Politics Justice Dept. bolsters monitoring of federal inmate accounts
Texas Inmate Wants Baptist Pastor to ‘Lay Hands Upon Him’ at Moment of Execution. The Fight May End Up at SCOTUS
John Henry Ramirez is a 37-year-old death row inmate scheduled for execution on Sept. 8 for the 2004 stabbing death of Pablo Castro. Now, Ramirez is asking a court to rule that his spiritual advisor be allowed to "lay hands upon him at the time of his death." His attorney anticipates that the case may soon reach the Supreme Court of the United States. The post Texas Inmate Wants Baptist Pastor to ‘Lay Hands Upon Him’ at Moment of Execution. The Fight May End Up at SCOTUS first appeared on Law & Crime.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is directing the federal prison system to revamp how it monitors government-run prison deposit accounts that have at times been used by inmates to shield themselves from paying debts and for suspicious or illegal activity.
The directive, issued this week by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, instructs the Bureau of Prisons to overhaul its current policies on so-called inmate trust accounts to “strengthen appropriate monitoring and reporting.” The Associated Press obtained a copy of Monaco’s directive and a subsequent Bureau of Prisons memo providing new guidance to wardens.
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Jane Milota, 53, didn't return home Aug. 9 after dropping off her son who has autism at his workplace in Medina TownshipThe woman from Medina Township did not arrive for her shift at an Arby's restaurant later that day, nor call to say that she wouldn't be in. She did not have her cell phone, which was plugged in at home, according to her husband. She doesn't use credit cards, he added, so those could offer police no help to track her movements.
“In administering this program, the Bureau must take appropriate steps to prevent inmates from using such accounts to engage in unlawful activity or to avoid obligations like paying court-ordered restitution to victims,” Monaco wrote.
On Thursday, the Bureau of Prisons issued new guidance requiring wardens at the government’s 122 federal prisons to report the amount of money inmates have in their accounts each month and identify inmates with balances over $2,500. The memorandum also directs officials to refer cases to other law enforcement agencies when a crime may have been committed.
It also instructs the agency to investigate inmates who receive large sums of money that result in skyrocketing balances, identify outside sources depositing money in accounts of multiple inmates or former inmates depositing money for prisoners still in custody.
Texas death row inmate seeks pastor's touch at execution
HOUSTON (AP) — A Texas death row inmate set to be executed Wednesday for killing a convenience store worker more than 17 years ago in a robbery that garnered $1.25 is asking that his pastor be allowed to lay hands on him as he dies by lethal injection. The request by John Henry Ramirez, 37, is the latest clash between death row inmates and prison officials in Texas and other states over the presence of spiritual advisers in the death chamber. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP) The request by John Henry Ramirez, 37, is the latest clash between death row inmates and prison officials in Texas and other states over the presence of spiritual advisers in the death chamber
A Justice Department official said Monaco’s directive is meant to create a uniform policy across the federal prison system and to ensure Bureau of Prisons officials are taking appropriate steps to monitor inmate accounts. The official said the Justice Department's new policies were aimed at ensuring that inmates aren’t using their accounts to avoid financial obligations or to break the law. The new procedure creates a clearer process for prison officials to report, track and investigate suspicious or criminal activity.
The official said the Bureau of Prisons has identified about 20 inmates — out of the more than 130,000 federal prisoners — who have more than $100,000 in their accounts.
Texas inmate asks Supreme Court to let his pastor pray and lay hands on him during his execution
A death row inmate in Texas is asking the Supreme Court to block his scheduled execution Wednesday night because the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will not allow the inmate's pastor to lay hands on him and audibly pray during the execution. © Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. Two senators are bargaining with the White House on a bipartisan proposal to give states flexibility to use some unspent pandemic relief funds on infrastructure projects, which would free up billions of federal dollars.
But they cautioned there is nothing inherently wrong with an inmate holding large sums of money in their accounts, unless they are involved in illegal activity or are using the account to shield court-ordered debts like child support, alimony or restitution to be paid to victims. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the directive before it was formally distributed.
The accounts have long drawn scrutiny from other law enforcement officials who have warned that it was ripe for abuse and corruption.
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors filed court papers that detailed how— the former USA Gymnastics national team doctor — owed nearly $58,000 to his victims, even though he had more than $12,000 deposited in his prison fund account. The Washington Post that Nassar had paid only about $100 per year, or about $300 since he first entered the federal prison system in 2017.
Monaco’s memorandum is a broad directive to the Bureau of Prisons that is likely to go far beyond the initial guidance that prison officials issued on Wednesday.
It also tasks Bureau of Prisons officials with improving their coordination with other law enforcement agencies and making sure all steps are being taken to “reduce opportunities of abuse.”
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