all offenses – but they definitely make up a preponderance of convictions. The system is just broken – and since the military is currently under pressure to prosecute sex crimes…guess what? If you’re accused of a sex crime, get your affairs in order.

      • TSCI, Thanks for the thoughtful reply, it was unexpected hence my poor communication – grammar, spelling. I had read through the entire blog before posting before. As an officer with many years in the Navy, it made me upset to say the least. I have to say if the assertions of innocence are true, the system has become truly macabre and terrifying. It has made me lose faith in the military in seeing how NCIS/CID/JAG/etc has conducted themselves even in my early stage of investigation. Regardless of how this pans out, I’m resigning my commission.

        One problem it seems is that they seem to have no problem throwing everything and the kitchen sink at accused in order to have them comply. A tactic nowadays seems to be compiling as many offenses as possible (even if they’re so thinly connected) in order to rack up as many years as possible so that the accused plays ball with a plea bargain. Because of the vague nature of our laws, a menagerie of charges can be written up for the most minor offenses.

        I’m sure Russ would not be facing the number of years he is if he had just pleaded it out (as noted), which is the irony of the situation.

        I’m not facing sex crimes but I’m sure some ridiculous number of years in prison will be levied against me if charged. I haven’t sat in a courtmartial (I’m not a line officer) but I wonder how Russ was treated throughout the investigative/courtmartial process. I hope he was treated with dignity and respect befitting an officer with multiple combat deployments. I can certainly say that my rank and service doesn’t mean squat to an investigator (even if he’s an E6 or something with only a few years service) during interrogations.

      • re: the kitchen sink. The same thing happened with Russ – he was actually charged with four different variances of the same crime. For example – let’s say he was accused of committing a level 4 offense (I don’t even know that there is such a thing, but bear with me). They charged him with a level 4, but also levels 2, 3, and 5.

        Like I said, the system seems to be broken at nearly every waypoint. I don’t know exactly what happened because I wasn’t there, but I know that Russ is a good dude and even if he did exactly what he’s accused of, his punishment is far more severe than necessary. Though he researched options beforehand, he trusted a gov’t issued lawyer who made him far too optimistic about his chances of acquittal. Now that he’s incarcerated, anyone who reads this blog can see what a terrible bind he’s in.

        I think the humanity of those on the other side of the justice system, or even those straddling the fence as you, unfortunately, are now, is quickly forgotten. When others dismiss your humanity, it’s easy to let the veneer of civility slip a little. It sounds foofy, but I really hope you can keep a firm grasp of yourself through this very trying process.

  2. Currently I command several hundred sailors in my position. As a former officer in USDB, it’s hard to imagine being mistreated or disrespected by teenage E-2-E-4’s.

  3. I won’t trouble y’all with much more but I just wanted to add a few final points:

    1) Practically and degree wise – JAG officers are crap. My wife has a law degree from an Ivy League school and unfortunately though it might sound elitist, prestige/connections/ambition in law matter a lot. Clues like school is a small indicator as to the pedigree/abilities of a lawyer but it’s useful as an initial indicator as everything comes into play. The average JAG officer typically tends to be a middling to above average line officer with a passing interest in being a lawyer who then got his education paid for at the most convenient location he could get his JD. They tend not to treat any case as important to their career because quite frankly, it’s not if they just want their 20 years with retirement at O-6. As such, they tend not to be very ambitious (in lawyer speak, meaning winning lots of cases and advancing oneself in the profession). If you care a lot about winning, probe hard and deep into a civilian lawyer (think Eugene Fidell) who has lots of experience in the particular kind of case your’e facing. Finally, Russ should look into the University of London external degree. Better than some unaccredited MBA from some nonsense school. Unaccredited = worse than useless. It’s the same institution that former South African President Nelson Mandela earned a law degree at while in Prison.I believe they definitely have masters degrees in business, undoubtedly of high quality and not requiring an internet connection.

    2) Losing one’s humanity – my peers, who are mostly senior grade officers >O-3 in a niche specialty within the military (we all hold professional degrees- think doctor, biomedical scientist, etc) automatically hold the presumption of guilt towards me for simply being investigated. Many of my peers are treating me right now in my position like a pariah. Even those who I regarded as friends are wary of associating deeply with me for fear of being involved in any way (even those who feel that I am totally innocent). Even the presumption of innocence feels like a luxury. When I talk about my innocence I can see the doubt in the eyes of even those who love me. It shows you how much power the simple act of accusing someone has in this situation.

    3) Proportionality of punishment – even if guilty, (wrt your friend Russ), I’d say that this man served his country when others ran away and did so honorably 99% of the time even if guilty of what he is accused with. Can we honestly say we gave him the full consideration regarding his sacrifice in the face of the crime? There’s a terrible irony in a situation where we punish civilians, who have never served their country one bit, far less for equivalent crimes than those who choose to sacrifice and serve their country. In the civilian world or any rational sphere of existence, at most I’d lose my job for what I could be accused of doing. To make it frank, this is making me realize that I mean nothing to the system regardless of service, intentions or loyalty. Regardless of my skills, education or that I deployed overseas, served honorably, the system simply sees me as utterly expendable. It’s made me downgrade the importance of my uniform, even my nationality in my life. My family and true friends are what matters now. Not my country, not the Navy. Now, I just want a quiet life with my family now. I hope to pray to the Lord every night that he can grant me the providence to salvage some semblance of that at this point. TCSI, I don’t know if you’re in the service or have but I hope you can understand the feelings of someone who turned down a comfortable life in the first place to dedicate one’s life to in a career ,deploy to a third world country for a year, support a higher ideal like serving one’s country only to have the hammer come down on oneself in some nightmarish Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare. Part of what makes me grieve at times because with my professional qualifications I could have simply have stayed in the private sector from the start, earned more money and have gotten the quiet life I am fighting so hard to have for my family and I.

    Anyways enough of this cathartic rant on an anonymous blog (though I must say it feels good). If NCIS somehow catches this somehow through their computer tracking, I stand by everything I say. Good luck and good bless you, Russ and those in the belly of the beast. I wish nothing but the best for you all and I will include you all in my prayers.

    I am yours, soon to be formerly a
    Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy

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