In a recent article, Richard Luthmann, who, as a prisoner, spent time in the SHU, claimed the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is using the threat of “prison rape” to justify keeping Keith Raniere in the SHU for what is now, more than 200 days:
An anonymous poster submitted this comment questioning Luthmann’s reporting:
The BOP’s Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and Special Investigation Service (SIS) at USP Tucson have recommended continued SHU placement for Raniere because they fear he might be a victim of “sexual abuse” under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). You can’t make this shit up.”
Show us the documents that support this claim, former attorney Luthmann.
You are a serial bullshit artist. You have been found guilty of making all sorts of shit up.
Let’s see if you and Frank are men enough to publish this. I doubt it.
Luthmann and Frank Parlato are not only willing to man up and publish the comment, they asked me to write an entire post about it.
The fact is the BOP is using rape to justify Raniere’s continued stay in the SHU.
In other words, Luthmann stands by his reporting with factual evidence against accusations of being a ‘Serial Bullshit Artist.’
This is right and just since what he wrote is true.
First, let us hear his response to his carping critic, who is so doubtful of Luthmann’s requisite manhood.
Dear Anonymous; Thank you for your comment. And thank you for calling me a “serial bullshit artist.” I’m thinking about getting shirts made up.
But in reality, the best bullshit is the true bullshit, and I stand by my reporting 100%. I will point directly to my facts.
Read the Government’s filing in Raniere v. Garland et al., Case 4:22-cv-00561-RCC, Document 14, Filed 02/07/23 at page 10, which states that Raniere remained in the SHU because the Special Investigative Services (SIS) Department is investigating safety and security issues related to Raniere at USP Tucson. These safety and security concerns are not public and were only offered to be shown to the court in camera.
On August 15, 2022, Raniere was exonerated from wrongdoing after the BOP’s investigation found him to be the victim in an altercation with Maurice Adonis Withers. Despite being cleared, Raniere remains in the SHU because of the SIS’s investigation into his safety and security concerns. Raniere himself has questioned the BOP’s reasons for keeping him in the SHU, referring to 28 CFR § 115.43, which allows the BOP to involuntarily hold inmates at high risk for sexual victimization in the SHU.
The Government’s Court Filings Show Raniere Remains in the SHU For No Valid Reason
Look at the Government’s filing in Raniere v. Garland et al., Case 4:22-cv-00561-RCC, Document 14, Filed 02/07/23 on page 10:
Currently, Plaintiff remains in the SHU while the Special Investigative Services (SIS) Department is investigating safety and security issues pertaining to Plaintiff at USP Tucson.8 (Id., p. 5.) While Plaintiff has been housed in the SHU, he has been reviewed periodically by the Segregation Review Official (SRO) as required by policy. (Id., pp. 3, 5, 16-21.)
Plaintiff may express concerns about cell assignments, cellmates and other issues while housed in the SHU. (Id., pp. 3-5.) Plaintiff has introduced no evidence that he expressed concerns about his current housing status or cellmate during any of the SRO reviews, through cop-outs or through the Administrative Remedy Program. (Doc. 1, 3.)
There are no safety or security concerns with Plaintiff’s current housing assignment, including his current cellmate.9
There are two footnotes, 8 and 9, which state in relevant part:
8 If the Court requires more detailed information regarding the investigation and the safety and security issues pertaining to Plaintiff at USP Tucson, Defendants will provide it in camera to the Court.
9 Plaintiff has made allegations regarding his cellmate and speculates that the Bureau placed them together “intentionally” “as a way to harm him indirectly.” (Doc. 1 at 27.) Again, the speculations are “on information and belief” and lack evidence. (Id.) Due to Plaintiff’s cellmate’s privacy rights, Defendants will not discuss the allegations except to note that there are no safety or security concerns regarding housing Plaintiff with his cellmate.
Raniere went to the SHU after an incident with Maurice Adonis Withers on July 26, 2022. Withers made a cowardly sneak attack on Raniere, sneaking up on him and landing a sucker punch.
Both men were sent to the SHU for fighting.
The BOP’s investigation showed Raniere was the victim, and the craven Withers, who was not man enough to stand toe to toe with Raniere, had to resort to a sneaky sucker punch.
Both Raniere and the craven Withers were in the SHU [in separate cells] for less than a month before Raniere was exonerated for the disciplinary infraction of fighting – on August 15, 2022.
Under a normal prisoner altercation process, Raniere would have been processed out of the SHU on August 15, 2022, or shortly after because the BOP investigation cleared him.
But Raniere was never released from the SHU. He remains in the SHU currently and never consented to SHU custody or sought protective custody.
