In a very small regional jail in Warsaw, Virginia, sits Bob Mueller's big fish, Paul Manafort.
Mueller, the U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel appointed to investigate any possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump's campaign, has charged Manafort with multiple counts of conspiracy, money laundering, tax crimes, false statements, and anything else they can wad into a big ball and throw up against the wall to see what sticks.
After his arrest, Manafort was placed on house arrest on a $10 million-dollar bail, until the government recently accused him of witness tampering and convinced U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to revoke his bail, and remand him to jail pending trail.
To a casual observer, this would seem justified, however, to anyone that has been through it, or has witnessed the government's selective and political prosecutions over the past few decades, they would tell you that it is all a part of a prosecutorial strategy.
Solitary confinement in prison lingo is also referred to as a special housing unit (SHU), or punitive segregation unit (PSU), and their individual cells are called a box, hole, or cage.
It's basically a deathtrap. A 12' x 8' solid steel or concrete box with a metal bed, stainless steel sink and toilet, and if you're lucky, a small concrete or metal writing table and stool. On the solid steel metal door, there may be a 4 x 24-inch window that gives the inmate a slight view of the outside corridor, that can be blackened out by the correction staff at a moment's notice.
Most of the solitary cells are the same: corroded, with massive amounts of rust at the seams where the metal walls meet the concrete floors and ceilings, from prior inhabitants flooding the cells to get the attention of the staff.
As wretched as this may sound, some may be surprised to learn that there is a definitive purpose for solitary confinement or punitive segregation, and that is to house and secure the worst of the worst prisoners: A national security risk, an escape risk; or a threat to an institution, inmates, or staff - like predators who slash and stab, or who light other inmates on fire while their sleeping, or who throw urine and feces in the face of other inmates or staff. That is the classification of inmate that belongs in solitary confinement or punitive segregation. That is not however, Paul Manafort.
Most national correctional minimum standards dictate that solitary confinement should be prevented at all cost for prisoners that are classified as suicidal, juvenile, witness protection or protective custody, pre-trial, or minor institutional infractions. However, that does not stop local, state, and federal correctional institutions from abusing the classification.
The reason for these recommended restrictions is that solitary confinement can be mentally devastating.
Where prison itself demeans, degrades, and demoralizes a defendant, solitary confinement goes far beyond the normal deprivation of freedom, where the strain of isolation can cause a prisoner to suffer from manic depression, hopelessness and despair, paranoia, anxiety and, quite often experience hallucinations. It can send suicidal prisoners over the edge, and incite juveniles to act out.
Pre-trial inmates can easily be manipulated into confessions and or guilty pleas, with promises or suggestions of being released from the box, and quite often they will do anything to be freed from the mentally and emotionally breaking cell, including lying, and pleading guilty to something they never did.
In Manafort's case, I predicted early on that the government would do everything in their power to revoke his bail and remand him to custody, and then insure that he is placed in solitary confinement. My friend and longtime Fox News Correspondent Geraldo Rivera had a predication as well:
Here's why our predictions:
Prosecutors know exactly what the mental and emotional strain of solitary can do to a prisoner. They also know that solitary confinement diminishes a prisoner's ability to adequately prepare for trial by about 90 percent, and it increases the defendant's legal fees three-fold, due to time constraints, attorney travel time and added research since the defendant has no access to his own records - in this case probably hundreds of thousands of documents. The defendant is also prevented from having productive attorney-client privileged telephones conversations, because unfortunately, the government cannot be trusted, as we have already seen in the on-going Trump/Russia saga, some prosecutors believe that the end justifies the means regardless of whether it's legal or not.
In solitary housing, the prisoner has no access to a computer and email, a law library, and they are caged like an animal for 24-hours a day. Although, government and media reports that Manafort's housing is 23-hours a day with one hour of recreation daily, in most cases a federal prisoner in solitary, gets one to three hours of recreation per week, and is taken to the shower once or twice a week. That is the only time that prisoner is removed from his cage.
At the direction of the U.S. Justice Department, the U.S. Marshals and Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) uses solitary confinement as an excuse for protective custody --- to protect a prisoner from the rest of the prison population.
However, the reality is, there is punitive segregation or solitary, where a prisoner is caged as an animal as described above, and then there is administrative segregation, where a prisoner can be housed with other inmates in their same classification, and where they would have access to the same amenities as every other inmate in the facility, like showers, email, a law library, visits, telephone calls, and commissary. However, that would not serve the Justice Department's intended purpose.
Paul Manafort is hardly a threat to the tiny Northern Neck Regional Jail that holds about 450 prisoners, or it's inmates or staff, and he's not an escape risk. His bail was revoked and he was remanded to jail, with an order by the U.S. Marshals that he was to be detained in solitary confinement… to ensure his security. That is ridiculous.
A prosecutor from Mueller's office told the press, "those limitations (speaking of solitary) are common to defendants incarcerated pending trial." That is false, and misleading at best.
In fact, very few pre-trial prisoners are placed in solitary unless they are vicious predators, or a real threat to our society, or… as in this case, they are a high profile political prisoner that the prosecutors want to break mentally and emotionally, and destroy them personally, financially, and professionally.
Paul Manafort is not in solitary confinement in the pursuit of justice. He is in solitary confinement because the U.S. Justice Department is desperate to see a victory at all cost, and unfortunately that cost will include Manafort's sanity, and his ability to prepare for, and have a fair trial.
As New York City’s 40th Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik was in command of the NYPD on September 11, 2001, and responsible for the city’s response, rescue, recovery, and the investigative efforts of the most substantial terror attack in world history. His 35-year career has been recognized in more than 100 awards for meritorious and heroic service, including a presidential commendation for heroism by President Ronald Reagan, two Distinguished Service Awards from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and an appointment as Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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