I caught Correctional Officer Aaron Rasmussen reading my legal material in my cell and was physically threatened by Lt. Will Shortis at FCI Sheridan in 2017. This took place on top of a series of 6th Amendment violations by the mail room staff and a crime spree by big fat thief Rasmussen.
From September to December of 2017 at least half of my incoming legal mail had been opened by that mail room staff and delivered with the regular mail. That was disturbing because the BOP policy for general mail is to make copies of "some" pieces and read others at "random." All my legal mail was clearly marked as "attorney/client" and "legal mail" from my lawyers. On top of that some correspondence intended for use on Cop Blaster had been sent back to me without the appropriate appellate notice. Nobody below the rank of associate warden is permitted by policy to authorize rejection of outgoing mail. My prime suspect is a CO named Carlos Hernandez that was named in the rejected correspondence. Hernandez had been reassigned to the mail room after being forced out of my unit due to a report filed by another inmate under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).
While my grievance against the mail room was pending, Rasmussen searched my cell. The rules permit him to search legal material for contraband, but he can't legally read material prepared for a lawyer by their client. When I looked in the cell window his face was staring at a yellow piece of paper in a green folder. Clearly he was too busy reading it to continue searching for any contraband at all. After I told him nicely to stop reading my legal work he looked at me and said "get the fuck out of here." Then I told him to stop reading my legal material or he would be exposed on this website. He demanded that I go to the sally port, but I tried to make a legal call instead. While I was trying to call my lawyer Lt. Shortis showed up and threatened to mace me if I did not immediately put my hands behind my back, so I did. On my way out of the unit I informed Rasmussen that the whole world would know that he steals from his boss.
Shortly after my arrival at FDC Sheridan I noticed Rasmussen eating one or two trays of inmate food per meal while he was working. He covers two meals a shift five days a week plus overtime. The BOP Program Statement requires staff to submit a meal ticket for every facility meal consumed. Meal tickets can be redeemed at staff dining facilities. Staff dining serves real food intended for human consumption, not inmates, and therefore must be much better. The only possible thing a staff member has to gain from eating inmate food, besides not having to walk to the staff dining area, is a free lunch. How free? According to the Program Statement one staff meal ticket costs $2.50. Just counting food consumed by Rasmussen during regular working hours without overtime, he saves $5 a day, $25 a week, $100 a month, and $1,200 per year by letting tax payers pay the bill for his ever expanding waist line. All of this at a time when federal budget cuts were leaving all federal prisons understaffed and short on resources.
Anyway, back to the day I caught Rasmussen reading my legal work, after leaving the unit Lt. Shortis sat me down in his office and told me that I would be going to the hole. I told him that it would be in his best interest to uphold the Constitution because failing to do so would land him on the Cop Blaster's "to do list." Once there is would be only a matter of time until he ends up like his Warden, Richard Ives, with all of his personal information made easily available here for everyone he abuses to find for free. Lt. Shortis then rolled up his sleeves and said "nobody talks to me like that" before threatening to beat me up and falsely accuse me of assaulting him for the purpose of getting me a new criminal charge. I could not see any cameras in his office and guards at other institutions have done that to me before, so I took his threat very seriously. I also had my hands helplessly cuffed behind my back the entire time, so I would not have stood a chance. I figured he would probably beat me and accuse me of kicking him, with no cameras it would have been my word versus his. After that I toned things down a little.
Later, in the Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), I was served with an incident report in which Rasmusswen admitted to reading my legal material. He wrote "I proceeded searching through his paperwork, briefly scanning some hand written material he wrote about his anger issues." That only confirmed what I already knew, that he had been reading my confidential legal material in my cell, specifically things I wrote and shared with my lawyer in Multnomah County earlier that year. He also confiscated the material, so I never got to see it again and I had no evidence to prove that what he read was priviledge other than his description of the material and my word. Obviously I had every right to demand he not read that material. If he did not read it illegaly he would not have know what it said. I have uploaded the incident report with this post as a .pdf to prove my case.
The Ninth Circuit held in Mangiaracina v. Penzone 849 F.3d 1191 (9th Cir. 2017) that it is illegal to inspect legal material outside of the presence of the inmate:
"We recently addressed prisoners’ legal mail rights in Nordstrom, 762 F.3d 903. In that case, a prisoner alleged that he had written a letter to his criminal attorney and that a correctional officer, instead of inspecting the letter in Nordstrom’s presence before sealing and sending it, stood in front of him and read the letter. We held that this event, though isolated, sufficiently alleged a violation of Nordstrom’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.Although the case concerned improper reading rather than improper opening of legal mail, we noted that “the practice of requiring an inmate to be present when his legal mail is opened is a measure designed to prevent officials from reading the mail in the first place.” Id. at 910 (citing Wolff, 418 U.S. at 577)...We therefore now clarify that, under Nordstrom, prisoners have a Sixth Amendment right to be present when legal mail related to a criminal matter is inspected...Defendants argue that this case is distinguishable from Nordstrom because Mangiaracina does not allege that jail officials ever read his mail. But indeed, how could he? If the practice of opening legal mail in the presence of the prisoner is designed to prevent correctional officers from reading it, then the natural corollary is that a prisoner whose mail is opened outside his presence has no way of knowing whether it had been (permissibly) inspected or (impermissibly) read."