FR covered this on September 25, 2020: Raniere Trapped in SHU for 60 Days, May Transfer to Worst Prison; Elliot Banned
Re-read above why Raniere remained in the SHU after August 15, 2022, according to the Government’s own filed papers:
“Currently, Plaintiff remains in the SHU while the Special Investigative Services (SIS) Department is investigating safety and security issues pertaining to Plaintiff at USP Tucson.”
From August 15, 2022 (date of exoneration), to February 7, 2023 (date of Government filing), to the present, Raniere remains in the SHU because SIS is investigating safety and security concerns pertaining to Raniere.
These safety and security concerns are “secret” and can only be shown to the Court in camera, outside the public eye.
The government’s papers said: “If the Court requires more detailed information regarding the investigation and the safety and security issues pertaining to Plaintiff at USP Tucson, Defendants will provide it in camera to the Court.”
BOP personnel told Raniere his SHU detention was governed by 28 CFR § 115.43. We have strong reason to believe him because the BP-9 Raniere filed on October 29, 2022, is a publicly filed Court document.
Raniere specifically mentions that section of the Code of Federal Regulations as to why he is in continued involuntary confinement:
The section Raniere referenced, 28 CFR § 115.43, provides the only plausible reason why the Government could hold Raniere in the SHU beyond his disciplinary exoneration on August 15, 2022.
That section allows the BOP to involuntarily hold inmates at high risk for sexual victimization in the SHU and was added under the Prison Rape Elimination Acts of 2003 (PREA). The section states:
115.43 Protective custody.
(a) Inmates at high risk for sexual victimization shall not be placed in involuntary segregated housing unless an assessment of all available alternatives has been made, and a determination has been made that there is no available alternative means of separation from likely abusers. If a facility cannot conduct such an assessment immediately, the facility may hold the inmate in involuntary segregated housing for less than 24 hours while completing the assessment.
(b) Inmates placed in segregated housing for this purpose shall have access to programs, privileges, education, and work opportunities to the extent possible. If the facility restricts access to programs, privileges, education, or work opportunities, the facility shall document:
(1) The opportunities that have been limited;
(2) The duration of the limitation; and
(3) The reasons for such limitations.
(c) The facility shall assign such inmates to involuntary segregated housing only until an alternative means of separation from likely abusers can be arranged, and such an assignment shall not ordinarily exceed a period of 30 days.
(d) If an involuntary segregated housing assignment is made pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the facility shall clearly document:
(1) The basis for the facility’s concern for the inmate’s safety; and
(2) The reason why no alternative means of separation can be arranged.
(e) Every 30 days, the facility shall afford each such inmate a review to determine whether there is a continuing need for separation from the general population.
PREA also explains why the Government was forced to offer its evidence to the Court in camera. PREA mandates confidentiality in the reporting and investigation of alleged prison rape and sexual abuse allegations. The fact that discussions related to prison rapes and sexual assaults never appear in the Government’s filed Court papers does not mean the BOP has this violence under control in its institutions. It probably means the opposite.
Luthmann’s reporting is based on the government’s papers and previously-reported facts in the case.
If Raniere is involuntarily held in the SHU, it must be under 28 CFR § 115.43.
The SIS has information about the “safety and security concerns” the BOP has about Raniere, and the Government cannot publicly share this information. Instead, they have offered to show it to the Judge in camera only.
If we assume the Government is telling the truth, then the SIS collected information showing that Keith Raniere is at high risk for sexual victimization at USP-Tucson. According to the Government, Raniere must remain in the SHU.
At the same time, the BOP’s CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) was also investigating Raniere and making an assessment. Is this because Raniere is a terrorist? Or maybe he was going to be raped by terrorists? The government has not released the details of the SIS or the CTU investigations. Raniere is not a terrorist. Why was the CTU involved? Again, we assume they are truthful and hope their motives are not pretextual.
The inescapable conclusion is that Raniere is involuntarily held in the SHU because the SIS (and maybe the CTU) has evidence that he is at high risk for sexual victimization at USP-Tucson.
Luthmann raised the challenge that the BOP does not have control of its institutions, particularly after the closure of a unit at the U.S. penitentiary in Thomson, Illinois. That prison has had five suspected homicides and two suspected suicides since 2019.
Luthmann raised the question of whether USP-Tucson was also suffering serious security challenges.
And if it is, why would Raniere be placed in the SHU because he is probably just as likely as many other prisoners to get sexually assaulted if the prison is truly a sex-rape free-for-all?
