Keith Alan Raniere, 61, remains in the Special Housing Unit [SHU] at USP Tucson. He has been there since July 22.
The SHU is meant to house a human animal in a small cell 23 hours out of 24, and let them out for one hour per day to exercise in a slightly larger room, shower, occasionally use the phone, and then go back to their cage.
It is a small cell, perhaps 7 by 10, where Raniere spends his days and nights, eating, sleeping, and excreting, all within a few feet.
At Tucson, because they have limited chambers, they often place two people in the tiny cells.
What is gained by having a companion for long hours with nothing to do, is offset by overly cramped quarters? If the two are not compatible, there is tension, discord, potential violence or intimidation and other inconveniences that come from two men sharing 70 square feet of living space.
Bunk beds, a sink, a toilet inches away from beds, perhaps a chair and barely space for two to eat cold, hi-carb meals. One can walk seven steps in a circle in the cell. Two people cannot walk at the same time and the beds themselves are the exact location for the men 18 to 20 hours per day.
Few or no books to read, no radio, no TV, no music, just isolation and boredom. And the smell of the toilet.
Harsh lights, few showers, meals served cold, no commissary to buy additional provisions, low protein, little fresh food. One just sits there and sleeps or dreams or daydreams or imagines or has hallucinations.
What aids most in destroying the stability of men in the SHU is the loss of routine and stability in daily functioning.
Even a beginner warden should be able to not that the SHU induces the following in inmates:
- panic disorder
- traumatic stress disorders,
- obsessive-compulsive disorders
- increased heart rate and respiration,
- muscle tension,
- difficulty concentrating,
- intrusive thoughts,
- fear of losing control.
- akathisia, the feeling of “wanting to crawl out of one’s skin.”
- feeling compelled to engage in repetitive behaviors in order to reduce anxiety such as
- obsessively organizing their belongings,
- keeping strict daily routines,
- excessively cleaning their cells.
- feeling highly distressed when routine is interrupted or belongings are disturbed.
- increasing suspicion of others
- bothered by benign noises.
- becoming emotionless, and numb, or detached, at least during their time in SHU.
- hallucinatory behavior,
- changes in attention span and memory deficits
- a loss in ability to focus while reading and an inability to retain new learning.
- feelings of guilt, or the injustice of their situation.
- invasive or unwanted thoughts.
- paranoid thought processes,
- anxious around and distrustful of correctional officers
- experiencing auditory hallucinations and delusions of a paranoid nature.
- visual hallucinations of the prisoner [ a great achievement for any warden]
- loneliness leading to significant declines in global cognition, semantic memory, perceptual speed and visuospatial ability
- increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- the slightest noise, such as knocking on a cell door, resulting in feelings of uncontrollable anger
The small spaces and lack of exercise help promote chronic pain, vitiligo, joint problems, and visual impairment. Lack of sunlight leads to Vitamin D deficiency, which increases the risk of bone fractures. Lack of exercise contributes to hypertension, arthritis, and heart disease. Chronic health problems, the inability to manage illness, and not being able to adapt to worsening health is often a lasting gift of the SHU.
Remember the SHU acronym ADAP [anxiety, distress, anger, and paranoia.]
Appeal Deadline Extended
Because Raniere has been in the SHU for 60 days, the deadline for his supplemental brief for his appeal of his conviction to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was delayed 30 days.
It was originally due on September 20th. It is now due October 20th. The argument made by his attorney, Marc Fernich, was that because his client is in the SHU, he cannot meaningfully participate in legal strategy with his attorney.
According to sources, USP Tucson requires at least some prisoners in the SHU to be handcuffed when they make legal calls, preventing them from taking notes.
While we may feel glee because this is happening to despicable Raniere, if it were done to someone of the human race, we might be upset. If it was done to a dog at the SPCA we would be outraged and take to social media seeking the heads of those responsible.
Why Is Raniere in the SHU?
The reason for Raniere being placed in the SHU is unclear. One version is that an in-person visitor communicated with another prisoner in Raniere’s unit at USP Tucson by phone – possibly at Raniere’s recommendation.
The fact of a phone call being the reason for sending Raniere to the SHU for 60 days, while an investigation could be conducted to ascertain if any improper communications were made, is plausible. But it leaves room for doubt.
