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padnar
07-17-2008, 05:30 PM
HI ,
My character an indian born American is wrongly confined to US prison as a terrorist.In her best friend's diary , who is really is a terrorist
her name is there she is innocent but still she is
jailed . i would like to know how her life will be
will she be beaten or tortured ? what is the food she will be
served . How many yrs she will get and how she will be arrested .
i would be happy to get any info regarding this matter.
padma

Maryn
07-17-2008, 05:50 PM
In theory, it's unlikely mention in a friend's diary, without supporting evidence, would convict your character in a US court. But let's say she's wrongly convicted anyway, because it serves your story.

She will not be tortured or beaten by her jailers, although some may be verbally abusive. Most prison guards respond to respectful prisoners who make no trouble with neutrality, mutual respect, even liking. It's not unheard of for guards to take advantage of female prisoners' vulnerability by offering her a choice, a sexual relationship or guard-generated trouble.

Other prisoners may hurt her if she angers them or refuses to do or give them what they want from her, from sexual favors to her dessert. Guards will stop this on discovery, but prisoners are adept at creating privacy where there isn't any. She'd do well to keep to herself, be pretty quiet, and freely give others anything she has that they want, unless she needs it herself.

The food is cheap and carbohydrate-heavy. Few or no concessions are made for eating preferences, cultural or religious bans on certain foods. There will be oatmeal, processed meats like bologna, canned fruits and vegetables, white bread, potatoes and pasta. It's probable your character will either lose weight, if the food disgusts her enough, or gain weight if it doesn't.

I'll leave probable sentence and the manner of her arrest to people who know more than I do.

Maryn, hoping this helps

tomber
07-17-2008, 05:56 PM
I think a number of prisons allow for tours, actually. If you speak with a public liasons rep. you might get the info you wanted, or even a peek inside. From what I understand, movies and tv rarely get prison life right, and I imagine a little authenticity will go a long way.

padnar
07-17-2008, 07:30 PM
Thanks for the help .I am thinking of writing a
script for a crossover film so i wanted some info
padma

RJK
07-17-2008, 07:57 PM
There is a big difference in how your character got to prison and what prison she got to. If she ended up in Guantonamo (no trial is needed, the diary entry could be enough to get her there - no set term to serve and the guards are US Marines) your interrogators are from the CIA and, although physical torture has been ruled out, psycological 'pressure' has not. I don't know how much prisoner interactions is allowed there.
If she were sentenced to prison following a trial, Maryn's description should be pretty close.

IceCreamEmpress
07-17-2008, 08:48 PM
There aren't any women prisoners at Guantanamo (at least at the moment).

The highest-security federal correctional institution for women is, I believe, the Federal Correctional Institution in Tuscon, Arizona. It seems likely that any female terrorism suspects would be incarcerated there or at another federal women's prison with a maximum-security wing.

jclarkdawe
07-17-2008, 09:15 PM
There is a wide variety of prison and jail systems in the United States. We have military, federal, and fifty different states. Then we have Gitmo, which has it's own set of rules.

Maryn was pretty accurate with a generic answer.

There's a big deal of difference between maximum security and minimum security (most prisons have four or more levels of custody, although all might not be done in all of the prisons). In maximum security you probably will not have any physical contact with any other people, other than when you're being cuffed. You have one hour outdoors, unless something comes up, which can include the fact that the guard needs to go to the bathroom during your outdoor time.

Minimum security is minimal on the guards, you might have a job outside the walls, and no individual cells.

A terrorist is likely to end up in protective custody (PC). This is not actually a good place to be, as PC usually contains all the lowlifes that no one else can get along with. This might be because of their crime (child molester for example) or their personality.

Comparing New Hampshire's prisons to Florida's or California's is like comparing apples to oranges. The populations are vastly different.

In the United States, you can't be convicted of being a terrorist. You have to be convicted of a specific crime, which can include the intent to commit a terrorist act. Gitmo is the only exception and it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

If your character is an American citizen, then the US Constitution applies. Issue with Gitmo is whether inmates there are entitled to protection under the Constitution or the Geneva Convention.

There's a book called
The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison.
(http://www.amazon.com/Hot-House-Inside-Leavenworth-Prison/dp/0553560239/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1216314723&sr=1-2)
According to two clients who actually served there, it's fairly accurate. Leavenworth is a maximum security prison.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

crimsonlaw
07-18-2008, 12:33 AM
Your character would likely not be found guilty of anything (based on what you have shared with us so far), but I can definitely see where she could be arrested and held without bail while awaiting her trial, especially if she's living in a very "law and order" type of state such as Texas or Alabama. The fact that she's associating with terrorists and, frankly, her skin color would make law enforcement very suspicious of her. Every state has different laws regarding terroristic crimes and the federal government has their own laws.

