A Lesson to be Learned

Curtis Sanders

Issue 55

Prison Focus Issue 55, Spring 2018

I write this article from United States Penitentiary Atwater, in Atwater, California, on day one of what Is going to be an extremely long lockdown after a couple of abusive and disrespectful officers were targeted and ambushed by a group of the inmate population. Now will come the time of needless group punishments. This is always the over-reaction of the prison administration, to punish the whole when in truth, they should be more concerned about reestablishing professionalism in their officers to ensure that future acts of unprofessional abuse and disrespect by their officers do not force such drastic reactions by the inmates in their care. However for the inmates, and yes, even the line officers themselves, I believe they all see the underlying truth of what caused this incident and view the inmates actions as perhaps a necessary evil taken in defense against some staff who have time and time again always been intentionally out of hand and abusive and disrespectful to the inmates. For in truth, all inmates and officers know how very hard we, the inmate population, try to never target or injure prison staff. It’s for all intents a cardinal rule, for we well know all the repercussions that will come from targeting prison staff. And in truth, prison administrators know it too; it takes a whole lot of abuse to force the inmates to take such serious action against prison staff, especially for a whole group of inmates to take action together. It’s not just an officer being slick at the mouth, but continually being abusive and disrespectful riding rough shod over the inmate population. However, as said for the inmates and regular officers, they all see the similar truth that as a rule officers who remain professionals and respectful are never targeted and attacked out of hand. It is always the ones who intentionally want to push and be disrespectful.

For those readers not accustomed to prison environment, just picture the guard Percy in the movie, “The Green Mile” or the ignorant and abusive sheriff in the move, “First Blood” and how far he pushed John Rambo until he eventually snapped. For in truth it’s the same in here every time a prison staff is targeted for an attack, it is always them who first pushed and pushed and drew first blood; pushing the inmates to take such desperate action. For in truth no one in here wants to attack the police nor face the severe repercussions that follow. It takes a lot, and I mean an awful lot of abuse to force such dire actions. However this is often a simple truth that is ignored by prison administrators for it would place the blame not only on their officers but the administrators themselves for allowing or even embracing such unprofessionalism by their officers. This is definitely true here at US Penitentiary Atwater where the warden Andre Matevousin openly embraces a desire to continually victimize the inmates in his care which signals a green light to his officers to do the same. For here the warden himself commits numerous illegal actions with virtual impunity victimizing the inmates and continually violating their constitutional protections, such as illegally restricting our incoming and outgoing mail, even refusing/destroying our incoming mail unless it is strictly on white paper and white envelopes, any mail arriving in manila envelopes are destroyed as are letters on non-white paper, and restricting us from writing outside contacts unless personally approved by himself, inmates are no longer able to receive books from bookstore or publishers unless purchased through the prison at a 307. Mark up, persona money accounts are frozen on targeted inmates and all grievances on these matters are simply not processed denying us access to the courts. These illegals gestapo style tactics serve no legitimate penological interest, they are in fact open illegal victimization by the warden upon the inmates and this in turn instills the same attitude into his officers who believe they can be abusive with virtual impunity. However maybe now that officers have been attacked and hurt, just maybe Federal Bureau Brass in western regional headquarters and in the central headquarters in DC may finally open their eyes to illegal tyranny happening at Atwater under the direction of Warden Andre Matevousin. 

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