Though it is curious. Raniere was never known to report being raped during the first year and a half he was at USP Tucson, mainly in the general population.
The other possibility is that the government is lying. The reasons the BOP is giving for Raniere’s involuntary SHU detention, the SIS and CTU investigations, and PREA could all be pretextual.
The government may want to keep Raniere in the SHU because they don’t want to release him back into the general population. BOP personnel intentionally decided to keep Raniere in the SHU as an involuntary detainee, knowingly subjecting him to torturous conditions without any valid justification.
The BOP decided to torture Keith Raniere.
Raniere Remains in SHU Despite BOP Failing to Provide Valid Reasons
From the factual record, it appears the BOP is in grievous violation of 28 CFR § 115.43 for many reasons.
First of all, the BOP has not established Raniere is an inmate at high risk for sexual victimization, any more so than any other inmate at USP Tucson.
Is there a basis for Raniere’s involuntary confinement in the SHU? If there is, the BOP has yet to establish what specific risk of sexual assault Keith Raniere faces.
Second, it is clear the BOP has not assessed all available alternatives, as the federal regulations require. Who are the “likely abusers” SIS has not identified? What individuals at USP Tucson pose a greater risk to Raniere?
Next, the BOP has not offered any reason for the excessive period of time Raniere has been confined. The regulations allow Raniere to be held in involuntary segregated housing for less than 24 hours while USP Tucson officials complete the required assessment.
Raniere has been in the SHU over 200 times the legal limit allowed.
Additionally, Raniere has not had access to programs, privileges, education, and/or work opportunities while in the SHU. Raniere does not even enjoy the “privilege” of meeting with his lawyers without chains and shackles. The regulations require USP Tucson to document the opportunities that have been limited, the duration of the limitation, or the reasons for such restrictions.
The regulations require inmates assigned to involuntary segregated housing may only remain there until an alternative means of separation from likely abusers can be arranged.
The BOP has made no meaningful efforts to find reasonable accommodations.
Is the SIS correct about unidentified “boogeymen” prisoners at USP Tucson who want to sexually assault Raniere (and only Raniere)?
The BOP and USP Tucson prison administrations have failed to clearly document the basis for the facility’s concern for Raniere’s safety.
Also, involuntary assignment to the SHU shall exceed 30 days under applicable regulations. Raniere has spent ten (10) times that much time in the SHU since his arrival at USP-Tucson, who offers no reasons why no alternative means of separation can be arranged.
Finally, every 30 days, the BOP must review Raniere’s conditions to determine whether there is a continuing need for separation from the general population. It appears USP Tucson administrators are indifferent to Raniere’s conditions.
And rules are meant to be broken. Still, the impropriety of these violations has been raised on multiple occasions in BP-8s, BP-9s, other complaints to staff, and filed court documents.
His entire placement in the SHU is a pretext and amounts to torture.
Luthmann’s Reporting is Spot-On
The anonymous commenter looks askance at Luthmann’s claims. But Luthmann is spot-on. The comment said:
“The BOP’s Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) and Special Investigation Service (SIS) at USP Tucson have recommended continued SHU placement for Raniere because they fear he might be a victim of “sexual abuse” under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). You can’t make this shit up.”
The commenter wanted to be shown the documents that support this claim. Here they are. They were located based on hours of work reading, discussing, and understanding Raniere’s case.
The facts presented are based on the public record, court documents, and facts first learned by the Frank Report and exclusively disseminated by this publication.
Richard Luthmann is a bonafide journalist. He is a member of the National Writers Union, and he has been honing his craft alongside Frank Parlato, a respected investigative journalist and newspaperman for decades.
Because of Luthmann’s education and experience as an attorney and federal prisoner, his views, understanding, and commentary are unique.
When parties like the anonymous poster engage in ad hominem attacks on Luthmann and try to put streaks of feces on his reporting by attacking him because of his previous entanglements with the criminal justice system, they do so because they cannot attack the merits of the reporting. This story is a perfect example.
It should not be lost upon the reader that the only merits the BOP can offer concerning Raniere’s involuntary SHU confinement are bald assertions of ‘the safe and orderly administration of the institution.’ When balanced against torture and serious constitutional and human rights violations, this BOP slogan does not cut it. Nor do personal attacks against reporters who deliver the facts.
It only remains for us to wonder: Why, other than retaliation or the need to silence him, this side of ‘Epsteining’ him as he pursues his allegations of FBI tampering.
NOTE: Frank Parlato contributed to the reporting on this article.
Dick LaFontaine chases gripping, thorny, and precarious stories around the world as a correspondent for the Frank Report.