I can offer a view of how I would expect it to go down in Alabama (where I practice law).

She would likely be arrested with much fanfare. The sheriff would have the media there to witness the arrest and several dozen deputies would be involved. Local police may also be involved as well, but since the sheriff is an elected position, he would want to lead the arrest. If she cooperated, they would not harm her during the arrest, but she would be handcuffed and the area immediately around her would be searched. If she was at home, her house would be searched too. There would be a press conference after she was jailed wherein the sheriff would spend 5-10 minutes talking about how horrible she is and how great his deputies are. Meanwhile, she would be processed by the correctional officers, which involves collecting all of her biographical information, fingerprints, DNA sample, taking her photograph, strip searching her and taking her to her cell.

Most county jails in Alabama hold both males and females in the same facility, although efforts are made to segregate the sexes. It is likely that she would be held separately from all prisoners; high-profile prisoners are usually kept by themselves in the jail because the sheriff, who is also responsible for maintaining the county jails in Alabama, won't want the bad press or any investigations conducted if something were to happen to a high-profile prisoner. She would have limited access to everything and would be kept in her cell most of the day. Each prison is different as far as the specific rules regarding how prisoners are treated. For example, prisoners in my home county cannot have any reading materials; there is a very poorly stocked library in the jail, but the books cannot leave the library. The only real diversion they are allowed to have in jail would be a pencil and some paper to write letters.

Ok, after she's locked up, she would get a bond hearing within 72 hours. These hearings are usually held on Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Better funded jails do it via television; prisoners are taken to a special conference room and see the judge on a television screen and the judge sits in his office and can see the prisoner on his television screen. Poorer courts hold the hearings either in the jail or in the courthouse. If she has not been able to hire an attorney by this point, she will represent herself at this hearing. The judge will converse with her to some degree to make sure she's being treated decently. For example, if she had a busted lip during this hearing, the judge would ask about it and may investigate it a little if he felt that the correctional officers were abusing her or were allowing her to be abused. However, that will be the extent of the judge's compassion and he will either not allow her to have a bond or will set it extremely high($250,000+) due to the nature of the charge (the bail schedule would suggest that her bond be set between $2,000 and $30,000, depending on what she is charged with exactly, but judges routinely ignore the bail schedule). She will be allowed a phone call after this to try and make arrangements to make her bond or just to contact family members. If the correctional officers do not like her, they can frustrate this process rather well (many of my clients complain that they are told that the phone is broken or the guards will only allow 30 second phone calls).

Her first court appearance would be about 30 days down the road for a preliminary hearing. At this time, if she has not been able to hire an attorney on her own, the court would appoint an attorney for her (either through a public defender's office or a local attorney would be appointed). She would be allowed to briefly meet with her attorney but her preliminary hearing would likely be continued another 30 days so her new attorney can have time to review the case and decide a course of action. If she has been able to retain an attorney, she would either have a preliminary hearing that afternoon (where the judge must decide if the police had probable cause to arrest her) or her attorney would stipulate that the police had probable cause and would waive the case onto the grand jury. Most attorneys would just waive the case on in this situation because a judge is not going to dismiss a case of this nature (and because law enforcement can just go to the grand jury later on and re-arrest her again). Note that appointed attorneys are either very young or not very good attorneys. A public defender is usually a good criminal attorney but they usually have more cases than they can handle, so they don't often to get work on cases for as long as they want to.

She would not see a courtroom again for a few months after her prelim. The case would be presented to a grand jury to decide whether or not to indict her for whatever crime she is charged with. Neither her nor her lawyer get to be at this presentation, so it is very easy for the prosecution to have someone indicted. Smaller courts only have grand jury sessions once or twice a year while larger ones usually have grand juries once a month. She will eventually receive notice of a court date after she is indicted. Her lawyer will not be able to do much for her until after she is indicted, so this is when she will likely be most frustrated with her attorney.

Her first court date after her indictment will be her arraignment, where she formally pleads not guilty. This is also the first time the prosecution will begin really negotiating with her attorney for a plea bargain. Because she is charged with a terroristic crime, the prosecution will insist on her doing some jail time. If her attorney intends on trying to lower her bond, this is the time that can be dealt with (some courts will have another day when bond issues can be handled) If a deal can't be struck that day, her case will be put off 2-3 months. She will then be on a status docket. This is when both sides let the judge know where the case is (specifically, if there are any issues that need to be resolved and whether or not a trial will be needed). Either way, the judge will set the matter off another 2-3 months for either another status docket or for a trial docket. Note that if a court has too many cases or if a case is very complicated, it is not unheard of for a criminal case to sit on a status docket for 2 years. When her case finally reaches the trial docket, she will have her trial within a few months. In my home county, for example, the 60 oldest cases on the trial docket must be resolved within the next "trial cycle," which generally last three months. Almost all cases reach a plea rather than go to trial. It is not uncommon for only one case to go to trial during each trial cycle.

