No Compassion, No Help

Recently an inmate suffered a personal tragedy when his wife of over 40 years died.  She had been seriously ill and finally succumbed to her ailments.  The man found out about his wife’s death when he called home to check on her.

At around 4 p.m. the same day he went to his case manager’s office to tell her about the unfortunate situation at home.  He said that his wife had died and that he had found out about it earlier from his daughter when he called home. The case manager’s reply was, “I am off duty.  Come back tomorrow.” Not that she was sorry to hear the news of his wife’s death. Not that she was sorry for his loss. Not that she would do whatever she could to help him be there for his family.

Instead, he got the cold, non compassionate, non feeling, I could care less reply: “I am off duty now, come back tomorrow.”

And she certainly did not make any offer to help him.   After all, she was off duty.

There are things that can be done in situations like this. One of them is to furlough the prisoner so that he can go home and handle things and be with his family. But furloughs are almost impossible to get around here. The warden and her staff are more concerned with the prisoner not returning from furlough instead of helping the inmate during times like this. This man is a resident of Georgia. The funeral was being held less than 2 hours away from this prison camp. Yet the clowns who run this place could not come up with a plan to help an inmate who desperately needed to be there to make sure the funeral was handled correctly, not to mention comfort his family and be with his loved ones at a time like this.

What did the inmate want from the case manager? After all, the case manager can not resurrect the dead. She could not bring his wife back to life.

What he wanted from her was her help. He wanted to be there for the funeral and with his family. He wanted to say goodbye to his wife of over 40 years. The inmate wanted time to grieve. He wanted to know what he had to do to make sure he could attend the funeral. And he wanted the case manager to lay out what he personally needed to provide the prison so that there would be no delays, mix-ups or foul-ups.

What he got was a case manager who took vacation time. His situation was dumped on others. And between foot dragging and the incompetence of some others involved, he did not get to attend the funeral two days later.  He got no help or compassion.

So this inmate grieved the loss of his wife here at this prison.  His family handled things on the outside.

The inmate’s case is a common one here at the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp. Mole hills become mountains because of negligent and incompetent employees, red tape or an attitude of indifference.

The only things these simpletons are good at are avoiding work and cashing their paychecks. They do nothing for the prisoners. Most of these case managers and prison officials do not care about the inmates that have been sent here. To them, this is just a job and they only do what the job requires. The only feelings they have are feelings of loathing and contempt.

I listened to some inmates discussing this man’s situation. I heard two great ideas. One said this is a camp. Why didn’t someone confirm the death of the inmate’s wife and find out when and at what time the funeral would be held and then issue the inmate a 24- to 48-hour furlough or pass. That way he could attend the funeral, spend time with his family and return to the prison. Another inmate said they could have at least arranged for someone to drive the inmate to the funeral and return him once it was over.

Both of these solutions require a common sense approach to the situation.  That’s the problem: these simpletons do not have common sense. The only skills they have are sitting around doing nothing and cashing paychecks. There is no requirement they do anything to earn their pay.

One good thing did come about, though. A prison official apologized that the prison had not been able to process the inmate’s request to attend the funeral in time. That is a great step.  An official actually felt compassion and apologized for failing to be able to get things done. I hope we see more of this and hope that changes are made that will prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

Bernard Addison is serving a sentence for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, after pleading guilty on February 15, 2013 in Knoxville, TN.   Comments can be emailed to bernardaddison2015@gmail.com.

Contraband Blues

Atlanta prison officials are really focused on eliminating contraband in this Federal Prison Camp. Officials have tried everything. They have tried locking the Camp down for long periods of time. Punishing all inmates every time a person is caught with alcohol, cell phones, cell phone chargers, cigarettes, drugs and any other illegal substances. No matter how hard they have tried to stop the flow of contraband into the camp, their efforts have been in vain.

Prison officials are not giving up. Now word is circulating that the latest initiative will be a two-pronged attack against contraband. The first prong will be to rotate inmates between the Front and Back Dorms. Here in Atlanta the Front Dorms are A through D (where I am located). They are called Front Dorms because they house the offices of the Officer In Charge of the camp and the Inmate Case Managers. Older inmates are usually housed here. I call inmates housed here the “Good Guys.” For the most part, these inmates do not cause any problems and are not involved in any wrongdoing. There are some bad apples here but not many.

