There’s been a lot of opinions expressed on the Frank Report as to how much time each of the defendants in the U.S. v. Raniere Et Al case should spend in prison.
Aside from Raniere – who has already been ensconced at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY for more than two years – all the other defendants in the case are still residing in their homes under various levels of home confinement/house arrest.
Eventually, they will all be sentenced – and most, if not all, will spend some time in federal prison.
But even though I detest several of Raniere’s co-defendants almost as much as I detest him, I still wonder whether it’s appropriate to send any of them to prison until we get the current coronavirus pandemic under control.
I’m not worried about Raniere because whether he gets it or not, he deserves a life sentence.
So, the fact that he’s currently at a very high risk of contracting COVID-19 – and perhaps even dying from the disease – doesn’t cause me any sleepless nights. He is, in my mind, a classic example of addition-by-subtraction: i.e., the world will be a better place when he is dead.
But I’m not convinced that his five co-defendants deserve to be put in a life-threatening situation when the most time any of them will likely serve is five or six years.
Federal Prisons on the Brink of Exploding
On April 1st, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) announced that all 170,000 inmates in its 122 institutions were going to be confined to their cells and wards for at least 14-days in order to reduce the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading throughout any of the facilities.
Talk about closing the barn door after the horses have galloped off.
The 14-day confinement – AKA lockdown – has been implemented differently in different federal prisons.
In some places, inmates are spending 23 hours per day in their cells – and 1 hour per day, in staggered groups, in the rec yard.
In others, inmates are on 24-hour lockdown – and only being allowed out of their cells once every 3 days for showers, phone calls, and emails.
Despite these extraordinary measures, the coronavirus has continued to spread in federal prisons the same way it did on cruise ships.
In the federal prison in Oakdale, LA, for example, five prisoners have already died from COVID-19.
100 other Oakdale inmates are currently under quarantine – and 4 staff members there have tested positive for the disease.
According to several reports, many prisoners at Oakdale who are experiencing COV D-19 symptoms are refusing to say anything out of fear that they too will be quarantined (They fear being placed in close proximity to 100 other inmates with similar symptoms, none of whom are receiving any treatment).
And many of the inmates at Oakdale who have been assigned to the Sanitation Detail are simply refusing to do their jobs. As a result, showers, sinks, and toilets are going uncleaned for days – thereby increasing the likelihood that more inmates will become infected with COVID-19 or one or more of the other bacterial infections that are always present in such settings.
On Monday of this week, the union that represents federal Correctional Officers (COs) filed a complaint against the BOP with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) in which it alleged that prison officials are “proliferating the spread of a known and deadly contagion both within our prison system and to our surrounding communities. The agency’s actions and inactions are expected to result in death and severe health complications and/or possible life-long disabilities.”
The Oakdale prison is a low-security facility. There are two buildings there – one of which is a camp where inmates live in an area without any fences.
Both of the buildings at Oakdale include dormitory units that house 100 or more men on bunk beds that are set about three feet apart from one another. So much for social distancing.
Tensions are building throughout the federal prison system as the lockdown continues.
And when the lockdown is extended next week – which is the only thing that makes sense – there is a good chance that we’ll see protests, food strikes, and riots in many federal prisons.
That’s just the way this stuff happens in federal prison.
Prisoners are basically slaves with few, if any, rights.
And when they’re pushed to the wall like what’s happening now, they’ll do whatever they can to be heard.
Maybe the NXIVM Defendants Should Receive Deferred Sentences
The influx of new prisoners into our state and federal prisons never stops.
The prison system beast needs to be fed – and we can always find more people who need to be incarcerated for their various transgressions.
But maybe – just maybe – this is a time when we need to hit the “Pause” button – and ask ourselves if it wouldn’t be better to halt any new admissions to those same prisons for a few months.
How about we sentence Allison Mack, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, Clare Bronfman, and Kathy Russell sometime this month or next month but hold off on making them report to prison until January 1, 2021?
Would that be so bad?
How about we continue their current home confinement/house arrest terms and conditions – and give them one-half day credit for every day they’re in that status in between their sentencing date and their incarceration date.
Would that be so bad?
Ask yourselves: Would that be worse than forcing them to report to prison now – and dying when they were infected with COVID-19?