While all of this court stuff is going on, your main character is just sitting in jail. She will be bored out of her mind. Usually, she can have visitors only one hour a week, on a weekend, and at a predetermined time. In more modern jails, visitors are not even allowed into the jail and must communicate via a television set-up from the lobby. Her attorney will be allowed to visit most of the time and will get to meet with her in person at the jail in a special conference room, but an appointed attorney usually won't come to visit more than once. Even a retained attorney usually has little reason to visit a prisoner more than once or twice unless the case is unusual (or he's being paid by the hour). She will have to buy everything that she needs from the jail store at very high rates. If she can't afford a necessity, it will be provided, but either it won't work very well or she won't want to use it. If she needs medical care, she will only be allowed to see a nurse (who can then send her to a doctor) and the nurse only works part time. Cruel guards can also "forget" about sick prisoners for a few days too. Medication is not distributed very well. Many of my clients will go without necessary medications for days at a time for various reasons. However, she will actually receive better care than most prisoners because of her special status.

If she is allowed into the general population, she will have an easier time in jail. Most county jails have a wide variety of prisoners who are awaiting trial. If you are convicted of a felony and have to serve any time over a year, you get transported to a state prison, which is where other prisoners can really cause problems. In county jails, however, the chances are significantly lower that she will run into any serious altercations. She will encounter some racism, but it would be unusual for her to actually be in fear for her life. The food will be bland and not so good, as noted in Maryn's post.

Because of the political nature of her case, it is likely that she will have to go to trial, plead guilty or be forced to prove her innocence. A prosecutor would be very hesitant to dismiss this type of case (as they may appear to be soft on crime). It would be very difficult for her to prove her innocence because the charge would like be something akin to conspiracy. The prosecutor would likely make her an offer that makes law enforcement look good but still be something she could live with. For example, they could make her an offer where she pleads guilty and gets sentenced to 10 years but only has to be in jail for one year. She would also receive lots of advice from other prisoners (if she is allowed to have contact with them) on what to do and most likely her attorney would want her to take the deal (because it would be less time than what she would get if she was found guilty by a jury and because most attorneys are scared of trials). If she went to trial... Well, I'd need to do another post about as long as this one to explain the trial process in enough detail to be useful to you!

As far as the crime she would likely be charged with, in Alabama it would likely be Providing Support to a Terrorist, which is a class C felony (unless her assistance was worth more than $1,000, in which case it would be a class B felony). The range of punishment would be between one year and ten years in jail (two to twenty if it was a class B felony).

I hope this is helpful. I know I've thrown a lot at you, but I assume you would rather have too much than too little! Also, like I said at the beginning, this is just based on my experiences in Alabama and it will be different in different states. The federal system is even more different, but I don't do much federal work, so I can't offer much help there. Good luck!

padnar
07-18-2008, 07:25 AM
Hi friends ,
Thanks a lot everyone ,for the wealth of information
I got here . It is really helpful crimson law and i have
pm yu also about it .
padma

crimsonlaw
07-18-2008, 09:12 PM
Thank you for the kind words!

miles111
07-20-2008, 02:48 AM
From what I understand federal prisons are a walk in the park compared to state prisons. G. Gordon Liddy once told listeners to his radio show that, if they were ever sent to prison they should smack anyone who spoke to them in the mouth—j ust to make sure no one messes with you. G. Gordon Liddy wouldn't last fifteen minutes in a state prison. He's full of crap.

There are so many people who have been in prison and they are so easy to find, you should consider talking to a few people who've actually been in there.

I've known a lot of ex-cons and, if you want to sound believable, find and talk to people who know what they're talking about. Prisons are brutal places, and some ex-inmates are so freaking scary you might crap your pants if you get near them. Take extra Depends. Most people on the outside are completely clueless about what goes on in there.

WriteKnight
07-20-2008, 03:00 AM
I've been working off and on for the last two years - on a documentary about a woman in prison for life. I've spent about seven LONG days in the women's prison in Choachilla California - They say its the largest in the U.S.

It's a daunting experience.

On the one hand, its a fairly modern facility, and if you could somehow 'erase' the guard towers and electric fences - the buildings would look much like a community college campus. Long, low cinderblock or brick buildings with glass windows (reinforced with wire).

There's a 'school' - there are 'workshops' where the inmates do metal work, auto repair, computer assembly - other 'job skill' training. There are gardens with rose bushes, and rabbits run wild.


Pick a rose, and you'll get punished.

Step off the line on the path an you'll get punished.

