A call for reason and fairness in the case of
U.S. vs. Walter Anderson

"I have this crazy idea the Constitution actually means something" -- Michael Badnarik


 

CONDITIONS OF INCARCERATION for WALT ANDERSON

IN WASHINGTON DC CORRECTIONAL FACILTIES

 

(This is the web-enabled version of a report on Walt's treatment while in the DC facility. Some minor editing for typos and grammar conflicts has been made, for easier reading. Original meaning and intent of content was not affected.)

Prepared by the DC Public Defenders Office , February 7, 2007

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION                                                                         

LAW LIBRARY /COMPUTER ACCESS                                     

LEGAL VISITS                                                                         

LEGAL CALLS                                                                       

PERSONAL PHONE CALLS                                                           

LEGAL DOCUMENTS                                                           

LEGAL MAIL                                                                                   

PERSONAL MAIL / READING MATERIAL                                   

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES                                               

CELL PHONE INCIDENT AT CTF                                               

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT CONDITIONS                                   

HOUSING UNIT CONDITIONS AT CDF                                   

EXCEPTIONAL INCIDENTS                                                           

SLEEP DEPRIVATION                                                           

SENSORY DEPRIVATION                                                           

STRIP SEARCHES                                                                        

SHAKEDOWN – CELL SEARCH                                                          

OTHER CONDITIONS OT CTF AND CDF                                   

EXHIBIT LIST                                                                                   

 

INTRODUCTION

Walter Anderson was indicted for charges related to tax fraud and taken into custody on February 26th, 2005 upon his return from an international trip.   

The first 3 days prior to his arraignment he was held incommunicado in the DC Department of Corrections “Central Cell Block” in downtown Washington DC.  He was held without access to food, water or a shower.

After his arraignment rather than being released, prior to his trial, per a prior agreement negotiated by his legal counsel with the prosecutors, Mr. Anderson was held and sent into the custody of the Washington DC Corrections Department.  This department has had serious and well publicized problems for over 25 years and has never been able to meet minimal standards or comply with numerous court order to correct multiple deficiencies. 

The Washington DC Corrections facilities  where Mr. Anderson has been held for almost 2 years are not designed for long term incarceration.  Long term inmates are normally sent to other appropriate facilities.  At the facilities where Mr. Anderson was held, all inmates, even those who are awaiting trial and  have not been found guilty are treated the same.

Mr. Anderson has been moved around many times.  He was mostly at the facilities noted below on the following dates.

2/26/2005 to 10/17/2005                   DC Correctional Treatment  Facility (CTF)  –  General Population

10/18/2005 to 11/25/2005                  DC Correctional Treatment Facility (CTF)  –  Solitary Confinement

11/25/2005 to 11/29//2005                   DC Central Detention Facility (CDF)  –  General Population

11/30/2005 to 4/26/2006                    DC Central Detention Facility (CDF)  –  Solitary Confinement

4/27/2006 to date of this report     DC Central Detention Facility (CDF)  –  General Population

This document describes many of the conditions encountered by Mr. Anderson between February 29th, 2005 and February 9th, 2007 while he was being held by the DC Department of Correction of behalf of the United States Federal Government.  This document is not a detailed diary of all the condition and event encountered by Mr. Anderson and only attempts to cover significant conditions.

 

LAW LIBRARY / COMPUTER ACCESS

LAW LIBRARY ACCESS

State and Federal laws and numerous court decisions have granted inmates the right to have access to an up to date law library while they are incarcerated.

CTF  LAW LIBRARY / COMPUTER ACCESS

The CTF Law Library consists of printed volumes of legal reference materials that might be found in a small law office.  Many of the volumes and material are not up to date and no online databases are available to the inmates.  The law librarian did not have any significant expertise in legal research or management of a law library.

The normal CTF law library schedule provides for 1.5 hours of access to the law library each week for inmates.  This schedule was often not adhered to and many weeks the law Library hours were simply ignored or forgotten by the CTF staff.   No explanation was ever provided and grievances filed about lost library hours were answered with claims that the library hours had actually been honored.

After a number of months and multiple requests, Walt Anderson was finally given access to the  “extended” Law Library hours along with a some of other inmates.  The extended hours were supposed to allow an additional 2 hours per week of time in the law library.  The “extended”  hours  wee often curtailed and sometime not observed at all.  More than ½ the time the Mr. Anderson was not able to access the library at all during the scheduled “extended” times.  ( SEE EXHIBIT 3)

The CTF Law Library had 2 very old computers.  Only one of these computers was equipped to read CD disks.  Neither of the computers could read “PDF” type files which are commonly used for legal documents and neither of these computers could read many up to date “WORD” and “SPREADSHEET” programs.  The computers had no connection to networks and no printer.  Due to these limitations, this Law Library computer resource was almost completely useless.   Even then the computers were not readily available since up to 12 inmates competed to access them during the very limited hours in the law library.

CDF LAW LIBRARY GENERAL CONDITIONS

CDF law library used to consist of printed volumes of legal research materials.  Many of these materials were 7 to 9 years out of date.   These volume were recently removed and the CDF Law Library was “updated” to a system which is computer access only.  A single online database is available.  This particular online resource is free of charge to users and is the only online resource that has been made available to the inmates in the CDF.  A significant amount of data is not available with this single online database available and the CDF administration has refused to update or correct this deficiency.  This “update” has actually made the CDF Law Library less useful to inmate then the prior our of date materials.

