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Punished With Solitary For Refusing a Strip Search

This happens each time they go to court or visit an attorney.

Punished With Solitary For Refusing a Strip Search

Punished With Solitary For Refusing a Strip Search

*Editor’s Note: There are graphic pictures included in this article. They are important to the story, however, some might find them disturbing.

By Loren Edward Pearce

He has refused your visit”. The words smacked me in my ears as the prison receptionist told me that I would not be able to visit with Ammon Bundy after waiting for over an hour. But, it took me only a second to recover. I knew why Ammon had refused to visit with me. Ammon was in solitary confinement at the CCA Nevada Southern Detention Center in Pahrump, Nevada because he refused to submit to the strip/body cavity searches at the prison. To punish Ammon Bundy for his refusal to cooperate, the prison staff threw him in a solitary confinement cell.

When a prisoner is taken to visit somebody, they must submit to a strip/body cavity search round trip, as they go out and as they come back in. This happens each time they go to court or visit an attorney, round trip strip searches. What is a strip search? They must undress completely, totally naked and are subject to having their genitals and rectum inspected by bending over, spreading their butt cheeks and coughing. Guards, with rubber gloves, may touch them in their private areas if they deem it necessary and the physical inspection includes mouth, nose and ears or any part of the body they deem appropriate.

Click on photo for larger view

The prison justifies this practice under the pretense of security and safety for prison staff to avoid contraband and dangerous items from entering the prison through transport in or on a body. Ammon’s position is that:

  1. He is not convicted. He has not been found guilty of anything through a trial. Because he has not been found guilty, nor does he have any kind of criminal record, there is no probable cause to suspect him of having contraband.
  2. He is entitled to the protection of the Bill of Rights, including the 4th amendment which prohibits unreasonable searches and invasions of privacy without probable cause.
  3. While he is in pre trial detention, he is to enjoy a presumption of innocence and treated like any other citizen with full access to the Bill of Rights and he is to be treated differently than other prisoners who have been convicted.
  4. Solitary confinement is a horrible punishment, beyond the comprehension of people who have never experienced it. Yet, it is preferable to the personal violation by strip/cavity searches.

In addition to the above, I would add:

  1. These strip/body cavity searches are sexual abuse. Among the organizations that have branded them as sexual abuse is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). For further analysis of the sexual abuse component of these strip searches, see:

    ACLU:  Invasive Search

    Univ of Minn Duluth: Strip Searching as Sexual Assault

  1. The prison uses computer screens and phones for prisoner visitations. There is no physical proximity between prisoner and visitor. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PASS CONTRABAND THROUGH A COMPUTER SCREEN. Therefore, the need for a strip search is null and void and the only reason for its use is 1) punishment and/or 2) sexual gratification by prison staff through sexual contact with prisoners and/or 3) control and submission of prisoners through humiliation, manipulation, degradation and displays of prison staff power.
  2. The prison allegedly has body scanners such as used in airports as an alternative to the strip searches but does not use them.

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT

While Ammon Bundy did not agree to visit with me, his brother Ryan did agree, much to my delight. However, my happiness was short lived as I realized the sacrifice that Ryan had to make to see me, subjecting himself the sexual violations mentioned above. Ryan is also in solitary for an overall refusal to submit to these strip/cavity searches and he described the horrors of being in solitary. A partial list includes:

  1. No working toilet, they had thrown him a toilet plunger and he got it to work for a short time but it returned to being stopped up. I did not ask him how he took care of his biological needs absent a working toilet.
  2. No toilet paper. Likewise, I don’t know what he did absent toilet paper.
  3. Isolation, except for brief (15 minutes per day) outside his cell.
  4. Restrictions on paper and writing tools for his legal notes and defense.

I did not want to focus on this with Ryan but rather talk about other subjects that would distract his mind from these horrors.

Like the sexual abuse of strip searches, solitary is a prison tool designed to humiliate and control prisoners. Its life long destructiveness to a person, is well documented and much can be found by googling it:

Bangor Daily News: 10 destructive myths about solitary confinement

Ryan educated me on the Bill of Rights by pointing out that they are one sided, a one way street, exclusively designed to protect the accused and say nothing about protecting the accuser. There is nothing about “complex cases” or convenience for the prosecution in delaying a trial. It is wholly and exclusively for the benefit and enjoyment of the accused. Nevertheless, the federal team (the judge, prosecutors, marshals) have usurped the constitution and the Bill of Rights for their benefit and convenience.

PRE-TRIAL DETENTION

The horrors and injustices are made possible by the grossest injustice of all, pre trial detention through denial of bail or release on recognizance. Like sinking the Titanic in a sea of icebergs, the discussion about solitary confinement, strip searches and other mistreatment of prisoners, is like straightening the deck chairs and arguing about the orchestra music during the sinking when the real issue is the iceberg that caused the disaster in the first place. In this case, the iceberg is the pre trial detention and the denial of bail. Sadly, most Americans have no idea how bad their rights have been sunk by the iceberg of bail denial and the denial of a presumption of innocence until proven guilty making the strip searches and abuse possible.