According to a source, the slow-moving investigation was completed some days ago with no finding of wrongdoing by Raniere, the other prisoner or the visitor, yet Raniere remains in the SHU.
There are some who think Raniere was sent to the SHU not for an innocent phone call, but because of one or more of the following:
Hampers Raniere for His Appeal Brief
As noted earlier, Raniere’s supplemental brief with regard to his appeal was due on September 20th. The BOP at Tucson put him in the SHU on July 22nd and obviously planned to keep him there until a date past the deadline for his supplemental brief.
This may have been coincidental, but it did ensure he would have little or no input while the appeal document was being prepared. The DOJ may not have expected the 2nd Circuit to grant an extension – which was granted based on the fact that Raniere is in the SHU.
Rule 33 Is an Insult to DOJ
Raniere is also expected to submit a Rule 33 motion to the trial judge, claiming the FBI planted child porn on a hard drive seized from his library.
This startling accusation may be true or absurd and false. Regardless, an extended stay in the SHU is one way to show Raniere that it is not nice to fool with the DOJ [The FBI and Bureau of Prisons are run by the same Department of Justice.]
Bad Day at Court
Marc Fernich represented Raniere at his restitution hearing. The lawyer and Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis got into a confrontation, which saw the judge taunt the lawyer who lashed back at the judge over his decision not to grant Fernich a one-hour delay in the proceedings because Fernich wanted to attend the funeral of a friend.
Something bizarre followed. The two men sat in their respective places – the judge on the bench and the lawyer at the defense table – and for 30 minutes they sat glaring at each other. Half an hour passed in stony silence with no one in the courtroom daring or willing to move, until the lawyer rose and apologized to the judge.
There are some who suspect that putting Raniere in the SHU was one way for the DOJ to try to curry favor with the judge, who undoubtedly heard about it.
Perhaps they thought the judge might have been gladdened, and someday, and that day may never come, the judge might decide a close decision in their favor. It may not be conscious. It is not a quid pro quo. But how can you expect someone not to like someone who punishes an ass who acted as the ass before you?
It is calculus of a legal kind — the calculus that says it is good to know the law, but better to know the judge. After all, we are humans first and judges or prosecutors later. Except for men in the SHU. That is not human, but inhuman.
At the same restitution hearing, prior to the fiery scene between Fernich and Judge Garuafis, the judge ordered Raniere, who appeared via teleconferencing, to assist the court in returning the collateral to various DOS “slaves”.
Raniere said he did not know anything about collateral or its whereabouts. In fact, he said he never saw any collateral.
This dubious assertion may not have sat well with the DOJ or the judge.
The DOJ may have sought to impose a little rough justice on the lad, helping to refresh his memory about the whereabouts of the collateral. He went to the SHU within four days of the hearing, on July 22nd.
Prefect Must Explain
Now, we turn to the Prefect.
Nancy Salzman’s attorneys have been ordered to explain why they made redactions on her sentencing memorandum.
Originally they filed the sentencing memorandum under seal, an unusual move, since these documents are meant to be part of the public record.
Judge Nicholas Garuafis ordered them to file it publicly, coming out on Labor Day to issue the order.
Salzman’s attorneys did as instructed but redacted parts of the memorandum and redacted all the letters in support of Salzman.
The judge wants the lawyers to explain the “legal rationale” for each redaction in Salzman’s sentencing submission. reasons. They have until September 27th to submit their explanation.
This is unusual to be required twice by the judge on the same sentencing memorandum, once for filing the entire memo under seal and again for hiding portions of it from the public eye after it was filed publicly.
The question arises. Why is the judge making such a big deal about it?
Firstly, to set the record straight. The defendant (or the prosecution) doesn’t unilaterally decide what information they want to share with the public.
In fact, Judge Garaufis is enforcing the US Constitution.
The Sixth Amendment grants the accused a right to a public trial. However, the Sixth Amendment right of an accused to a public trial does not carry with it a right to a private trial. The First Amendment grants the right of public access to court proceedings.
There are some matters which the judiciary may decide to allow to be sealed and, on occasion, hearings are closed to the public. The court is supposed to balance the accused’s right to a fair trial and the government’s interest in orderly judicial administration and weigh this against the public’s First Amendment right to access.
What Salzman’s legal rationale is for redacting all of the letters of support will be interesting to read.