Then there are the Back Dorms, Dorms E through H. These are mostly younger inmates and it’s in the Back Dorms where most of the contraband has been found. These inmates are adventurous and I call these inmates the “Bad Guys.” These are the ones who don’t want to be around us gray-haired guys. We might get in the way of their action.

The plan is to move the Bad Guys to the front dorms and the Good Guys to the back dorms. Prison officials think by moving the Bad Guys to the front they will be able to keep an eye on them better. We do have cameras around the camp. Maybe security thinks the cameras are better in the front than in the back.

Security may also feel it will be tougher for inmates to sneak out and get contraband-filled “footballs.” Officials claim these “footballs” are being thrown over the razor wire fence here. The officers believe people drive up next to the prison’s track area at night, toss the “footballs” over the fence and drive off. Inmates sneak out and get the “footballs.” These inmates distribute the contraband and they are part of the network smuggling items into the camp. Things like cigarettes, alcohol, cell phones and other items. Tossing contraband-filled “footballs” over the fences of federal prisons is not new; officers claim this has been going on for years.

The second prong of the attack on contraband involves inmate employment. A group of inmates are allowed to work prison-supported jobs outside the walls of the camp. Guards believe these inmates are helping smuggle items inside. So, in a few weeks these inmates will no longer work outside the camp. This includes Unicor employees, plumbers, carpenters, landscape employees, electricians and others. The current inmates holding these positions will be reassigned to jobs inside the prison camp. The employees replacing them will be inexperienced. The new employees will have a lot to learn. That does not seem to bother Atlanta prison officials.

The belief is that the by doing this, smuggling of items into the prison will be severely curtailed by replacing the present inmates working outside the camp. Officers have raided some of the outside work areas, and they have found alcohol and cigarettes hidden at some of them. These outside working inmates have supervisors but some of them have still been able to smuggle items into the work places. Their ultimate goal was to get the items from the work places to the prison.

I talked to an inmate who transferred from another federal prison recently. This inmate said his previous prison had a major problem with cell phones. He said it seemed like all 1,300 inmates had phones. The warden at that prison started levying a $500 fine to any inmate caught with a cell phone. That fine was applied to the inmate’s commissary account, which is the account we use to buy snacks, food, personal hygiene and other items. The account is also used to pay for computer email time and to make phone calls. The $500 is subtracted from the balances of the account. And it has to be paid. So any money sent the inmates by his friends or relatives is subtracted from the $500 fine. Any prison work-related income is also deducted from the fine. You can’t do anything involving the commissary until you have a positive balance.

Let’s say you had $100 showing in your commissary account. You get a caught with a cell phone. Five-hundred dollars is subtracted from your account. You now have a negative $400 balance. You can’t make phone calls. You can’t buy anything from the commissary and you can’t send anybody an email or read any emails people send you. You are dead in the water.

The inmate I talked to said that after a few weeks you could not find a cell phone at that prison. He said when he got there the phones were everywhere. When he left, no one wanted a cell phone. You could not find one anywhere.

It seems to me that the warden there got it. Sometimes hitting the pocketbook hurts more than lockdowns, restricting visitation, restricting the use of the prison telephones or the computers.

Here in Atlanta I predict nothing will change. This place does not currently have inspired leadership. This prison is like a ship with a broken rudder wandering aimlessly and without control. Old ideas and old ways of thinking have generated no positive results. Its starts with the warden and trickles down to the guards.

Bernard Addison is currently finishing a 46-month prison sentence at the Atlanta, GA Federal Prison Camp. He has a release date of February 1, 2016. He is serving a prison term for Conspiracy of Commit Mail Fraud

Comments can be emailed to bernardaddison2015@gmail.com or sent to:
Bernard Addison
FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D
44863-074
PO 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315

  Criminal Neglect?

Former East Tennessee pastor Mickey Huff has had multiple medical problems since he started  serving a drug-related sentence.   He has lost the sight in his left eye because of glaucoma.  The prison failed to treat his condition even though they knew about it.  The prison had sent him out for numerous eye exams and all of the doctors told them the same thing: “Huff needs laser surgery to save his eye.”  Now his right eye is endangered also because of glaucoma.  And again he has been sent out to have numerous exams but nothing has been done.   The doctors conducting the eye exams say the same thing.  He needs laser surgery to save his left eye and his sight.

