Prisoner Requests Pro Bono Civil Litigation Assistance

A prisoner confined at the Federal Correctional Institution in Edgefield, South Carolina, requested legal assistance with pending litigation.  I express no opinion, neither personal nor professional, on the pending issue.

I am posting what he sent.  If anyone wishes to assist him, please email

He is hoping someone at Prison Legal News will be interested.  

My Question:  Do you want the attached message sent to Prison Legal News or any place?  PLN may be interested, maybe not. There are numerous contacts on Twitter that “could” have an interest.  Confirm exactly what you want done and specify how you wish to be identified if the attached is posted publicly.  Thanks.

Wayne Staff Representative

His Reply:  Use your discretion; You understand the situation better than most. You should have gotten at least a year Half-way house time and did not. There are a lot of reasons for these failings in the system. It is our belief that the proper tools for understanding and correcting them lie in the court’s powers of inquisition and remedy.

CLIFFORD RAY SENTER on 4/9/2019 11:35:14 AM wrote


     If you have clients (or potential clients) who should have or could benefit from recent court rulings, the Second Chance Act, First Step Act, other laws, or whatever the Next Step Act will be, this litigation may be of interest to you.

     Below are excerpts from a TRO/Injunction and motion for appointment of counsel filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia this week. The Defendants named are South-East Regional Director Keller, and the Acting Director of the BOP. Local officials are aggressively targeting the litigants and obstructing/retaliating for the litigation. Previous iterations of this (and related) litigation have been completely abridged from access to the courts by local officials at the prison. Please forward this to any attorney’s/advocacy groups you know who may be willing to assist us in this litigation pro bono or be willing to submit amicus briefs. If you do not see this document (TRO/Injunction, and Motion for Appointment of Counsel) on the court docket in the next 14 days then it has been abridged like prior filings.

EXERPTS FROM LITIGATION IN: Clifford Senter et.  al V. William Barr et. al (TRO respondents J.A. Keller)

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has operated with an impunity enjoyed by no other Federal agency, Not even the nation’s intelligence agencies. The presence of unlimited funding untied to any measurable outcomes, a complete lack of oversight (or even mechanisms and metrics for oversight) has resulted in systemic fraud, misappropriation and mismanagement which has resulted in a totality of conditions which are unconstitutional and present a danger to inmates, staff and the public.

For decades, the BOP’s strategy has been based on massive scale and sustained growth. That bubble has burst and the public appetite (and pocket-book) for mass-incarceration has reached record lows which transcend political demographics with an unanimity unachievable regarding any other policy issue. The universal opposition to this status quo crosses geographic, political, religious, class and racial lines. In response to this near unanimous will of the people, Congress has instituted legislation whose express intent is to reduce the Federal prison population.

An unavoidable consequence of any reduction in the population is a corresponding downsizing of physical infrastructure and human resources. As with any corporate-size down-sizing much of the positions lost (per capita) will be executive and middle-management positions. This places decision-makers in the unenviable position of making and implementing policy which will result in their own obsolescence.

The results have been predictable —and deadly, with decision-making being compromised by conflicted priorities and duties as the system scrambles to save itself from the contracting market dynamics of human bondage as a socioeconomic model.

The decades of bottomless Federal coffers and total absence of any performance or out-come based metrics on how those funds are spent; Or anyone to even review or make those measurements, has grown a behemoth bureaucratic monster. For decades the DOJ and Congress have simply fed the beast, unchallenging accepting its (the BOP’s) self-assessment as to its needs; Providing budgetary increases yearly, which last year reached almost  Eight-billion dollars —or nearly as much as the budget of the Federal Bureau Of Investigation.

  • [For some perspective, consider that the BOP operates 122 facilities with a labor force whose

                     minimum requirement is a GED. The FBI operates in over 200 countries and every major city

                     in the United States and Puerto Rico, and is responsible for interdiction and investigation of

                     crimes, terrorism, counterintelligence and other domestic enforcement objectives.            

                     The average FBI employee has eight to ten years of secondary and post-secondary education.]

Despite this glut of funding, every single institution is operating at substandard levels in multiple areas; A direct result of decades of fraud and mismanagement. These “pre-existing deprivations” have been exacerbated by the BOP’s attempts to counteract reform policy, and/or its dilatory and ineffectual implementation of those policies. These factors have combined to create immediate dangers which do not allow the time to address through normal legal procedures; The courts powers of preliminary injunction are sought to address the issues of present and irreparable harm.