For an excellent review of the the process that led to this fundamental loss of a presumption of innocence and to pre trial detention, please see:

OHIO STATE LAW JOURNAL: Restoring the Presumption of Innocence

WHAT CAN BE DONE

While I was in the prison waiting area, the prison receptionist received a call from a political prisoner supporter. He began to lecture her on what they were doing wrong and she simply replied, “You call me every week, and I give you the same answer, do you want me to transfer you to public relations?” I thought to myself, any calls to the prison is a waste of time. Nothing will change, no matter how many calls are made. Prison staff are not the decision makers nor do they care about lectures on their duty to uphold the constitution. They only care about getting paid and making their mortgage payment.

Please contact the decision makers. The U.S. Marshals division of prison operations, the Inspector General who oversees the Dept of Justice and the Marshals service. Make an appointment with your congress person. Talk to a senior staff member about the horrors being experienced right now, in U.S. prisons. Because, the same thing may happen to you or someone you care about.

5 Comments on Punished With Solitary For Refusing a Strip Search

  1. Sticky business, of course we want our Patriot friends to be treated well…but it is not like they are being placed on the British Prison Ship “New Jersey” in New York Harbor circa 1787.

    What is described in this article is a fair description of what is also called “Aggravated Segregation”. And think about who you would be dealing with in General Population…not the cream of society I’ll tell you that. Getting sent to Solitary Confinement or Aggravated Segregation is like a mini-vacation to some. That is to say if you play your cards right and don’t get fed a loaf and can have reading material.

    As far as strip searches go, alas, that is part of prison life, imagine a cohort of about 400 prison workers being sent out to work the cotton fields in the morning in East Texas circa 1996…and then when they return all 400 have to strip completely naked before getting back into the prison and having to hand their clothes/boots to a rank of Officers and do the turn around an spread ’em. And this routine happens five or six times a week in the fall when the cotton is ready to be picked.

    A little while of that and Isolation indeed seems like a mini-vacation.

    I was in prison seven years and cannot remember once when my toilet was stopped up on 14 different prison units; nor being without toilet paper for more than a couple hours. In fact, with scrubbing cleaner it is very common to clean the toilet good and wash clothes in the stainless steel bowl.

    Now this is not to say that there are not some older Prisons that have some dank dark cells without anything in them. Or that some people really might “supher supher supher” if they can’t handle being alone for a little while. But by far and away Solitary Confinement in the modern practice should be cast a skeptical eye upon if labeled torturous.

    And let us not forget, as Patriots, that Penal Philosophy has long been aware it has a reason to BE humane, as noted by Alexis de Tocqueville in “Democracy in America”:
    Chapter VI: Judicial Power In The United States
    Chapter Summary
    “In the Middle Ages, when it was very difficult to overtake offenders, the judges inflicted the most dreadful tortures on the few who were arrested, which by no means diminished the number of crimes. It has since been discovered that when justice is more certain and more mild, it is at the same time more efficacious. The English and the Americans hold that tyranny and oppression are to be treated like any other crime, by lessening the penalty and facilitating conviction.” – DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA – By Alexis De Tocqueville

  2. Hmm, county jail Washington state. Regular lockup. In cell 22 hours a day. Out for shower, say howdy then back in. Outside on Saturday if?? Out of TP once. Replaced in a timely manner. Plugged toilet? Mine flushed in a manner that I would not want to be seated on it and flush. i.e., huge vacuum effect. A plunger? has a stick = weapon? In a cell by yourself? Maybe because you’re a “high-profile” prisoner and if you had a cellmate who killed you??? Seems common sense to keep you isolated. Visitor? Via video from a room in your cell block. Then back to your cell. Visitor never enters the lockup portion of the facility. “Squat & cough” is not a cavity search. The only anger I have here is the attempt to mislead and inflame.

  3. The two above comments completely ignore the main point: THEY. ARE. NOT. CONVICTED. And even if convicted, there are alternative methods to the degrading strip searches. Given the fact that federal courts have a 95% plus conviction rate, many of those convictions are based on forced confessions, where federal prosecutors use the tactic, “plea deal or more prison time” as leverage. As Jerry Delemus, one of the Bundy et al defendants, said, “If I plead guilty for purposes of a plea deal, do I risk being charged with perjury when I am really innocent?” Therefore, we have many prisoners with questionable convictions being subject to degrading strip searches when they are not guilty of any crime of violence or smuggling or trafficking contraband.

    • I agree they are not convicted…but THEY. ARE. BEING. HELD. WITHOUT. BAIL. We can all have our opinions of the rightness or the wrongness about that…but being held means having to conform to institutional rules.

      Having to engage in strip searches to move from one part of the institution to another is not an undue precaution. People really do move contraband and weapons inside prison.

      And solitary confinement inside an institution can really be like a mini-vacation. When a person hits the prison main population the head-hunters (gang bangers) who thrive on “name recognition”…and there are many Socialist/Communist/Leftists in prison as well…see a Front Page News patriot walk onto the cell block…geez, what a great welcome the patriot is going to receive 24 hours a day. If they are not in solitary confinement what are they going to do living for years with just men? Snuggle?

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