Frank Report received this communication from Honey Grieb. Her husband is in the SHU more or less permanently. Which means he is in lockdown between 23-24 hours per day. He is there, it appears, for his own protection.
In her letter, she refers to a “dropout yard.” In prison, a dropout yard houses inmates who need special protection, such as those who have dropped out of gangs and informed on members, persons convicted of sexual crimes, convicted former law enforcement officers, celebrities, and anyone who could be in danger from other inmates or bullied by staff.
Another name for a dropout yard is a “cheese factory,” because the attitude in prison is that a whistleblower or someone seeking to escape the criminal lifestyle is a “rat”, just like the selfish people who sell out their comrades for a better sentence, lying for the prosecution if necessary, are also called rats.
A dropout yard obviates the need for an at-risk inmate to “check in” to the SHU for their own protection. The SHU, not the dropout yard, is the predominant method of modern-day prisons to secure safety in a dangerous prison environment.
By Honey Grieb
My husband, Jason Brian Grieb, is in USP Beaumont, Texas.
I am writing because I am deeply concerned about how my husband is being housed. He is in lockdown in a cell 24 hours a day most days.
If he is lucky, he gets out once or twice a week for 20 minutes! While he was in jail, he was in a private facility. They didn’t have dropout packets available. We tried to move him to a facility that could help him with that but couldn’t. The judge even recommended he go to a dropout yard.
He was in a gang when he was 19 years old. He had a lot of trouble being involved with gangs. When he dropped out, he was jumped and stabbed. He has not been affiliated with any gangs for over 19 years. He has proof of this in his state file-C-File.
His state identification numbers are Aw7394 and F60102.
Jason has had a drug problem, and that’s the reason behind all these prison terms.
None of his crimes are violent. He has theft and drug charges on his record.
I wonder why we don’t have more dropout yards. Or if an inmate in danger is assigned somewhere where they don’t have a dropout yard, they could get a dayroom for a few hours a day.
Jason is in a cell block with a dayroom capability, but he is not permitted access.
This is an unfair and unjust treatment for inmates in danger.
All the while, the rest of the inmates in the general population are allowed to go to the yard and have programs. They have jobs they can perform. They have counselors to talk to. They go to school. They go to the library.
What is happening to Jason and other inmates who dropped out of gangs is unhealthy and probably worsening things.
I don’t understand why we treat people this way in today’s world. I know he broke the law and should be punished, but no one deserves to be treated this way, especially when they haven’t done anything to deserve this severe punishment.
I’m writing this in hopes that I can help change what is happening to the inmates. It truly breaks my heart to think of people being treated this way.
You probably would feel the same way if it was your family member.
I looked up Jason Brian Grieb and found he is 38, white, male. The BOP assigned him to USP Beaumont. His release date is July 20, 2005 — two years and five months from now. His federal inmate register number is 95287-298.
From police reports and court filings, I learned the following:
On June 9, 2020, at 10:08 p.m., Jason Brian Grieb drove with Peter Devin Garcia, his wife’s cousin, in a gray Ford sedan past a checkpoint on Highway 86 near Westmorland, California, an interior U.S. checkpoint. There are several interior checkpoints along the border of U.S. states that border Mexico (within 25 and 75 miles) and are areas where travelers and goods passing through can be inspected.
The U.S. Supreme Court granted Border Patrol Agents at these checkpoints permission to stop vehicles and pull them over for a secondary search area for brief questioning, even if they have no reasonable suspicion that the vehicle is occupied by someone who illegally entered the country.
Border Patrol agents conducted a canine sniff and issued an alert. The inspector asked for identification. Grieb and Garcia had none.
An agent instructed Grieb to park the vehicle for further inspection.
He elected to speed away. Agents deployed a Vehicle Immobilization Device on the rear passenger’s tire. Glieb drove through a barbed wire fence but kept going into the desert. Garcia threw a gun out the window.
USBP Agents pursued deploying lights and sirens. Grieb veered out of the desert, crashed into a barbed wire fence, and got stuck. Garcia did not run and was taken into custody. Glieb fled on foot.
Agents found Grlieb hiding in the brush. He was taken into custody at 10:20 p.m. – 12 minutes after he fled.
Agents retraced the vehicle’s path back into the desert. They found a Sig Sauer, model P239, .40 caliber pistol with a chambered round and six ammunition rounds in the magazine.
A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a bundle wrapped in cellophane concealed in the dashboard, containing a white crystal-like substance weighing 467 grams (1.03 pounds), which proved to be methamphetamine, a Schedule II Controlled Substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(l).
A judge sentenced Glieb to 72 months.
I looked at his record.
Since 2005, when he was 19, he has spent most of his adult life in prison. He is a “career criminal.” Grieb stole cars and was a burglar. His wife said he was a drug addict.
