Diesel Therapy

There is plenty to complain about here at Bastrop Federal Satellite camp, but most of us realize conditions could be much worse. There are those inmates, though, who feel compelled to express their displeasure in writing. I wish I had a Nut-N-Honey bar for each time I've heard, "I'm going to write that bitch up!" The Bureau of Prisons, being a federal agency, is ripe with forms, including those to help facilitate inmate complaints about a particular condition or the action/inaction of a corrections officer.

The complaint process begins with a Form BP-8, filed with the Camp Counselor. This is true even if the complaint is about the Camp Counselor. After 30 days of no resolution (note the obvious assumption), a Form BP-9 can be sent to the Warden. If there is still no resolution, a BP-10 can be sent to the Regional Director followed by a BP-11 which is sent to the BoP Director in Washington, DC. An inmate's odds of getting some relief are generally inversely related to how often he complains. For example, if an inmate has never complained, he has the maximum chance of receiving something close to a desired answer (5-10%).

In my 30 months here, I've met a handful of chronic complainers. The BoP has a special dispensation for these guys. It's called Diesel Therapy and it works like this. Let's say a serial complainant is housed at the camp in Montgomery, Alabama. After too many complaints, he's simply put on a bus.

His first stop might be the Regional Detention Center in Atlanta, Georgia. After 30-60 days there, he'll be loaded onto another bus, this time headed to the Regional Detention Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where he may stay another 30-60 days. Finally, he might arrive at the Bastrop Camp, his new home, road weary and confused. In addition to the diesel fumes, he may have also experienced his scenic trip while shackled. If particularly unappreciated, the inmate's travel therapy may also include some quality time along the way in a county jail or two, as the BoP often contracts with these facilities as temporary holding pens. Some are worse than others, but the general consensus is that the Jack Harwell facility in Waco, Texas, is one of the worst. That information certainly made me proud.

For all but the most hard-headed, Diesel Therapy has proven to be an effective agent of complaint resolution/deterrence. It may not provide the answer, but it is certainly an answer.