And the things continue to get worse.   Since 2009 Huff has been dealing with a problem that started small but has now grown into a full-blown life-threatening problem.   Six years ago he went to Medical when he discovered a small cyst on his testicle.   The doctor at the time told him they would keep it under observation.  That doctor felt it was nothing to worry about.   Huff was advised to report any further problems or if it started to grow.

The cyst has been growing and it’s now the size of a golf ball.  It’s painful.   It’s gotten so bad he had his family calling and pressuring the medical staff.   The only thing the doctors at this prison have done is conduct ultrasounds. Nothing else.

The pain got so intense, Huff could not sleep at night.  Finally Dr. Darren Martin, who has known about this problem for almost two years, had him sent to an Atlanta hospital.

He was to be operated on January 7th.  He was prepped and taken into the operating room.  When he woke up, the doctor told him they could not operate.  Why?  Infection!  He has an infection than has spread through his testicles and into his prostate.  To cut into Huff and try to remove the cyst would have caused this infection to spread into his bloodstream.  The spreading infection would have killed him.  It was only by the grace of God that the urologist chose to do an examination of Mr. Huff before proceeding with the operation.  By doing this the doctor saved Huff’s life.

And what is sad is that prison doctor, Darren Martin, should already have done an evaluation to make sure that Huff did not have an infection. Six ultrasounds have been done on Huff. The urologist said the infection had built up over time. Surely the ultrasounds should have detected this.

And Huff told Dr. Martin he had an infection.To which Dr. Martin replied; “How do you know you have an infection?” The doctor never took steps to find out if Huff had an infection and he never did anything to find out what was causing Huff so much pain in his groin area.

Atlanta prison medical officials always treat diagnoses of outside doctors as “recommendations.” The urologist called Dr. Martin and told him about Huff’s condition. That he needed a strong antibiotic and Percocet for pain  Chances are that Huff will not get a narcotic like Percocet here at this prison.  He will be lucky to get ibuprofen or something like it.

The Atlanta hospital urologist called Dr. Martin while Mr. Huff was still at the hospital.  He told the doctor he wanted Huff on a strong antibiotic for 30 days, and that he expected to see Huff in 30 days to perform the operation. The urologist told Huff he made it clear that he would call Dr. Martin again if he did not see Huff in 30 days.  And the urologist told Dr. Martin he would want to know why Huff had not returned for his follow-up and his operation.

Huff is 65 years old and this is the kind of medical mistreatment seniors can expect to get from Federal Prisons like the Atlanta Prison. If a decision has been made not to treat elderly prisoners then say so!  Don’t lie to us! If the government has decided to lie to us while we die then tell us! If not, then an examination and investigation of the treatments given to older inmates should be done. And maybe some of the medical licenses that these so-called doctors have should be revoked. Georgia Medical Investigators should look into the practices of Dr. Martin and determine if he should be accused of medical malpractice and neglect.

I am very fortunate. I have only had one bad experience from a so-called nurse who wanted to go home and relax the afternoon I came to Medical in pain. I survived! But at that point I knew this is just a job for these people. They have no business calling themselves doctors or nurses, whose obligation is to do the best they can for all patients. They should be flipping burgers or mopping floors somewhere.

Comments can be sent to Bernard Addison via email at bernardaddison2015@gmail.com.  Or comments and questions can be mailed to:

Bernard Addison

44863-074

FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D

PO Box 150160

Atlanta, GA 30315

Grinches Stealing Christmas

This just in: “Visitation for the Atlanta Federal Prison Camp has been suspended until further notice.” This is the word from that main grinch at this prison, Camp Administrator Johnny Butts. This announcement was made yesterday, December 11, 2014.

How long the lockdown will continue is anybody’s guess. This action has been taken because prison officials can’t seem to control the influx of cell phones that are in this prison. Every day someone is caught in possession of a cell phone. And when that person is caught, he does what any scumbag does, he rolls over on those he knows has cell phones.

