Editor’s Note: Our dear Bix needs us NOW!!! Please read the following important alerts from Joe Power-Drutis; they have critical time value. I’m sorry not to have posted earlier, but I’ve just come back online after being stranded for 3 days without power or telephones. The first part is about tomorrow’s [Sunday] vigil at SeaTac, the second is a statement from Bix provided by attorney Blake Kremer who has been in contact with Bix, and lastly an overview of the situation along with a list of government officials for us to contact to address this injustice now!
Also, please include Bix’s Bureau of Prisons inmate number (William J. Bichsel, SJ, 86275-020) in your correspondence.
[From Joe Power-Drutis]
The letters and calls made by many of you yesterday [January 19] to seek basic care for Bix from the Bureau of Prisons at SeaTac were heartening. Today we continue our efforts to inform the media and public officials of the fact that prison personnel are withholding the extra clothing and blankets prescribed by a physician for an octogenarian with severe circulatory and coronary insufficiency. Bix – held in solitary confinement – is at their mercy.
Bix’s home community at St. Leo Church and the Tacoma Catholic Worker invite you to a vigil at the SeaTac Detention Center to protest his treatment.
Date of Vigil: Sunday, January 22, 2012 Time: 2PM – 3PM Place: 2425 S 200th St, SeaTac, WA 98498 Please bring a candle and a creative sign if you like.
Purpose: Governments and prison authorities have a duty of care to all prisoners and detainees under their control. We demand independent verification that Bix has received the bedding and clothing he needs to assure his warmth and bring an end to the pain and suffering he has endured since returning to SeaTac on January 11th.
Parking: You may be asked to move your car if you park in the SeaTac lot or on the road leading in. I recommend that you park on or near 200th and Highway 99 and walk the short distance to the detention center.
Photography: We can take photos of the vigil, but have been informed – by prison staff – that photos of the prison building are not allowed. Pointless ruling as the entire campus is clearly visible on Google Maps, but there it is.
Car Pooling: Meet in front of the Tacoma Catholic Worker at 1417 South G Street at 1 PM; carpool departs at 1:15.
I leave you with the first in the list of prisoner rights as listed in the Inmate Handbook, (June 1, 2010, p. 52, Par. 1) and written by – and posted on the website of – the Federal Detention Center: SeaTac, Washington
“You have the right to expect as a human being, that you will be treated respectfully, impartially, and fairly by all personnel.”
Identical language is used in the Title 28 Chapter V. Part 540, Code of Federal Regulation, Federal Bureau of Prisons Policies. A good policy is in place; let’s get them to honor it!
[From: Blake Kremer, January 19th]
Bix called around 2 PM today and said that he would like a visit from me. He related to me the following:
“Found out at a hearing on Tuesday the BOP’s reason for taking him in to custody. Brought two people in from the halfway house to describe the incident when the monks came to greet me. I did not know the monks were coming, but I threw them some kisses and that was it. The next morning the marshal came and took me in to custody.
I am now on non-compliance and in the SHU. I entered in to a fast – this is my ninth day. I am amazed at how much strength I am getting. No food at all – just water. Every morning they bring me breakfast; I just take two half pints of milk. I feel with all of this my spirit feels great. It is very cold for me all of the time. I cannot sleep at all – 24 hours a day without sleep, fighting off the chill. I have asked for a jacket or a pillow or a mattress; they do not comply.
I am very delighted in the way that this has happened. Welcome angels singing joy and peace is the theme that comes to me. Rejoice Rejoice Rejoice – I loved the visit from the monks that lead to his current imprisonment. I am where I should be. I am good.
I am cold all the time, I wear a blanket. I am in bed all the time to stay warm.
I am deeply thankful for where I am and I feel a deep sense of god’s presence. I would like to have others join in the fast if they want to. There is a fast for Christian unity from 18th to the 25th. I would like others to consider joining in or being more conscious of our call to eliminate nuclear weapons or oppose unconscionable actions and inhumane treatment. I told BOP that I would not comply, as a matter of conscious. They said: this is a matter of policy not conscience. I said: that is exactly my point. And that is what I would like others to consider: that what is policy for some is not acceptable for Christians.”
[From Joe Power-Drutis]
The final line of Bix’s call yesterday [January 19th] to Blake is what I want to address. “What is policy for some (Bureau of Prisons) is not acceptable for Christians.”
It is policy for prisons to deny the cries of inmate’s for basic human needs. (See Plowshares News – May 11, 29 and 31, 2011). It is policy for prisons to keep the environment cool/cold as well.
Bix is an octogenarian. At 83, I guarantee, our physical needs are radically different than at 53, or even 73. In contrast, the age of most prison guards (from my observations) is closer to 33. Supplying additional warmth is not preferential treatment; it is simply a rational response to basic physiology.
When Bix went into SeaTac on November 11, he brought a list of his medications and a letter from his primary care physician. The bulk of the letter related to Bix’s overall medical condition and needs; but, it was prefaced by a cover letter specifically addressing Bix’s need for extra clothing and warmth due to coronary and circulatory deficits. His doctor explained, in detail, how painful it would be to Bix if his extremities are subjected to ongoing cold. This letter is in the medical file at SeaTac. It is being ignored.
Earlier this year, in response to a medical request from Bix, a guard cut off the conversation to say, “Forget about your doctor back home; I’m your doctor now.”
Yes, guards and administrators in jails and prisons can treat inmates inhumanely simply because they can; but, it also seems that the milieu of prison life is geared toward punishment. At the Knox County Sheriff’s Detention Facility, where Bix was imprisoned in Knoxville, a long document that listed the purposes of the facility was posted on the bulletin board. The first 2 items on the list were their statement of ownership and the mission statement of delivering “punishment.”
Whether or not jail and prison administrators are directly complicit in the day to day cruelty of those they supervise; they are answerable for maintaining an environment that caters to punishment, rather than rehabilitation. By dehumanizing inmates, whether at Abu Ghraib or the Podunk County jail, administrators at the top give tacit approval to soldiers/guards all the way down the line to be creative in their punishments.
It is important for us to voice disapproval of Bix’s cruel treatment. Please take a few minutes today to let people on the list below know that the community cannot tolerate this treatment of Bix or of any of the 824 prisoners held at SeaTac today. If you know of others who should hear from us, please contact them and then send me a note – I’ll add your suggestions to the list. The more letters we get out, the more likely someone with compassion will intervene. ( I believe the issue will not be officially addressed until Monday, in the meantime we have time and incentive to speak to as many people as we can.)
Here is list of people to contact [Note: This is the most updated list with Joe’s corrections and additions]
Charles E. Samuels, Jr.
Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW,
Washington, DC 20534
Office hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern time
Monday through Friday
For general information, call 202-307-3198.
Marion Feather, Warden
Federal Detention Center SeaTac
P.O. Box 13901
Seattle, WA 98198
The Catholic Northwest Progress
710 9th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
The News Tribune
P.O. Box 11000, Tacoma, WA 98411
The Seattle Times
PO Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111
Newsroom: (206) 464-2200
Newsroom fax: (206) 464-2261
Newsroom and Seattletimes.com staff
Main: (206) 464-2111
Accepts letters of up to 200 words at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact your government representatives
Patty Murray— www.murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm
950 Pacific Avenue, Ste. 650
Tacoma, Washington 98402
Phone: (253) 572-3636
Fax: (253) 572-9488
Maria Cantwell — www.cantwell.senate.gov/contact/
Gov. Christine Gregoire
Archdiocese of Seattle, 710 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-382-4560 | Fax: 206-382-4840