A Prison Letter
From a "Failure to File" Inmate
The below is sent to you just in case you do not know, or may have forgotten the horrible conditions of the inside of a prison. And keep in mind that there are many within those prison walls because they took a stand for the principles they honestly believe in.
-Ron Branson


Hi all,

I just thought I would send out a few hints of what is in store for anyone who thinks they are not afraid of the great USA government. The first thing you have to learn in here is the language. Until you do you might as well be in another country. "Down" means in jail, "on the street" means out of jail, "The Shoe" or "The Hole" means solitary confinement 23 hours a day. A "CO" is a correctional Officer, and a "Cellie" is your cell mate. I'm in a place called Butner. It's Butner, North Carolina. .....

If you want a good look at what this country is headed for, go break into a prison for a couple of weeks.  What you will be confronted with are incompetent people of every race ....

Your calls are limited to 15 minutes each and then you must wait 30 minutes before you can call back. ....  The camp is so overcrowded.  The dinning room seats 160, but there are 320 inmates here, and we all have to be served, eat, and get out, in less than one hour.  When the dinner bell rings here you eat with a mission.  Miss manners donít count and you always wear your coat so you can cop an apple or orange for a snack later.

Anybody that knows me, knows that I can strike up a conversation with a telephone pole, and wind up knowing its entire history.  Well there are lots of stories in this place.  Lots of them are very, very scary when it comes to how the State and Federal Prosecutors are getting convictions, making seizures, and getting admissions of guilt.  After listening to these stories I really can see no difference between this country and some 3rd world county.  The biggest difference how much money you have.  If you do have money the government will do everything both legal and illegal to take it from you.  The lawyers are useless, they all say plead guilty.  I talked to a man today who was investigated for 5 years and all they could come up with was mail fraud.  His lawyer charged him 40K for handling a guilty plea, telling him all the time he could only get 6 months, he got 21 months.

The government tactics are starting to develop into a pattern.  If they catch someone selling drugs, they pressure them with an inflated indictment and 25 years to life, unless they roll over on some person the government wants.  If you donít help them they will put you, your family, and your friends into jail.  If you do help them, they discount the charge, let your wife go, and forget about half the dope they caught you with.

The other thing that is absolutely running rampant is the seizure thing.  The lawyers of this country are dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to seizures.  I have heard one horror story after the next concerning seizures.  The Feds make it a practice to seize everything you have no matter who owns it when it is a drug charge.

Now I donít support drug dealers at all, but on the other hand I donít support the government breaking more laws than the drug dealer in order to seize property that had nothing to do with a crime.

Now for the thing that strikes near and dear to most folks here is Taxes.

The scam by both State and Federal government is to overcharge an indictment, scare the hell out of everyone, so they can get a plea of guilty, then after they plea, the government starts adding up the tax you owe on the drugs.  That is right!  Everyone check out the 1930 tax act and you will see the Governmentís loss is based on a tax loss.

So when you plead guilty to the indictment you will plead to possession with interest to distribute some amount of drugs that is set out in a range.  For example: I talked today with a guy who got caught with 3 ounces of pot.  They took his bank account of 15K, his cash savings account 50K, his car and house.  His lawyer said he would only get probation or 6 months max. ....

The Bureau of Prisons is making some serious money on inmates and it would be interesting to investigate the CAFR or Books on some of those corporations.  Just a few examples are UNICOR. Iím not for sure who makes the money off of Unicor but when you look at the overall picture you will understand why the government wants lots of inmates with large fines, assessments and taxes.

Here there is a two year waiting list to get on a Unicor Job.  The Unicor Jobs pay more than the other jobs here at the camp.  Iím not sure about all the pay scales but I started at the power plant making $0.12 per hour. ....

It takes $70.00 per month to pay for the phone.  You also have to buy everything new from the government commissary ó they take every single thing from you when you come in and mail it home.  They even take your medicine.  The account you set up is called a commissary account, you fund your phone account from your commissary account.  After you have been here 6 months they look at how much money is being sent in and if you have too much sent in they will cause you to renegotiate your contract to make restitution.  You start out with say $25.00 per quarter, then they might just tell you your new contract will be for $50.00 per month.  Now you might be under the presumption that a contract requires you to agree to the terms.  HA HA HA. You are about to see extortion at itís finest.  If you refuse to" agree to the contract" at whatever rate they say, they will stop your visitation privileges, take away any furlough you might qualify for, reduce the amount you can purchase in the commissary, take away your phone privileges.  So itís a simple concept the Feds Seize property from your family because you are in jail.  The Feds extort you and your family because you love them and want to see and visit them.

Let me back up a second and talk a little more about Unicor.  They manufacture things generally for the government.  Here they make stuff for the Post Office and the military.  The manufacturing facilities are in direct competition with American Industry.  Except Taxpayers build the factories and the labor is slave labor.  Itís pretty hard for the American Industry to compete under those circumstances.

Iím thinking about doing some writing while Iím in here, besides my appeal and sentence reduction offer.  If you think prison law libraries are any good donít compare them to this one.  We donít even have a copy of the Code of Federal Regulations.

I know you guys are the best researchers in the world, so this wish list will be pretty easy.  I need cases that say that a court does not have jurisdiction if all the elements of the crime are not presented and pled in the indictment.

Also any cases that might be out there that say that the court cannot accept jurisdiction just because a person pleads into the case.

At one time Dan put together a pretty good list of authorities for lots of different situations.  I would sure like to have that list.

If anyone has saved the little article that I wrote on Jurisdictional elements versus essential elements I really need a copy of that too.

My address is:

John Harpole 14923-006
Federal Prison Camp
P.O. Box 1000
Butner, NC 27059

Please donít sent anything over 1 lb.  And remember all incoming mail is opened and probably read.  (They say) as far as I know the outgoing mail is not read.

My descriptions of this place are just a touch on the high spots.  I will send more later.

God Bless us All,
John Harpole