Open Letter:February 2, 2014
Dear Member of Congress:
My name is Stacey Petro and I am originally from Connecticut. I have been an inmate at the Danbury Federal Prison Camp since July 16, 2012. In order to be classified in a camp, a federal inmate must score between 0 and 15 points on the scale of security and custody classification. Factors that are used to calculate this score include the crime that was committed , programming since incarceration, and other public safety factor assessments. I am writing to bring attention to how this institution is manipulating this point system in order to carry out financial goals of the institution, not based on inmates security needs. This point system has recently been manipulated to adjust the point level of inmates housed in the FCI, a low security facility, so they can be placed in the camp , a minimum security facility, to give the appearance of keeping as many inmates as close to their region as possible. Unfortunately this is being done without regard for safety , as higher risk inmates are being introduced into a population of inherently non- violent low risk offenders in the camp. I have recently become personally involved in a more controversial use of this manipulation, which is to increase my security level so that I can be placed in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia. On Thursday January 30th myself and 4 other inmates were called to the correctional officers station and told to pack out our stuff and bring it down to Receiving and Delivery on Friday. I found out from my case manager that I was being transferred to FDC Philly. When the Camp Administrator was asked by the affected inmates why this is being done, he used the terms “institutional need” and to fulfill “head count”.
In December my husband was transferred for his job from Connecticut to Ohio. Given the focus on the Bureau of Prisons mission to keep inmates close to home, I submitted a relocation request so my release address would be updated to Ohio, in hope that would prompt a transfer. Given the delays in that paper work, on January 27th I requested to be transferred to the Lexington KY camp and I was told by the Camp Administrator, Mr. Marske, that my transfer would be submitted. Two days later I was notified that I was not being sent to Kentucky, but to Philadelphia to an administrative facility. I have never had an incident report or any disciplinary action. I have continuously involved myself in available programming and work hard to make the most of my incarceration. It makes me wonder if this move for me has to do with the fact that I advocate for myself and others who are subjected to unjust actions in this very institution. I have also been reaching out to bring attention to the many health and environment violations occurring in this building and in the FCI. I have even started a blog at http://www.whoistoblame.wordpress.com to bring attention not only to my case, but aspects of the camp itself. Mr. Marske told me “every effort” was made to place me close to my family. I doubt this given that only two days passed, but I have requested such documentation from Warden Maureen Baird. My family is very concerned for my safety and welfare given this questionable transfer. As of Friday January 31, I had to pack up all my belongings and have nothing to meet my daily living needs. Not only that, but rather than get a furlough to transfer I will be forced to be transported in handcuffs and shackles. If I warranted this type of security, I would have been designated to such a facility originally.
The administration is able to present a security change through the use of a “Management Variable” ( MGTV). The definition of a MGTV is given in the “Inmate Security Designation and Custody Classification Program Statement” as follows:
“A MANAGEMENT VARIABLE” reflects and supports the professional judgment of the Bureau staff to ensure the inmates placement in the MOST APPROPRIATE level institution. A MGTV is required when the placement has been made and/or maintained at an institutional level INCONSISTENT with the inmates security score- a score which may not completely/accurately reflect his or her security needs.”
This definition does not reflect the spirit in which the MGTV is being used for the inmates being taken out of a camp environment and into a maximum security facility such as FDC Philadelphia. The Camp environment is inherently more free because the inmates housed there score low on risk score. Most inmates are “out” custody , which is defined as the second lowest custody level which requires the second lowest security, less secure housing, and may be eligible to work outside of the perimeter. Federal Prison Camp Danbury has no cells or locking doors, inmates are housed in a dormitory environment, and are free to go outside between sunrise and sunset into a recreation yard that is not surrounded by any physical barriers such as fencing. FDC Philadelphia is an administrative facility which accommodates all security levels, but they are governed per policy under the same guidelines as a medium security facility. Since I have been in the camp I have not been able to interact with low security inmates housed at the FCI on the same property where I am now, but for “institutional need” I can be among similar and higher risk inmates.
The scoring system is in place to ensure that inmates are appropriately placed. By manipulating that score for a reason not connected to an inmates profile is damaging the physical, mental and emotional well being of an inmate. Those included in this round of transfers to FDC Philadelphia have no disciplinary issues, are involved in programming, and have excellent work histories. Some of the inmates have release addresses closer to the facility, but clearly they were not designated there to begin with because the facility does not reflect the security and custody level which we were originally designated – prior to administration manipulation. Per the BOP Program Statement, ‘redesignations are considered in much the same manner using many of the same factors used at the time of initial designation. In addition, the inmates institutional adjustment and program performance are also carefully reviewed when redesignation is considered.” Rather than review our needs, these management variables were used to support a Bureau need.
I am writing to you asking that you please investigate the use of management variables and this specific transfer of camp status females in to a higher security facility. The Bureau of Prisons Program Statement confirms that “Members of Congress may be advised of designation in response to official inquiries for their official use.” Even though we are inmates, we are your constituents as are our families who are devastated by this change of environment. They are worried for our safety and well being. I have personally seen over the past months your involvement in the mission change and how you advocated for us during the summer months. The Bureau of Prisons is not living up to their promise of maintaining safety or keeping us close to our families in the most appropriate environment for our risk level.
Please help ensure that we are not further punished by being in an environment for the sole purpose of being an appropriate statistic for the Bureau of Prisons.
Stacey Petro 17986-014
PO Box 562
Philadelphia, PA 19106
* Note address change as of the week of 2/2/14 unless the transfer is ceased!