Go inside the dorms, and you see a different world.

Really, its the 'atmosphere' that permeates the place. It's not a place of hope - and that's a real tangible feeling.

I've interviewed numerous women inmates. They have some horror stories, for sure.

Rabe
07-24-2008, 07:59 AM
In theory, it's unlikely mention in a friend's diary, without supporting evidence, would convict your character in a US court. But let's say she's wrongly convicted anyway, because it serves your story.

She will not be tortured or beaten by her jailers, although some may be verbally abusive. Most prison guards respond to respectful prisoners who make no trouble with neutrality, mutual respect, even liking. It's not unheard of for guards to take advantage of female prisoners' vulnerability by offering her a choice, a sexual relationship or guard-generated trouble.

Other prisoners may hurt her if she angers them or refuses to do or give them what they want from her, from sexual favors to her dessert. Guards will stop this on discovery, but prisoners are adept at creating privacy where there isn't any. She'd do well to keep to herself, be pretty quiet, and freely give others anything she has that they want, unless she needs it herself.

The food is cheap and carbohydrate-heavy. Few or no concessions are made for eating preferences, cultural or religious bans on certain foods. There will be oatmeal, processed meats like bologna, canned fruits and vegetables, white bread, potatoes and pasta. It's probable your character will either lose weight, if the food disgusts her enough, or gain weight if it doesn't.

I'll leave probable sentence and the manner of her arrest to people who know more than I do.

Maryn, hoping this helps

I'm not sure whether to be offended by the blatantly stereotypical 'abuse of power' tripe displayed in this post or appalled by the incredibly ignorance put forth by this post!

Maybe both. So what's to be done about it? Let's try to fix some of the errors:

First - most of the sexual contact between guards and inmates is in the form of male inmate/female guard. When it comes to male guards/female inmates - they get drilled and hammered into their heads how any sexual contact of the female prisoners is going to land them right into prison themselves. That's not to say that female inmates wouldn't do their best to bring a guard down - because then they have something on them.

But to sit there and make it seem as if male prison guards were nothing more than raging, abusive rapists is the poorest fiction that's so bad and cliched they'd even reject it on "Family Guy".

As for the 'food issue', maybe you'd want to check out the Supreme Court decisions a bit more. Because when it comes to a verifiable religious need, prisons MUST make reasonable accomodations - whether it's vegetarian, Muslim or Kosher (no pork) or some other form of dietary need for religious/moral observations (again, within reason). Even county jails are beholden to these rulings. Even with medical conditions there have to be accommodations made.

Don't forget, we live in a country where an inmate was successful in filing a lawsuit over chunky peanut butter.

Rabe...

crimsonlaw
07-24-2008, 10:22 PM
I don't know what there is to be offended about in Maryn's post. She never said that the moment you walk into prison, you better enjoy being raped because that's all they serve for dinner. She said it's not unheard of and that is unfortunately true.

Further, at least based on my experiences, she is correct about the food as well. I know the Supreme Court has issued some feel good rulings regarding that stuff, but that's not how it works in the real world. Who is a court going to believe when it comes to these sorts of issues: an elected official like a sheriff who says they didn't know the inmate wanted special food or an inmate claiming they requested a specific diet and it wasn't provided? The only time that jails get busted for these sorts of things are when the violations are so blatant and obvious that they cannot be ignored.

Now, don't misinterpret what I'm saying. Running a correctional facility would be a nightmare of a job to me. Career criminals are some of the most aggravating sort to deal with and they love to use the law to be as aggravating as possible. Jailers are not going out of there way to be pricks to inmates, but they are not very willing to entertain individual because of these sort and the "honest" inmates oftentimes suffer. And I don't blame the jailers one bit. I almost always require clients to pay 100% of their fee upfront because of a few bad apples. I can't afford to trust criminal clients until I've seen a track record of trustworthy behavior.

Also, to suggest that jails are being run by the inmates because of the court system is both insulting and incredibly inaccurate based upon my personal experiences. I believe an inmate would and could file suit over his peanut butter preference, but (outside of the 9th Circuit) I would have a difficult time believing that such an action would be successful. If I am wrong, I would love to see that case if you would be willing to provide a citation. I have a feeling this is more like the McDonald's coffee case.

Regardless of our opinions and experiences, I do think you were a little harsh towards Maryn and misinterpreted what it appears she was saying.

shebitme
07-31-2008, 04:47 AM
you obviously know nothing about the US justice system.

if she's in a US prison, she wont be beaten and tortured. eighth amendment.

if she's in guantanamo, that's a whole nother issue entirely.

kuwisdelu
07-31-2008, 04:51 AM
if she's in a US prison, she wont be beaten and tortured. eighth amendment.

I'm not sure it always works out like that.