An example of the potential harms associated with these deprivations manifested on March 11, 2019 when several armed assailants entered unit C/3 at the Edgefield Federal Correctional Institution. These inmates were all assigned to other units and were not authorized to be in unit C/3. Once inside of the unauthorized unit, they proceeded to attack at assault other inmates at will. The assault went on for several minutes without any staff intervention or even knowledge of what was occurring. Staff only became aware of the armed attack when one of the victims ran into the office where the officer on duty was somnolently surfing the internet. Leaving their bloody victims behind, the assailants terminated their assault of their own volition and exited the unit as casually as they had entered it.

The assailants had all been able to exit tier units armed with weapons, execute their assault and return to their assigned units without any difficulty. At no time while exiting or returning to their respective units did, they encounter any staff. At no time entering or exiting the unit where they perpetrated their assault did, they encounter any staff. At no time before, during or after their assault did, they encounter any staff.

While this attack was occurring, simultaneous and coordinated assaults were being carried out in other parts of the prison, all with comparable results. This was not an isolated event. It was patterned off several previously successful assaults, all of which exploited the same gross incompetence and unpremeditated lapses in security.

The risk of harm has become pervasive. There are multiple causal factors behind this episode. They include fraudulent enterprise, deliberate indifference and gross incompetence at the local, Regional and National levels. For the purposes of this motion (preliminary injunction) this document deals with gross incompetence at the Macro-level —and its effects at the local level of FCI Edgefield.

Because of the evolving legislative and policy objectives identified at the outset, the BOP is already operating significantly under capacity. The BOP has resisted Full or timely compliance with policy mandates and initiatives which would result in further immediate and dramatic reductions in its population.  [Dilatory implementation and obstructionist application of those policies have resulted in the retention of a portion of the Bureau’s population equivalent to five of its prisons] The BOP is attempting to fight the forces of contraction set in motion by these policy changes by delaying/hindering the implementation of policy and/or trying to accomplish it without any corresponding decreases in its infrastructure.

Every prison is operating with a diminished staff compliment. This is not because the Bureau is understaffed, but because the BOP is incompetently overstretched. The BOP is operating across too many platforms without the population, staff, or resources to support that alignment. The only responsible or rational option, Consolidation of existing bed-space, would permit the BOP to immediately deactivate several facilities and fully staff those remaining institutions. Billions of dollars in savings would allow it to concentrate and redirect resources to the remaining institutions; Most of which are operating at not only dangerous staffing levels, but with unsafe, unhealthy and deteriorating infrastructure and underfunded programs.

These are problems of scale and competence. These were not unanticipated changes. National trends and policy intimations have signaled these changes for some time. The failure to anticipate the need for reductions in scale and appropriately and timely downsize in a safe and efficient manner has resulted in (among other things) overtime practices at FCI Edgefield which critically compromise the security of the institution, and endanger staff, inmates and the public. These overtime practices have led to problems such as low morale and mission fatigue; With some staff openly voicing sentiments such as “…I been here 12 hours already, I don’t care what y’all do!” Other staff simply spend the shift in the office asleep or in a near-sleep stupor. (this is also part of pre-existing conditions of dereliction) On the date of the incident described above, the staff in all of the affected areas were on their 10th or more hour of duty that day; And most of the staff on that shift had worked at least 32 of the previous 48 hours; Or worked a double-shift within the previous 48 hours.

FCI Edgefield is currently being operated by a zombie staff of semi-competent supervisors and semi-comatose personnel. This fact, combined with prior conditions of confinement, which were already constitutionally violative in and of themselves, creates an emergency with the serious and immediate risk of death, injury or irreparable harm.

The “prior conditions of confinement” mentioned are the subject of ongoing litigation attempts which are currently being aggressively obstructed by local officials. Access to the courts regarding those issues has been completely abridged. That abridgement has been directed, given tacit approval, or been encouraged by the policies and practices of local, regional and central office officials which have resulted in an organizational posture oriented to impede, obstruct, or titularly implement legislative and judicial mandates which tend to reduce or mitigate custodial sentences, or otherwise limit custodial reach.

Under the leadership of these officials, the BOP has become oriented to view such mandates as a threat to its mission; And to see that mission as encompassing “protecting the public” not just from offenders, but from Congress and the courts as well. The BOP views “Prison Reform” as an existential threat to its mission and existence. The BOP’s opposition to it, the BOP’s efforts to resist it, and the BOP’s dilatory and inadequate implementation of it are endangering staff, inmates and the public. These present a clear and immediate danger of irreparable harm, injury or death and require the courts to exercise their emergency powers of injunctive relief.