According to his sentencing memorandum:
His mother was a prostitute. She was on drugs all the time. His father raised Grieb and his brother as a single father until Grieb was ten years old. They lacked stable housing and enough to eat. He wore dirty clothes. His father was physically and emotionally abusive.
When Grieb was ten, he and his brother ran away to live with their mother. She left them alone every day from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
The first time Grieb got drunk, he was ten years old.
One day, their mother told Grieb and his brother they were attending family counseling. She proceeded to take them to CPS and abandoned them there. Grieb went to a group home with over 100 other children and lived in foster homes between ages 10 and 12 years.
When he was 12, Grieb’s father took him and his brother back. After that, his father grew more violent.
Grieb began using methamphetamine at 12. He found it in the house where he lived.
Sometimes, Grieb was in juvenile hall. When he was not, he would be terrified to come home if he thought he would be in trouble.
At age 14, Grieb went to the California Youth Authority. He saw two types of people there, tough guys or people who got pushed around.
Grieb went with the tough guys. When he got out, his father would not let Grieb live with him.
When he was 15, Grieb was hospitalized for 12 days after inhaling Freon from an air conditioner at a group home.
Grieb’s adult life was much the same as his adolescence. He has been addicted to drugs and in and out of custody for most of his adulthood.
In 2008, inmates in prison stabbed Grieb. He suffered 10 lacerations, but none very deep.
Jason Grieb spent most of his adult life in prison. He is spending his adult life now in a 24-hour per-day lockdown.
At San Luis, five men beat him, and he suffered a fractured nasal bone and a subarachnoid hemorrhage (bleeding in the space around the brain).
Grieb was flown to Yuma. Doctors believed he had a possible blood clot on his brain. He was flown to Phoenix.
In 2011, Grieb met his wife. They married two years later. She works as a moving consultant for Mayflower.
Honey Grieb remains supportive of Grieb, and the two speak frequently.
On the day of his arrest, Grieb was out of work.
He had been working in plumbing but lost his job due to COVID-19.
He used methamphetamine daily for his personal use. In the year prior, Grieb had been using methamphetamine every day. The last time he used methamphetamine was the day of his arrest.
At the time, methamphetamine was scarce in the area. Grieb’s wife’s cousin, Peter Garcia, had been staying at their house on and off. He knew people in the Imperial Valley that could get methamphetamine.
Garcia was in the Imperial Valley. Grieb traveled there and met up with Garcia. They proceeded to buy methamphetamine from Garcia’s dealer.
Grieb’s record stems from substance abuse, which stems from his mental health issues and abuse.
He needs significant drug treatment. He intended to obtain his GED while in prison. Being in the SHU may have made this an impossibility.
Grieb has also committed to attending Narcotics Anonymous when released.
When a man is in the SHU for as little as 15 days, he gets mentally destabilized.
Is the SHU the Best We Can Do For Prisoners Who Want to Rehabilitate?
On the one hand, Jason Grieb’s arrest may have saved his life, as the likelihood of him getting a daily dose of meth is reduced in prison and further reduced in the SHU.
On the other hand, is there no better, no more humane way to treat prisoners?
Ironically, the members who stick with gangs have the privileges that those who tried to drop out do not have. This is hardly an incentive to drop out or help law enforcement end the tyranny of gangs.
Jason Grieb’s story is not uncommon.
“Leaving the gang was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. It was like being in an abusive relationship since I was 14. It was a toxic poison disguised as love and cost me much of my life,” says Jessie Milo, a writer for the Prison Journalism Project,
Milo is a gang dropout like Grieb.
About 200,000 of the 1.5 million people incarcerated in the U.S. are affiliated with gangs and are responsible for disproportionate prison misconduct and violence. Their presence and actions challenge ongoing efforts to maintain control, order, and safety in prisons.
It appears to be sound penological practice to encourage inmates to de-affiliate with gangs as part of rehabilitation. The benefits are apparent.
In the prison setting: less violence, less contraband, and decreased risk of harm and violence to inmates and staff alike.
For the community: greater rehabilitation, decreased recidivism, and lower long-term costs to the criminal justice system.
The question must be asked: why don’t correctional institutions focus more on rewarding inmates who make the often difficult choice of rehabilitation by leaving their previous gang life behind?
Instead of punishing them by giving them recourse only to the SHU, while gang members have free reign in the general population, having intimidated those trying to be free right into the SHU – maybe there should be a safe place. Common sense says and justice demands more emphasis on dropout yards and less on the SHU.
Richard Luthmann is a writer, commentator, satirist, and investigative journalist with degrees from Columbia University and the University of Miami. Once a fixture in New York City and State politics, Luthmann is a recovering attorney who lives in Southwest Florida and a proud member of the National Writers Union.
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