The person caught becomes a “snitch.” There is no honor among thieves. And its amazing to see these so-called tough guys strutting around here flaunting authority. Then when they get caught it’s a different story. One such tough guy started sniveling and crying like a baby when guards placed the handcuffs on him. It was amazing. Where was the glib, self confident guy who thought he was above the rules and regulations before he was caught???

They are all the same. They want to be tough guys when faced with the punishment they deserve but are not willing to be quiet and accept their punishment. Instead, the first thing they do is start singing like canaries. They tell on everybody they know about and they don’t stop talking until they have spilled all the beans.

The result is the rest of us are locked down until further notice. This is not unusual. We have been locked down continuously since September 3rd. The rest of us get punished for the activities of the tough guys.

So with less than two weeks before Christmas, a lot of inmates may not be able to see their families. Visitation is suspended until further notice and there may be other punishments as well.

To the readers of this short entry Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Bernard Addison is serving a 46 month sentence after he pleaded guilty in Knoxville, TN to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Comments can be emailed to bernardaddison2015@gmail.com or mailed to:
Bernard Addison
44863-074
FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D
PO Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315

Note

Please see the entry before Thanksgiving, on Purgatory. The post is new but technical difficulties caused it to be posted “earlier” than Thanksgiving and we don’t want anyone to miss it! Apologies from the editor.

Thanksgiving

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and forget not his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live,
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
Psalm 103:2-6)

This is a time when all of us should stop and give thanks for all the blessings we have received. I have a lot of reasons to be thankful. And Thanksgiving is a great time to give thanks.

Can someone serving time in prison find reasons to be thankful? I sure can. I am thankful I am serving my 46 month prison term in a Federal Camp and not at the Medium Security Prison here in Atlanta, GA. There are no iron bars at the Prison Camp or 2 man cells with a steel door to keep you locked up. Its dormitory style at the camps. About 50 men housed in a dormitory setting. I am in Dorm D.

Camps are safer than the prisons. This makes me thankful. I have talked to numerous inmates who have served time at other Federal Prisons. Prisons that are housing dangerous inmates. These are usually the High and Medium Facilities. And these facilities are dangerous. Many inmates have related stories to me of attacks that have been made on inmates by other inmates. Some of the reasons for the stabbings or the beatings seem trivial to me. But who knows what goes on in the minds of these men. I am thankful I am not around any of them. I am thankful that I do not have to fear for my safety.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head. Food to eat and a bed to sleep in. Many people on the outside do not have any of the most basic necessities. I am not starving. I know where my next meal is coming from and about what time it will be served each day. And at night I can close my eyes and sleep knowing that I am relatively safe. For these things I am very thankful.

I can use the telephones here at the camp. The computers, televisions, the Leisure Library and the recreation area are also available to me. I am very thankful for these privileges too.

I am thankful for my improving health. I suffered a mild stroke. And that started a downward spiral that led to me facing homelessness, the loss of my savings, no job, no money, and associating with someone that resulted in my guilty plea on a Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud charge. I was homeless for 6 months. The guilty plea resulted in a sentence of 46 months. I am thankful I survived this period of time. And I am thankful God came to my rescue.

During this dark period, this period of adversity God did not abandon me. God took away all the fear I may have had. Thank you God.

God made sure I did not have to remain locked up before my case was decided. I was released without bond. Thank you God.

God made sure my health improved and continues to improve to this day. Thank you God.

God made sure I was sentenced to a Camp and not a Federal Prison. And HE made sure my sentence was short, 46 months. Thank you God.

God provided wonderful friends who have been a great source of love and support during this time. Thank you God.

God allowed me to self report to prison. Thank you God.

God has provided some guards here at the prison who are concerned for the welfare of older and handicapped prisoners. Thank you God.

God has provided me with a new Faith, the Catholic Faith. HE oversaw my conversion and my Confirmation into the Catholic Church. Thank you God.

God provided me special friends who I love dearly. H.L. and John F. and Jean and Steve A. in Knoxville, TN. Thank you God.

God provided me the love and support from Barbara S. in Louisiana. Thank you God.

And God’s blessings continue to mount day by day. God protects me from harm. Thank you God.

