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December 26, 2009

Again, why bother with a trial?

Allen Stanford The popular view is that R. Allen Stanford is a crook and should spend the rest of his life in prison.

But doesn't the U.S. Constitution -- not to speak of simple human decency -- provide him with the opportunity to contest the government's charges against him fairly?

These earlier posts (here, too) touched on the indefensible prison conditions that the federal government has imposed on R. Allen Stanford as he awaits trial on criminal fraud charges arising from the demise of Stanford Financial Group.

Last week, Stanford's lawyers filed the motion below requesting that U.S. District Judge David Hittner release Stanford on strict conditions pending his trial that would make it virtually impossible for him to go to the corner drug store without the U.S. Marshals being notified immediately.

Judge Hittner promptly denied the motion without comment, which is next to inexplicable given what is contained in the motion. Here is a mere sampling:

Mr. Stanford has been incarcerated since June 18, 2009 and was moved to the [Federal Detention Center] on September 29, 2009. Immediately upon his arrival at the FDC, he underwent general anesthesia surgery due to injuries that were inflicted upon him at the Joe Corley Detention Facility. He was then immediately taken from surgery and placed in the Maximum Security Section — known as the “Special Housing Unit” (SHU) — in a 7' x 6 1/2' solitary cell. He was kept there, 24 hours a day, unless visited by his lawyers. No other visitors were permitted, nor was he permitted to make or receive telephone calls. He had virtually no contact with other human beings, except for guards or his lawyers.

When he was taken from his cell, even for legal visits, he was forced to put his hands behind his back and place them through a small opening in the door. He then was handcuffed, with his arms behind his back, and removed from his cell. After being searched, he was escorted to the attorney visiting room down the hall from his cell; he was placed in the room and then the guards locked the heavy steel door. He was required, again, to back up to the door and place his shackled hands through the opening, so that the handcuffs could be removed. At the conclusion of his legal visits, he was handcuffed through the steel door, again, and then taken to a different cell where he was once again required to back up to the cell door to have his handcuffs removed and then forced to remove all of his clothing. Once he was nude, the guards then conducted a complete, external and internal search of his body, including his anus and genitalia. He was then shackled and returned to his cell. In his cell there was neither a television nor a radio and only minimal reading material  was made available to him. He remained there in complete solitude and isolation until the next time his lawyers returned for a visit.

In short, Mr. Stanford was confined under the same maximum security conditions as a convicted death row prisoner, even though the allegations against him are for white collar, non-violent offenses. He is certainly not viewed as someone who poses a threat to other persons or the community, nevertheless, he has been deprived of human contact, communication with family and friends, and was incarcerated under conditions reserved for the most violent of convicted criminals. Officials at the FDC informed counsel that this was for Mr. Stanford’s “own protection” and to minimize their liability.  .  .  .

The U.S. criminal justice system used to be an institution that distinguished a free society from those that endured under oppressive regimes.

But with cases such as Stanford's, it's sure getting hard to tell the difference between the U.S. system and the supposedly more oppressive ones.

Mtn for Reconsideration of Detention Order

Posted by Tom at December 26, 2009 12:01 AM |

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