CDF  SOLITARY CONFINEMENT LIBRARY ACCESS

Mr. Anderson was not allowed to access to the law library was allowed during the time that he was held in Solitary Confinement at the CDF.   Mr. Anderson made numerous attempts to request information from the law Library, per the procedures set up by the DC Department of Corrections, but never received any response to his many requests.

Mr. Anderson was not being held in solitary confinement for 6 months due to any pending disciplinary charges or due to any violent incident.  During the time Mr. Anderson was denied his rights that all inmates have to access a law library, he was at times told that he was being held in solitary confinement “for his protection”. 

CDF LIBRARY/ COMPUTER ACCESS

Beginning in April 27, 2006 when Mr. Anderson was assigned to the general population of the Central Detention Facility (CDF) facility he attempted to access the law library on a regular basis.  CDF policies allow only 1 hour of access per week to inmates.  Most weeks, despite his diligent efforts,  Mr. Anderson was not able to access the library    The few weeks that he was able to obtain access,  it was not for the full a hour due to delays created by the CDF personnel.  Even when inmates were late going to their scheduled Law Library hour due to CDF employees failures, they were still expected to leave the library at exactly the correct time.   A single hour per week in the CDF Law Library, even if provided in full,  is not enough time to do any useful work or accomplish any serious tasks in a Law Library.

On June 16th, 2006 Mr. Anderson’s legal counsel obtained a Court Order (EXHIBIT 1) ordering that Mr. Anderson would receive 15 hours of Law Library access per week and that he would have the right to receive and hold in his possession files, documents and computer disks from his legal counsel relating to his case.  This court order has been largely ignored, when it was not being actively violated or disparaged by CDF employees and senior staff and officers.

Some weeks after the court order was issued, Mr. Anderson was allowed some additional hours in the Law Library.  Since the time the Court Order was issued he has never received anywhere close to 15 hours in any one weak.  Since the court order was issued his access to the Law Library has been denied numerous times due to neglect, incompetence and other CDF staff problems.  SEE CHART BELOW

The Law Library maintained a sign in sheet for Mr. Anderson which records the times that he has had access to the CDF Law Library (EXHIBIT 2).  In spite of extensive efforts by Mr. Anderson and his legal counsel, he has not been able to get additional hours time in the library which he needs to even be able to partially assist his legal counsel.   Mr. Anderson’s has attempted to comply with the requests of his legal counsel which required him to access and review extensive documents related to his case and prepare detailed written information and summaries but he has not been able to comply with more than a small portion of their requests.  Mr. Anderson was not able to effectively access most of the documents related to his case and he was never able to affectively communicate a large amount of significant and material information to his legal counsel.

The computer equipment in the CDF Law Library until just the last few months prior to this report consisted of four very old computers with varying software loads.  Only two of these computers were connected to a working printer.  More than half of the time these two printers did not have printing toner cartridges and so were completely useless.  Only one of these four computers would actually open and read “PDF” type files and this particular computer was not connected to a printer.  The law librarian would not allow inmates to change the computer connections to create a single functional system.

A few months ago, the law library was “Updated” by removing most of the printed volumes which were around 9 years old and out of date.  The printed library was replaced with an online system.  The computers were improved with updated software.  The new software was Microsoft Windows 2000 NT and Microsoft Office 2000.   Now the software in the system is only 6 years out of date instead of 10 years.  

All legal research in the Law Library now must be done online.  The online legal research system consists of a single free internet resource and no access to paid or subscription  services such as lexis / nexis. No access is provided to other parts of the internet.  This online service in not complete or adequate.  It does not cover all state laws and is missing other critical and necessary information.  No lawyer practicing criminal law could ever depend on this single free internet site to do all their legal research and it is not reasonable to assume that this is an adequate substitute for the constitutionally mandated access to an up to date “law library” to which inmates are entitled.

The CDF “updated”  Law Library now has a single printer.  This printer is often “out of order” and has not been accessible for weeks at time.  In month of January 2007,  this printer was “out of order”  for the entire month and has now been replaced by a printer too small to handle the output from multiple users.   This technical failing makes access to computers relatively valueless and makes it almost impossible to accomplish any useful work in the CDF Law Library.

The CDF Law Library also often runs out of basic supplies.   Paper for the printer is in short supply and staples to collate filings are not available. 

Officers and staff at the CDF when asked by Mr. Anderson to comply with the Court Order related to his library hours have made comment such as:  “We don’t care about any Court Order”, “F***  your Court Order”,  “If you wanted to go to the library whenever you wanted you should not have gotten yourself in jail,” and many other even les savory comments. The nicest response is when they just laugh.

The previous chart showing the actual hours Mr. Anderson attended the CDF Law Library, makes clear that level of respect that CDF has had for the  Court Order related to Walter Anderson’s Law Library hours.

Mr. Anderson’s case is unusually complicated and the documents and computer files related to the case cover over 16 years of his business and not-for-profit activities.  The lack of regular access to computer facilities and the inability to do research online has made it  impossible for Mr. Anderson to effectively assist his legal counsel to understand the history of his activities and prepare a defense.

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