What are your blessings from God? Take a moment and think about them. And say; “Thank you God.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his mercy endures for ever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom he has redeemed from trouble.
(Psalm 107:1-2)

Comments or Questions can be sent to bernardaddison2015@gmail.com. Or they can be mailed to Bernard Addison, 44863-074; FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D; PO Box 150160; Atlanta, GA 30315

Purgatory

I was in Mass recently when Father John Fallon related a story about a man who had stopped attending Catholic Mass. This man was asked by a priest, “Why?” He said because he did not believe in Purgatory.The priest told the man, “Don’t worry about it, you will when you are there.”

It made me think about it. Before any of us can enter God’s Kingdom we must be cleansed. Our souls have to be purified.

Remember we are all sinners and God cannot stand the spots of sins that are on us when we come before him. He wants us to be completely spotless and without blemish.

The Catholic Church believes in Purgatory. I had heard of Purgatory since I was a young child. It always scared me because Purgatory was associated with Hell. And you know what that meant: punishment, eternal damnation, roasting in hell forever. The fires of hell always were preached when talking about Purgatory.

But as a recent Catholic convert, I have found that I had misunderstood the concept of Purgatory. Purgatory and Hell are two different places. Hell is for punishment and damnation.  Purgatory is for the cleansing of souls. It is for purification for the souls of those who die in God’s Grace and friendship. So the fires of Purgatory are a good thing.   Without Purgatory we could not be in God’s presence after dying.

As I look back on my life, I know my soul needs cleansing.  First I was born into “Original Sin.” That alone causes my soul to need cleansing since I am a child of Adam and Eve. Add to that the lies I have told, all the promises I have not kept, all the good I have not done, all of the times I was selfish and small minded. All the times I was judgmental and non-caring.

The times I turned my back on those people in need. The times I was not charitable to my neighbors.

There were many times I was not very Christ-like. I was more Satan-like than I would ever have wanted anyone to know.

When you think back on your life, it’s not always pretty. There are things that are too ugly or embarrassing to think about. Things that I did as a young man that I never would want anybody to know about.

But guess what? God knows about the sins I have committed. The things I did in secret, the things I wanted to keep covered up or hidden away in my closet. The skeletons I would never want anyone to know about. But my secrets and my sins are known by God. He is the light.  He sees all and He knows all.

Yes, I have been baptized. Yes, I have confessed my sins. Yes, I have repented my sins. Yes, I pray and attend Mass. I do all the things I can to atone for my sins.

But I am human. I commit sins every day. Sins are constantly my mind. So I confess my old sins, repent and pray for forgiveness. Then, in a blink of an eye, I have sinful thoughts, lustful thoughts, thoughts of envy, of hatred, avarice, etc.

I commit unkind acts, say unkind things, ignore my neighbor who is in need—and new sins pile up; some of my old sins come back.

It’s like having a lawn in the fall. I rake the leaves and clean it up. Then I say, “Man, my yard looks great!” I am so proud of myself. I go into the house for an hour, come back out to look at my yard–and it’s full of leaves again. Those leaves are my sins. As fast as I clean them up, more sins come to replace them.

It’s impossible for us humans to ever be completely free from sin. We can never be spotless or unblemished by sin in the eyes of God. We always carry the stains of sin as long as we live.

That is why Purgatory exists. Purgatory accomplishes for us the cleansing we need when we die. As long as we are in God’s Good Grace and are friends of God, we have Purgatory to cleanse us and prepare us to be in the presence of God. So at death the soul goes to Purgatory. The fire of Purgatory cleans our souls. It removes the stains, spots and blemishes our souls carry because of the sins we committed during our lives.

How long does it take to cleanse a soul? I don’t have any idea. I would guess it depends on the sins committed, and how much cleansing is needed.

I don’t care how long it takes to cleanse my soul. I just thank God that Purgatory exists and it does cleanse me so that I can be in the presence of God when the time comes.

And I thank God for the Catholic Church for teaching me how important it is to have a clean soul and be spotless and without blemish when I am called before God.

I am serving 46 months at the Federal Prison Camp in Atlanta after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud in Knoxville, TN.   My acts that led to my conviction are some of the sins that Purgatory will cleanse from my soul.

Comments can be emailed to bernardaddison2015@gmail.com or mailed to:

Bernard Addison
44863-074
FPC-Atlanta; Dorm D
PO Box 150160
Atlanta, GA 30315